Galapagos Islands: Should You Cruise or Stay in a Hotel?

Snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. Photo by Matthew Barker

The Galapagos Islands are teeming with wildlife, from iguanas to sea lions to the curiously named blue footed boobie. Without a doubt, the Galapagos Islands are a hotspot for many adventure travellers. But what’s the best way to explore them? Should you cruise or stay in a hotel?

For many, cruising is the obvious first choice. Cruise ships offer excellent dining, and the ease of sleeping in one location while exploring different destinations during the day.

But for those who want to get a deeper sense of the Galapagos Islands and experience the local way of life, staying in a hotel might be the best way to go. Staying on the islands can provide an insider’s view that you wouldn’t normally see if travelling by boat. You can visit the long, white sandy beach and crystal blue waters at Tortuga Bay, or rent a bike and follow one of the mountain biking routes across the island.

The majority of the hotels are situated in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Nearby restaurants serve up tasty local cuisine and you can walk along the seafront, where the locals bring in their catch in the early morning.

In addition, staying on land also allows you to be more flexible.  Fancy a day of relaxation?  Many hotels have a swimming pool onsite and some offer child minding services.

But the main advantage to a land-based Galapagos tour is the level comfort that you will enjoy. The waters around the Galapagos are often choppy, the weather is changeable and the lower budget boats are relatively small. For these reasons alone, many people opt for land tours, spending less time on the water travelling between islands and more time on dry land.

On the other hand, sailing around the islands does have many obvious advantages.  First and foremost sailing allows you to stop off at more places in a shorter amount of time.

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