From luxury cruise vessels to indulgent lodges, timeless landscapes to iconic wildlife, Rainforest Cruises has everything you need for an unforgettable stay in this “once-in-a-lifetime” destination.
If you are looking for a transformational honeymoon experience in 2017, it doesn’t get much more exotic, unique or mind-blowing than the Galapagos Islands! You don’t have to be Charles Darwin to get a sense of the sheer magic and beauty that this place holds. Even if you have seen documentaries about the islands, nothing will ever prepare you for the untouched landscapes and unique wildlife that you will find nowhere else on the planet.
The Galapagos Islands are the sort of place most people only get the chance to visit once. So what better time to travel to this truly inspiring archipelago than on your honeymoon? Whether you’re cruising the easterly or westerly islands or planning a lodge-based island hopping itinerary, you’re bound to create memories together to last a lifetime.
So here are 7 frequently asked questions about how to plan the honeymoon of your dreams in the Galapagos.
1. What is the best way to see the islands?
Visits to most of the islands aren’t allowed without a guide licensed with the Galapagos National Park. You can book day trips to some of the islands from Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz, but taking a cruise on a small yacht is the best way to see the more remote islands and wildlife in the Galapagos.
The national park restricts the size of boats to 100 passengers, but even 100 can overload a beach when disembarking all at once. Ideal tour boats take only small groups, such as 16 to 48 passengers. Rainforest Cruises is a sustainable travel company that books small cruises, as well as land-based hiking trips, eco-hotels, and dive excursion add-ons.
2. Is a Cruise the best way to see the Galapagos?
The best way to experience the Galapagos is undoubtedly to take a multi-day cruise between several of the islands. This is a particularly great choice for those travelers with limited time and for those wanting to gain a broad overview of the archipelago, including the chance to visit some of the more remote and wilder islands.
On a Galapagos cruise, you’ll live on board the vessel, have access to excellent facilities, cuisine, entertainment and services, all while being effortlessly transported between each island destination each night as you sleep. Every day, you’ll disembark to explore the otherworldly beauty of each island and to get up close and personal with some of the planet’s most fascinating wildlife.
3. Which boat cruise is the best?
Ranging in style from sailboats to luxury catamarans to larger yachts, you can choose from Rainforest Cruises’ fleet of 15 boats. Their boats are each manned by a crew and private chefs ensuring you the best creature comforts while you go in search of incredible wildlife on cruises of 4 days or longer.
There are Suites and Staterooms to accommodate a total of 16 passengers so no matter which boat you choose or where your boat lands, you are always in small groups to enjoy the tranquility of the natural environment around you.
The Galapagos islands are considered to be a national park and everyone who visits has to pay $100 fee to enter, but part of that fee goes to the first class naturalist guide that accompanies you on your private cruise and on all of your hikes and excursions off the boat. So you will leave knowing so much more about the history of the islands and wildlife than you can ever imagine. To see the entire fleet of Galapagos cruises, click on this link.
4. How many islands should we try to see?
The Galapagos is an archipelago of 20 islands off the coast of Ecuador. Each island boasts it’s own terrain and wildlife and can be vastly different from the one next door. On some islands there are nothing but volcanoes; miles of barren, black, ancient lava flows sinking into the ocean with half-submerged volcanic craters that look like crescent moons of land.
While other islands have green and turquoise waters, white sand beaches, sea lions, birds and nothing else. Other than the main tourist hub of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, most places have been untouched by humans and are crawling with wildlife without a building, road, or power in sight.
It is important to see at least 4 islands if you are planning a visit to the Galapagos, because each island is so vastly different than the next. So much so that while you are on a hike, the landscape even on just one island can change drastically within minutes.
Deciding to do 4 days on a catamaran visiting the islands of San Cristobal, Espanola, Floreana and then finally docking on Santa Cruz island at Puerto Ayora is one of the best ways to have a “taste” of the different landscapes of the Galapagos.
5. What wildlife can we expect to see on the islands?
Highlights of any Galapagos adventure include hiking, snorkeling and taking in the stunning coastal and volcanic landscape, as well as witnessing an incredible array of endemic wildlife, from Blue-footed boobies, giant 200-year-old land tortoises, albatross, and penguins just to name a few of the incredible species that you will see while in the Galapagos.
Many species are unique to the Galapagos because of its isolation and remoteness and because there are no natural predators on the islands to these creatures, they are completely unaffected and unafraid of humans.
While walking on a beach it is completely normal if a family of sea lions and their pups want to waddle over and hang out with you, or birds may want to land on your shoulder wanting a sip of water from your bottle. As you are walking you need to be careful not to step on the thousands of iguanas that will be laying across your path and that won't move to get out of your way. It is such a magical place and like nothing you will ever have experienced before.
No matter which island you’re snorkeling off of, you’ll likely be swimming alongside sea lions, giant Pacific sea turtles, and schools of sharks and manta rays.
Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock off of San Cristobal are excellent spots, but what was so incredible to me was the amount of wildlife and the diversity! Within 20 minutes you could be swimming with penguins, sharks, rays, 6-foot long sea turtles, and swimming through ancient underwater lava tunnels with sea lions!
6. Are you allowed to stay on the islands?
The answer is "Yes!" Independent travel in the Galapagos is another popular way to get around the islands. This style of travel offers more freedom than a cruise schedule, gives you the chance to try adventure Galapagos activities such as scuba diving surfing or kayaking, as well as to explore the port towns and immerse yourself in island life. It is also a cheaper option and perfect for couples wanting more personal space and flexibility on their honeymoon. Although 95% of the islands are uninhabited by people, there are eco-lodges and some hotels and hostels that you can book and stay at.
Combining land and a luxury sea adventure is definitely the best way to fully experience the Galapagos. There are plenty of lodge-style accommodations scattered throughout the islands, with a wide range styles to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.
7. What are the best eco-lodges to stay at in the Galapagos?
Depending on which island you fly into or your boat drops you off on, you have a few choices of safari-esque land eco-lodges where you can see giant tortoises roaming in their natural habitat. For honeymooners in search of the ultimate romantic retreat, we’ve picked out two of our favorite luxury Galapagos lodges.
The breath-taking Pikaia lodge is located on Santa Cruz island and renowned as one of the most memorable places to stay in the Galapagos. The lodge occupies a unique and remote setting, perched high up on the slopes of an extinct volcano, 450 meters above sea level. It offers a jaw-dropping 270-degree perspective over the surrounding mountains, forest, savannah, and ocean, with views extending from the southern coastline all the way up to the northern tip with Sante Fe Island just visible on the horizon.
The lodge does a fantastic job of combining modern architecture with a design with melds effortlessly with the surrounding wild natural landscape. There are 14 beautifully appointed spacious rooms, each with panoramic floor to ceiling windows and private terraces that make the most of the enviable natural setting. The lodge is also home to an excellent restaurant, serving gourmet fare that draws on fresh locally-sourced ingredients paired with a wonderful wine list. The property boasts a stunningly-situated infinity pool, stylish bar and a heavenly spa that take the experience to the next level.
You also won’t need to venture far to witness some of the islands’ most iconic creatures. Pikaia has its very own giant tortoise reserve, and these huge slow-moving reptiles can be found roaming the grasslands around the lodge. For those newlyweds wanting to explore further afield, the lodge operates a fantastic range of guided excursions around Santa Cruz island. They also offer small group trips aboard their private yacht, journeying out to some of the surrounding islands and with the opportunity to kayak or snorkel en-route.
From Santa Cruz Island, you can take a 2-hour water taxi to nearby Isabella Island to really experience a volcanic adventure on land. Experiencing both the islands in the East that are older and have more vegetation and beaches versus the islands in the West that are still so raw and volcanic is a must do!
Situated in the highlands of Isabella Island, this eco-friendly lodge has borrowed the traditional African safari concept and adapted it to the wild Galapagos environment, resulting in a truly unique and unforgettable experience. It’s a high-tech, stylish, yet incredibly inviting and unpretentious resort set on the slopes of a volcano and surrounded by lush forest. The property boasts spectacular views of the coastline and of several other Galapagos islands off into the distance.
Guests are invited to go glamping in one of 16 luxurious safari tents, sleeping under canvas with a feeling of full immersion with nature, while being safely cocooned in truly modern and comfortable surrounds. Tents feature full queen size beds, beautiful furnishings, an ensuite bathroom and large windows, along with a stylish deck from which to enjoy a sundowner and take in the panoramic vistas.