An endemic Galapagos tortoise
An endemic Galapagos tortoise

Where should I stay in the Galapagos Islands?

I want to spend a week in the Galapagos. Plan my trip for me, please.

An endemic Galapagos tortoise
Greg Melville

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Just to clarify, the name of the column is “Adventure Adviser,” not “Your Personal Travel Agent.” But since I don’t like to turn down a person in need, I’ll help you out.  

The Galapagos, a remote archipelago of 19 specks in the Pacific, is home to unusual species like the blue-footed booby, and is the birthplace of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. There are two basic ways to tackle the Galapagos—and given their protected status and limited accessibility, neither is generally cheap. The first is by booking a room in the smattering of inns and lodges in the villages on Isabela, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal or Floreana islands, and taking day trips on boats. The second is to explore the archipelago by cruise ship.

The vast majority of people who come to the Galapagos stay on a cruise ship. Boats provide faster and easier access to the many hidden treasures of the islands, plus since most of the land there is protected as a national park, there are very few decent places to stay. But I suggest trying to book a room on terra firma. The seas are traditionally choppy around the Galapagos, which means you’ll be rocking and swaying most of the time on a cruise ship. Staying in a lodge or inn also allows provides for more material pleasures, like more bedroom and bathroom space, and the chance to take long walks out your door to explore the nearby sights.

The best bargain is probably the cozy, beachside Caleta Iguana, in the fishing village of Puerto Villamil on Isabela, the largest island of the archipelago. The hotel can help you book side tours throughout the Galapagos. Rooms start at $40 per night.

The somewhat pricier, and significantly ritzier, Finch Bay Eco Hotel on Santa Cruz owns its own yacht for daily guest tours throughout the archipelago. It includes a gourmet restaurant, pool, expansive bar, and snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and biking. Its five-day naturalist program starts at $1,558.

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