Experience the Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of 127 volcanic islands located about 620 miles off of the Pacific coast of Ecuador, is a bucket-list travel destination for lovers of wildlife and beautiful scenery. The remote islands harbor life that is not found anywhere else on the planet, and the lack of tourism and activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic allows for a travel opportunity like no other.
Because much of the land and seascape is protected under national law, the unique biodiversity of the Galapagos islands gives tourists an unparalleled wildlife-spotting experience. Sea lions splash in the turquoise waters; land iguanas and giant tortoises bask in the sun on the white sandy beaches; and birds like blue-footed boobies, waved albatross, and a plethora of mockingbirds and finches patrol the skies (UNESCO). Dive and snorkel in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, home to a myriad of sharks, gliding manta rays, tropical fish hiding in the coral reefs, and Galapagos penguins. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
While exploring the Galapagos islands, you will find that each island is different from the next. Four of the main 19 large islands are inhabited with settlements, airports, and seaports, while the rest are teeming with life and natural treasures (UNESCO). Explore the peaceful, chalky beaches of Isla San Cristóbal (Galapagos Islands Travel Guide 2021). Hike the looming Sierra Negra active volcano on Isabela island if you’re seeking a heart-racing adventure! There is no better place than the Charles Darwin Research Station, located in Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz, to learn about the world-famous studies of Charles Darwin on evolution and to experience rich, living history. Head into any of the towns on Isla Santa Cruz, Isla San Cristobal, and Isla Isabela to enjoy some of the freshest seafood dishes that the islands have to offer (The Culture Trip).
The COVID-19 pandemic restricted travel and tourism to the Galapagos Islands. With tourism cruises and air travel at a minimum, the scarcity of foreigners has given the wildlife a chance to return to its undisturbed state. Wildlife-spotting opportunities are more frequent than they will be for “another 100 years” (Lafferty 2021). The local towns have also returned to their more authentic states.
Fun Fact: The government of Ecuador designated part of the Galapagos Islands a wildlife sanctuary in 1935, and they became a UNESCO World Heritage site 43 years later (Britannica).
Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. “Galápagos Islands.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre, whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/.
“Everything You Need to Know For Your Trip to Galapagos Islands.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, travel.usnews.com/Galapagos_Islands_Ecuador/.
“Galapagos Islands.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/place/Galapagos-Islands.
Johannessen, Vibeke. “The 10 Best Restaurants in the Galapagos Islands.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 20 Oct. 2017, theculturetrip.com/south-america/ecuador/articles/the-10-best-restaurants-in-the-galapagos-islands/.
Lafferty, Jaime. “Visiting the Galapagos Islands in the Midst of the Pandemic: 'You Won't See It Again Like This for 100 Years'.” The National , 31 May 2021,