Top 10 activities in the Galapagos you can do by yourself after your cruise


The Galapagos Islands are one of the most beautiful and most sought-after places in the world, and one of the best ways to visit the Galapagos and get the most of your visit is a Galapagos cruise with a great itinerary.

As cruises have certain limitations like set departures and a limited number of passengers that can go on board, sometimes finding one is not an easy task.

So if you are either having trouble to find a cruise for you or looking forward to spending some extra days at leisure here are some recommendations:

Las Ninfas Lagoon, Santa Cruz Island

If you are looking for somewhere quiet and new during your stay in the Galapagos, then you can’t miss Las Ninfas Lagoon. This mangrove complex is a beautiful place where you can spot birds, fish and sea lions. It is possible to visit this place after your visit to Tortuga Bay.

Los Alemanes Beach

Strategically located around 15 minutes from Puerto Ayora, this crystal clear beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling if you are a beginner. Its vegetation is very different from Tortuga Bay as mangroves and palo santo trees are found here. The surroundings of this beach allow you to spot marine iguanas resting on a beach with a rockier surface.

Las Grietas, Santa Cruz Island

This rocky formation can be visited after Playa Los Alemanes as it is located on the same trail. It is a worthwhile 20-minute walk that will lead you to this emerald green water canal between two rocky walls. The water here is pretty calm and is perfect for relaxing or enjoying it with children.

Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island

Tortuga Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos, its white sand and turquoise waters make it the perfect place to relax, swim, surf, snorkel or kayak. This beautiful beach got its name as it is the place where some turtles lay their eggs.

You can easily access this island by walking around 2.5 kilometers until you have reached Playa Brava. And if you want to save your energy for swimming,  take a speed boat from the pier and you will disembark on this beautiful beach in a few minutes.

Highlands of Santa Cruz

When you think about the Galapagos, we usually think about white sand beaches and marine iguanas resting on the rocks next to the sea lions. But one of the most famous inhabitants of the Galapagos actually comes from a different place: the lush highlands of the Galapagos. This breathtaking forest is the home to the Galapagos giant tortoise and the only place where you can see them roaming free is in the Highlands of Santa Cruz. You can visit this place along with the Twin Craters and the Lava Tunnels on your way back to the airport.

Charles Darwin Station and La Estación Beach, Santa Cruz Island

The Charles Darwin Research Station is undoubtably one of the most famous places in the islands as its work on conservation and sustainable development in the Galapagos is vital to the archipelago. This place is open for visitors and a guide is not required to enter. On your way back from the station, you can visit La Estación Beach and relax.

Galapaguera – El Junco Lagoon and Puerto Chino Beach, San Cristóbal Island

This place is perfect for people who are looking forward to a day filled with activities. The highlands of San Cristobal are absolutely fascinating. Visitors can go to the Galapaguera, a tortoise breeding center where tortoises in different life stages can be seen. Following that, the recommended activity is a visit to El Junco Lagoon, the only freshwater lagoon in the archipelago. After a full day in the highlands, visiting Puerto Chino beach offers the perfect opportunity to snorkel and swim with sea lions.

Punta Carola Beach, San Cristóbal Island

If the places above seem a bit tame, then Punta Carola is perfect for you! This beach is great for surfing as it has waves that can be as high as 10 ft tall. Beginners can also their shot surfing when the tide is low. If you are not looking forward to anything adventurous, it is possible to sunbathe and snorkel here.

Snorkel and Hike at Frigate Hill, San Cristóbal Island

Frigate Hill is a site that offers two of the most popular activities in the Galapagos, hiking and snorkeling at your own pace!

Frigate Hill, also known as Tijeretas Hill, is an uphill path that will take you to a lookout. From there, you can see the frigate birds from a closer look. There is another path that takes you to a secluded beach where snorkeling or swimming is allowed.

Wetlands, Isabela Island

Exploring the swamps, lagoons, and mangroves of the Galapagos by bike or walking is definitely an experience you will not forget. In addition to its unique ecosystem, the wildlife here does not disappoint: tortoises, flamingos, and endemic birds can be spotted while visiting this array of wetlands.

It is important to remember that to preserve the Galapagos Islands is vital that we comply with the Galapagos National Parl rules and respect its flora and fauna even when we are not with a Galapagos National Park guide. Let’s be responsible travelers and take care of every site we visit.

Carlos Beate is the Commercial Manager at Andando Tours. Andando Tours offers exclusive traveling experiences, specializing in sailing around the Galapagos Islands and overland along the magnificent Avenue of Volcanoes on the Ecuadorian Andes.

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Comments (13)

  1. Chris H says:

    You say that you can look around The Charles Darwin Research Station without a guide. I usually find that places like that are much better with a guide. Do you have to book ahead to get a guide?

    • Carlos Beate says:

      Most activities are better with a guide as they can share relevant information with you. The station has many informative placards so you can do something more than looking at the tortoises. You can book a guide at the entrance of the station if there is someone available, or you can book the tour through an agency.

  2. Carolyn says:

    So are these the sort of places that you don’t normally get to see on a Galápagos cruise?

    • Carlos Beate says:

      If your cruise includes those sites then you can also get there during your naturalist cruise. For example, most of the cruises include a visit to the Charles Darwin Station as it is an interesting place where you learn about the conservation efforts in the islands.

  3. Roger says:

    Most people at the end of a cruise feel reluctant to head home. However spacious the ship and however pleasant your travelling companions many people often feel the need for the freedom to explore on their own. If you’ve got a few days to spare it’s always good to tack on some extra time to see and do the things that suit you.

    • Carlos Beate says:

      Spending sometimes in the highlands of Santa Cruz is the ultimate experience, it is peaceful and you will be surrounded by the lush forest endemic to the Galapagos.

  4. Gemma Williams says:

    That lagoon sounds like a peaceful respite away from crowds. Does ‘Las Ninfas’ mean something? I’m pretty sure my cousin has been to Los Alemanes, I’ll have to check as my memory isn’t what it used to be. Sounds about right though with the crystal clear and clean beach and water. Can you hire any gear for snorkelling there? Might be a good idea to make sure you come prepared if not because it would be a shame to not give it a try while you’re there. I don’t think I realised the Charles Darwin centre was open to tourists on a walk in basis, that’s pretty cool. I can picture that being busy in peak season. As for Tortuga Bay, that’s well known for being a knock out. One day I’ll get myself there, because the photos always make it look too good to be true. I

    • Carlos Beate says:

      It is peaceful indeed. The word “Las Ninfas” means “The nymphs”.
      You can hire snorkeling gear in the nearby stores and local tour agencies as you will not find a rental on the beach.

  5. Bryan Myers says:

    I would love to visit the Charles Darwin station. And the hiking up Frigate Hill to see the views on San Cristobal island sounds perfect. I love the idea of secluded beaches here. You get to be alone with the remoteness of nature which is a rare experience. I would also be thrilled to take a bike to explore Santa Cruz island. The wildlife must be amazing to see!

    • Carlos Beate says:

      The tameless wildlife of the Galapagos never cease to amaze me. Just be careful by leaving your water and snacks unsupervised while you are on the beach as some curious finch may try to grab some of your snacks!

  6. Emma Shaw says:

    That’s a great shot of the Las Grietas part of Santa Cruz Island. How do you actually visit there though, can you get down to the water? I don’t know if I’m being stupid here as I’ve no idea how long this narrow part is so I don’t know if you’d take a boat down there or not. It looks cool though, I like finding places a little off the beaten track like this. I read a post online from someone not long ago who went to the Darwin research station. I can’t remember much of what he said other than that it was very thorough and fascinating with lots to learn, and that you should to take your passport to be stamped.

    • Carlos Beate says:

      It is a beautiful place! -To get there you need to follow the trail from town and once you get there be ready to swim or snorkel as you can go down there and explore underwater If you want. Believe it or not, there is plenty of space between the rock walls.

  7. Rosa Hall says:

    All great choices of activities, but I consider myself a beach bum and would definitely choose Punta Carola Beach. That white sand beach is enough to lure anybody. Plus, you can also snorkel, and knowing the Galapagos I know I would find the waters would be teeming with underwater marine life. The wetlands also sound good to me. I’ve been to some in Asia, and would be interested to compare.

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