For decades, Galapagos centered its tourism activities on cruise-based visits. And this made a lot of sense. One sleeps on a boat and, every morning, wakes up on the shores of a different island. Operators sold visitors cruise packages because it was an opportunity to move someone from one corner of the archipelago to the other as quickly as possible. It is still a very popular —and don’t get us wrong, a very awe-inspiring— way to explore the islands.
A second reason for the dominance of cruise tours in Galapagos back in the day was the lack of decent tourism infrastructure in the archipelago’s few-and-far-between populated towns. Staying comfortably, being able to offer certain basic services (let alone amenities or luxuries), on these islands was a difficult affair and has it has always been very costly.
The Galapagos are, essentially, volcanic worlds with very limited sources of drinking water, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean… even basic food items have had to be imported on ships from the mainland, which lies over 1000 kilometers from the main port city of Guayaquil.
But time and human ingenuity and perserverance has changed things in the last twenty years. The Galapagos Islands have now come a long way in regards to infrastructure. In the last three decades, towns have transformed into developed tourism hubs; supply has solidified. Hotels of all kinds, from hostels to luxury hotels have found ways to satisfy their most demanding clients and staying on land, what was once a daunting affair even for the most adventurous souls, became a wonderful experience for those visiting the Galapagos Islands.
Types of Galapagos island hopping tours
There are several ways to “island hop”. All Galapagos island hopping takes place on the actual islands, not on a cruise ship, but each island offers its own set of logistics.
Some people may prefer to stay in one island and take day trips to other uninhabited islands, while others might prefer to overnight in two, three or even the four different inhabited islands. Obviously, trying to fit in the four islands can easily become a logistical nightmare. It will certainly result in tiresome sea voyages that dampen the excitement of organizing a private tour that really suits your interests.
That said, private tours with expert operators is a great way to organize a journey to the Galapagos made for your budget and preferences. Of course, you can’t fit it all in (you’d need a month to do so), but you can easily make it a most unforgettable trip.
Galapagos Island Private and Luxury tours
Organizing your own private tours in the Galapagos offers you the chance to shoot for the very best, depending, of course, on your budget. And the Galapagos Islands can certainly offer high-end adventures.
Choose the hotels to your liking. There are plenty, from spectacular glamping experiences to hotel settings nestled in secret coves against the horizon, offering the most exclusive amenities and exquisite delicacies at their signature dining extravaganzas.
That’s the great thing about organizing a private tour. The sky’s the limit.
Galapagos Island hopping classic tours
The classic island hopping tours usually involve a base in the central island of Santa Cruz. From here, most visitors take day trips to different islands, including spectacular Bartolomé, one of the islands’ most coveted destinations, with great snorkeling, the chance to see penguins, spectacular lunar-like landscapes and iconic Pinnacle Rock.
Other nearby destinations include Sombrero Chino, North Seymour or Plazas… as well as many fabulous visitor sites within the boundries of the island of Santa Cruz itself.
That’s the classic island hopping experience. You can then add an overnight on San Cristóbal, known for Kicker Rock (where you can swim with hammerhead sharks) or Isabela, also popular, where you can visit the Wall of Tears (a wall built by inmates forced to live in isolation on the island) or Tintoreras (beautiful aquamarine pools teeming with both reef sharks and penguins).
There’s just a lot to explore everywhere you go in the Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos Island expedition tours
Expedition tours are another big thing in the Galapagos, the idea behind the term being a more nature-oriented adventure that can take you to the more remote corners of the archipelago. Cruise tours usually offer this type of visit, especially those that take you to Isabela, one of the westermost islands. You can also organize a private tour and overnight in Isabela to experience this “final frontier” while island hopping, and make it all the way to Los Tuneles, on the far west of the island, a great place to snorkel.
Galapagos Island hopping budget tours
One of the most effective ways to cut costs visiting the Galapagos is actually by both island hopping and organizing a private tour. Cruise tours are usually very expensive, especially if you wish to reach the more remote corners of the archipelago. With island hopping, you have more options. You can stay in hotels offering lower rates and transportation from island to island is also less expensive.
When you organize a private tour, as we help you organize at Wanderbus, you can choose the days you need a guide; what transportation you wish to use; when you just want to do things on your own or just hang out at the beach. That is why private tours are a great way to juggle price and the value of the experience. Through flexible itineraries, you can even make changes along the way. It’s your adventure.