When planning a trip to Galapagos, you get soon confronted to the choice of island hopping/vs cruises.
Though cruises are still the most popular way to get to know the islands, island hopping is gaining space for several reasons which we will details below:
The first advantage of going for an island hopping is flexibility- just one of our tour (The Highlight) has a fixed departure, but if you can’t join it, you have plenty of other options. If you have already taken your flights because you found the best deal ever, we will adapt to the airport you fly to /leave from.
We also adapt the itinerary if you have kids, if you want to have more free days, spend more or less time on a specific island, just let us know! We also will give you the best tips according to what you want to focus on: walking, snorkeling, birding, science. Also when on a cruise you have to choose one only category of boat meanwhile if you would like to, we can book you in nice but economics hotels on some islands and on other islands, in superior hotels so you stick to your budget but have a bit of an extra too (especially on Isabela island where staying in one of the beach front hotels can add “this little extra thing” to your trip!)
If you are the kind of person feeling sick already on a car or train, you may not like the idea to spend 5 to 7 nights cruising the ocean. As Galapagos is an archipelago you do need to take boats for day tours or transfers between islands, but at least you sleep on land! We also always try reduce the boat transportation using the inter-islands planes to optimize the transport time whenever possible/necessary (especially when traveling with kids that suffer more than adults about motion sickness).
What do you do for your free time when on a cruise boat? Of course some people really like the feeling of cruising every day, but when opting for an island hopping tour you have time to walk down the port and waterfront in the evening, enjoy a bit of the night time – having a beer at Bar de Beto on Isabela or at Mann beach at sunset on San Cristobal, watching the juvenile sharks at the pier or Puerto Ayora, will give you special extra moments besides from the great excursions you will have in day time. You can also experience different types of cuisine in the local restaurants, and see more of the “real life” of Galapagos.
Well yes you will see plenty of wildlife island hopping! You can visit great places such as Seymour, Bartolomé and Española, and go to amazing snorkeling spots such as the Kicker Rock and even Los Tuneles on Isabela where you cannot go on a cruise boat! Recently the National Park authorized fishermen to take tourists to spots where only them could go, and always in small groups.
MAKE LOCAL BUSINESSES WORK:
You would be surprised to know that most of the cruise boats are actually “rented” to companies on the mainland or even in foreign countries. While the local law makes It mandatory that half of the company is owned by a permanent resident of the islands, few of them can invest in a cruise boat, so they rent their license. Though some sailors and captains are from the islands, when opting for an island hopping tour you eat and sleep on the islands and your money profits to the people actually living here and the money circulates in the local economy. Most of the day tours excursions are made by former fishermen given the right to do tourism for example.
We heard people saying that a cruise would be more ecologic than staying on land with the following arguments:
“On a cruise you do not generate trash like if you live on an island”: well all the cruise boats take their trash to the poblated islands who have to handle recycling just like the regular trash.
“on a cruise boat you do not incentivate the poblation of the islands, and island poblation is growing too fast”: so each cruise boat bring staff and tourist and all these generate trash that in the end finishes in the marine reserve or on the poblated islands. No hotel in Galapagos has the capacity that have the 4-5 biggest cruise ships of 90 people + staff. Hotel capacity is limited to 35 rooms but almost not one hotel as this capacity. No “resorts” or “all inclusive” to be found here.
And only 3% of the total surface of the islands can be poblated, the rest is closed to any form of human settlement.
While you will not find that Galapagos people are the most ecological (still progress need to be made in recycling, reusing etc), or not as you may think it should be, more and more local people are involved in recycling projects, coastal cleaning, micro plastic recollection and growing organic food to not be so dependant from the mainland. All of this is part of the reality of the islands which certainly you could not see while on boat!
So if you still hesitate, why don’t you send us an email and we will be glad to reply your questions and think about the perfect itinerary for you, as indeed, Galapagos is a once in a lifetime trip!