Let’s admit it, everyone dreams of laying at the white-sand beaches of Hawaii, Fiji, or Bora Bora. While these Islands are without a doubt charming, I have found my own paradise. The volcanic archipelago is known as the Galapagos Islands.
These beautiful islands can be found around 600 miles (1000 km) off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and are different from a stereotypical island with sandy beaches with palm and coconuts trees.
The Enchanted Islands
These islands are called the “Enchanted Islands” for good reason. Galapagos is full of life and mystery. There are hundreds of types of exotic animals that have made the variety of volcanic rocks, sand, and beaches their home. Charles Darwin famously wrote, “The natural history of these islands is eminently curious”.
Most of the Galapagos archipelago is uninhabited. The Galapagos were the first to be declared a World Heritage Site in 1978 and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1984. The Galapagos National Park covers and protects almost 97% of the islands. As you can guess by now, this is your unspoiled paradise.
There are so many islands in Galapagos, all with different structures, vegetation, and wildlife. Whereas some islands are inhabited by land iguanas and waved albatrosses, others are full of penguins or seals. There is a good reason that the Galapagos islands became Darwin’s laboratory for the study of the origins of life.
The island’s landscape varies from rough volcanic rock to green overgrown areas with sandy beaches. This makes it an excellent destination to do more than just lay on the beach. You can hike, swim, snorkel, dive, mountain bike, kayak, and do so much more at this astonishing paradise.
There are white and red sand beaches that are full of seals, sea lions, and other animals that you don’t get to see usually on most touristy islands. It is not uncommon that the curious animals accompany you on these trips.
These islands, isolated from human colonization have developed unique and abundant wildlife that has no natural fear of humans. Whereas in most other places, wild animals are often scared or are shy from humans, on here they are not afraid at all.
Unfortunately, you often must choose between visiting the west or the eastern part of the Galapagos Islands. Luckily I found a tour operator in Quito that was able to make a tour that included everything I wanted! I loved the comfort of the cruise, alternating with the challenging hikes I did.
I never thought that I would be able to visit and live in my own “real-life nature and wildlife documentary’’, let alone take amazing pictures that make the journey even more memorable.
Arriving at Galapagos Islands
The adventure starts when you arrive at the airport and make your way to the shore (and dock). You can hear the wind blowing and the loud barks of the seals and sea-lions, it’s like they all are welcoming you to this enchanted island.
The sun shines bright, but luckily since you are at the equator and it shines from straight above, it doesn’t block your view. Each following day you will be surprised. Just when you’ll think you know what to expect, there will be something unexpected coming your way that will surprise you.
Whichever islands or parts you explore, I think that Galapagos will never cease to amaze you.
Meeting new people
Whether you are a solo traveler, traveling with your special someone or friends, it’s always nice to meet new people and share your travel experiences.
I met some of the most amazing people in the Galapagos Islands, from world travelers to locals who have spent their lives on these beautiful Islands. Even they admitted that living there never gets boring or ordinary.
To my surprise most of the people spoke multiple languages, so making contact was very easy. We ate some fish at Alfonso’s house, a local we met that lives in Santa Cruz. Honestly, I was a little jealous of his seemingly relaxed and stress-free life in Galapagos.
I think that nature is very important and that it’s a shame that all the beautiful places on earth go under due to human greed and the commercialization of tourism. Of all the places I’ve visited, I think the Ecuadorian government is setting an example of how to deal with preserving nature.
As noted above, almost 97% of the Galapagos Islands are part of the nature park, and this can be seen everywhere. According to Gulliver Expeditions, “It is obligated to be accompanied by a local guide and nature expert that is certified.’’
The guides here tell you awesome facts about the animals and wildlife while making sure that you stick to the rules. A lot of the money you pay for your Galapagos trip will be used to assure its existence in the future.
I would recommend visiting the Galapagos Islands as this is one of the world’s most special places. Thinking about going on a honeymoon to a truly unique romantic place? I think this is it.
Any beach, animal, or nature lover will absolutely fall in love with this virgin paradise that feels like nowhere else on earth. If you want to make sure your experience will be just as unforgettable as mine was, I would advise you to check out a good tour operator and let them do what they do best, making your travel unique.
Guest blog contributed by our reader Mary Wilson.