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May 23, 2019 0

This Day Tour is offered on Wednesdays* and Fridays.*

*Please note: This blog will examine the Wednesdays schedule of this Day Tour. Approximate travel times and schedules stay roughly the same for both days, the only difference being that Wednesday schedules return directly to Puerto Ayora (arrival time approx. 4:20 p.m.) while Friday schedules return to Itabaca Channel, followed by a bus transfer to Puerto Ayora (arrival time approx. 4:00 p.m.).  

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There are many different ways one can go about visiting the Galapagos Islands, and two of the biggest ways are aboard a Galapagos cruise that sails on designated itineraries or a land-based approach that allows you to stay a hotel on the islands and create your own agenda. The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is one such example of the latter option, offering an excellent choice for those who prefer to stay on land for the majority their time in the Galapagos while still being able to craft their day as they see fit.

Our hotel is all about giving our guests access to adventurous and fulfilling activities that allow them to make the most of their time in this once-in-a-lifetime destination. One such activity that we are proud to offer is the Daily Tour aboard our Sea Lion Yacht, which takes our guests to exciting, nearby islands that are part of the Galapagos National Park. In this blog, we invite you to along for one such journey as we examine what a Sea Lion Yacht Day Tour of South Plaza Island is like.

 

First stop: Punta Carrión!

Rise and shine for an exciting day of exploration! Breakfast will be ready at 6:30 a.m., providing you with ample time to enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet before departing from the hotel. After you’ve eaten, grab all your essentials (camera, hat, sunscreen, etc.) and get ready to head out from the hotel at approximately 8:15 a.m.! It’s around that time we’ll begin heading to the town of Puerto Ayora, which is where we’ll hop aboard a transfer bus that will take us on a 45-minute journey up and over the island of Santa Cruz to the Itabaca Channel. Once at the Channel, we will board the Sea Lion Yacht.

From the Itabaca Channel we’ll begin heading to our first stop along the way (Punta Carrion), with a sailing time of approximately 15 minutes. Once we arrive at Punta Carrion at around 10:10 a.m., we’ll put on our snorkeling gear and jump in the water to begin our snorkeling activity that will last a little under an hour. Punta Carrion is a small bay that allows you to see a variety of fish, rays, and possibly even whitetip reef sharks!

Punta Carrion in the Galapagos Islands
Punta Carrion in the Galapagos Islands

South Plaza Island Awaits!

Following that, we’ll get back on board the Sea Lion Yacht and continue on our way to South Plaza, arriving at approximately 12:05 p.m. Once at South Plaza, we’ll disembark from the Sea Lion Yacht and take a small dinghy (panga) boat to the edge of South Plaza, where we’ll perform a Dry Landing to disembark from the panga. Once we’re on South Plaza Island, we’ll begin our walking excursion.

Trails at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos
Trails at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos

South Plaza is the southern half of two small crescent-shaped islands, both of which lie just a few hundred meters off the eastern coast of Santa Cruz Island. The northern island (aptly named North Plaza) is used for scientific purposes only. South Plaza is one of the smallest islands in the archipelago, but don’t let size fool you – when it comes to flora and fauna, it is one of the richest islands in the archipelago. South Plaza is 426 feet (130 meters) long and is the result of an uplift of the oceanic floor, giving it a slanted tabletop quality.

Our walking excursion here makes for a colorful sight, too! The turquoise waters of the channel between both islands contrast brilliantly with the black lava rocks that frame their shorelines, these of which have been carpeted with green seaweed and are often peppered with fluorescent-orange Sally Lightfoot crabs. Further up the shore on South Plaza, a carpet of scarlet-colored sesuvium succulents serve as the groundcover for a grove of verdant, prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit and crawl around under these cacti, waiting ever so patiently for their pears to drop and feast on them.

Cactus and succulents on South Plaza Island in the Galapagos
Cactus and succulents on South Plaza Island in the Galapagos

The trail we’ll take gradually heads up the slope of the island, leading us to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropicbirds, Nazca, and blue-footed boobies are also often found here, lazily gliding along the wind currents. This overlook also serves as a great place to occasionally spot large marine life, such as manta rays.

Cliffs at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos
Cliffs at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos

As we walk along the trail that runs parallel to the edge of the cliffs, we’ll gradually begin to hear the sound of the surf as it rushes into and pounds an inlet over on the western corner of the island. It is at this inlet that we’ll come upon a colony of bachelor sea lions that have made this place their home. Fun fact: the unique, reflective sheen found on many of the rocks throughout South Plaza are the result of sea lions having rubbed against them over the course of time, polishing them with the oils of their fur.

Bachelor sea lion colony at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos
Bachelor sea lion colony at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos

At South Plaza, you’ll most likely be able to check off up to 6 of our BIG15 list of iconic species in the Galapagos.

Land iguana at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos
Land iguana at South Plaza Island in the Galapagos

At the end of the walking excursion, we’ll head back to the Sea Lion Yacht at around 2:00 p.m., where we’ll get to enjoy lunch as we admire the island we just visited from afar. At 2:40 p.m., we’ll begin heading back to the Puerto Ayora docks, a journey that will take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes and see us arriving there at around 4:20 p.m. Once there, we’ll head back to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

Hours spent at South Plaza: approx. 12:00 p.m. to 2:40 p.m.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this wonderful Day Tour!

Keep in mind: Galapagos Day Tours are subject to change due to weather conditions, logistical reasons, guests’ safety and/or Galapagos National Park Regulations.

Ready to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and experience everything it has to offer? Get in touch with one of our Destination Experts, today!

Christopher Klassen

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May 16, 2019 0

This Day Tour is offered on:

Mondays:* Las Bachas, followed by North Seymour | Sundays*: North Seymour, followed by Las Bachas*

*Please note: This blog will examine the Sunday schedule of this Day Tour. Approximate travel times and schedules stay roughly the same for both days, albeit with the order switched.

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The Galapagos Islands can be visited in many ways, be it aboard an amazing Galapagos cruise that follows well-thought-out itineraries or through a land-based option. The latter option, such as the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, is the perfect choice for those prone to sea-sickness or who wish to have the freedom to manage their time as they see fit.

Our hotel makes it a point to provide our guests with access to activities that truly make this destination a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. A perfect example of this is found in the Daily Tour Options we offer aboard our Sea Lion Yacht, which takes our guests on day tours to fantastic, nearby islands. In this blog, we invite you to come along for the journey as we examine what a Day Tour of North Seymour and Las Bachas Beach is like.

First Stop: North Seymour Island

Rise and shine for an exciting day of exploration! At 6:30 a.m., a delicious breakfast buffet will be ready for you to enjoy. After you’ve eaten, grab your camera, hat, and sunscreen and be prepared to head out from the hotel at approximately 7:45 a.m.! From the hotel, we’ll head to the town of Puerto Ayora, where we’ll hop aboard a transfer bus that will then take us on a relaxing 45-minute journey up and over the island of Santa Cruz to the Itabaca Channel, where we will board the Sea Lion Yacht.

From the Itabaca Channel to North Seymour, our sailing time is approximately 45 minutes. We will arrive at the small yet gorgeous island of North Seymour at around 10:00 a.m., where we will hop aboard our panga (dinghy) to perform a Dry Landing and disembark.

North Seymour Island Coastline
Admiring the coastline of North Seymour Island.

As we begin our hiking excursion of the island, you will immediately notice that there is a difference between North Seymour and its neighboring big sister – Santa Cruz. The second one displays an uneven terrain, rolling hills, and highlands that are home to a very different kind of vegetation compared to that which grows by the coast. On the other hand, North Seymour resembles a relatively flat slab of terrain! It’s actually the result of underwater uplift rather than volcanic activity. That’s right – North Seymour was actually once ocean floor! There is no known reason for how or why this formation came to be, but it nevertheless became the perfectly flat setting for wildlife that it is today.

North Seymour hike in the Galapagos
Hiking at North Seymour Island guided by one of our Galapagos National Park Guide.

This island is packed with wildlife that surrounds visitors as they walk along the island’s trails. Prepare to be greeted by the lounging Galapagos sea lions and some of the most iconic Galapagos birds as they display their feathers and colors. In fact, North Seymour is home to some of the archipelago’s largest colonies of frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies! So birdwatchers, get ready for some serious bird action! If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon blue-footed boobies in the middle of their amusing courtship display.

Galapagos land iguana found at North Seymour Island
While exploring North Seymour, you’ll encounter this beautiful creature of the archipelago.

Harmoniously living in the same space, you will also be able to observe the endemic land iguana, as well as its aquatic relative – the only marine iguana in the world. You’ll also likely encounter the masked cousin of the blue-footed booby – the majestic Nazca booby.

At North Seymour, you’ll most likely be able to check off up to 7 out of 15 of our BIG15 list of iconic species in the Galapagos.

Hours spent at North Seymour: approx. 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Next Stop: Las Bachas Beach

At around 12:00 p.m., we’ll set sail and head over to Las Bachas Beach on Santa Cruz Island. This journey will take approximately 45 minutes. Once we arrive at Las Bachas Beach, we’ll perform a Wet Landing and disembark.

Las Bachas shoreline in the Galapagos Islands
Ready to be surprised by the wonders of Las Bachas!

After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Locals referred to the beach as the barges beach, a name that gradually morphed into “las bachas” in Spanish. Today it is an important nesting area for the eastern Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts all the way to flamingos.

American Flamingos at Las Bachas Beach in the Galapagos
American flamingos are part of our BIG15 Group of iconic species.

Fantastic snorkeling, swimming, and/or simply enjoying the soft, white sand beach are some of the activities you can enjoy here.

Lunch will be ready and served at around 2:10 p.m., at which point we kindly invite guests to come back aboard the Sea Lion Yacht to enjoy their meal.

Hours spent at Las Bachas Beach: approx. 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

 

Once we’ve wrapped up our experience here, we’ll set sail and head back to the Itabaca Channel, a journey which will take approximately 30 minutes. Once we’ve arrived at the channel, we’ll disembark and hop on the bus that will take us (a 45-minute journey) back to Puerto Ayora, from where we’ll head back to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this wonderful Day Tour!

Keep in mind: Galapagos Day Tours are subject to change due to weather conditions, logistical reasons, guests’ safety and/or Galapagos National Park Regulations.

Ready to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and experience everything it has to offer? Get in touch with one of our Destination Experts, today!

Christopher Klassen

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May 16, 2019 0

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is located on the southern end of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos archipelago. However, in spite of being on one of the few, populated islands in the archipelago, the hotel manages to serve as a true oasis of tranquility, surrounded entirely by nature and with direct access to the beach.

No matter what you’re hoping to get out of your Galapagos vacation – be it relaxation, land or sea exploration (or a combination of all three of these!) – the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel offers flexible programs that allow you, our cherished guest, to experience a fantastic piece of the archipelago at your own pace and taste.

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and the Alemanes Beach
Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and the Alemanes Beach
Where to stay in Galapagos?
While the Galapagos Islands offer plenty of accommodation options on both Santa Cruz and Isabela Islands, there’s truly no better option than the Finch Bay Hotel. This hotel in Galapagos is the only one with sustainability practices both in its operation and cuisine. It is also the only one with a private pool and direct access to a secluded beach. This makes it a perfect option when visiting Galapagos with kids. Enjoy this and many other perks in the best hotel in Galapagos, selected by TripAdvisor. Check out our rooms and suites!

What are my options for getting to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel?

If you’re a traveler hoping to focus entirely on simply enjoying your vacation and having everything taken care of, then our Finch Bay programs (the arrival process of which is detailed further down below) will provide you with full assistance from the moment you exit the airport in the Galapagos all the way to your arrival at our hotel, and onwards. All you need to worry about when you book our Finch Bay programs is making sure you enjoy the natural beauty of the Galapagos from the moment you get here! Scroll down below and have a look at how each of our programs work in terms of assisting you with your transfer from Baltra Airport to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

If you’re a traveler that prefers to take care of the details of your trip on your own, and you’re staying at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, this blog will also present you with a useful and convenient guide about how to get to our hotel on your own! We’ll actually start with that first.


How do I get to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on my own?

To get to our hotel, the first thing you need to know is what airport you need to fly into. If you’re going to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, and you’re looking to buy your airline tickets on your own, you need to fly to…

Seymour Airport  (GPS) on Baltra Island

The Arrival Process

Once you’ve arrived and gotten off the plane in the Galapagos, you’ll head through immigration services, where you’ll need to pay for your Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee as well as the fee for the airport shuttle service (named Lobito). After acquiring your park entrance and shuttle bus tickets, you’ll proceed to the baggage claim area, where you’ll retrieve your checked baggage.

Seymour airport at the Baltra Island
Seymour airport at the Baltra Island

The Transfer Process

Note: If you booked your night(s) at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel independently of any of our programs, but still wish to have our transfer services included, please feel free to either tell us upon making your reservation or contact us directly by clicking here. Once we confirm this airport transfer service, you can rest assured that our representative will be waiting for you right outside the airport when you arrive. 

Once you’ve gone through the arrival process, simply exit the airport and hop on the shuttle bus that will take you down to the Itabaca Channel pier. Given this is a shared and public service, it’s possible you will have to wait until the next bus is available.

Once you’ve hopped on the shuttle bus, you’ll get to enjoy a brief, 10-minute ride across the mesmerizing, arid landscapes of Baltra Island until you arrive at the Itabaca Channel pier. Once at the pier, you’ll board a ferry that will take you to the other side of the Channel, dropping you off on Santa Cruz Island. This ferry ride lasts approximately 15-minutes.

Ferry crossing the Itabaca canal
Ferry crossing the Itabaca canal

Once you arrive at the Santa Cruz Island pier, you’ll have the choice of either hopping aboard a public bus or hiring a taxi (the latter of which are pick-up trucks in the Galapagos!) that will assist you in taking you to Puerto Ayora, which is situated on the opposite, southern end of Santa Cruz Island. Should you opt for a taxi, it’s important that you tell the taxi driver that you wish to go to the “Muelle de Puerto Ayora.

Puerto Ayora municipal pier
Puerto Ayora municipal pier

The journey to Puerto Ayora from this side of the island takes approximately 60-minutes, affording you fascinating views of the landscapes and highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Lush farmlands and Palo Santo forests are just a few of things you’ll get to enjoy on your way to Puerto Ayora.

As we begin heading down from the highlands of Santa Cruz, you’ll notice a dramatic change in the surrounding scenery, as it becomes more urban in nature – and that’s because you’re finally arriving to Puerto Ayora! The bus or taxi will drop you off at the Puerto Ayora pier (Muelle Municipal de Puerto Ayora), where you’ll begin the final leg of your journey to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

Once at the pier in Puerto Ayora, you’ll need to board a water taxi that will take you to the hotel pier on the opposite side of the small inlet. Note: The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel has its very own water taxi that can take you to the hotel pier for free. In order to make use of it, you’ll need to call the reception desk at our hotel so that they can send it over to pick you up. You’ll also receive baggage assistance upon arriving at the hotel pier when you request the Finch Bay’s water taxi.

After you disembark from the water taxi at the hotel pier, you’ll enjoy a short walk (2,000 ft/600 m) along a pedestrian-only pathway that will take you through mangrove-areas and small, brackish lagoons before reaching the beachfront area and entering the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel grounds.

Welcome to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel!


Christopher Klassen

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April 23, 2019 0

This Day Tour is offered on Thursdays.

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Santa Cruz Island is the perfect home base for exploring some of the most beautiful and unique islands in the Galapagos. Whether it’s aboard an Expedition vessel or from a hotel, the island of Santa Fe is a precious gem that lovers of flora and fauna will absolutely love. If you opt for a land-based option and plan on staying at a hotel in the Galapagos, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to soak in the relaxed island life while creating your own, personal agenda for what you want to see and do. Staying at a place like the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel – one of the only hotels on Santa Cruz Island with direct access to the beach – is definitely an excellent option.

At the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, there are options for each and every taste, offering packages that will make any stay in the Galapagos a unique experience. Looking for relaxation? Adventure? Exploration? Exquisite food? Intimacy? Or simply enjoyment of the island life? The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel caters to all of these interests! If your schedule allows for it and if you’re looking to experience new and fantastic things that go beyond the island of Santa Cruz, you can hop aboard the Sea Lion Yacht without ever having to go too far from your home base!

In this blog, we invite you to find out what an experience of Santa Fe Island is like aboard our Sea Lion Yacht!

Santa Fe Island awaits!

Open your eyes and admire everything that sits right outside your window as a new day begins in the Galapagos! A delicious breakfast will be served and ready for you to enjoy at 6:30 a.m.

After breakfast, the adventure begins! At 7:45 a.m., we’ll depart from the hotel and head over to the Puerto Ayora docks, from which we’ll board the Sea Lion Yacht. Don’t forget that, before heading out from the hotel, you can ask for seasickness pills and walking sticks for the journey ahead, both of these free of charge.

Once we’ve boarded the yacht, we’ll sail for two hours until we reach the beautiful island of Santa Fe. During this majestic journey, you’ll get to soak in the views and the gentle breeze from the ocean from the second floor of the yacht or soak in the sun from the comfort of the loungers we have on the bow. You can enjoy this journey as you see fit!

 

Sea Lion yacht's day tours are perfect for kids and families.
Our day tours are perfect for kids!

Studies suggest that the island of Santa Fe is, in fact, one of the oldest in the entire archipelago. Given the island is the result of uplift from the ocean floor, you can actually see lava formations (that were previously underwater) sitting on its surface. These rock formations have been dated to be around 4 million years old! It’s relatively flat surface (9.3 mi2 / 24 km2) is home to two endemic species: the Santa Fe land iguana and the Santa Fe rice rat.

Additionally, you’ll also get to admire the largest species of opuntia cactus as well as Galapagos hawks (the largest predator in the archipelago), blue-footed boobies, Galapagos sea lions, frigatebirds (great and magnificent) and the marine iguana.

After performing a Wet Landing and disembarking on the beautiful, white sand beach of Sante Fe, we’ll immediately come upon numerous sea lion harems, which invite us to head out on an exciting walk throughout the island in search of the other residents that live here. Once we’ve taken our walk, you’ll enjoy a refreshing dip over at La Encañada a wonderful visitor site on Santa Fe Island. You’ll also get the chance to go snorkeling using the equipment we provide aboard the Sea Lion Yacht!

Guests posing next to a sea lion on Santa Fe Island
Great shot with a playful sea lion!

Afterwards, a delicious lunch will be waiting for you aboard the Yacht. Following a brief period of relaxation, we’ll set sail back to Santa Cruz Island.

Keep in mind: Galapagos Day Tours are subject to change due to weather conditions, logistical reasons, guests’ safety and/or Galapagos National Park Regulations.

Are you ready to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and experience everything we have to offer? Get in touch with one of our Destination Experts, today!

Christopher Klassen

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March 15, 2019 0

With so much to see and do on Santa Cruz Island, it’s no wonder the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotels offers a grand variety of Galapagos programs and guided tours. However, our guests often find themselves wondering what they can do on their own around the hotel. In this blog, we list the top activities we recommend doing on your own from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, ordered by their proximity (closest – furthest) to the hotel itself!

 

Visit Las Grietas

Step outside the beachfront gate of the Finch Bay and head down the path that leads to the right, and you’ll soon stumble upon Las Grietas (“The Crevasses”) after a short 15-20 minute hike. To call Las Grietas a simple swimming hole would be a disservice to its natural beauty, as it consists of three rectangular pools glimmering with emerald waters that are flanked by towering lava cliffs. A plunge in its cool waters on a hot day is a fun and refreshing activity to partake in, and it’s practically right around the corner from the Finch Bay, too! So don’t miss out on checking it out!

Finch Bay's guest jumping to the water at Las Grietas.
A not-be-missed place in Galapagos!

Go snorkeling!

A trip to the Galapagos Islands is a step into one of the world’s richest aquatic realms. From impressive schools of colorful fish to docile white-tip reef sharks, the waters of this paradise – which happen to form a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site – are the perfect place to interact with a wide gamut of species without having to witness them through cages or glass walls. This is why snorkeling is, quite simply, an absolute must in the Galapagos Islands! And one of the best things about a land-based option is you don’t need to go far to enjoy this natural, underwater spectacle. In fact, there are beautiful beaches right on Santa Cruz Island that allow you to partake in this activity! Don’t forget to request your snorkeling gear at the front desk of Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel before heading out! This gear is provided completely free of charge! Wetsuits are available for rent.

Snorkeling with green turtles in Galapagos.
Get a close encounter with the tame marine life of the Galapagos Islands.

Visit the nearby, must-visit Santa Cruz Beaches

Playa de Los Alemanes (German Beach)

Just a few steps away from the Finch bay Galapagos Hotel (in fact, the only hotel with direct access to a beach in all of Puerto Ayora), you’ll find the crystalline waters that sit alongside Playa de los Alemanes (German Beach). This gorgeous bit of beach, protected from the strong currents and waves thanks to mangroves and reefs, is ideal for enjoying the richness of the ocean while relaxing in a peaceful and calm environment. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the chance to swim with white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and a ton of colorful fish.

Playa de Los Alemanes on Santa Cruz Island.
Playa de Los Alemanes is located just a few steps away from our hotel.

Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay has consistently ranked among the world’s top beaches over the course of recent years, and it’s no wonder why: this wide stretch of open, immaculate beach (that conveniently sits right on the edge of Puerto Ayora) is, simply put, spectacular. Guests that choose to head here will get to enjoy a pleasant stroll through a giant cacti forest before being rewarded with a magnificent view of this jaw-dropping slice of coast. If you opt to head down the entire stretch of Tortuga Bay, you’ll be treated to a second and smaller secluded beach at the end that’s surrounded by mangroves and, occasionally, curious marine iguanas. Snorkeling here is highly recommended!

Marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
Enjoy the company of Galapagos marine iguanas while walking on the white sands of Tortuga Bay or snorkeling in its pristine waters.

Garrapatero Beach

The warm sand and turquoise waters at Garrapatero Beach welcome you to one of the best places to relax on Santa Cruz Island. Once you arrive at the entrance to the beach (which is located some 30 minutes away by car) you’ll enjoy a short, 15-minute walk that will reveal all of the mesmerizing, natural beauty of Garrapatero. If you get there early in the morning, you’ll get to enjoy the first rays of sunshine and admire marine iguanas soaking in the warmth on top of volcanic rock before they slide in for a refreshing dip in the crystalline waters of this fantastic place. Feel free to follow suit! Just always remember to wear sunscreen before doing so!

Garrapatero beach on Santa Cruz Islands.
One of the must-visit places of the archipelago.

Playa La Estacion (The Station Beach)

If you pass the Charles Darwin Research Station (more on that below), it won’t be long before you come upon Playa La Estacion – a quaint yet relaxing piece of coastline that has nice and soft sand. Be aware, however, that it also has its fair share of rocky patches, especially along the shoreline and in the water, so be sure to wear proper footwear! A nice little feature of this the shore here is that it’s sheltered from the waves thanks to a line of lava rocks that stretch out into the ocean. This natural geological formation provides calm waters for snorkeling and swimming alongside the occasional marine iguana, sea turtle, and/or baby sea lion, if you’re extra lucky!

Stargaze

One of the biggest attractions of escaping from the big cities is, without a doubt, getting the chance to enjoy clear skies and a starry night. The Galapagos Islands, of which only 3% is inhabited, barely presents any light pollution at all for those people looking to enjoy the night sky and its family of stars. When you stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, you’ll have first-row tickets to enjoy this magical festival of lights that shines overhead. All you have to do is walk right out front to Playa de los Alemanes (German Beach), put a towel down of the sand, and look up and let your eyes marvel at everything they see.

Galapagos night sky from Finch Bay Hotel
Starry night in Galapagos.

Stroll down the Malecon (boardwalk)

Feeling the urge to get a taste of the island life? Puerto Ayora’s boardwalk (referred to as the malecon in Spanish) offers our guests a pleasant way to stroll through town and admire: a.) the laidback restaurants, bars, and stores on one side, and b.) the serene Galapagos waters on the other side. To get to the boardwalk from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, all you need to do is take the hotel’s own water taxi back to the municipal dock and start walking down Charles Darwin Avenue. As you head down the boardwalk, you’ll often encounter several of the native residents (read: sea lions) taking a snooze or ambling around along the docks, shores, or over at the…

Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
Santa Cruz is one of the inhabited islands of Galapagos.

Check out the Fish Market of Santa Cruz

If you want to observe a little bit of the local culture more closely, there’s no better place to do it than at the Santa Cruz Fish Market. Following a stroll down the boardwalk, and right before hitting the Charles Darwin Research Station, you’ll come upon this eclectic spectacle. The Santa Cruz Fish Market is a great window into the way human inhabitants of Galapagos coexist with their animal neighbors and allows you to watch as sea lions and pelicans prop themselves up against the stalls of the fish vendors, eagerly awaiting a delicious meal between the naps they take.

Fish market of Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos
The fish market, where wildlife interacts with humans!

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

In addition to the inhabitants of the archipelago and the Galapagos National Park Service, the Charles Darwin Research Station is one of the biggest stakeholders when it comes to the protection and conservation of the islands. The Station is also involved in ongoing research project throughout the archipelago, these of which usually consists of monitoring species populations and visitor impact at several visitor sites. Their headquarters sit right at the far edge of town, which you’ll arrive at after walking along the entire length of the boardwalk. Once at the Station, you are free to walk around the different paths and trails that will let you admire much of the endemic fauna in Galapagos, as well as the numerous baby and adult Galapagos Giant Tortoises that are currently being raised in captivity.

Entrance to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos.
Our guests have the chance to learn more about the preservation of this incredible archipelago.

Visit Laguna Las Ninfas (Nymphs Lagoon)

Another marvelous aspect of the Galapagos Islands is the sheer amount of distinct natural environments you can find throughout the archipelago! Within a matter of minutes, the scenery before your eyes can turn from arid and desert-like into an impressive and lush green. On the way to Tortuga Bay, and incredibly close to Puerto Ayora, you’ll get to find this peaceful patch of water that’s home to one of the richest ecosystems in all Galapagos: mangroves. The Nymphs Lagoon allows you to enjoy a relaxing, approximately 60-minute walk along the mesmerizing clusters of mangroves that surround this perfect mirror lagoon of turquoise water. It’s important to keep in mind that this lagoon is not for swimming in; however, you’ll easily get to enjoy the refreshing breeze.

Visit the local museums and galleries

While Puerto Ayora isn’t particularly renowned for being a museum and artistic hotspot, it does manage to offer some pleasant surprises in the form of the MAPRAE Museum and a handful of art galleries. The former offers visitors the chance to get to know a little bit more about the indigenous cultures and history over on the Ecuadorian mainland. The latter may catch your eye with their artisanal wares and amusing art pieces — none of which are made from Galapagos elements, as per the Galapagos National Park Rules!

Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?


Christopher Klassen

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April 27, 2018 0

The Augmented Reality Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino de Realidad Aumentada – MAPRAE) in Puerto Ayora is the first of its kind in Galapagos. It was opened in 2016 and currently showcases over 50 archaeological pieces of work in conjunction with augmented reality. It is located right next door in the nearby city of Puerto Ayora, which is less than 15 minutes away from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

MAPRAE Museum in Puerto Ayora
The MAPRAE Museum is a must-visit place of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.

What’s it like inside the MAPRAE Museum in Galapagos? How does the exhibit work, exactly?

Upon entering the exhibit, visitors are given an iPad that comes pre-installed with an application that allows visitors to access and experience the augmented reality feature of the museum. Visitors only need to carry and point their iPad at one of the over 50 pieces that are displayed to begin the experience, at which point they will receive historical and cultural information regarding the three-dimensional image they are viewing on their device.

Galapagos visitors at MAPRAE Museum
The MAPRAE Museum is the first museum of Precolumbian art in augmented reality in the world.

Not only does this serve as an excellent and interactive opportunity for locals and foreigners alike to learn a little bit about the anthropological history of Ecuador, but it also provides a way for visitors with a limited time (that won’t be stopping in Quito or Guayaquil for extended periods) to get a quick but decent dose of Ecuadorian history.

While other museums in Galapagos might provide visitors with an adequate level of insight into the archipelago’s human history, MAPRAE Museum in Puerto Ayora allows them to go way back into the cultural and anthropological roots of mainland Ecuador. In many ways the MAPRAE Museum in Puerto Ayora is a way of bringing the continental history of Ecuador over into the remoteness of the Galapagos, provided the steady flow of international tourists with an excellent, albeit small way, of getting some history.

 

Finch Bay's guests at MAPRAE Museum in Galapagos
Finch Bay’s guests at the MAPRAE Museum in Galapagos.

And while most visitors come to the Galapagos obviously for its highly unique flora and fauna, visiting the MAPRAE Museum in Puerto Ayora within the fascinating natural context of Santa Cruz Island is a great way to combine both natural history and human history. Who knows? It might even allow us to get a more integral perception of our connection and dependence on nature, perhaps fostering a greater sense of duty and responsibility towards this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even if you’ve only come to Galapagos to experience the natural aspect, a visit to MAPRAE Museum in Puereto Ayora is a great way of complementing your trip with the anthropological aspect of the natural world at large. Visitors will be sure to see the unmistakable effect that nature has had on our ancestor’s ways of thinking and their everyday activities.

It’s just a stone’s throw away when you stay the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel! Start planning your trip, today!

 

Christopher Klassen

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March 29, 2018 0

Nature, when untouched, has the ability to immediately capture our attention with little to no effort. Everything that goes on in the loving and caring hands of Mother Nature has a way of capturing our human curiosity and imagination so easily. For many, it’s a world that’s worth continuously spying in on with both a lens and a narrative. There are those talented few that, with the right vision and commitment, manage to take nature to the next level and showcase it in all its might. From micro to macro, the power of nature documentaries is something that moves us to this day, inspiring us to appreciate and protect our world as much as we can.

The Oscar-winning Director Luc Jacquet is one of those who have been able to take nature to the big screen for the world to learn about and admire up close. You might recall his Oscar-winning feature, “The March of the Penguins” – a documentary that managed to transport many audiences from around the globe to the remote, frigid world of Antarctica and follow the amazing Emperor Penguins’ path. For his next project, Jacquet has taken up an ambition that is based around the Galapagos, evolution, and the story of life.
Check out the short but sweet interview we had with him below!

Galapagos Today: A Symbol for Conservation & Evolution

The Galapagos Islands became scientifically relevant when Charles Darwin arrived at the archipelago back in 1825. Upon landing on the islands, Darwin studied some of its most iconic species (many of which form a part of our BIG15 list of iconic species), allowing him to “fill in the blanks” of what would later become his most crucial and groundbreaking work – his the theory of natural evolution. Creatures that inhabited the Galapagos, being so isolated from the rest of the world, we’re able to live and evolve, almost completely uninterrupted by human activity (a situation that changed quickly with the presence of pirates and whalers on the islands). By observing the shells of the Galapagos giant tortoises and the beaks of the finches, and how they differed from each other and from island to island, Darwin realized evolution was the result of the survival of the fittest. This served testament to how life adapts in order to survive in almost any circumstance.  

Galapagos giant tortoise shell
The Galapagos giant tortoise was one of the endemic species that inspired the Theory of Evolution.

Nowadays, after years of work by the Galapagos National Park, NGO’s, the Ecuadorian government and the local communities, the Galapagos have finally begun to recover from invasive species, managing to bring back endemic and native species that came close to being on the brink of extinction. Sadly, some were not able to repopulate, such as the famous Lonesome George. To avoid that from happening, it’s up to everyone who inhabits the archipelago and visits it, to contribute in any possible way.  

 

The Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage, represent a world where nature and men coexist harmoniously. One from which there is still much to learn. An example of respect, sustainability, and life as it should be if we let it be.  

Jacquet and his team were out scouting the further reaches of the archipelago for potential sites to shoot their upcoming documentary feature, as well. To reach the more isolated islands of Galapagos, Jacquet and company sailed aboard our beloved Yacht La Pinta. You can check out his interview pertaining to that experience below:

We hope to have them all back soon!

Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?

Christopher Klassen

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February 9, 2018 0

Dr. Stephen Maturin: “Marine iguanas can’t swim, they’re land animals.”

Boy: “Well these ones can.”

Dr. Stephen Maturin: “My God, two new species in as many minutes…”

~Master & Commander~

Galapagos marine iguanas – they’re dark, bold and look like miniature Godzillas that crawl around on their bellies. They’re also seen practically everywhere throughout the Galapagos archipelago. But what is it that makes them such a unique creature in their own right, exactly? Find out in this blog, where we detail just what it is exactly that makes marine iguanas a must-see and a part of our BIG15 group of iconic species in Galapagos.

The Galapagos marine iguana is an example of evolution and adaptation.
This marine lizard can be found only in the Galapagos Islands.

Scientific Name: Amblyrhynchus cristatus
Type: Reptile
Family: Iguanidae
Order: Squamata
Diet: Herbivore (occasional carnivore)
Avg. Lifespan: 5-15 years. Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years.
Avg. Length: 60 – 150 cm (23 – 59 in)
Avg. Weight: .45 – 1.3 kg (1 – 3 lb)

What are Galapagos marine iguanas famous for?

Galapagos marine iguanas are believed to have diverged from their land-based cousins around 5.7 million years ago. The adaptations they have grown since diverging are what makes them so remarkable.

Behavior

Galapagos marine iguanas are famed for being the only marine lizard in the whole world. In addition to this, their eating habits while underwater are another remarkable feature of theirs, as these aquatic iguanas feast extensively on the algae that grows atop submerged rocks.

Physical Adaptations

A distinct physical characteristic of these is found in their:

Color: As black as charcoal and the lava rock they walk across and amass over. Their dark scales also absorb much of the sun’s heat for their cold-blooded bodies and also have the remarkable ability to change colors during mating season.

A Galapagos marine iguana basking under the sun.
This dinosaur-like creature has adapted its physical features to the particular environment of the archipelago.

Claws: Longer, more muscular claws have allowed them to easily cling tenaciously to algae-covered rocks.

Tail: They have laterally flattened tails to help them swim and steer their bodies when in the water.

Snout: Flatter snouts with protruding teeth that are tricuspid, allowing them to get these sharp shears next to the rocks and tear away the tenacious algae that sticks to them with relative ease.

As a result of their subaquatic behavior, Galapagos marine iguanas have evolved to have a desalination gland that’s located right behind their nose. This is used to expel the salt from their bodies in an unmistakable manner – often making look as if they’re sneezing or even hissing at you.

“Shrink only in case of emergency” Adaptability

Unlike the feathered creatures that soar overhead in Galapagos, marine iguanas can’t simply fly away from their harsh environment should they be confronted with tough times (in terms of nutrients and food). For Galapagos marine iguanas, it’s a matter of adapt or die. As a result, these incredible reptiles can actually shrink their bodies so as to be less dependent on larger quantities of food. It’s a fascinating characteristic that allows them to improve their survival odds and pass their genes on to the next generation.

Galapagos marine iguenas resting on lava rocks.
Female marine iguanas reach sexual maturity at the age of 3–5 years and males reach sexual maturity at the age of 6–8 years.

Reproduction

Galapagos marine iguana mating season takes places between the month of January and March and is quite a spectacle (check out our blog that talks exclusively about marine iguana mating season). From the territorial way they behave to the way the color of their scales changes, it’s an extraordinary change of their being.

Where are Galapagos marine iguanas found?

Galapagos marine iguanas are located on the main islands of Galapagos Guests will often see them hanging out along the multitude of shorelines in Galapagos. Some of these main islands can even be accessed aboard our Sea Lion Yacht.

Interested in experiencing this mesmerizing and fascinating iconic species during your trip to Galapagos? Look no further than the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel to see them hanging out around the numerous beaches in Puerto Ayora, including our beachfront slice of paradise – Playa de Los Alemanes!

Marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
Enjoy the company of Galapagos marine iguanas while walking on the white sands of Tortuga Bay or snorkeling in its pristine waters.

Christopher Klassen

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January 12, 2018 0

Yes! We are talking about of one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Enchanted Islands. A unique spot on the planet. Wonder and magic are found at every corner and will surprise you from beginning to end. When you stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, our goal is for you to experience life, moments, landscapes, and flavours that will remain in your mind and heart forever. We know many of our guests usually plan their trips almost a year in advance and they expect it to be the trip of a lifetime. At Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and Finch Bay Restaurant we are committed to giving our guests exactly that. Adventures, activities, service and food, every little detail counts. In our journey towards creating a traditional Galapagos food, we have put all our creativity to work. Cooking is an art, and like with any art, visuals play a great role! We are creating a Galapagos culinary identity at the Finch Bay and we want you to be a part of it!

Ecuadorian traditional food at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
Ecuadorian traditional food

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

Galapagos is a unique place in which the most wonderful memories are created. What is life if not a collection of our fondest ones? To me, life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. It might sound repetitive but I firmly believe we should live everyday as if it would be our last. Do what makes you happy and do it without hesitation.

As Chefs, we try to improve every day. We want to wow our guests with our flavours, with the richness of our local products, with the way we present their food. We aim to go beyond their expectations!

Let Inspiration be Your Identity

In our company and at Finch Bay there are two things we deeply care about: sustainability and community. We wanted to support our local artisans so we decided to look for unique products that would add to the style of our hotel, while creating an identity of our own. We commissioned the Quito-based workshop Barroquema to create a clay dishware that showcased the best of the beautiful place in which we work, the Galapagos. The specially-handcrafted plates found inspiration in the elements and colours of the islands, and became the perfect canvas atop which to put our own culinary artistry to work.

Beef and choice of sauce at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
Beef and choice of sauce at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

The Power of Presentation

I like to define myself as a creative Chef, which is why plating is also an important part of my process. I seek to display the colours and textures of the food on the plates in such a way that they surprise and inspire our guests. I want to create the same reaction they get when they first set eyes on the islands and their majestic landscapes.

The idea is to first open your appetite through your eyes. Take your time to observe the different elements in your plate, admire the colours, smell the distinct aromas and let a smile come to your face as you feel the textures in your mouth after that first bite.

– Photo credit: Emilio Dalmau –

I have always thought that food is the reflection of a Chef’s soul. To me, life is good, happy and full of adventures. The wonderful team of expert cooks I work with are funny and crazy people. It´s exactly that – along with our passion and the respect we have for the products of the Galapagos – what we try to convey through our cooking and plating.

In the Search of a Galapagos Culinary Identity

Are you interested to visit the best restaurant in the Galapagos Islands? We are committed with you as a guest to give you the experience of a lifetime on the islands. There are many factors that come into play when it comes to having a great trip and food is one of them. Let our food take you on a journey of its own and be transported to a place of wonder! It’s time to rock-and-roll in the kitchen and to keep doing what we love to do. It’s time to put the best of our creativity to work and to create a unique and unforgettable Galapagos food. But first, let’s keep on adding to the building block of our own identity. We guarantee, we will go beyond your wildest dreams!

We love to cook, we live to cook and we cook to live.

This is the best restaurant in the Galapagos Islands!

Christopher Klassen

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December 29, 2017 0

Snorkeling in Galapagos is sure to be one of the most magical experiences you’ll have during your time in the archipelago. The biggest reason why? Because of the vast amount of fauna you’ll have surrounding you, almost as if you’d summoned them for yourself! Being a source of curiosity for other creatures is almost like a superpower unto itself, such that with just a little bit of patience and fearlessness, snorkelling in Galapagos will have creatures swimming within arms-length of your snorkelling mask, ogling your presence to try and “figure you out.” It’s an incredibly fun experience, which is why we recommend making it a core part of your Galapagos experience while staying at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel! Read-on and get stoked by finding out what animals you’ll get to swim with while snorkelling in Galapagos!

Sea Turtles

Galapagos green sea turtle swimming.
The green sea turtle can be spotted around the Galapagos Islands!

Both majestic and lethargic in their demeanour, sea turtles are a treat to swim beside while snorkelling in Galapagos. Their slow and ridiculously laid-back style of movement underwater makes them an easy target for us human to get up close to (but remember, not too close!) and snap a beautiful picture of their worn and wise-looking shells and long flippers.

Sea Lions

Perhaps one of the most playful creatures of the sea when it comes to snorkelling in Galapagos, sea lions truly are a spectacle to revel in and even become a part of (when they’re curious enough)! These adept swimmers won’t hesitate to get incredibly close to you to check you out! They’re quick and skilful with their movement and will swim at you full speed before doing an underwater “somersault” of sorts and swimming away reluctantly. They’re even curious enough to nibble at your flippers if you let them! Extra cute points for swimming next to a Galapagos sea lion pup (just watch out, as the mothers of these pups are highly protective)!

Marine Iguanas

Scuba diving in Galapagos with marine iguanas.
Scuba diving in Galapagos is one of the most incredible experiences on Earth.

Bold, rugged and beautiful in their own right, snorkelling in Galapagos with these “imps of darkness” (as Darwin himself saw it fit to call them) is a pretty cool experience. Bonus points if you get to see them feasting on their main diet – nutritious algae that cling to the rocky shores in Galapagos waters. Their giant claws and tenacious grip are a sight to behold. If you’re hanging out in shallow waters, you can even walk beside one as they slither like snakes just below the surface of the water, with their heads poking out like miniature dogs. Getting next to them while snorkelling in the Galapagos means you officially have the bragging rights to say you swam with the only species of iguana that can swim in the world!

Sharks

Slick and daunting with their greyscales and pointed fins, sharks seen while snorkelling in Galapagos are incredibly deceptive in the sense that they erroneously portray a dangerous image. Fun fact: they’re super docile! Sharks, in fact, are highly misunderstood creatures and are actually much less threatening than many people believe. The importance of sharks in Galapagos, too, is highly overseen. While snorkelling in Galapagos, you’ll get to swim over a school of white-tip sharks and silky sharks.

Snorkeling in Galapagos with Penguins

Flapping, zipping and propelling themselves around underwater like superfast mini-submarines, Galapagos penguins are one of the rarest species of penguins given they’re the only ones to live north of the equator! In Galapagos, the relatively colder waters are what allow them to thrive in this unique environment. Note: These can only be seen on the western side of Galapagos, available via Western Islands Galapagos itineraries.

The adventure has just begun. Check out our Finch Bay diving programs here.

Christopher Klassen

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