Galapagos Islands

Photo of Galapagos Islands

About Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos are located 1000km from the coast of South America on a spot where three tectonic plates meet. An isolated group of islands, they were formed several million years ago by a series of titanic volcanic upheavals, and their extreme isolation over that time facilitated the flourishing of unusual species' of sea mammals, flora, reptile and birdlife - from the giant tortoise to the flightless cormorant - rendering it a fascinating place to visit. Whether you're spotting whales or hiking volcanoes, you will find yourself in a different world. Our collection of the best places to stay in the Galapagos Islands range from chic eco properties to slick luxury hotels.

In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the island and was struck dumb by the flora and fauna of the island, and it subsequently inspired his theory of evolution. The gigantic cacti, endemic trees, the flightless cormorants and land iguana are all species of which you cannot find anywhere else on on earth - and were allowed to blossom due to the islands' extreme isolation from the continent. The volcanic landscape, a rusted red, makes the islands feel alien and strange - as if you're walking on the faceless craters of Mars - for islands like Rabida are red due to the high quantities of iron in the lava.

There are 19 islands, all of which differ in size, and they are all worth visiting. Espanola Island boasts a huge colony of waved albatross; Floreana Island teems with pink flamingos and green sea turtles; Isabella, the main island, is inhabited by the famous giant tortoises. One of the greatest things about these islands is that there are no natural predators, meaning that the animals there have no fear of humans, allowing visitors to approach them to the point of touching them. Surrounding the islands is the Galapagos Marine Reserve, awash with corals, sharks, penguins, sea-lions and whales, and snorkelling is incredibly popular here.

What not to miss:

  • La Loberia (San Cristobal Island). Visit the isolated stretches of beach and spot wild iguanas, lava lizards, yellow warblers and frigates.
  • Charles Darwin Research Station (Santa Cruz Island). A great starting point to any trip, the centre gives a unique insight into the archipelago's ecology and history.
  • Sierra Negra Volcano (Isabela Island). Hike through the alien landscape and peer into the second largest crater in the world, but be warned, the terrain can be hard work so take a strong pair of shoes!
  • Turtle Bay (Santa Cruz Island). Visit the isolated white sand beach for some relaxation, sun and to catch up with the local turtles - to catch sight of emerging hatchlings, aim for July-June.
  • Rancho Primicias Galápagos Tortoise Ranch (Santa Cruz Island). Meet some of the Galápagos most famous residents. These gentle giants offer a window into another world!

A unique place to explore; to start planning your trip browse through our collection of the best places to stay in the Galapagos Islands.

The best places to stay in the Galapagos Islands

For sea views

  • The Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel on Isabela Island offers comfortable and reasonably priced accommodation with a great terrace to watch the sun go down.

Luxury living

  • A contemporary twist to the ancient landscape, Pikaia Lodge is the height of luxury on Santa Cruz. An infinity pool, spa and floor to ceiling windows have helped earn this hotel’s exceptional reputation.

Eco-chic

  • Galápagos Safari Camp is an eco-friendly hideaway deep in the forest with luxurious tents and natural décor. A great place to start your adventure!

Value boutique

  • Royal Palm Hotel sits in the remote heart of Santa Cruz. Stay in a casita or villa in this charming and traditional hotel known for great food.

Contemporary

  • Located on the South coast of Santa Cruz, Finch Bay Hotel boats modern décor, contemporary art and is only a short walk from the beach.

For an apartment or villa

  • If you've decided that a self-catering property would be more suitable for your holiday, then we recommend you visit our online booking partner Booking.com where they have a wide selection for all tastes and budgets.

Travel information

  • The only way to get to the islands from the mainland is by plane to Isla Baltra Airport from Quito and Guayaquil airports.
  • Best time to visit - The Galapagos Islands have a highly variable climate. December to June brings the hot/rainy season where temperatures average around 26°-30° C. From June to November temperatures cool off and range between 20°-24° C. The most popular time to visit for naturalists is between December - May when the seas are the calmest.
  • If you plan to hire a car, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars for the best prices.

Still not sure?

Best Hotels in Galapagos Islands

  • Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel Galápagos, Galapagos Islands from £178

    A boutique property overlooking the sea and surrounded by the Galapagos' wild landscape. Smart rooms feature floor to ceiling windows, most have terraces and luxurious bathrooms. A tranquil pool provides a relaxing spot to unwind after a days exploring. The ideal spot for nature lovers.

    Back to Nature  -  As the name suggests the hotel is situated amongst wildlife (namely iguanas).
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the 'Wall of Tears', an eerie reminder of Isabela's past.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Sailing  -  Can be booked nearby.
    Check Availability
  • Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos, Galapagos Islands 21 rooms from £237

    A small boutique hotel set in an outstanding remote location in the centre of the Galapagos. A collection of casitas and villas are charmingly decorated with white washed walls, beamed ceilings and antique furniture. Spend days exploring land and sea before returning for indulgent dinners. Fabulous.

    Hideaway  -  A glorious hideaway set in the lush Miconia highland forests of Santa Cruz in the heart of the Galapagos.
    Diving  -  Find a great diversity of sealife on a dive. PADI courses are also on offer for beginners.
    Sailing  -  Charter a yacht and explore the islands with a hotel guide.
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Check Availability
  • Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands 27 rooms from £272

    Charming eco-friendly hotel with a beautiful beach front location. Light rooms are all white on white, dressed with contemporary art, and feature large terraces. Feast on gourmet regional dishes and find endless unique activities found exclusively in the Galapagos. Superb.

    Beach Life  -  Just steps from the beach and complete with a selection of yachts for island exploration.
    Back to Nature  -  The Galapagos are well renowned for their fascinating array of flora and fauna.
    Diving  -  World-class diving, professional instructors and PADI designed courses.
    Spa  -  Gym, hot tub and yoga studio
    Check Availability
  • Galapagos Safari Camp Bellavista, Galapagos Islands 10 rooms from £639

    Hidden in the depths of the forest find a luxury tented camp perfectly primed for adventure holidays. Atmospheric tents feature Ecuadorian rugs, teak furniture and large windows opening onto epic views. Unwind by the naturally inspired infinity pool and gorge on regional fare. An eco-friendly gem.

    Back to Nature  -  Be surrounded by volcanic landscapes, unique wildlife and unspoilt jungle.
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Barefoot Luxury  -  For total relaxation.
    Outstanding location
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
    Check Availability
  • Pikaia Lodge Santa Cruz Galapagos, Galapagos Islands 14 rooms from £1589

    A game changer of a property offering boutique luxury in the Galapagos. Stunning contemporary rooms boast epic vistas from the floor to ceiling windows and sleek minimalist design. A gorgeous infinity pool and spoiling spa fill all one's pampering needs. The cuisine is on point too. Very chic.

    Back to Nature  -  The Glapagos is the king of natural wonders and this boutique hotel boasts a remote location in the heart of it all.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Remote  -  Off the beaten track.
    Romantic  -  Good for couples.
    Recommended by  -  Small Luxury Hotels, CN Traveller
    Check Availability