One of the common questions we received from our clients and partners is why is a Galapagos cruise the best option for traveling the archipelago. Besides what you may think, we never answer them bragging about our fleet facilities and benefits. Yet, what we do is answer them straightforwardly by saying:
It’s the only way a traveler can experience Galapagos wilderness and uniqueness.
This is because, thanks to the longer navigations that cruises make during the night, you can visit faraway places, inaccessible on a navigable day tour. Thus, the best way to don’t miss some Galapagos highlights is onboard a cruise and visit remote and breathtaking sites within the archipelago, no matter the cruise company you choose at the end.
In this article, we will help you discover the wilderness sites on the western side of the Galapagos, accessible only onboard some cruise journeys.
First of all, if you look at a Galapagos map, there is one island that catches your attention for its seahorse shape. That’s Isabela, the biggest and youngest island of the archipelago, yet only 2% of its land is inhabited.
Download the map here
So, choosing a cruise that visits the western side of this island means having access to a series of pristine sites, each one so different and unique between them. But, there is a species that you can only see in this area.
It’s none other than the Flightless Cormorant, one of the most significant examples of Galapagos evolution. This cormorant species evolved throughout the years by losing its wings for flying. They learned how to swim and feed underwater. It was the only way for them to survive the harsh conditions Isabela had.
As part of the experience, you can live on board a cruise, there is snorkeling. Hence, you have good chances to live these three most incredible Isabela’s snorkeling experiences during your cruise journey:
- Watching the surreal flightless cormorant swimming and catching its prey underwater.
- Watching a marine iguana swimming at your side or feeding in a rock underwater.
- Watching a Galapagos penguin passing in front of you as a “torpedo,” not in vain, is what locals call this small penguin species.
Isabela has many sites that will blow your mind in many ways, but remember that you can access them only onboard a cruise trip. So, here are some of the sites you can experience on a western Galapagos cruise journey:
Moreno Point is a magical place with extensive lava fields which look lifeless at first sight. Once inland, scattered brackish lagoons form an oasis of life where you can find flamingos, gallinules, ducks, and herons.
Elizabeth Bay is a beautiful sheltered bay surrounded by large mangroves and barren lava fields. You can discover its many channels, poles, and coves on a dinghy ride tour. Here, it’s the best place to spot the iconic Galapagos penguin.
Urbina Bay was underwater until the 1950s, and was uplifted. Hence, walking along its trail is finding evidence of its submerged pass, such as the shells in the soil. Here, you can also see the Galapagos Hawk, either flying or perched on the trees.
Espinoza Point at Fernandina Island is the western island of the archipelago, located in front of Isabela. Disembarking here is letting the most active volcano of the archipelago astonish you. Here, you will be surrounded by the largest colony of marine iguanas while the sea lions bask in the beaches and their pups play in tide pools. Also, the abundant seaweed on its water makes it perfect for snorkeling among colorful fish, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, and other marine species.
Tagus Cove, formerly a pirate hiding site, has a trail that takes you through dry Palo Santo forests. In the end, you will get great views of blueish salty Darwin’s lake and the large volcanoes of northern Isabela. Also, you can watch some Darwin’s finches and mockingbirds.
Vicente Roca Point has some of the tallest cliffs in the Galapagos. A great location to observe spectacular landscapes and interesting volcanic features. You can experience it on a dinghy tour along the shore, getting a closer view of pelicans, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, Galapagos fur seals, etc. It’s a good location for watching whales and dolphins, with a bit of luck.
Albemarle Point is where the US Navy built a radar in WWII to detect if the Japanese approached the Galapagos. Did you know Galapagos was a US military base during this period? Aside from this historical fact and a few remains of that period, you will see a barren area surrounded by endless lava fields with Galapagos penguins and shorebirds colonies.
These are 7 pristine and remote sites that Isabela has to enchant you and make your trip unforgettable. However, take into consideration that not all of them are included in a cruise journey. So, it’s essential to check the itineraries the cruise company offers you so that you can choose the most convenient for you.
In the case of our fleet, the journeys we offer you to discover and experience the western side of the Galapagos Islands are the following ones, and don’t forget to see their videos:
- Alya itinerary B – Video
- Ecogalaxy catamaran itinerary B – Video
- Galaxy yacht itinerary B – Video
- Bonita yacht itinerary A – Video