Galapagos land-based map & highlights



On average, over the course of a ten day land based tour, you'll get to visit about five of the 21 Galápagos Islands which initiates opportunities to undertake plenty of in depth cultural and natural experiences as opposed to whizzing from one jetty or port to the next. Domestic flights from Quito to San Cristóbal, and back from Baltra, with island-hopping ferries in between, give travellers every chance to do just that – travel – with Floreana, Isabela and Santa Cruz all unveiling the cultural traditions of communities that call Galápagos home. Away from the barking harbour seals and open-air fish, textile and fruit markets, you’ll find the uninhabited islands of North Seymour and Bartolomé, where boobies, herons and iguanas can be found on solidified lava, natural beaches and iconic landmarks, such as Pinnacle Rock. Spending time on land lets organic encounters flourish and also provides benefit to highland communities away from popular ports.
Bartolome Island Floreana Island Isabela Island North Seymour Island San Cristobal Island Santa Cruz


The clarity of the water around Bartolomé’s Pinnacle Rock is superb and snorkellers are in for a real treat as they take the plunge amongst penguins, sea lions and white-tipped reef sharks. There’s a great boardwalk, flanked by lava cacti, to the highest point on Bartolomé which takes a bit of effort (300+ steps) but the views from the extinct volcanic summit more than make up for the excursion.


With a population of 150 residents it's easy to see why Floreana is favoured by wildlife and wildlife watchers alike, with abundantmarine life, off the northeast coast especially, providing snorkellers and divers with unadulterated coral heaven. The island's backstory is steeped in dark and mysterious settler tales and makes for intriguing content when sending postcards from the 200-year-old barrel at Post Office Bay.


Isabela Island is pristine – like the Galápagos 25 years ago – and although it’s the archipelago’s largest island it’s only home to some 2,000 people who live within the shadow of Sierra Negra, the world’s second largest volcanic crater. Hiking to the crater’s edge gives you an amazing view, with boat rides to Los Tuneles and cycle rides to the Wall of Tears, accompanied by giant tortoises, equally memorable.

North Seymour

Famed for blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls and magnificent frigatebirds, the uninhabited island of North Seymour can only be experienced on an organised tour led by one of the national park’s official guides. There’s a 2km nature trail that runs across the island from where you’ll discover sea lions, pelicans, flamingoes and marine iguanas seemingly unaware of human existence.

San Cristobal

San Cristóbal holds a fantastic combination of wildlife and land based activities with guided walks over lava fields to La Lobería beach leading to sea lions, marine iguanas and Nazca boobies. Just offshore, Kicker Rock thrusts from the clear waters of the Pacific like a giant’s boot (hence the name) with boat trips taking small groups to see hammerheads, eagle rays and myriad tropical fish.

Santa Cruz

Slap-bang in the middle of the Galápagos, Santa Cruz features Tortuga Bay, a beautifully preserved natural beach that attracts marine iguanas, Galápagos crabs, brown pelicans and giant tortoises. Along the coast in the tourist hub of Puerto Ayora you’ll find sea lions and pelicans vying for fish in Academy Bay as well as the Charles Darwin Research Station, an outstanding conservation centre.

If you'd like to chat about galapagos islands land-based or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Rosy & team.
01273 823 700


Responsible travel recommends


…you like cultural interaction. Live aboard cruises often only stop off for a couple hours in larger towns like Puerto Ayora. Staying on land lets you meet and get to know islanders as well as financially benefitting local communities where they need it most.
…you're looking for an affordable option. Small group travel, island hotels and public transport let you experience the Galápagos from all angles without the cruise ship price tag.
…you're taking the family. Snorkelling, kayaking, cycling and plenty of beach time combined with iguanas, penguins and giant tortoises make land based tours of the Galápagos ideal for fun-loving families. Also, if the thought of life on the ocean wave may turn you green at the gills, land based is the way forward for those who haven't quite discovered their sea legs.


…you’re not a fan of volcanoes. Lava fields, hot springs and the second largest volcanic caldera on the planet, Sierra Negra, ensure Galápagos land based tours are anything but dormant.'re hoping to explore way 'off map'. Although you will be able to experience much of Galápagos National Park a land based tour won't get you out to some of the more remote islands in the archipelago purely due to time constraints and practical travel options.
…you don’t like seafood. Fresher than fresh and lime marinated in minutes; sustainably caught fish in the Galápagos is simply as lip-smackingly satisfying as you can ever hope to imagine.



History tips

Juan Zambonino was born and raised in Galápagos. He now leads land based tours of the islands with our supplier, Intrepid, and explains the importance of this type of trip:
“Land based visitors really, really support the local economy because everything stays here. But most people don't know about the local culture. They don't do the land based tour because they don't think anyone lives here - but there are 29,000 people! So when they come here they mainly take the boats because they think: flora and fauna and that's it. But I would recommend a land based tour to everyone. You see things when you are on the boat – but the good thing about the land based tour is that you are in touch with the people.”

History tips

Morag Prosser, from our supplier ROW Adventures, shares her thoughts on the human side of Galápagos land based tours:
“Local people are now almost wholly dependent on tourism and land based tours give a good understanding of that. You can go to the Wall of Tears and learn about how it was a penal colony. There's the history of Floreana – people arriving there, the murders, people disappearing - and the fact that no one's ever been able to get to the bottom of that mystery is as fascinating, I think, as the reintroduction of native species of tortoise to each island. So I think that being able to balance human history with the incredible wildlife is a real plus of a land based tour."

Going deeper

Simon Forster, co-founder of our supplier, The Beyond Tourism Co, considers the benefits of land based tours:
"Land based tours will take you exploring around the islands of the national park and you will meet some of the communities that live there – a rare chance to experience the other face of Galápagos beyond the cruise ships. You'll come face to face with the famously tame wildlife, meet the Ecuadorians that are proud to call themselves Galapagueños and learn about the complex issues facing this extraordinary, World Heritage-listed environment.”

Galapagos land based holidays tips

Advice from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Budget culture travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday - and the space inside your suitcase.
“If going in the wet season be prepared to get soaked in downpours. Take dry clothes and a separate bag to put wet stuff in – particularly if, like us, you are travelling around a lot with little time in one place to give stuff a chance to dry out.” – Moira Butcher
“Bring your own snorkelling gear and check it fits well. You can hire it but it is difficult to get quality products that fit. A wet-suit is also a good idea as the sea can be quite cold, especially if you are a wimp like me! The volcano trek involves lots of mud. Bring old clothes – and gaiters!” – Karen Morrow
“A pair of open-toed, sturdy sandals AND a pair of sturdy tennis shoes are a must!! Be prepared for walking and balancing on volcanic rock – the point of the vacation is to be somewhere where there are no sidewalks or escalators!! And the intensity of the sun cannot be overemphasized – you cannot wear enough sunscreen.” – Caroline Hoke
“Do not even clean teeth using local water. Sea water can be quite cold (especially at Kicker Rock). Wet suit hire is cheap and advisable.” – Elizabeth Powell-Brett
Photo credits: [Fish market: Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough ] [Bartolome: Ollie Harridge] [Isabelle: Michael Perry] [North Seymour: Andrew Turner] [San Cristobal: Diego Delso] [Santa Cruz: ] [People: Michael R Perry] [Going deeper: cdorobek] [Snorkelling: Steven Bedard] [Volcanic Rock: Jan Hazevoet] [Help desk: Paul Krawczuk]

Written by: Chris Owen
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