Galapagos Map

Galapagos map of main tourist places. Double click on map to zoom.

Galapagos Map: why pay a small fortune to visit these islands ?

Galapagos tourist with sea lions, wildlife safari

Galapagos tourist with sea lions, Ecuador.

The Galapagos are a dream destination for most naturalists, a barren cluster of volcanic islands 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador that are literally crawling with original Darwinian wildlife, animals that have evolved so far from humans that they now have no fear of them, allowing tourists to get closer than ever before – on foot or via snorkel – to animals great and small.

Unfortunately tours come at a price, a high price, and also encumbered with concerns about seasickness. See our Galapagos travel guide for suggestions on dealing with the latter problem. Sorry, there’s nothing we can do about your bank balance.

How to visit the Galapagos Islands?

Because of the long distances involved, the only practical way to explore the Galápagos is by live-aboard boats, which travel between islands, mostly at night, and make different stops each day. More than 80 vessels are licensed to operate in the archipelago and there are countless combinations of stops and routes. Most cruises go ashore twice a day: 10 full days on the boat typically means 20 shore landings, 10-20 snorkels, and several panga rides (pangas are small, open outboard-powered boats) to about 10 different islands.

Exploring on your own is considerably more difficult. Getting around independently is tricky and all visitors must be accompanied by a licensed naturalist guide at all landing sites. But four islands (Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Floreana and Isabela) do have hotels of varying sizes and standards and a few boat operators offer day-trips.

Following in Darwin’s footsteps involves a flight from Quito or Guayaquil, on the mainland, to Baltra or San Cristóbal. Some cruises leave from Baltra (the dock is a five-minute drive from the air terminal). Others go from Puerto Ayora, the tourist hub on Santa Cruz and a relatively busy town, with a bank, ATM machine, taxis, pubs and even a cinema.