The Galápagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands located off the coast of Ecuador. I’ve been lucky enough to visit this magical part of the world and I’m yet to find anywhere else that comes close to comparing to it. These South American islands are a breeding ground for the weird and wonderful, with 97% of the area being national park! Its isolated locations makes for the perfect home for an array of plant and animal life that is found nowhere else in the world. So without any further ado here are 10 reasons why you HAVE to visit the Galápagos Islands at some point in your lifetime.
- Pink Flamingos!!!!
This is definitely the number one reason why I was so excited to visit the Galápagos Islands. These colourful creatures didn’t disappoint! This was the fist time I had seen flamingos in the wild and I was ridiculously excited.
- The sunsets
I’m a pretty big fan of sunsets and to date this is still one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen!
- Galápagos Sea Lions
These friendly creatures will most likely be your welcoming party to the Galápagos. When I arrived at the wharf on Isabela Island these guys were lounging and sunbaking all over the place. As tame as they may look don’t forget that they are wild animals. They can be a bit cranky if you try to get to close to them on the land but jump in the water with them and they’ll happily play with you all day long.
- Bar de Beto – the best beach bar in the world!
We stumbled across this little beauty on our first night when we were wandering along the beach to catch the sunset. Its prime location and attractive happy hour offerings were too good to resist and we found ourselves drawn here every afternoon of our stay on Isabela. Warning: beware of the happy hour Daiquiri’s, they’re ridiculously delicious, but a few to many of them and its quite possible you will lose the ability to use your legs and require a piggyback back to your hotel (I may or may not be speaking from experience).
The easiest way to get there is to transit through the Ecuadorian city of Quito. If you’ve got the time give yourself a couple of days to explore Quito, it’s a wonderful city rich in culture and history that’s a great stopover on your journey to the Galápagos Islands.
- Marine Iguanas
These crazy characters are found only in the Galápagos and have adapted to have the amazing ability to dive up to 9m underwater. Don’t worry about trying to spot these guys there are so many of them lying around the islands you’ll be hard pressed not to trip over them. Also don’t be alarmed when it sounds like they’re hissing at you, they’re actually just sneezing and expelling the salt water they’ve ingested when diving for underwater algae and seaweed.
- Birds, Birds, Birds!
The Galápagos Islands are a bird lovers paradise. 80% of the bird species found in the Galápagos are endemic, meaning it is the only place in the world where you can see these birds. If you ask me, bird lover or not, that’s pretty damn amazing! Ranging from the cute little Galápagos penguins, to Frigatebirds and Blue-Footed Boobies (hehe), I guarantee you’re going to be blown away by what you find here!
- Galapagos Green Turtle
If you ask me, anywhere you can swim with sea turtles is definitely worth a visit! We first encountered them on a snorkel tour, this of course meant we were on a time schedule and didn’t end up with all that much time to spend with them. My brother/ travel buddy somehow managed to miss them altogether, much to his disappointment (he did see a ray though!). The following day we figured out that if we jumped off the wharf, navigated our way through the reef, scrambled across some rocks (hard to do in flippers) and took a short swim we could find the group of turtles we’d spent time with the day before. This time we weren’t on a time schedule and many hours were spent in the company of these magnificent creatures.
Volcanoes are awesome! There’s something I find absolutely fascinating about volcanoes and it just so happens that the Galápagos Islands are made from volcanoes. So no matter which island you visit, there will be a volcano you can explore. I explored the desert like landscape of Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island. As an added bonus we came across a couple of land iguanas, they’re colourful characters indeed!
- The infamous Galápagos Tortoise
Last but not least you have to visit the Galápagos Islands to mingle with the Galápagos Tortoise. Known to weigh up to 185kg and often live to over 100 years in the wild, these slow moving gentle giants are will no doubt amaze you. I’ve never seen anything like them and to experience them in the wild was absolutely incredible!
If you’re not quite convinced on how amazing the Galápagos Islands actually are this video will give you even more of a taste of this incredible place.