What It’s Like to Sail the Galapagos Islands with Intrepid Travel

by Emese Graham

I couldn’t help but cry when I visited my first Galapagos island with Intrepid Travel. It’s that special. Wildlife here flourishes under the careful protection of their Ecuadorian caretakers, and I’d experience this beautiful place again in a heartbeat.

First Trip to the Galapagos Islands? Here’s What to Expect

1. Quito will be hard to quit

a woman poses in the courtyard of a colonial church in quito

My tour began with a free day to explore Ecuador’s unique capital. I spent it climbing church bell towers and knocking back empanadas and local brews.

With taxis and rideshares only about $5 USD to get from uptown to the main historic centre, feel free to check out as much of the city as you can manage.

I highly recommend extending your stay in the city by a day or two to take in the sights (or just to acclimatize to the high altitude if you tend to be affected by pressure changes).

Check out:

2. Lonesome George could still use some company

two giant tortoises interact at the darwin centre in puerto ayora

Remember the 102 year old Pinta Island tortoise who died as the last of his kind in 2012? Well, you can see him at the Charles Darwin Research Centre (the poor guy could use a visit).

Just a short walk from the docks at Puerto Ayora, the Charles Darwin Centre is your first official excursion in the Galapagos Islands, and gives you a unique chance to see hundreds of baby giant tortoises. And the big ones, too!

You won’t have to wait to board the Grand Queen Beatriz before seeing famous Galapagos wildlife up close. While you’re exploring Puerto Ayora, keep your eyes peeled for:

  • Pelicans
  • Rays
  • Sea turtles
  • Sea lions
  • Marine iguanas

3. The Queen Beatriz feels like home away from home

frigate birds fly around the sundeck on the grand queen beatriz yacht

Intrepid’s yachts (Queen Beatriz and her sister Queen Daphne) are small enough to dock close to each island, but large enough to give you spacious suites and living areas.

Whenever you look out the window, relax in your suite balcony, or have a beer on the sundeck, there’s a good chance you’ll see a friendly frigate bird, a splashing ray, the fin of a shark, or a blue-footed booby looking for dinner.

And speaking of dinner, the Queen Beatriz’ chef and bartender do a phenomenal job of treating your tastebuds to something fresh and delicious for every meal.

Yacht life highlights

  • Sundeck jacuzzi
  • Local and imported drinks
  • Comfortable lounge with games and a guitar
  • Snacks on snacks on snacks

4. The snorkelling is out of this world

a galapagos sea lion swims around a snorkeller

One of the things that make the Galapagos Islands worth visiting over and over again is how unique each islands’ wildlife populations are from each other and how they change with the seasons.

On this particular itinerary, we snorkelled off of Isla Santa Cruz and Isla Santiago – and what a difference a few nautical miles make! Each snorkelling excursion introduced us to different species: hammerhead sharks, eagle rays, manta rays, parrot fish, sea lions, puffer fish, a Galapagos penguin, and countless more. Both areas were absolutely teeming with reef fish (in fact, it was hard not to swim into any marine life).

Things to Know:

  • Wet suits are available in a wide variety of sizes
  • The water was a comfortable temperature in February even without wet suits
  • Those who aren’t strong swimmers can use life jackets designed for snorkelling

5. Your curiosity will pay off

a yellow land iguana

Only people who are born in the Galapagos Islands are allowed to work on the islands, including the expert naturalists who accompany you on your Intrepid tour.

My advice? Ask so many questions!

Whether it was on hikes, over dinner, or during the interactive lectures, my travelling companions and I had endless questions for our award-winning naturalist, Wilo Castañeda. And Wilo was never stumped. You’ll be surprised by how much knowledge you’re soaking up while you’re having fun.

7 days Galapagos Explorer: Central Islands

a young fur sea lion sits up on the white sand

BOOK TRIP

Tour Destinations

  • Quito
  • Isla Baltra
  • Isla North Seymour Island
  • Isla Mosquera
  • Black Turtle Cove
  • Cerro Dragon
  • Isla Rabida
  • Sombrero Chino
  • Las Bachas

Ready to plan your trip? Talking to a Travel Expert couldn’t be easier.

We offer travel consultations in-person, by phone, email, online chat, video chat, and our 24/7 Customer Care line. Whatever works for you! 

1-877-967-5302