Things to do in the Galapagos

Our top activities in Galapagos


The Galápagos’ volcanic islands are only one part of the story – what inhabits the waters of the surrounding marine reserve is a very different one. Marine iguanas are on the prowl, Galápagos penguins dive in, and hammerhead and white-tipped sharks lurk in the depths. Read our full guide to diving for tips and advice here.

Meet the locals – past and present

David Orrock, from our supplier Pura Aventura, shares one of his favourite things to do in the Galápagos for culture lovers:
"Floreana is particularly interesting. It has a very, very small human population – it's practically a village – but you can stay in a small lodge here and it's all run by the locals. You're there and seeing how people are living in a not entirely hospitable environment. For the first couple of hundred years after Europeans saw the Galápagos, everyone thought it was a ghastly place that no one would ever want to stay in. Its harsh, it's volcanic. The other thing about Floreana is the history, because the first proper settlers there in the early 20th century lived on Floreana and there's great stories about these slightly eccentric Germans and Austrians, and the baroness who had two lovers and one of them was murdered and the other disappeared onto a boat... it's really incredible. On each island you get your own guide and they know the island backwards. People don't really go expecting to hear about the cultural history, and they're really surprised when they do."

Hike up Sierra Negra

The five-hour hike around the rim offers spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes and ocean, and you can continue on to the bizarre, smoking lava landscape of Volcán Chico, which last erupted in 2005. You’ll walk with an expert guide, who can discuss the flora and fauna as well as the geology – but beware: the black lava landscape intensifies the equatorial heat!


For some, a week-long tour, zipping from bay to bay, may only just be enough to whet the appetite. For those who want to do more than just scratch the surface, volunteering may be one of the most rewarding things to do in the Galápagos. Placements on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal can assist with the replanting of endemic flora as well as eradicating invasive plant species, based out of reserves or research stations. Alternatively, get involved in the local community by assisting English teachers at a primary school.
Volunteer placements normally last two to three weeks, with work carried out on Monday-Friday, leaving you with the weekends free to explore the magical islands you are able to call your temporary home.
Photo credits: [Meet the locals: claumoho] [Hike up Sierra Negra: Michael R Perry] [Tortoises: ollie harridge]
Written by Vicki Brown
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