Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Places To Stay In Galapagos Islands

Kayak Through Untouched Nature

Discover the beauty of the Galapagos Islands with Silversea

Photo: Ppito00/Shutterstock

Though the waters in between the Galapagos Islands can be treacherous, each island features bays and coves where the water is still, and you can easily paddle a sea kayak along the untouched coastline. On a particularly hot and sunny afternoon our group took kayaks through Tortuga Bay where, yes, there were turtles. But also an empty white-sand beach with red marine iguanas and sea lions lounging around. And when we needed to cool off, the shoreline had plenty of mangrove forests to go explore and enjoy the shade.

San Cristobal Where To Stay In The Galapagos Islands On A Budget

Lying 60 miles east of Puerto Ayora , San Cristóbal Island is the second island travelers choose to fly into after Santa Cruz as it has the San Cristobal Airport which receives flights from both Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

San Cristobal is also home to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the administrative center of the Galapagos Islands, and the location where youll find a lot of restaurants and pubs. This island might be a good place to look for places to stay for people traveling on a budget as its fairly cheaper than the first one.

Although most people come to the Galapagos Islands to spend time in nature and enjoy the wildlife, I know some of you will still want to party and see the islands at night. You can do this in San Cristóbal as there are a few bars and clubs where you can grab a drink and dance.

Of course, the island is filled with panoramic spots that you should visit during your time here. Mother Nature sure knows how to surprise us! Probably one of the most beautiful places on San Cristóbal Island is El Junco Lagoon, but hey, thats just my opinion. Im sure youll find many more spots, as incredible as this one!

  • Party at night at Neptunus Club in San Cristobal
  • Explore the Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado nature reserve and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

How New Technologies Work

All large commercial ships are supposed to use a tracking tool called an Automatic Identification System , which reveals locations and voyage information to avoid collisions.

Ships engaged in illegal fishing, however, often shut off their AIS, particularly when they enter a sensitive area like the Galapagos Marine Reserve, said Capt. Mala. A Vessel Monitoring System also broadcasts a ship’s identity, location and speed, but it only sends out a signal every couple of hours and it, too, can be turned off.

Monitoring AIS or VMS movements is often the first tool used by navies to combat illegal fishing. But when vessels turn off their locators and “go dark,” more advanced tech tools need to be unsheathed.

“The only way to find the dark vessels is to do surveillance from space,” Carmichael said. To make that happen, MDA is working with Ecuador to pursue other signals.

When boats shut off their trackers before sailing into protected areas, some mariners still need to stay in touch with the outside world via satellite phones. Additionally, ships usually keep their onboard radar functioning to avoid collisions. Boat engines also unintentionally emit electromagnetic waves constituting a specific signature.

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“We get information from the operations centre. Then we are sent out,” said Jorge Lopez, commander of Ecuador’s machine-gun-equipped offshore patrol vessel Isla Isabela.

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Travel Insurance For Galapagos

Traveling without insurance would be risky so do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.

I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. Theyre easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once youve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

If theres one insurance company I trust, its World Nomads.

Its good to get lost sometimes, but its also good not to get too lost. There are people that want you home in one piece.

Theres one travel insurance provider The Broke Backpacker trusts for all his wildest shenanigans World Nomads!

And then let the shenanigans begin.

Where To Stay On San Cristobal Island

How to Travel The Galapagos Islands on a Budget

San Cristobal is the usual first destination for most travelers arriving in the Galapagos Islands because it has an airport that serves flights either from Quito or Guayaquil.

There is probably a no better place that should welcome and introduce you to life on the Galapagos Islands. There is a sea lion colony right on the main pier in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, many laidback restaurants and pubs in the town.

When you are ready, you can explore inland and head, for example, to El Junco Lagoon. San Cristobal Island is a top-rated destination among land-based travelers.

What are the best hotels on San Cristobal Island?

Budget | Hostal Terito – Cozy hostel on San Cristobal has an owner who speaks English, making everything much easier. It is not common in Ecuador that staff speaks a language other than Spanish.

Rooms are comfortable and close to Playa de Oro, and you can order breakfast in the morning if you wish.

Mid-range | Hostal Cattleya – Nice and cozy rooms, the views, and especially the relaxed vibes are the main reasons to stay in this family-owned hotel.

You can use the kitchen and even ask for a packed lunch when setting off for a day-trip.

Luxury | Galapagos Sunset Hotel – This hotel has a fabulous view overlooking the ocean – you can admire it either from your room or from the sun terrace as well.

Services are top-class, as you can expect in this type of hotel, and the staff is welcoming and helpful in every situation.

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How To Stay Safe In Galapagos

Check out our Ecuadorian safety guide for tips and advice for visiting. Otherwise, you can read our Backpacker Safety 101 for some more general information on staying saf while backpacking.

Pick yourself up a backpacker security belt to keep your cash safe on the road.

Check out this post for plenty of ideas on ingenious ways to hide your money when travelling.

I strongly recommend travelling with a headlamp whilst in Galapagos check out my post for a breakdown of the best value headlamps to take backpacking.

Backpacking Galapagos For Free

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Isabela Best Island In Galapagos For Families

The largest island in the archipelago, Isabela is nevertheless quite small population-wise making it a great pick if you want an easy-going and relaxed beach holiday! For families, there are plenty of activities across the island to keep the kids entertained, whilst adults will love the white sandy beaches and laid-back bars.


The entire population is based in Puerto Villamil. As such, this is where all of Galapagoss best restaurants, bars and hotels are located. There are no banks on the island, so make sure to bring plenty of cash with you! If you can handle it, this just adds to the secluded paradise atmosphere of Isabela.

Relax With A Drink On A Perfect And Empty Beach

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel: The Best Resort in the Galapagos Islands


The beach at Tortuga Bay wasnt the only mostly deserted beach in the Galapagos. On the island of Floreana population 100 youll find large stretches of black-sand beach with views out to the nearby islands on a clear day. On Isla Isabela, you can bum around the long stretches of white-sand beach with nothing but volcanoes behind you.

Here youll also find a strip of bars along the sand full of hammocks, volleyball nets, and some of the grandest sunsets in the world. Drinks arent cheap, like you might find at similar spots in Central or South America, but they are fully worth the price to send pictures to your friends back home of your life in this tropical paradise.

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Luxury Lodges In The Galapagos Islands

Visitors to the Galapagos often make the assumption that the only way to experience a trip like this is to take a Galapagos Islands cruise. This can put some people off, especially those that are prone to sea sickness. There is also an assumption that time in the Galapagos cannot be spent in luxury. Neither of these beliefs could be further from the truth. In fact, luxury hotels in the Galapagos can be found in many different places, mostly on Santa Cruz Island, but with one or two on San Cristobal Island and Isabela Island as well. What is more, guests can undertake land-based Galapagos trips, making visits to nearby Galapagos visitor sites each day, while returning to the stability of their luxury hotel at night. Alternatively, hotel guests can arrange their own day trips within the Galapagos, so there are plenty of options and flexibility for those looking for something a little different. Luxury hotels in the Galapagos tend to all offer spacious rooms, comfort and elegance. The following are just some of the luxury lodges in Galapagos that you might consider staying at.

Best Hotel In San Cristbal: Eco Hotel Katarma

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of the Eco Hotel Katarma, there are plenty of fantastic facilities to ensure you enjoy your stay! There is a great outdoor pool, and a buffet breakfast is provided every morning. Rooms come with blackout curtains, as well as luxury toiletries.

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The Best Hotels In The Galapagos Islands For Every Budget

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer policy here. Boundless Roads is by no means liable for any purchase of tours, tickets and any other online reservation that are made with any third party provider. Never leave without travel insurance.

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If you are wondering where to stay in the Galapagos, this guide on the best hotels in the Galapagos islands will help you find the perfect spots for your vacation in the spectacular Ecuadorian Archipelago. I am sharing the best hotel options for every budget and in the best areas in each of the main islands of the Galapagos.

You will need this guide to the best hotels in the Galapagos Islands if you are planning a trip on your own, without a cruise or an organized tour. If thats you, this post will be useful.

I traveled to the Galapagos Islands for 3 weeks, one week for each of the main islands and I had a blast. I was traveling with a friend at that time and I was on a low budget so we decided to rent an apartment on each island and cook our own food.

Once there we realized that you can travel on a budget and still choose to stay in hotels as there are many cheap and nice accommodations and lovely local restaurants where to eat without breaking the bank.

There are many ways to have an amazing Galapagos island vacation, depending on your budget and how much time you have. I wrote three sample travel itineraries to the Galapagos island to help you organize your trip for 7, 10, and 15 days.

Spot Sea Lions At La Lobera San Cristbal

Galapagos Islands Attractive Places for Tourism

Those hoping to see seal lions during a trip will adore La Lobería on San Cristobal. This Galapagos Island has the largest population of sea lions by far. Around 2.5km south of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, La Loberia is on the south-west coast of the island. To get to Playa Lobería you can either walk or take a taxi. Once you have arrived, theres plenty to do and see. On top of admiring the lazy sea lions on the beach, you should swim in the sea, go snorkelling or simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. Local wildlife just like many places in the archipelago includes Laval lizards, iguanas and yellow warblers amongst many more!

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Sample Some Of The Best Coffee In The World

Photo: 1835 Coffee Lab/Facebook

Equatorial countries are never lacking when it comes to java, and on these tiny islands, youll find some absolutely spectacular coffee. Even the basic drip coffee in the hotels is good, but stroll along Charles Darwin Avenue in Santa Cruz and youll find tiny coffee shops doing gourmet pour overs and coffee-based cocktails. One of the biggest is OMG Galapagos youll forgive the name when you taste the coffee and take a picture with the statue of Darwin drinking coffee in the courtyard.

Right across the street, youll find the 1835 Coffee Lab, which sells its coffee all over town in souvenir shops but is best experienced in pour over. The baristas will let you smell the beans from jars on the counter, then custom-make each cup. Its not a quick experience, but in the islands all you have is time.

Charles Darwin Research Station

Discover the realm of Charles Darwin and his theory of natural section at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. Here you can gain insight into the islands history and ecology while you view the various displays in the exhibition hall. Wander outside to the gardens and also catch a glimpse of the giant Galapagos tortoises. On the grounds are also a tortoise breeding center and a public library. The center is located about a mile from the town center of Puerto Ayora. Plan to spend a few fascinating hours here, including a snack in their café. While free to visit, they do request donations.

Wall Of Tears On Isabela Island, Galapagos

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Recommended Hotels And Restaurants In Quito

Casa Gangotena, on the newly restored Plaza San Francisco in the heart of Quito’s colonial center, is the best hotel in Ecuador, combining history, style, and service.

Another top option is Illa Experience Hotel, a 10-room boutique hotel in the city’s central San Marcos neighborhood. The property sits in a renovated mansion, and each floor presents different décor, including colonial, republic, and contemporary styles.

When it comes to dining, Zazu is the only Relais & Châteaux restaurant in Ecuador. For a more casual experience, head to sister restaurant Zfood, where a Hamptons-style fish-shack vibe is replicated perfectly and seafood reigns supreme. Don’t miss their reinvented Bloody Marys.

Under the guidance of chef/owner Daniel Maldonado, Urko stays focused on showcasing Ecuadorian ingredients and flavors. Go for the tasting menu to get a full sense of what Maldonado calls cocina local.

Some Fishermen Unhappy With New Tech Rules

Galápagos: Exploring the Unexpected | Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

According to a recently passed law, fishing vessels operating in Ecuador’s waters are supposed to be outfitted with AIS. But the law has yet to be fully implemented. For now, only industrial fishing ships, and artisanal fishing boats allowed to operate within the Galapagos marine reserve, are equipped and monitored, fishermen and officials said.

The rise of AIS and other satellite tracking tech hasn’t been met with universal support.

Some small-scale fishermen welcome the new technology as a tool to protect law-abiding harvesters around the Galapagos. It also allows relatives to know their kin are safe at sea.

“The AIS is an excellent idea,” said 70-year-old Alberto Granja, a longtime Galapagos resident and retired fisheries worker. The problem, he said, is that buying the gear costs $1,200 US and many of the trackers donated to local fishermen by conservation groups now need to be replaced.

To other fishermen, the technology is little more than red tape one more piece of kit poor workers have to maintain on their boats and a symptom of government overreach.

“There are huge Chinese fleets out there,” he said. “There is no control of big boats outside the reserve The Chinese have the technology to detect where the fish are, but we don’t.”

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Take The Best Galapagos Hike At Sierra Negra Volcano Isabela Island

Since the Galapagos Islands are volcanic and were formed by volcanoes, it seems fitting that visitors should see a volcano during their trip. The Galapagos Islands were formed by repeated underwater volcanic eruptions which took place over millions of years. The result of these eruptions in this volcanic hotspot was the birth of the many islands. Sierra Negra is the ultimate choice of volcano in the Galapagos, and is well worth the the trip. As an active shield volcanos and with one of the largest calderas in the world , Sierra Negra is sight to behold. Sierra Negra can be visited as a day hike from Puerto Villamil the main settlement on Isabela Island. A dirt trail leads up to the crater rim of the giant Sierra Negra caldera, and once you arrive at the top youll be awarded with breathtaking views inside. The walking trail then continues onto Volcan Chico, for a more up close look at the volcanic landscape and a glimpse of another caldera.

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