Let’s answer this question by taking a look at the many options to explore the Islands. Below we’ll provide you with a very brief introduction to the Galapagos Islands, and then discuss options for land-based experiences, sea-based expeditions, and the best option overall: the award-winning Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.


Introduction to the Galapagos Islands

As the world is inching its way toward the “new normal,” which looks more and more like the “old normal”, the enchanting Galapagos Islands and their people have opened their arms to welcome us back. For more specific in-depth information about the Islands, their wildlife, and the activities you can enjoy, please check out some of our other blog articles. In general, the diversity of wildlife in this archipelago is spread out across its eighteen main islands, three smaller islands, and 107 rocks and islets, which are among the most beautiful land formations in the world. Together with the crystalline blue waters, they will make for the most picturesque photos you will ever take! The wildlife itself has also been the subject of countless nature magazine covers and films. From the world-famous blue-footed boobies and their adorable courtship dance to the playful sea lion pups and the majestic but non-threatening Galapagos sharks, there is an immeasurable amount to see as each island has its own native and endemic species. Quite literally, no two islands are the same. There are so many activities to do to help us get closer to these amazing creatures and their beautiful homes,  including guided photography walks, snorkeling with a staggering array of colorful fish, and other marine life or trips along the rugged shorelines of the islands on a paddleboard or in a zodiac. There is never a shortage of things to do!



A family selfie with a Galapagos Giant Tortoise
A family selfie with a Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Land-based Experiences

Of all of those islands mentioned, only four are actually inhabited by humans. One, Floreana, is a fishing village of only about 100 people, and it’s not really a tourist attraction. The other three, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela, are set up for tourism as well as serving as a fully functioning community for its residents.

Santa Cruz is the most populated island with approximately 20,000 inhabitants and is considered the financial center of the Islands. There is plenty to do and see here, including a visit to the renowned Charles Darwin Research Station. For a small donation, you can see scientists working to repopulate the tortoises of the other islands. There is even an exhibit of the world-famous Lonesome George and a complete whale skeleton! There are some farms within a 40-minute car/bus ride that you can visit that have dozens of the Santa Cruz giant tortoises roaming around freely. Santa Cruz is also home to the top-ranked Galapagos Islands Lodge: the Finch Bay Hotel, one of the archipelago’s only beachfront Galapagos hotels. There are other hotels on the island from all different categories and price ranges, but there’s no doubt that the Finch Bay Hotel is your best option. Getting to Santa Cruz is fairly easy since there is an airport with flights to and from Mainland Ecuador lying on the northern edge of the island. Traveling from Santa Cruz to the other populated Islands is also fairly easy as Isabela is a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride to the west and San Cristobal is two hours to the east. There are also multiple daily excursions offered by dozens of tour operators. Interestingly enough, the Finch Bay Hotel has its own 20-passenger yacht, the Sea Lion, that offers multiple  daily excursions to several fascinating destinations.

Lying on the western edge of the archipelago, Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos. When looking at a map, it actually looks like a giant seahorse. With a population of close to 2,000 inhabitants, it is the third most populated island in the archipelago. Puerto Villamil is a very small town, so the options of places to stay there are somewhat limited. Most of the hotels seem to be on the opposite sides of the price spectrum as either cheap or expensive with not much to choose from in the middle. Isabela was actually formed by six shield volcanoes merging together, five of which are still active, making it one of the most active volcanic areas on earth. Isabela’s abundant bird, animal and marine life is staggering, and the island is home to more wild tortoises than anywhere else in the islands. Other notable species you might see include penguins, marine iguanas, Galapagos land iguanas, boobies, Galapagos hawks and many, many more. The west coast of Isabela in the Bolivar Channel is the best place in Galapagos if you’re interested in spotting whales and dolphins.

Despite its smaller population, San Cristobal is noted for being the political center of the Province of Galapagos. Like Santa Cruz, the island of San Cristobal has an airport that offering daily flights to and from mainland Ecuador. However, its position on the eastern-most edge of the archipelago makes it a little difficult to travel to the other islands. Most of its approximately 8,000 residents work in the government or in tourism or fishing. Popular sites near the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno include the Cerro Tijeretas, a nesting colony for frigate birds, and a statue of Charles Darwin on the original site where he first landed in the Galápagos Islands. La Loberia, a colony of sea lions, is about ten minutes by bus from the town. Local boat tours also take visitors to two popular nearby sites. One of the most iconic land formations in the Galapagos, “Kicker Rock,” is the remains of a lava cone that is now split in two. Isla Lobos (“Sea Lion Island”) is also a nesting site for blue-footed boobies. The selection of Galapagos Islands lodges on San Cristobal is more varied than on Isabela, but not as much as on Santa Cruz.


Sea-based Expeditions


Staying on land is not the only way to experience these awe-inspiring islands. Of course, a sea-based expedition might be on your bucket list, and there are quite a few options. Several years ago, the Galapagos National Park Service noticed that there was an increasing number of tourists coming to the Islands, so they implemented regulations to protect this precious ecosystem. While limiting the number of vessels and tourists that can visit any one site, they included most of the islands as part of the Galapagos National Park sea-based excursions.

The Galapagos National park encompasses 97% of all of the land in the territory, including all of the area not inhabited by humans in the archipelago.

Many tour operators, including Metropolitan Touring, offer Expedition Cruises with 3-day, 5-day and 7-day options. Metropolitan Touring owns and operates three such expedition vessels: the Santa Cruz II, the Isabela II and La Pinta. Each one offers different passenger capacities, numbers of crewmembers, as well as the length of the cruise itself. What these three vessels have in common is that they are operated by experienced and knowledgeable captains, deck officers, helmsmen, seamen, Chief Engineers, machinists and zodiac drivers who make sure that each and every person on board is completely safe and secure during the cruise. The hotel departments of all three are led by confident and experienced Hotel Managers and their eager-to-please staffs of chefs, stewards, waiters, dishwashers and bartenders who make sure each of your requests and desires are met. Each vessel also counts on an experienced Expedition Leader and their thoroughly-trained and fully knowledgeable staff of Certified Naturalist Guides who will answer every question you may have about the flora, fauna, geological history, and human history about the Islands as well as topics like photography, oceanography and astronomy.

If you can’t spend an entire week onboard a ship but still want to travel to other locations, local operators on all three of the islands also offer day cruises to the nearby islands, rocks and islets. One major difference is that the Finch Bay Hotel, a beachfront Galapagos hotel, has its own comfortable and spacious 20-passenger yacht, the Sea Lion, with its attentive and welcoming staff, and different activities on each daily itinerary to enjoy the nearby attractions.

Santa Cruz Island: Land and Sea—The Best of Both Worlds


Santa Cruz really offers the best of both worlds.  The crown jewel of this particular piece of Paradise is the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. The Finch Bay has, without a doubt, the most ideal location of all hotels in the archipelago. Nestled on the island’s southern shores, this award-winning resort is just off Academy Bay, which is filled with colorful sailboats at anchor there. The Finch Bay, as the archipelago’s only beachfront Galapagos hotel, is right on Playa de los Alemanes, which can provide hours of sandcastle-building, tanning, and snorkeling. You will enjoy lots of activities in Galapagos for kids and adults of all ages. From here, you can enjoy a wide variety of fun-filled activities, such as Day Tours, including the daily excursions that you can take aboard the Sea Lion Yacht and the trips you can take to the island’s highlands to observe the Santa Cruz Giant Tortoises in their natural habitat. There are also day hikes you can take to some other stunning white-sand beaches, like Tortuga Bay, or if an adventurous option is more your taste, teenagers and young adults have an exciting option back at the hotel. By simply walking past the beach, you can reach a strikingly beautiful volcanic fissure that found its way to the ocean. Known as Las Grietas, this spectacular site is an amazing place to take a dip and marvel at its rock formations and tropical fish. Back at the hotel, fine cuisine can be enjoyed with indoor and outdoor dining options to savor succulent local and international dishes. A children’s menu is available as well as dishes specifically prepared to take dietary needs into account. Other extras include a tour of the hotel’s organic garden, known as Chakrita, and Ceviche cooking classes. Aside from the amazing food, other amenities offered by the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel include the pool area and the Spa. The Spa offers an exercise room with all the necessary equipment for a nice workout. A massage or any of the other treatments, including a relaxing soak in a hot tub, can be an amazing way to recharge the batteries after a day of hiking through gorgeous otherworldly landscapes. The pool area also has a lot to offer besides a refreshing dip, including comfortable lounge chairs to catch some rays or read a good book. If a delicious cocktail and unique freshly prepared snacks is what you’re looking for, there is a well-stocked and well-served poolside bar.

In conclusion, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is the best option for a vacation that offers daily tours of Galapagos National Park, with the flexibility of choosing land and sea alternatives. A trip to the Galapagos without visiting the National Park is just not worth it. The hotel itself has an Expedition leader on staff to organize all of your activities. Let’s not forget that one of the recognitions this world-class resort has received is being one of the most Eco-friendly hotels in Latin America in order to protect this UNESCO World Heritage site. With everything it offers, you can do it all!



Isabel Espinoza


There’s always so much to see and do in the Galapagos Islands! This natural paradise is teeming with incredible landscapes, beaches, vegetation, animals, and so much more! Nevertheless, most of the breathtaking action happens out there, in the Galapagos National Park!

To access the park, you need to be accompanied by a certified naturalist guide at all times during your excursions, which gives you only two options to explore it: staying at one of the multiple expedition vessels that sail in the archipelago, or book a day tour! Each one of these options has its specific perks and advantages!

We invite you to follow along in this blog to find out how to experience this magical paradise and how a Galapagos land-based itinerary might be precisely what you need!

Exterior of the Finch Bay, Galapagos Islands
A spectacular view of the exterior of the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

How to Experience the Galapagos Option #1: A sea-based Galapagos tour with island stops

All islands in the Galapagos National Park are uninhabited to preserve their pristine and unique environment and fauna, so there’s no other way to stay overnight apart from an expedition vessel. This option instantly grants you access to more visitor sites in the Galapagos National Park, species, islands, and the company of an expert guide that will follow you along the whole way. Every day, you’ll disembark on a different island where you’ll hike, enjoy fascinating aquatic activities, and learn more about this paradise. It’s worth noting that a sea-based option grant guests the opportunity to visit some places that can’t be accessed by staying on land (due to how far away certain visitor sites are).

This option allows you to go further than any day tour can take you. Still, if you’re prone to seasickness (please note: there are “seasickness proof” cruises in the archipelago that help abate this symptom) or you just simply wish to enjoy a more relaxed stay, you can always opt for a Galapagos land-based tour!

All-in-all, the best part about having these two options is the fact that guests can link them together if they wish!

How to Experience the Galapagos Option #2: A Galapagos land-based tour

Staying on land is an option that caters to those more interested in experiencing the archipelago at their own pace. Picture this: you’re lounging near the pool, with an astonishing view of the ocean, with a nice drink in hand, before heading into town to soak in the local island life! You can choose how you fill your Galapagos land-based itinerary!

You can book Day Tours to nearby islands in the Galapagos National Park all over town, but if you can spare the challenging task of comparing perks, prices, and all the back and forth, do it! Some hotels in the Galapagos Islands work with third-party providers to offer their guests these services.

At the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, we own and operate a private yacht, the Sea Lion. With room for only 20 lucky guests, multiple guides for intimate excursion groups, and comfortable spaces, you’ll never feel cramped! Plus, we serve hot meals (not many day tour yachts do this), have the necessary equipment for you to snorkel or do some coastal exploration. Plus, both our hotel and yacht have the strictest safety protocols for you to enjoy at ease! 

Sea Lion Yacht in North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach

If you stay with us, you’ll see that ours is an expedition-focused accommodation! Located in a pedestrian-only neighborhood, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel sits right in front of the secluded “Los Alemanes” beach (we’re the only hotel with direct access to the beach), which allows our guests to enjoy the beach at any hour of the day! Plus, you won’t have to face crowds at the hotel’s social areas since our hotel has only 27 rooms and plenty of wide-open spaces! We also have a wonderful spa, gym, and spaces for yoga for you to prepare your body for the exploration activities you’ll enjoy or to relax afterward!

We offer tours every day to the lovely islands of:

You just need to approach our Front Desk, and our Expedition Leader will take care of all the details, or you can book one of our programs that includes meals and day tours!

Island-2-Island Hopping

Expand your horizons even further with this incredible option that grants guests the ability to fly from Santa Cruz Island all the way to the largest island of the archipelago that is Isabela. Add to the number of checkmarks that you’ve built up on your Galapagos BIG15 list of iconic species and revel in an even greater amount of majestic views by standing at the rim of one of the world’s largest craters!

Isabel Espinoza


Pristine waters, lush flora and fauna, unique wild and marine life, all make the Galapagos Islands one of the best snorkeling spots in the world.

Whether exploring the Galapagos Islands on your own or enjoying a stay with us, you’ll want this Galapagos snorkeling guide as your companion to ensure you take in all the islands have to offer.

Here we’ll share all you need to know about snorkeling in Galapagos and what awaits you in these crystalline waters.

Snorkeling in Galapagos: When to Visit

You can’t go wrong no matter what time of year you visit the Galapagos Islands!

The Hot Season is from December through May. Daily showers come and go with the sun breaking through providing some of the warmest days of the year. Temperatures range between 65 to 85 degrees.

Waters tend to be warmer, calmer, and clearer during the rainy season, making perfect conditions for snorkeling in the Galapagos.

The Dry Season runs from June through November. While there is little rain, skies are slightly overcast with cool temperatures ranging between 60 to 80 degrees.

Waters are cooler and a bit rougher due to the wind, but taking a dive is definitely worth it! Due to the rich underwater currents that visit the archipelago during these months, marine wildlife is much more active. A wetsuit is always an option so you can still comfortably enjoy Galapagos snorkeling! Enjoy this aquatic activitie in any of our Galapagos vacation package.

Family snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands

Day Tours to the Best Snorkeling Spots

One of the best ways to experience snorkeling in the Galapagos, if you don’t want to hop aboard an expedition vessel, is by booking a day tour! At Finch Bay, we’re the proud owners and operators of the Sea Lion Yacht. Here, we offer exclusive Day Tours to some of the most precious central islands of the Galapagos National Park.

Whether you are visiting the islands as part of a cruise or staying on the island, a Day Tour option provides a convenient, private, and curated snorkeling experience to the best snorkeling spots in the Archipelago.

These day tours are limited to only twenty guests and provide the expertise of certified naturalists and guides for your snorkeling and land excursions. With us, all snorkeling equipment, towels, and lunch are provided, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the islands.

The following is a list of islands within the Galapagos National Park that you can access via Day Tours and the animals you’ll most likely encounter while snorkeling.


Bartolome Island

Read more about our Day Tour to Bartolome Island

This uninhabited island boasts one of the most famous landmarks of the Galapagos, Pinnacle Rock. This breathtaking obelisk jutting out of the sea is not only a must-see wonder but also a spectacular snorkeling spot.

See below for a few of the amazing species you will likely encounter on your snorkeling excursion.

Galapagos Penguin

You’ll be entertained by these small penguins as they slip, slide and waddle along the coasts of the island.

The Galapagos penguin is the only penguin to live north of the equator and is uniquely adapted for this tropical existence. Snorkeling will let you observe them zipping through the water as they hunt and play.

The Galapagos penguin can be seen year-round, but if you wish to observe nesting season, this occurs between May through January.

Galapagos penguin swimming in Bartolome Island, Galapagos
Take a plunge and join these little fellows as they swim across the clear Galapagos’ water!


Galapagos Sea Lion

The Galapagos sea lion is the most common mammal you will see on your visit to the islands. Nevertheless, while snorkeling, you’ll be able to get a glimpse at the playful nature of these creatures as they play in the water, and dive for sardines.

You can see Galapagos sea lions all year, but a particular treat is seeing baby sea lion pups from July to November.

Sea Lion swimming at North Seymour Island
Playful and cute: Sea Lions are the best companions when it comes to snorkeling.

White Tipped Reef Shark

Luckily for snorkelers, the white-tipped reef shark prefers shallow waters and is known to be docile with humans.

You’ll find these beautiful creatures peacefully swimming about and lurking in crevices all year round.

South Plaza Island

Read more about our Day Tour to South Plaza Island

South Plaza Island is one of the smallest islands but is known for having the most vibrantly colored seasonal flora and fauna. Here you’ll discover cactus forests, iguanas, sea lion colonies, and numerous bird species.

Marine Iguanas

The Galapagos Islands is the only place in the entire world that you will see the remarkable marine iguana. This species is the only lizard with aquatic adaptations for swimming and foraging in the sea.

While snorkeling, you’re likely to see these marvelous creatures sunbathing on rocks and enjoying a meal of algae. Marine iguanas are very active year-round and mate between January and March.

Galapagos Marine Iguanas basking in the sun
One way to spot Marine Iguanas in Galapagos is to check their colors. Iguanas with yellow or eggshell-colored skin enjoy the comforts of life on land. Meanwhile, darker iguanas, those who resemble Godzilla, are exactly what you were looking for!

King Angelfish

The king angelfish is a striking sight for snorkelers to see. Its oblong, flat body is a darker blue with markings of electric blue, orange, bright yellow, and white.

The angelfish spends its time year-round grazing throughout the reefs, feeding on seaweed, algae, sea urchins, and sponges. These fish can be seen swimming alone, in pairs, and even in schools of fish.

North Seymour Island and Bachas Beach

Read more about our Day Tour to North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach

North Seymour Island and Las Bachas Beach are breathtaking spots to add to your Galapagos snorkeling itinerary. North Seymour Island is bursting with unique marine and land creatures including the iconic blue-footed booby.

The white sands of Bachas Beach are only accessible by dinghy but it is well worth the journey. Nearby lagoons are home to vibrant pink flamingos while the calm surrounding waters are a vital egg-laying site for the Galapagos green sea turtle.

Blue-Footed Booby

The blue-footed booby is a white and brown plumed bird with distinctive bright blue feet. The mating dance of this species is a memorable event as the male takes a high stepping dance around the female, hoping she’ll be wooed by his brilliant blue feet.

The best time to glimpse this dance is from June through August as they take to land for mating and breeding. It’s not rare that, while snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands, you’ll see their adorable feet moving like fins while they sit above the water.

Blue-Footed Booby

Galapagos Green Sea Turtle

These impressive creatures can be widely seen throughout the Galapagos Islands where they come to lay their eggs.  Snorkeling next to these majestic creatures is a once in a lifetime experience as they serenely swim through the waters and feed on seagrass.

The Galapagos green sea turtle can be seen year-round. Pregnant females can be seen on shorelines at night between December through March preparing to lay their eggs.

Galapagos green sea turtle

Santa Fe Island

Read more about our Day Tour to Santa Fe Island

Believed to have been formed over 4 million years ago, Sante Fe Island is thought to be the oldest island in the archipelago.

Snorkeling in the tranquil, turquoise waters of the island shore is an experience not to be missed. Expect to encounter sea lions, rays, sea turtles, and exotic fish only found in the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Rays

Spotting Galapagos rays is a true highlight you’ll want your underwater camera for. Over fifteen unique species of rays stealthily swim through these waters.

From the leaping manta ray to the spotted eagle ray, all are spectacular to watch glide across the ocean floor.

While rays are seen year-round, the best time to see them is during the rainy season from December through May as the waters are warmer and clearer.

Galapagos Rays

Book Your Galapagos Snorkeling Tour Today!

If you’re looking for the ultimate snorkeling in Galapagos Island experience, plan a stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. Let our experts curate your adventure to some of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos Islands aboard our private yacht.

The secluded, beachfront Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel offers a full-service restaurant and spa with a dedication to sustainable practices and conservation!

From unforgettable land and sea adventures to relaxation and rejuvenation, The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel has it all.

Isabel Espinoza


The Galapagos Islands offer endless opportunities to see incredible things and visit fascinating places, which is why we often want to make the most of our visit to these Enchanted Isles. The vast Marine Reserve is very alluring to any explorer, but land-based tours can provide an experience just as exquisite, and are more accessible to everyone. How to sort through all the options and get only the best? Opt for the one place that combines all land exploration alternatives into carefully curated-programs: an Expedition Hotel.

If the hotel you’re staying at can arrange all the best land activities for you and put them together in an itinerary tailored to your preferences, you can just wake up every day and go straight to exploring, confident that you’ll truly experience this singular archipelago. This way, you won’t have to spend precious vacation time looking for deals in town, which not only will cover only so much, but do not bear the quality seal of an Expedition Hotel.


Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, the only hotel with access to the beach


A land-based holiday at the luxurious Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel offers both unparalleled accommodation with the best service on the islands, and the best Galapagos day tours to the most fauna-populated visitor points on our very own private yacht -the Sea Lion. It comes complete with our five-star crew, all of the amenities (including snorkeling gear), a full buffet lunch, and comfortable sofa chairs everywhere. You can wake up at the Finch Bay, have an exceptional breakfast, and then meet up with your personal bilingual guide to go on your daily adventure. The Sea Lion Yacht day tours take you to Bartolome Island, North Seymour Island, South Plaza Island, and Santa Fe Island. Each one offers different Galapagos wildlife and an otherworldly experience.


The Islands

Bartolome Island is depicted in every iconic photo of the Galapagos Islands, showing the rising barren peak of Pinnacle Rock and a magnificent overview of the islands. Rising spectacularly from the depths of the crystalline waters right off the edge of Bartolome, Pinnacle Rock is a majestic host to the endemic Galapagos penguins, which huddle along the jagged volcanic rocks at its base. If you decide to go snorkeling, the marine life is breathtaking and, if you’re lucky, the penguins will put on a show for you as they duck in and out of the volcanic reef chasing enormous schools of fish. Overhead, you may see a Galapagos hawk, magnificent and great frigatebirds, or a blue-footed booby, as they search for food.

Two couples in Bartolome island enjoying a private vacation in the Galapagos Islands


North Seymour Island is, quite literally, every bird watchers’ dream. The magnificent and great frigatebirds, along with blue-footed and Nazca boobies, instantly greet you as you step off the panga (dinghy) onto the island, screaming overhead. The walking trail takes you over the rocky terrain, where, around every corner, a different Galapagos endemic animal will surprise you; maybe a bird nesting in the shrubby trees or relaxing in the shade under towering cactuses. You’ll be surprised by coquettish Galapagos land iguanas munching on a prickly pear or the male magnificent frigatebirds showing off their bulging red throat pouches to the females flying overhead. The coastal hike ends at a sandy beach complimented by turquoise waters, where Galapagos sea lions gather alongside the occasional sunbathing marine iguana.

North Seymour Island


South Plaza Island is a small wind-swept island that seems like it was placed on Earth specifically for the Galapagos land iguanas. The sights mainly include Prickly Pear Cactuses and small lava lizards bounding between lava rocks. But the real bosses are the land iguanas, who defend their territory fiercely. The island gently rises and eventually reveals a sudden drop into the roaring sea below, where countless seabirds, including Nazca and blue-footed boobies, hang out. They are carried through the sky by the strong winds as they duck and dive for food. Lazy Galapagos sea lions sun themselves along the edges of plunging cliffs -how on earth did they get there? South Plaza Island is also a great place to see the conservation efforts that involve cactus planting, reminding us that we are in a national park paradise.

Private excursions on the South Plaza Island, a place where there are innumerable sea birds


Santa Fe Island is the only one where you can see the unique and endemic Santa Fe land iguana, so it’s not an island to miss. The wet landing on the sandy beach is instantly notable for the Galapagos sea lions who sun themselves on the beach. This is the perfect island to get a close-up photo of the sea lions or go snorkeling off the pearly white beach. And, like most of the islands in Galapagos, endemic birds such as frigatebirds, the Galapagos hawk, and blue-footed boobies are permanent fixtures.

Santa Fe Island


Remember that staying in Santa Cruz Island at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel also offers you the chance to see many fascinating visitor sites on Santa Cruz: The highlands, where you can see the incredible Galapagos giant tortoises; the pristine Tortuga Bay, where you can kayak with turtles and sunbathe on the stunning beach; and the Darwin Foundation. You can do this all while returning to an exquisite location to rest and feast in the afternoons and evenings.


Each Galapagos Day Tour has been specifically designed to give you the opportunity to see the 11 land-based animals on the Galapagos BIG15 List and a few more.

The Wildlife

Blue-footed booby

The blue-footed booby looks like an oversized duck with bright blue feet. Their intricate foot-stepping mating rituals and amazing coloring make them the center of attention on any island. They are usually seen in pairs with their bills down and tails up, facing each other and prancing meticulously with their blue feet. In contrast, their fuzzy white chicks, who often look too big to still be at home, are usually seen huddling in their parents’ mounded nests that are characteristically identified by the ring of white guano around them.

Blue-footed booby on Bartholomew Island, Galapagos

You can find blue-footed boobies on our North Seymour, Bartolome, South Plaza, and Santa Fe Island tours.

Nazca Booby

The Nazca booby is one of the largest boobies in the world and has naturally selected to be rid of the comical colored feet of its cousins. It is often seen nesting on cliffs and is easily identified by its long, bright-yellow beak together with its black and white feathers.

Two Nazca boobies

You can spot the Nazca booby on our North Seymour and South Plaza Island tours.

Marine Iguana

Make sure you look carefully at the jet-black volcanic rocks lining the beaches. With a bit of luck, you’ll see a statuesque, dark, oversized crested lizard staring back at you. As they can only handle 30-40 minutes in the cool waters, they spend most of their time sunbathing in the hot equatorial sun. And although they look unperturbed, these non-vocalizing reptiles have learned to recognize the mockingbirds’ alarm cry to signal a hawk approaching and always scuttle to safety.

Some have learned to coexist with their terrestrial cousins and have even bred hybrid iguanas that are characterized by their lightly striped skin.

Marine Iguana

You will see the marine iguana on our North Seymour, Bartolome, South Plaza, and Santa Fe Island tours.

Land Iguana

Under the shade of the Prickly Pear cacti, the yellowish, bulbous land iguanas wait for the drop of a prickly pear. Its spines are no competition for their tough skin, and its juicy flesh is essential for their hydration and survival. Although these creatures appear to be unlikely ornamental decorations, if you approach them, they’ll step out as if to defend their territory when necessary.

Land iguana crawling through the lands of the South Plaza Island

The Galapagos land iguana can be seen on our North Seymour and South Plaza Island tours.

Galapagos Sea Lion

Sea lions have become the mischievous puppies of the islands, and are always ready to entertain at every boat dock, beach and fish market. They can be found relaxing on park benches or blocking ramps leading to docks. They have no qualms about mixing with the human population and competing for attention. These grey, smooth-skinned mammals enjoy sardines, but as committed piscivores, they enjoy other water-living creatures such as crustaceans and octopus.

Sea lion on Santa Fe Island, Galapagos Islands

Galapagos sea lions can be seen on our North Seymour, Bartolome, South Plaza, and Santa Fe Island tours.

Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds

The most impressive feature of the frigatebirds is the enlarged red throat pouches that the males have to contend with during mating season. Sitting in the shrubbery with their beaks pointed straight up, they look like they have been stuffed into an uncomfortable Christmas turtleneck and are just itching to take it off, but only a suitable female partner can do this. Their young ones are raised in stick nests built along rocky ledges and trees. They are incubated and cared for by both parents.

Frigatebird in the Galapagos Islands

You can observe the Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds on our North Seymour, Bartolome, South Plaza, and Santa Fe Island tours.

Galapagos Penguin

These little guys are both cautious and curious about the humans that come and visit them every day. As one of the smallest penguins in the world, their presence can be hard to detect as they are normally found huddled among the islands’ volcanic rocks to protect themselves from the strong sun rays. However, they can usually be seen relaxing in pairs at the shaded water’s edge. The best way to interact with them is to snorkel as they duck and dive among the enormous schools of fish found in the Galapagos’ crystalline waters.

Penguin on the Galapagos Island, an exotic animal member of the BIG15 list

You can see the Galapagos penguin on our Bartolome Island tour.

Galapagos Hawk

The hawk lords over the Galapagos Islands from the sky. Surprisingly, this carnivorous bird differs in size and coloring from island to island but is generally quite stocky and dark brown. It loves to feed on invertebrates such as locusts but won’t pass up the opportunity to snatch a turtle hatchling or baby iguana. They are the only diurnal raptor in Galapagos Islands (the only daytime hunter), so they don’t have a lot of competition. Even so, the Galapagos Hawk population remains small, and scientists are still trying to figure out why.

Galapagos Hawk

You will find the Galapagos hawk on our Bartolome and Santa Fe Island tours.

Santa Fe Land Iguana

The Santa Fe land iguana can only be found on Santa Fe Island and is easily recognizable by its pale-yellow hide. Its dorsal spines are larger, and its long-tapered snout is more pronounced. They can be up to 3 feet long and, interestingly enough, they contribute to the general wellbeing of enormous Opuntia Cacti found on the island –as the iguanas feed on their lowest hanging fruit, it forces the cacti to grow taller!

Santa Fe iguana spotted in Galapagos

You can find the Santa Fe land iguana on our Santa Fe Island tour.

Galapagos Fur Seal

At first glance, the fur seal can be hard to distinguish from its larger cousin, the sea lion. However, if you look close enough, you’ll see that it has a small bear-like face with close-set eyes and wingnut ears that stick out from its head –dead giveaways of the fur seal! Their thick coat means they don’t have to sunbathe as much as their sea lion cousins, and while their enlarged front flippers may look somewhat comical, they pay them in good stead for catching fish. They prefer the few shady beaches in the archipelago and more private coastlines.

Galapagos fur seal in the western side of Isabela

The Galapagos fur seal can be found on our North Seymour Island tour.

American Flamingos

The gorgeous bright color of the flamingos in the Galapagos strongly contrasts against the briny marshlands that they frequent. Their stalk-like legs protect them from any danger as their powerful beak constantly forages and stirs up their favorite invertebrates and algae. They can often be seen marching up and down the edges of saltwater ponds, but they aren’t practicing for band camp. Instead, this is their mating ritual: if successful, a female will simply follow her chosen male. The only inelegant thing about them is their loud goose-like honk.

You can find the American flamingo on our North Seymour Island tour.

American Flamingo in Las Bachas, Galapagos Islands

Each Galapagos Day Tour offers unique and astonishing sights that simply never disappoint.  Whether it’s the scenery, underwater world, or close interactions with the many endemic species that make the Galapagos Islands their home, each of our packages and day tours is designed to ensure you experience the archipelago to its fullest. We invite you to explore our day tour options to find out which ones suit you.

Remember: The Galapagos Islands aren’t a zoo but rather a National Park. We recommend you book more than one day tour to ensure you enjoy every Galapagos species that you want to tick off your must-see list!

Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?

Isabel Espinoza


The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel was presented with the title of World’s Leading Green Hotel for 2019 by the World Travel Awards™ at their 26th annual ceremony, held earlier this month on December 3rd. The WTA recognizes and praises excellence in the tourism industry and to be a garden green hotel.

Located in the center of the archipelago, on the island of Santa Cruz, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel was honored for its environmentally responsible practices and sustainable tourism philosophies. For this Galapagos-based hotel, the most important thing is to preserve the pristine quality of the islands while sharing the enchantment and beauty of this place with travelers from all over the world.

Hotel Manager Javier Gómez says, “Our staff is honored to have received this award. It is a reflection of the dedication and love that our team demonstrates every day of the year, and it shows our commitment to the unique people and ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands.”

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel
Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel with its recently renovated pool.


What makes the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel a Green Hotel?

 Among the hotel’s responsible practices is the efficient handling of electricity. Finch Bay has incorporated the use of solar panels, LED lighting, and motion sensors. These changes were implemented in the wake of an energy audit conducted with Ecuador’s Ministry of Energy.

Additional energy-saving measures include encouraging guests to use lights and air conditioning units moderately. By limiting the amount of electricity needed for these two elements, the energy generated by the hotel’s solar panels can cover up to 70% of what is required to heat the hotel’s water.

Another one of Finch Bay’s responsible practices includes avoiding the use of plastic. To date, plastic has been almost entirely eliminated from every process at the hotel. For example, the property provides guests with reusable water bottles and doesn’t carry plastic-bottled beverages in their restaurant.

Chakrita: Finch Bay's organic vegetable garden
Also, Finch Bay has been able to greatly reduce the use of plastic in their kitchen and dining room. Their food is not available to go and they do not use disposable plates or flatware.

What is the Finch Bay Hotel’s commitment to the Galapagos Islands?

In order to support the local economy and the responsible consumption of organic products, the hotel makes use of providers based in the Galapagos Islands. Additionally, a fair amount of the fruit, vegetables, and other ingredients used in the Finch Bay’s kitchen are grown in the hotel’s very own organic garden.

Everyone who works at the hotel is a resident of the Galapagos Islands. As such, they share in the philosophy and commitment that distinguishes the Finch Bay Hotel as one of the best hotels in the Galapagos Islands..

For example, each morning, the hotel staff comb the Playa de los Alemanes beach, located just in front of the property, and collect any trash they find. The hotel personnel has also planted over 500 mangrove trees in the surrounding areas in an effort to promote care for the environment and to conserve the beauty of this fragile ecosystem.

If you wish to learn more about the World’s Leading Green Hotel for 2019, we invite you to visit the website.

Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?

José Ayerve


The Santa Fe land iguana in Galapagos is a member of our prestigious BIG15 group of iconic species in Galapagos. It is endemic to the island of Santa Fe which is viewable on our Sea Lion Yacht, making it a superb reason to hop aboard it at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and head on over to check out this majestic creature in all its glory and mysterious colors. The island itself is located a mere 24 km2 (0.3 mi2) off the eastern coast of Santa Cruz Island!

Santa Fe Land Iguana: What’s in the name?

This species of the land iguana (Conolophus pallidus) differed and branched away from its more widespread cousin in the archipelago – the Galapagos land iguana (Conolphus subcristatus) – around 8-10 million years ago.
The generic name, Conolophus is actually green for “spiny crest,” which references the spiny ridge that lines their backs. Compared to the common Galapagos land iguanas, the Santa Fe land iguana has smaller dorsal spines. They also have a slightly darker shade of browner throughout their scales and also possess a tapered snout. This more obscure coloring allows the Santa Fe land iguana to blend in even more perfectly with its surroundings, making it a harder target to snare for predators. Oddly enough, Charles Darwin referred to them as being “ugly animals, of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish-red color above: from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance.”

Santa Fe Land Iguana is an endemic species of the Galapagos Islands.
Santa Fe Land Iguana is an endemic species of the Galapagos Islands.
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!

Santa Fe Land Iguana: Notable Features

Santa Fe land iguanas are mainly herbivores, which means they’re often seen eating on the ubiquitous prickly pear that grows on the opuntia cactus that’s found throughout Santa Fe Island.
They do this to both absorb the nutritious components of the cactus as well as to hydrate their bodies with fresh water. What’s a rather unusual creature that’s feeding on the Santa Fe land iguana? Darwin’s finches! Except all they do is simply peck off the parasites that often live atop the bodies of the Santa Fe land iguana.

The arrival of feral goats, thanks in large part to the presence of pirates and whalers in Galapagos, was a huge reason for their decimated numbers on Santa Fe Island. Fortunately, the Galapagos National Park stepped in, back in 1971, to keep the species alive by eradicating all the goats thereon. Nevertheless, the Santa Fe land iguana remains a vulnerable species because of its limited distribution on this single island. Their population is estimated to hover around the 7,000 marks.

Their breeding season sees 3-11 eggs laid by the female and isn’t all that different from the hatching season for Galapagos marine iguanas. It takes around 50 days for this clutch of eggs to hatch inside their respective burrows.

So be sure to make the Santa Fe land iguana a part of your experience if you’re looking to check off as many species from your BIG15 list as possible! The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel makes for the perfect home base to explore the surrounding visitor sites and iconic wildlife!

Are you interested in exploring the ultimate secluded destination?

Christopher Klassen

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