Beautiful Bartolome

Ecotoursim in the Galapagos Islands

When the Galapagos Islands were first discovered by humans in 1535, the animals had already spent hundreds of thousands of years adapting and re-adapting to their island home. Located 600 miles off the western coast of South America, the unique conditions of these isolated islands created a variety of species unlike any others across the globe, even differing from island to island.

The name Galapagos is probably most identified with its unique wildlife more than any other destination on earth, and when you visit this beautiful archipelago you become a participant in ecotourism. A set of guidelines has been developed for the protection of Galapagos National Park and it is in everyone's interests that these rules are followed. For a full list of guidelines click here. Remember that you must remain on the marked trails and within designated visitor areas, it is forbidden to remove any live or dead plant or animal material from the islands or to transport these items between the islands. The animals should never be touched, fed, chased, or otherwise disturbed (this includes: nest, eggs and babies). All garbage must be left on the boat or taken off the islands when you leave. Your tour guides will strictly enforce these rules if necessary.

The rules designed for the protection of the Galapagos can be applied to every tourism destination on earth, so it is a good idea to be familiar with them. In addition when you are buying souvenirs, ensure that they are not made from endangered plants and animals or parts of them. This is illegal.

If you are staying extra days before or after your cruise, here is a list of hotel / hostel options for you in the Galapagos islands: Lodging in the Galapagos

Here are descriptions of the individual islands:




Santa Cruz

Center of the archipelago. Santa Cruz is the large and high land where volcanic activity has long ceased. It is the islands with the largest population of humans... more


Pinnacle rock, the remains of a an eroded tough cone. It is an easy hour's climb to the summit of the 114 km spatter cone via a dock draped with the Galapagos sea lions. Small but scenic with spectacular examples of volcanism on slopes of extinct spatter cone... more

Sombrero Chino

Less than a quarter of a square kilometer in size, the tiny island of Sombrero Chino gets its name from its appearance.more

Sullivan Bay

On the coast marks the edge of a vast lava flow that spewed out as recently as 1900. There is a tiny landing beach with Galapagos penguins, but few plants have colonized the lava's barren... more


Rising to a height of over 900 m, Santiago is large enough for an endemic subspecies of giant tortoise to have evolved, although you are unlikely to see them at the visitor sites. more


Rabida's most striking feature is a high bluff off the north coast, which glows a startling rust red when the sun is low in the sky and contrast with the green fringe of straggling opuntias along the summit... more

North Seymour

The discovery of marine fossils on this plateau surrounded by low cliffs indicates that North Seymour is an uplifted lava flow. Flat profiles makes for easy walking and it offers an accessible... more

Puerto Ayora

When preparing for a vacation in the Galapagos, you should know that there are many ways to visit the archipelago...more


This is a small and relatively flat island. The rim of a sunken crater forms Bahia Darwin. Geologically young (less than one million years old) and therefore some iconic Galapagos creatures... more

San Cristobal

The most eastern island in the Galapagos also one of the oldest. San Cristobal is an eroded volcano rising gently from sea level to the moist highlands nearly ... more

Santa Fe

The surface of Santa Fe is an eroded faulted plateau that formed when basalt lavas oozed out of submarine fissures some four million years ago. Arid zone vegetation such as giant opuntias and its age... more

South Plaza

Uplifted slabs of sea floor, rather then volcanic islands. South and North plaza are only separated by less then 1 km wide but only south plazas is open to visitors. One of the best islands for Galapagos land iguanas... more


This rugged island was formed by a now extinct volcano and is old enough for several endemic vertebrates to have evolved here. Early settlers left a legacy of scandal, murder and intrigue, ... more


This uplifted submarine lava flow in the southeastern edge of the archipelago makes Espanola one of the oldest islands. There is sensational seabird viewing and the worlds main breeding colony of waved albatrosses at Punta Suarez, plus accessible breeding Nazca Boobies... more



The vast lava flows of six major volcanoes and numerous smaller ones have uplifted and joined together over millions of years to form what is now the island of Isabela...more


Uplifting and lava flows issuing from the massive domed cone of Volcano La Cumbre have formed Fernandina the most volcanically active island in the Galapagos. Punta Espinosa is a ... more

Some Islands not visited by
cruise ships:

  • Pinta
  • Marchena
  • Darwin
  • Wolf
  • Beagle
  • North Plazas
  • Pinzon


Day Scuba Diving locations:

  • Gordon Rocks
  • Kicker Rock
  • North Seymour
  • Sante Fe
  • Daphne Minor
  • Mosquera
  • Bartolome
  • Cousins
  • Floreana
  • El Bajo
  • La Loberia
  • Punta Estrada


Looking for a hotel or hostel in the Galapagos?

Visit our Galapagos accommodations page: Lodging in the Galapagos



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