The Best Way to Visit the Galapagos: Combining Land and Cruise Options

Welcome to the enchanting world of the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago that captivates travelers with its breathtaking landscapes and unparalleled wildlife. This natural wonder, consisting of 14 islands that can be visited via different methods, presents a kaleidoscope of distinct features and diverse habitats. 

Each island beckons with its own unique allure, offering a myriad of natural treasures to discover. However, given the plethora of sights and experiences this mesmerizing destination has to offer, planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands can be as daunting as it is exciting

But there’s good news for intrepid explorers and nature enthusiasts: the best way to see the Galapagos is often achieved by combining land stays with cruise journeys. This approach allows you to soak in the diverse beauty and ecological wonders of the islands both from the comfort of shore and an adventure at sea. In this blog, we will guide you through the best way to tour the Galapagos Islands, ensuring you make the absolute most of your adventure in this extraordinary part of the world. 

Explore Diverse Landscapes While Visiting the Galapagos Islands

Exploring the Galapagos Islands, renowned for their volcanic landscapes, untouched beaches, and lush forests, is an adventure of a lifetime. The best way to visit the Galapagos is by combining land tours and cruises, which provides a comprehensive experience of this unique archipelago. On land, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the islands’ distinctive and diverse wildlife, including the iconic giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. This approach allows for an in-depth exploration of the island’s terrestrial wonders.

Conversely, embarking on a cruise offers a different perspective and is arguably the best way to thoroughly see the Galapagos. Cruises provide the flexibility to navigate among various islands (each with its own set of unique geographical features), offering a closer view of the wealth of life that exists throughout the archipelago along with the privileged chance to visit much more remote areas. Activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding enable intimate encounters with the marine environment, allowing you to immerse yourself in the clear, vibrant waters of the Galapagos. Additionally, glass-bottom boat tours offer a relaxing way to observe the astounding marine species below.

North Seymour Island

Visit Unique Sites with Land and Cruise Tours

Something that undoubtedly makes for one of the best ways to visit the Galapagos Islands is the combination of land and cruise tour options. Doing so allows you to visit remote islands and unique sites only accessible by boat while also enjoying the special perks and creature comforts available at a land-based accommodation option.  

While visiting the Galapagos Islands on a Cruise Tour, for example, you can explore the uninhabited island of Bartolome, where you can hike to the top of volcanic terrain and see stunning views of the archipelago before swimming with penguins. Or you can visit the island of Genovesa, which is known for its large population of red-footed boobies and frigatebirds. 

To complement a cruise tour, a stay on land will grant you access to epic activities, such as to the top of a massive volcano on Isabela Island, walking through the lava tunnels on Santa Cruz, or simply relaxing on the sandy beaches of Playa de los Alemanes beach—which sits right next to the Finch Bay Hotel. These islands and sites offer a unique experience you won’t want to leave out of your itinerary while planning your trip to the Galapagos Islands.

Finch Bay's Guests Exploring Las Grietas, near the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

Expedition Team

An expedition team is pretty much your cornerstone of a transformative Galapagos experience, offering far more than guidance. Including one in your itinerary is, without question, the best way to visit the Galapagos. Comprising trained naturalists, biologists, and local experts, these teams are instrumental in elevating a simple visit into an educational journey. They provide invaluable insights into the unique flora and fauna, lead diverse excursions and activities, and conduct informative lectures that deepen visitors’ understanding of the islands’ delicate ecosystems. 

Their expertise ensures not only a safe and environmentally responsible exploration but also a personalized and profoundly meaningful experience while visiting the Galapagos Islands. In essence, the expedition team is vital in bridging the gap between mere sightseeing and a truly immersive, enlightening encounter with the natural wonders of the Galapagos.

Service Provider 

As the direct owners and operators of our own fleet of cruise ships in the Galapagos, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel offers its guests an unparalleled experience in the archipelago without the need for a middleman. This not only allows for transparency and a smoother booking process but also allows for full control over the experience our guests seek. This unique position enables us to provide a seamless, highly personalized journey, from luxurious accommodations to gourmet dining and engaging expeditions. By controlling every aspect of the onboard experience, we ensure that each detail aligns with our exacting standards, enhancing the overall quality of your trip.

Our direct involvement in the operation of our ships guarantees consistent, top-tier service and quick responsiveness to guest feedback, ultimately providing the best way to visit the Galapagos Islands. This approach not only heightens customer satisfaction but also fosters deep brand loyalty. As the creators and managers of your journey, we are committed to surpassing your expectations and delivering an unforgettable Galapagos adventure!

Sea Lion Yacht in North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach

The Most Important Galapagos Hack: Witness All the BIG15 Iconic Species

The Galapagos Islands would not be what they are today without the presence of their incredibly unique wildlife. It’s no small wonder that guests from around the world continuously make their way here to marvel at the unique species that call the archipelago their home. Consequently, one of the best ways to visit the Galapagos is to check off as many creatures from our BIG15 list of iconic species as possible!

Pro tip: A combination of land-based and cruise-based tours will definitely maximize your chances of encountering these remarkable creatures. Simply because to see the full array of the BIG15 iconic species, a strategic itinerary is key, especially when considering the seasonal presence of a few species (which we’ll get to further below).

With the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, the best way to guarantee such an itinerary that maximizes BIG15 viewing is by spending 2 nights with us and then using one day to visit Santa Fe Island aboard our very own Sea Lion Yacht. Here, you’ll spot the Santa Fe Land Iguana, which is a must-see member of the BIG15 list. Our Sea Lion Yacht offers a supremely comfortable and luxurious experience that allows you to use the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel as your homebase.

Following that, you’ll want to complement this land-based introduction to the Galapagos with a cruise-based tour—ideally one that’s 7 days long, such as our Southeastern Isabela II Yacht Tour!—which will give you the chance to view all remaining 14 species from the BIG15 list. Just keep in mind that the albatross, a key member of the BIG15, is not present from January to April. If seeing all “BIG15” species is a priority, please be sure to plan your trip outside these months to ensure you don’t miss out on these magnificent birds.

Note: Given the set departure schedule of vessels in the archipelago, the perfect Galapagos itinerary will have you sailing on the Sea Lion Yacht on Thursday and then departing on Isabela II’s Southeastern itinerary that same Friday

In summary, seeing all of the BIG15 in the Galapagos is a feasible and thrilling prospect with our expertly combined land-based and cruise-based tours. By choosing the right tour and timing, especially considering the seasonal presence of certain species like the albatross, you can maximize your chances of encountering the diverse and extraordinary wildlife of the Galapagos and experience the best way to visit the Galapagos. 

Santa Fe Land Iguana big 15

A Unique Galapagos Adventure 

Combining a land tour with a cruise tour in Galapagos gives you an incredibly unique and distinct experience of exploring the archipelago. Taking a land tour for a few days and then hopping on a Galapagos Expedition cruise for the remaining time is the perfect way to blend relaxation with adventure while simultaneously ticking off the complete list of Galapagos BIG15 iconic species. Plus, combining your tours allows you to see more wildlife, try different activities, and explore remote locations. 

 So, start planning your trip today with the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, and revel in a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

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