Before planning your big trip, you’ll need to know which island in the Galapagos to visit. The Galapagos archipelago is composed of lots of islands, but only some are inhabited. Plus, depending on what your preferences are, you’ll want to choose an island that suits your needs. In this blog, we share the most visited islands and help you decide which you’d like to visit during your stay in the Galapagos Islands.
Which island in the Galapagos should I visit?
The Galapagos archipelago is located about 1,000 km from continental Ecuador. Composed of 127 islands islets and large rocks, the region is know for its incredible natural beauty and endemic species. Of the 127 islands in the archipelago, 19 are large and 4 of these are totally inhabited.
Visitors to the Galapagos Islands should know that not all islands are available for visitation. Typically, visitors head to only a handful of islands, whilst only a small number are easy to navigate and offer infrastructure for tourism.
Keep reading to find out which Galapagos Islands are best to visit, and which you should pick for the perfect holiday!
The second largest island in the Galapagos, Santa Cruz, is a hub for most tourism activity in the Galapagos. With a bustling town at its soul – Puerto Ayora – the island hosts lots of tourists every year. Santa Cruz is also the place you’ll want to fly to from mainland Ecuador. Arriving in the north, in Baltra, a quick bus journey will see you in the main town in 45 minutes.
Charles Darwin Research Station is also found in Santa Cruz. Visitors here will find tortoise enclosures as well as baby-tortoises from the institution’s breeding program. This is a great place to meet these incredible creatures (some of the region’s most famous inhabitants) face to face.
The world-famous Tortuga Bay is also located in Santa Cruz. Only a one hour walk from the centre of town, you can visit Tortuga Bay for sheltered swimming, a relaxing white sandy beach and incredible volcanic views. Visitors will easily spot a whole host of wildlife from this beautiful spot, including sharks, waterbirds, marine iguanas and much more.
Lots of other attractions in Santa Cruz include mangroves, highland cloud forest, lava tubes and much more.
As the largest island in the Galapagos archipelago, Isabela Island is an obvious choice for a visit. However, you’ll also be interested to know that whilst Isabela Island is the largest island, it’s certainly not the most visited. Visitors looking for a very authentic, nature-packed trip to the Galapagos will love Isabela Island.
Making up 58% of the entire land mass of the Galapagos, Isabela Island is undoubtedly one of the most biodiverse and beautiful. And it is only one million years old. One of the youngest islands, it consists of six shield volcanoes which made the island. Some of these are still active. Isabela Island is one of the most volcanically active places on the planet, making it an amazing site for geology and nature fans.
Because of Isabela Island’s youth, the flora and fauna on the island is some of the most unique. Plus, visitors will also find the largest population of Galapagos tortoise as well as some incredible sub species. Flamingoes, flightless cormorants and endless marine life make for spectacular snorkelling too.
A big draw factor to Isabela Island is Puerto Villamil. Home to a tranquil beach lined with beautiful palms, as well as lots of local restaurants, and lots of sites to explore, Isabela Island is absolutely one of the best and most adventure-packed destinations to visit.
Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge
Family owned business and luxury ecolodge Chez Manany is a beautiful accommodation option just outside of Puerto Villamil. For more information about us and our strong commitment to the environment, please see the end of this article.
The fifth largest island – San Cristobal – is another island that you might like to visit during a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Home to the provincial capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno as well as an airport, the island is a great place to start a trip.
One hundred years ago, San Cristobal was a penal colony but today it is a sweet little town on the coast. Often, people start and end their Galapagos trips here.
On San Cristobal, visitors will find a natural history museum as well as an information centre which teaches its visitors about the biology and the history of the Galapagos Islands. Those seeking a more nature-rich trip will enjoy San Cristobal for its renowned dive and snorkel spots including Kicker Rock. The crystal clear water offers divers and snorkelers a fabulous experience amongst tropical fish, starfish, angelfish, stingrays and turtles.
Those wondering which island in the Galapagos Islands to visit could also consider the little island of Santa Fe. Perfect for day trips, this spot offers potential sitings of a species of land iguana found nowhere else in the world. Sea lions, and lots of birds are absolutely guaranteed to be lingering around during your visit. You’ll notice Santa Fe in pictures, for its beautiful turquoise water bay with giant prickly pear cactus forests.
Visitors to Santa Fe could also embark on a good hike, or take the chance to snorkel or dive in one of the best dive sites in the Galapagos Islands.
Floreana is an extraordinary island in the Galapagos archipelago boasting an array of natural attractions. Wildlife watchers and nature lovers head here for insight into the world under the waves as well as staggering views. Meanwhile, Galapagos sea lions, nesting birds, blue footed boobies Darwin finches and Galapagos hawks are all found here. Under the water, divers and snorkelers are likely to spot Galapagos reef fish as well as sharks and rays.
Aside from its enticing natural environments, Floreana has an intriguing (and dark) history of human settlement. The island was home to the first “post office”, established in 1793 by whalers. Later, the island was colonised by Ecuadorians in 1832. It became a penal colony which didn’t last long, due to a lack of fresh water.
Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge – Isabela Island
Located in Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island, Chez Manany is a friendly family-owned ecolodge with a love for the Galapagos. The property is impressively sustainable and offers visitors an authentic taste of the Galapagos Islands.
To book your room on Isabela Island, please click here.