The Galapagos Islands are known for their year-long suitability as a holiday destination. There are still certain times that are more suitable to visit the islands than the others. In this post we try to narrow down the best time to visit Galapagos.
Galapagos Cruise Last Minute
Before booking a last minute cruise you should know how much your budget is for your whole trip to the Galapagos Islands, including the non-negotiable fees (National Park fee and Transit Control Card). This allows you to understand how much you are able to spend on the cruise.
Last minute deals usually include budget or mid-range boats therefore if you are looking to book a luxury cruise, it would be better to book in advance. When booking a last minute Galapagos cruise, you may need to be flexible regarding your itinerary. If you have an ideal itinerary that is also popular with other visitors, it is likely that those cruises will be fully booked. The best time to book a last minute cruise is between 1 week and 1 month before departure. Within this time frame prices should begin to decrease and there should still be plenty of options. The high season in the Galapagos Islands is from June to September and from December to January. During these months, the Galapagos cruise prices will be higher than usual and will most likely be fully booked.
Seals are a core part of the Galapagos islands wildlife
Galapagos Cruise Holidays
Each cruise has a different itinerary so it is important that you find a Galapagos cruise
that suits you. Typically on a 7 day cruise you will either visit the eastern Galapagos Islands or the western Galapagos Islands.
The eastern Galapagos itinerary generally visits:
Baltra Island – The location of a small harbor and international airport. There is not any wildlife to be seen here and due to the dry land, the vegetation consists of salt bushes, prickly pear cactus and palo santo trees.
Punta Cormorant - features a trail that leads to a saltwater lagoon where pink flamingos can be spotted. Past the lagoon is a white sand beach where green sea turtles lay their eggs.
The Post Office Bay - A white sand beach with a post office barrel that has been in use since 1793.
The Devil’s Crown - A wide crater home to sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, eels and a variety of colourful fish. Known as one of the best snorkelling spots.
Gardner Bay - A white sand coral beach, home to colonies of sea lions. Off shore snorkelers may see sea turtles, sea lions and large tropical fish.
Punta Suarez - A beach home with sea lions and marine iguanas. There is also a trail that leads to cliff tops where blue-footed boobies and waved albatrosses can be seen.
Interpretation Center - This is where can learn more about the history of the Galapagos Islands and follow a trail to Cerro de las Tijeretas.
El Junco - A freshwater lake in the highlands where frigatebirds are often found.
Punta Pitt - An eroded crater with green-sand beach where blue-footed, red-footed and nazca boobies can be seen.
Kicker rock - A good place to snorkel and dive. Manta rays, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks and bottle-nose dolphins are some of the marine life that can be seen here.
The famous giant tortoises of the Galapagos islands
Santa Cruz Island
Charles Darwin Research Station - A research station with various species and reproductive projects, including a giant tortoise breeding project. You can also learn about how they conserve the biosphere of the Galapagos Islands.
Tortuga Bay - A white sand beach where turtles, pelicans and blue herons can be sighted.
Black Turtle Cove - Mangrove lagoons with white-tipped reef sharks, rays and sea lions.
Sea lions line the beaches of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe land iguanas can be found nearby.
The western Galapagos Islands itinerary generally visits:
Baltra Island and Santa Cruz are also included in this itinerary.
Prince Philip's Steps - A cliff-top trail where frigate birds, red-footed and nazca boobies and storm petrels can be spotted.
Darwin Bay - A small beach, home to sea lions and marine iguanas.
Puerto Egas - a lava shoreline where rocks have eroded and formed deep pools. Home to fur seals, sea lions, marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Sullivan Bay - A vast lava field with uneroded, black lava flow.
Elizabeth Bay - Home to colonies of penguins due to the cooler surrounding waters.
Tagus Cove - After a short hike from Tagus Covee, you reach Darwin Lake, a salt-water crater lagoon.
The island features beaches, lava flow and mangrove lagoons. And is home to various species such as marine iguanas, lava lizards, Galapagos Penguins, flightless cormorants and sea lions.
Galapagos Islands Cruise cost
The cost of a Galapagos cruise depends on various factors:
Although the weather in the Galapagos Islands
are pleasant all year-round, the low season is considered to be during the months April, May, September and October. During these months there are fewer tourists and therefore lower prices for the Galapagos cruises. The disadvantage is that during these times the ocean can be very choppy which could be considered a problem for some.
The Galapagos cruises have many types of itineraries available that can last for 4, 5, 6, 8, and even 15 days. Typically the longer the itinerary, the higher the cost of the cruise.
The Class of the Cruise
Depending on your budget, you may opt for a budget cruise, mid-range cruise or a more luxurious cruise. The higher the price, the better quality amenities and dining and tour guides tend to have more experience on more expensive cruises. In addition, higher priced cruises provide more comfortable cabins with a larger size, modern decor and a warm shower. The quality and variety of food also depends on price; gourmet food can even be expected on the luxury cruises. However, a great experience in the Galapagos Islands can be possible at any price.
Based on a 7 day Galapagos cruise:
A Galapagos islands cruise seen behind the pelican.
Galapagos Cruise Ships
For the perfect Galapagos holiday
, you need to pick the cruise ship that matches what you want. Most cruises can be separated into 3 categories: Small with 8-20 passengers, medium with 40-50 passengers and large with maximum 100 passengers.
Small Galapagos Ships
Small cruise ships allow flexibility. If collectively the passengers wish to spend longer at one destination, their time there can be extended. If passengers are very interested in a particular activity like photography or snorkelling, that particular excursion could be lengthened.
Due to the small number of passengers, transportation of all passengers from the island to the ship is quick which means more time can be spent ashore.
When on board, it's a better experience with nature. For instance, when a pod of dolphins are spotted, it is easier for the captain to move closer to the wildlife. Without the hassle of a crowd, it is also easier to take photographs of the wildlife.
Due to a smaller group of passengers, it allows for a more intimate experience with the captain, crew members and other passengers.
However, on small ships there are fewer public spaces and cabins can be very small.
Also, menu choices can be limited which could be a problem for people with dietary concerns or medical issues. Due to the size of the ship, from July to November the water can be seasickness? best choice if you're prone to or worried about seasickness.
Medium Galapagos Ships
Medium sized ships offer more public spaces and more amenities.
Also provides larger cabins compared to smaller ships. This size ship is more family friendly compared to small ships as children have more areas to roam around.
There are also more menu choices to suit the larger group of passengers.
There is usually a high crew-to-passenger ratio.
However, there is less flexibility as it is unlikely that all passengers will mutually agree on the decision to extend or cut time at a particular destination.
Large Galapagos Ships
Large ships have many public spaces and amenities such as a gym and library.
They may include live evening entertainment and more dining choices that may suit passengers with dietary concerns and medical issues.
Also, passengers that suffer from seasickness will prefer the stability of a large ship.
Due to a large group of passengers, itineraries are divided up so that groups take turns in activities. For example, one group may hike in the morning while another group snorkels and in the afternoon they will swap over.
However, this means that passengers must stick to a strict schedule so excursions do not cross over. The wonder of being around Galapagos' wildlife could be spoilt by being in a large group.