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May 23, 2019 0
Reading Time: 5 minutes

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 Wednesdays 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. Once such activity that we are proud to offer are the Daily Tours we offer aboard our Sea Lion Yacht, which take our guests on trips to exciting, nearby islands. In this blog, we invite you to along for one such journey aboard the Sea Lion Yacht, as we examine what a Day Tour of South Plaza Island is like.

South Plaza Island Sea Lion Yacht Experience in the Galapagos

 

South Plaza Awaits!

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

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

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

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

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

At South Plaza, you’ll most likely be able to check off up to 6 out of 15 of our BIG15 list of iconic species 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 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this wonderful Day Tour!

Ready to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and experience everything it has to offer? Talk to our Destination Experts, today!

Schedule a call

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

Christopher Klassen

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May 23, 2019 0
Reading Time: 5 minutes

This tour is offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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Visiting the Galapagos is, without a doubt, an experience that’s unlike anything else. Whether it’s aboard an Expedition Vessel or from a hotel on one of the inhabited islands, there’s a number of ways visitors can take advantage of all the exploration options that are available in the archipelago. If you hope to visit some of the most remote and faraway islands, then an Expedition Vessel is probably your best choice.

However, if you’re looking to manage your own time and schedule on the islands, then an Expedition Hotel is the best option for you! Tip: If you have more time in the archipelago, a combination of both an Expedition Vessel and Hotel is a great way to go! If you’re looking to stay on an island, then be sure to consider the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island and create your own experience in the Galapagos!

At our Expedition Hotel, you’ll be able to organize your time in the Galapagos as you see fit! Choose from ticking off the majority of the most iconic species that make up our BIG15 list, enjoying a fascinating journey aboard our Sea Lion Yacht, or simply opting for one of our bundled programs that we offer and let us take care of everything!

In the meantime, we invite you read on to find out what our Day Tour to Bartolome Island aboard our Sea Lion Yacht is like! Without a doubt, Bartolome is one of the most enigmatic and gorgeous islands to visit in the entire archipelago!

Bartolome Island Sea Lion Yacht Experience in the Galapagos

 

Bartolome Island: An out-of-this-world experience!

Time to experience a new adventure at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel! Rise and shine and start your day with a delicious buffet breakfast that will be served at 6:15 a.m. over at our restaurant. After that, we’ll head out from the hotel at around 7:00 a.m. to go to Puerto Ayora. Tip: Remember that, before departing from the hotel, you can ask for seasickness pills if need be.

After a short walk from the hotel, we’ll hop aboard the Finch Bay’s own water taxi to cross the small channel and disembark at the Puerto Ayora pier. In Puerto Ayora, at approximately 7:30 a.m., we’ll board the bus that will take us over to the Itabaca Channel, located on the northern end of Santa Cruz Island. The journey there lasts around 45 minutes, so relax and enjoy the ride and views as we zip past dense scalesia forests and rich farmlands that are found up in the highlands.

Highlands in Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Once we arrive at the Itabaca Channel, we’ll board a panga (dinghy) that will take us to the Sea Lion Yacht. At approximately 8:30 a.m. is when we’ll set sail to Bartolome Island! During the following two-hour journey to Bartolome, you’ll get to relax under the sun or admire the views and some of the marine life that swims along with us. Keep an eye out! Depending on the time of year, it’s possible that dolphins might swim alongside our yacht on the way there!

Bartolome is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive visitor sites in all of Galapagos. Its geography never fails to captivate the imagination of adventurers! This volcanic island has a length of approximately 4.6 square miles (1.2 square kilometers) and an elevation of 374 feet (114 meters). Walking along Bartolome Island will offer us an experience that’s simply out-of-this-world, thanks in large part to the wide gamut of colors that cover its terrain: vivid reds, oranges, greens, and blacks all blend together to create a mesmerizing landscape that’s fit for a postcard. The island’s name comes from Sir Bartholomew James Sullivan, a friend of Charles Darwin and Lieutenant aboard the HMS Beagle – the famous vessel that sailed through Galapagos waters back in 1835.

Bartolome Island, Galapagos

Once we’ve arrived at the island, we’ll hop aboard the Sea Lion’s panga (dinghy) and head over to the shores of Bartolome to perform a Dry Landing at the base of a wooden walkway. It is here that we’ll begin our walk up the walkway and steps, passing along lookout points along the way that will allow us to soak in the surrounding scenery and vegetation that’s found on the island. Finally, once we reach the top of the stairs, we’ll reach the final viewpoint that offers one of the most jaw-dropping panoramic views in the entire archipelago.

After that, we’ll head back down the same walkway and steps to board our panga (dinghy) once again at approximately 12:15 p.m. This panga will take us on a nice and refreshing coastal exploration that will last around 30 minutes. Following this bit of coastal exploration, we’ll arrive at Sullivan Bay and disembark (Dry Landing) to explore this impressive lava field on foot.

Sullivan Bay at Santiago Island, Galapagos

After that, we’ll head back to the Sea Lion for a brief pit stop that will allow us to leave the majority of our belongings and change into our swimsuits. Once we’re ready, we’ll head out (approximately 1:20 p.m.) to explore one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Galapagos: the colossal Pinnacle Rock. It is here that we’ll have the chance to enjoy a close encounter with numerous different aquatic creatures in the archipelago as we go snorkeling. Colorful schools of fish, sea lions, and even whitetip reef sharks and Galapagos penguins can be occasionally spotted here!

At approximately 2:15 p.m. we’ll head back to the Sea Lion Yacht for lunch, at which point you’ll get to sit back, relax and enjoy the food and impressive views of Bartolome Island from the comfort of our lovely yacht. Following that, we’ll set sail back to Santa Cruz Island at approximately 3 p.m.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this wonderful Day Tour!

Ready to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and experience everything it has to offer? Talk to our Destination Experts, today!

Schedule a call

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

Isabel Espinoza

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May 16, 2019 0
Reading Time: 5 minutes

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.

Sea Lion Yacht's Itinerary: North Seymour Islands and Las Bachas Beach

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

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

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.

Land iguana in the Galapagos Islands

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

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

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!

Ready to stay at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and experience everything it has to offer? Talk to our Destination Experts, today!

Schedule a call

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

Christopher Klassen

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April 23, 2019 0
Reading Time: 4 minutes

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!

Sea Lion Yacht's Itinerary: Santa Fe Island

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!

Familia relajándose en el Yate Sea Lion

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!

Turistas posan con lobo marino en la Isla Santa Fe

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.

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

Schedule a call

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

Christopher Klassen

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March 15, 2019 0
Reading Time: 7 minutes

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!

Las Grietas in the Galapagos Islands

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 in 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.

Los Alemanes beach in Santa Cruz Island

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 in the Galapagos Islands

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 in Santa Cruz Island

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.

Stargazing at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

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's dock

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.

Sea lion pup in Santa Cruz Island

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

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!

Christopher Klassen

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May 24, 2018 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands: An Activity for the Adventurous

The Galapagos has something for every taste, and at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel you can enjoy it all! From superb cuisine to relaxing by the pool, cocktail in hand. From wildlife observation to the exploration of the islands’ unique landscape. You don’t have to choose just one! You can do it all and get a complete Galapagos experience that encompasses all the details and activities that will make it a truly unforgettable journey.  For the most sporty and adventurous, Finch Bay also offers an array of interesting options, which are only enhanced by the mesmerizing location where they take place in, the Enchanted Isles! If this sport is something you’ve done before or you want to do for the first time, this is the place to do it. Read on to learn how to go about kayaking in the Galapagos and get ready to enjoy!

Where Does the Activity Take Place?

Once you’ve booked the activity, we make sure to go through all the safety procedures that will make it even more enjoyable. Our kayaking program takes place in Divine Bay, a beautiful location with protected waters that make for a very pleasant trip. We leave when the tide is high from Playa de Los Alemanes (German Beach), located by Finch Bay – one of the advantages of staying at the only beach-front hotel in Santa Cruz! We start rowing southward for about 15 minutes until we get to the Lover’s Crevasse, as the locals call it, and surround the mangroves that grow by the bay.

More About Divine Bay

Located very close to Academy Bay and buzzy Puerto Ayora, you’ll find the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this beautiful cove is protected from the swells by natural reefs on one side, mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created by the uplift of the lava plateau. Divine Bay provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife, and kayaking is one of the best ways to discover it! Watch the herons cross the Bay and the noddy terns nesting in the cliffs alongside the blue-footed boobies. If you watch carefully, you might even spot a sea turtle grazing in the ocean floor or a curious young reef shark.

How Longs Does the Activity Last?

It can last from 1 to 2 hours. It all depends on how fast you row or how you want to go about your trip. Some want the ride to feel more like a stroll in order to observe the coastline with ease. Others like to do it for the sport and they take the opportunity to test their strength and speed. Either way, you will be able to enjoy amazing landscapes and observe the unique wildlife of Galapagos.

How Technical and Demanding is the Activity?

The Kayaking Program is a really friendly activity and can be enjoyed by young and old. On a scale from 1 to 5, our kayaking activity has a medium-level difficulty of 2. Keep in mind that it can feel a little strenuous on the arms if you haven’t been exercising much, but it’s not too hard to handle. This activity that combines sport, adventure and sightseeing is a definite must-do!

What Kind of Kayaks do you Use?

We have open, tandem, sit-on-top kayaks. This means you can do it by yourself or share the experience with a friend, partner or family member. If you do it amongst two, you will have to get in sync with your rowing. Once you find your pace, you will feel like you are flying on top of the water.

Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands
Kayaking in Divine Bay

What Does the Activity Include?

It includes paddles and life vests. You can rent a wetsuit if you are one to get cold easily, but you really won’t as you will be moving your muscles all the time. We do recommend wearing a hat, sunscreen and a long-sleeved t-shirt in order to protect your skin from the equatorial sun.

Is it a Guided Activity?

A guide will be provided if the group has 6 or more people, as per Galapagos National Park rules. However, anyone can request a guide, no matter the number of people.

What is the Minimum Age Allowed for This Activity?

For this activity, kids of all ages are allowed. All minors younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. As safe as this activity is, like any other aquatic activity organized by the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, we always like to remind the parents that the minor’s safety is their responsibility.

Nathalie Moeller

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February 23, 2018 0
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Day Tour or Bay Tour in the Galapagos: What’s Your Best Choice?

There are different ways in which to explore the magnificent Galapagos Islands. When it comes down to planning, travelers usually base their decisions on budget, time or specific interests. Be it through a Galapagos expedition vessel or a land-based option, there’s no doubt you will be amazed by the wonderful world you will encounter in the archipelago. The unique and tame wildlife, the rare vegetation, the hospitality of its people (yes, for those of you who didn’t know, 3% of the Galapagos are inhabited), they all add up to a one-of-a-kind experience. When choosing a land-based option, make sure you go for the one that will transform a regular vacation into an unforgettable one. It’s all about the details, service, and exploration choices!

A beautiful Galapagos landscape
A beautiful Galapagos landscape

Day Tour or Bay Tour in the Galapagos?

A beach-front hotel in a secluded location, like Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island, is the perfect place from which to discover the Enchanted Islands. Once there, visitors are highly encouraged to try to visit some of the archipelago’s most beautiful beaches and its most iconic neighbouring isles in order to get a more in-depth understanding of this wholly unique place. To do so, you will find two highly popular options that are in Puerto Ayora: a Day Tour or a Bay Tour. Read on to learn the difference between a Day tour or a Bay Tour in the Galapagos and choose the one that will make the most of your time in this unique destination!

Bay Tour

Bay Tours are usually operated by small motor boats that do not have permits for disembarking on uninhabited Galapagos islands. This means they only visit the surrounding beaches of Puerto Ayora and passengers are only allowed to snorkel around the boat in open water. Bay Tours also don’t include a Naturalist Guide as part of their trips and it’s usually the boat’s owner and “chauffeur” that are in charge of everything, from explanations to safety. Most of the time, Bay Tours don’t include snorkeling equipment and they may or may not include a box lunch, depending on the package visitors decide to go for. The boats are usually small and have no indoor space or air conditioning to help cool down from the intense Galapagos sun.

Bay Tour motor boats in Puerto Ayora. Photo credit:pulsoguayaco.blogspot.com
Bay Tour motor boats in Puerto Ayora. Photo credit:pulsoguayaco.blogspot.com

A Bay Tour, as its name implies, focuses on observing Santa Cruz’s coastline and bays without disembarking at National Park Visitor Sites (remember that inhabited areas are not considered part of the Galapagos National Park). On a Bay Tour, passengers would have the chance to observe some of the Galapagos BIG15 and other wildlife from a distance, but no close-up observation and understanding of their behaviors is possible or even explained. As mentioned before, Bay Tours in Galapagos do anchor in specific places, but only out in open water to let their guests swim and practice snorkeling directly beside the boat. As safety measures, Bay Tours are required to provide their passengers with life jackets.

Day Tour

A Day Tour is the other option that you can choose for exploring the archipelago if you decide on opting for a land-based excursion. Day tours are provided by yachts that do have permission to disembark at iconic islands – North Seymour, Bartolome, South Plaza and Santa Fe – and are done in the company of a professionally-trained Naturalist Guide. It’s an excellent way to experience the Galapagos National Park and the uninhabited islands. If you want to have the best coverage of Galapagos BIG15 iconic species and see a plethora of wildlife in its natural habitat (without the disturbance of human civilization!) a Galapagos Day Tour is the way to go. Witness blue-footed boobies nesting or doing their silly courtship dance, walk by huge colonies of frigate birds and Galapagos sea lions, or observe marine iguanas basking under the equatorial sun. A true and fulfilling Galapagos experience comes from being able to observe these beautiful creatures up close.

Frigate bird hatchling
Frigate bird hatchling

It’s also important to note that Galapagos Day Tours on yachts, as is the case with the Finch Bay’s own Sea Lion Yacht, usually take care of everything for those onboard. Not only are all safety measures considered, but also lunch and snorkeling masks are included. On our Sea Lion Yacht, a delicious buffet-style lunch awaits guests that are coming back from swimming, hiking or snorkeling. This lunch is prepared fresh and onboard by the yacht’s own cook. If you require a special meal or have dietary restrictions, be sure to let us know at the Hotel’s reception – we’ll be more than happy to accommodate our culinary fare to your specific needs. The Sea Lion also has an indoor, air-conditioned space where guests can sit comfortably and an open, covered deck from which to observe the amazing Galapagos landscapes!

Aboard the Sea Lion Yacht, a 5-member crew is at your disposal, making sure you are safe and comfortable at all times. Our Naturalist Guide briefs the group prior to disembarking at a specific island or before partaking in any activity. That way, they talk the group through all safety procedures as well as informing them on what they are about to see: animal and plant species, geology and history. Each island has its own particularities that make it unique and special. Without a doubt, they are all worth a visit, which makes a Galapagos Day Tour a superb choice!

Finch Bay
Finch Bay’s Sea Lion Yacht

NOTE: According to the National Park’s latest count, there are only 11 yachts authorized for Day Tours on the island of Puerto Ayora, so make sure you don’t have the wool pulled over your eyes!

 

Nathalie Moeller

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January 29, 2018 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

STARGAZING IN THE GALAPAGOS: MARVEL AT THE FINCH BAY’S NIGHT SKY!

Stargazing in the Galapagos! Think about this for a second. Few things make us marvel at our own existence more than staring into the night sky. The vastness that surrounds us reminds us of just how small we are, helping us appreciate the planet we live in a little more. However, when we live in the city, the night sky tends to go unnoticed. More often than not, our hectic lifestyles keep us from remembering to look up. We jump from one activity to the other, from one meeting to the next, and by the time we get home, we are too tired to even consider admiring the beauty of the stars that linger overhead. Should we ever actually manage to look up and discover a few twinkling lights trying to catch our attention, we’ll soon realize that in the city at least, they are hard to perceive. The artificial lights coming from urban areas are often too strong and too many to truly appreciate the stars.

Stargazing in the Galapagos! Observe the Stars of Two Hemispheres in One Place!

When we finally leave the city, one of the first things that catch our attention is the brightness of an unpolluted night sky! Where we choose to admire the night sky from greatly affects our experience: the clearer the starscape, the more engaged our senses are, the more relaxed we are, the less we think about time, and the better we even feel sometimes. Did you know that, when you observe the sky from the equator, you have the rare opportunity of discovering the stars that are seen in both hemispheres? You might recognize the Big Dipper, but have you ever admired the Southern Cross? Better yet: have you ever seen them both at the same exact time? It’s something that can only happen in Ecuador! And where can we reconnect with the greatness of the universe again, one star at a time? In the Galapagos Islands, of course! Where life, time and space remain virtually untouched! Visit Santa Cruz island’s only beach-front hotel and discover it for yourself!

Fall in love with the night sky at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is located in front of Playa de Los Alemanes, one of the only beaches in the town of Puerto Ayora, and is accessible via a very short panga ride and a 10-minute walk. Even though the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is located in the archipelago’s most populated town, it has the advantage of being situated in its least populated neighborhood across the bay – Punta Estrada. Surrounded by mangroves, marshes, frankincense trees and a few houses mostly owned by European families, light pollution in this area is almost non-existent, and the night sky is seen from the Finch Bay practically a stand-alone top feature of the hotel itself. If you are into stargazing, or you simply like to admire the beauty of an immaculate starry night, then the Finch Bay is the place for you.

If you want to make sure you locate the sky’s most important stars, planets, and constellations, then we also recommend that you download some apps to help you with this task. We recommend Star Chart, SkyView Free or Night Sky Lite (they are all free!). At the Finch Bay, there’s all Wi-Fi so you will have absolutely no problem using them! Talk to our Expedition Leader before sundown so that he can set up Finch Bay’s telescope – it’s very easy to use and you will be able to observe some amazing things! If it’s a moonlit night and the stars are less visible, then you should definitely take a peek at the moon’s craters and soak in its beautiful light! Because you are on the equator, on certain nights when the moon is at its zenith, you will find it casts no shadow!The night sky seen from Finch Bay

The night sky is seen from Finch Bay So sit back, order one of Finch’s signature cocktails and be blown away by the beauty and greatness of a starry Galapagos night!

 

Nathalie Moeller

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December 29, 2017 0
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Snorkelling in Galapagos: top animals you’ll get to swim with

Snorkelling 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

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 skillful 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

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 clings 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 grey scales 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.

Snorkelling 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.

Christopher Klassen

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November 9, 2017 0
Reading Time: 2 minutes

How to experience the Galapagos islands: land or sea?

In isles as enchanted as these, there’s always so much to see, so much to do… but what exactly are the ways to experience Galapagos? This blog explains exactly that: how to experience the Galapagos Islands. Basically, experiencing the islands can be narrowed down into two categories, the latter of which branches out into a handful of sub-categories. There’s a sea-based option and land-based option. Follow along in this blog to find out how to experience the Galapagos Islands.

How to Experience the Galapagos Option #1: On Land

Look no further than the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel if you’re looking for a.) the only beach front hotel on Santa Cruz Island and b.) an enriching, relaxing, and rejuvenating land (and sea! We’ll get to that below) experience. Staying on land is an option that caters to those more interested in experiencing the archipelago one step at a time, gradually taking it all in as it comes at your own pace and of course: lounging by the shore side with a nice drink in hand before heading into town to soak in the local island life.
Not to mention: it’s probably the best choice for those that are slightly more prone to seasickness (please note: there are “sea-sickness proof” cruises in the archipelago that help abate this symptom). However, those with sea legs that looking to head out and experience a little more of the archipelago while enjoying the comfort of their land-based option are privy to…

The Land & Sea Option

With its own Sea Lion Yacht, the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotels offers its guests the opportunity to check out a number of the surrounding, beautiful islands from the comfort of a fully-equipped, luxurious and modestly-sized vessel. Guests are treated to a buffet lunch throughout their travels to the islands, and multiple activities are offered as well. And if you’re looking for an even more expansive way of experiencing the islands, there’s always…

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 check marks 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.

How to Experience the Galapagos Option #2: At Sea (with Island Stops)

Another great option for experiencing the islands is hopping on a cruise, which 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. It’s worth noting that a sea-based option grants guests the opportunity to visit places that simply can’t be accessed by staying on land (due to how faraway certain visitor sites are). All-in-all, the best part about having these two options is the fact that guests can link them together, if they wish. When it comes to looking for how to experience the Galapagos Islands, is it too much to ask for both options? With Metropolitan Touring, it never is.

Christopher Klassen

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