You’re active, you’re adventurous, and you want to go to the Galapagos, so a multisport trip looks right up your alley. But once you start researching the trips, it can be very difficult to figure out which type of multisport would suit you best. Our handy Galapagos Multisport guide will help you identify a quality multisport trip and suss out the differences between tour options. Of course, if you have questions about a particular trip or if any of the information here is unclear, you can always give us a ring here at Detour to talk to a Galapagos expert who has been to the Islands and can answer all of your questions.
ISLANDS VISITED ON A GALAPAGOS MULTISPORT ADVENTURE
A good weeklong multisport should visit a number of different Islands and not just stay on one Island (Isabela Island for 5 days is the exception to this rule). Detour’s weeklong Multisport overnight on three different Islands: Floreana + Isabela + Santa Cruz or San Cristobal + Isabela + Santa Cruz. The tours with Floreana are very unique because there is only one place to overnight (the Lava Lodge) and most tours skip Floreana altogether. The 9-day Ultimate Multisport combines all four Islands. Shorter tours will usually stay on just one or 2 Islands. Basically though, your multisport should stay on an Island other than San Cristobal and Santa Cruz to really see the best wildlife out there.
ACTIVITIES ON A GALAPAGOS MULTISPORT ADVENTURE
Ideal multisport tours are truly active and allow you to see amazing wildlife along the way- that’s the point of going to the Galapagos, after all. Activities like bike riding through town don’t really get you to see wildlife; but biking a little-used backroad to a secluded beach where you get to kayak and observe green sea turtles is a much more fun and rewarding activity.
Normal naturalist tours consist of a slow guided walks and snorkeling a couple time each day. Multisports tend to explore different sites where it’s possible to hike, stand-up paddle, bike, kayak, or snorkel while observing wildlife. Each activity is about 2 -3 hours, usually within the Park boundaries and your naturalist guide always leads you. Unless noted as being a particularly strenous multisport, these activities are moderately challenging and are enjoyable for any reasonably fit person.
Since Multisport tours have become popular recently, there is a tendency for some operators to simply use the word “Multisport” to a land-based trip that doesn’t actually do active tours. These “Multisports” usually consist of typical naturalist walks, a few opportunities to snorkel and perhaps a few bikes that you can use during your free-time without a guide — not within the park boundaries or with the likelihood to see much wildlife. To spot these faux-Multisports, just read through the detailed itinerary carefully; if you don’t see paddle-boarding, biking, or kayaking with your guide to particular sites on most days, it’s probably not a real multisport.
GALAPAGOS MULTISPORT TRIP LENGTHS
Galapagos Multisports range from 3 to 9 days, with the most common tour being 7 days long. The 3 and 4-day tours are perfect additions to other trips, perhaps after a cruise or in conjunction with a 3-day SCUBA diving tour. These aren’t long enough by themselves to get a well-rounded Galapagos experience. While 5-days is probably too short for most people to really get the most out of the Galapagos, it’s still enough if you really don’t have more time to travel. The 7-day trip is ideal if you’re only doing a Multisport in order to see the best wildlife and really immerse yourself in the experience. The 9-day tour showcases the absolute best in the Islands, so it’s highly recommended to those who can swing the cost and length of time.
GROUP & PRIVATE TOURS
Private departures are just for your group and you would have your own guide for all activities. There is quite a bit of room for changing the itinerary (before arriving of course) and setting your ideal pace for each activity. They can also typically start on any date you prefer, depending on hotel and guide availability.
Group departures are available for anyone to join and you would be traveling in a group of up to 16 travelers with one guide (some operators have a max of 12 travelers though). Usually they are less expensive than private tours, but there’s really no flexibility in the schedule or pace. The dates for group tours are set (i.e. July 17 – 23).
We usually recommend that families with younger kids have a privately guided tour for maximum flexibility. We find that with group tours, some people can feel held back or perhaps others feel they can’t keep up, or perhaps they don’t care about snorkeling but the group is all doing that activity. A privately-guided trip can avoid these sorts of headaches.
Each trip has their own set of accommodations, but mostly you’ll be staying in either tourist-class or first-class lodges. Check out the typical hotels used on each tour to get a better sense of their accommodation choices, since tourist-class and first-class aren’t universally agreed-upon descriptions. Generally, first-class lodges will be very comfortable and right on the water (like the Casa Marita or the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn). Tourist-class lodges are simpler, but still clean and cozy (like Casa Isabela or Villa Laguna).
Some Multisport will have the same guide that travels with you and is your only guide for the entire trip. Other multisports will have a different guide on each Island, so you’re on your own while on the speedboat between the Islands. Most people prefer to have one guide for the entire trip since they like the rapport that builds with a guide you really get to know over the course of the week and who understands exactly what interests your group (maybe it’s more snorkeling and less walking for instance). Having a different guide on each Island has its own advantages too though: it’s less expensive and if you don’t love your guide on one Island, you’ll get a new one soon.
This is generally the same between all Multisports because once in the Islands, you’ll be traveling by 20-passenger speedboats between the Islands. A few of these Multisports have private speedboats for these transfers, but most will use public speedboats; the difference between these two is really negligible. These transfers are between 2 and 3 hours each way, but you don’t do them every day, which is why those who are very prone to sea sickness prefer land-based trips over cruises. While some multisports still use small planes for inter-Island transport, these are so unreliable in terms of delays and cancellations that most operators have abandoned them in favor of speedboat transfers (hopefully this will change soon though so the flight option is more reliable). Also, everyone will arrive by commercial flight (booked by your tour operator typically) into the Galapagos and depart by commercial flight as well.
WILDLIFE: MULTISPORTS VS. CRUISES
The wildlife you see is a bit different on each type of tour. Weeklong multisport trips tend to have better snorkeling because they have access to sites that cruises do not, therefore you’ll be seeing more underwater wildlife like sea turtles, Galapagos Sharks, rays, Galapagos Penguins, sea lions, tropical fish, etc. The cruises visit places with bigger populations of birdlife, so you’ll see big colonies of blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, and flightless cormorants; plus they visit a more diverse array of Islands, so you’ll see more subspecies (like different finches on different Islands). However, on both trips, you’re going to see both birdlife and go snorkeling, it’s just that the Multisport’s true advantage is the snorkeling (even though you still see colonies of frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, etc.) and the cruises’ advantage is seeing more diverse and bigger populations of birdlife (you still do a lot of snorkeling, but the boats just don’t have access to the very best sites). There are two snorkeling sites in particular that are completely restricted to cruises groups and are considered the top snorkeling destinations in the Galapagos: Kicker Rock/Leon Dormido and Los Tunneles.
CAN I DO A MULTISPORT TOUR ON A CRUISE?
Unfortunately, no. This used to be offered on a few boats, but is no longer allowed by the National Park. If you truly want the best of both worlds, combining a short cruise and a short Multisport (see below) is your best bet. The timing of it can be a bit tricky though, so make sure you plan this one at least a few months in advance. See our recommendations below for great cruises to pair with a short (or long) Multisport tour.
WHAT IF I WANT A MULTISPORT TOUR IN BOTH THE GALAPAGOS AND IN MAINLAND ECUADOR?
Congratulations! You are both hardcore and in luck. A few operators offer trips in both mainland Ecuador and Galapagos so that you have the same level of adventure and challenge throughout your entire tour. Below are Detour’s recommendation for Galapagos + Mainland Ecuador multisports:
Ecuador & Galapagos Quest: This 10-day multisport includes visiting 3 Galapagos Islands and exploring a diversity of ecosystems back on the mainland. The 5-day Galapagos multisport is complimented by whitewater rafting in the jungle, mountain biking down volcanoes, and visiting Andean markets.
Galapagos Multisport & Huaorani Ecolodge: The Huaorani Ecolodge is one of the most active Rainforest tour and is an ideal compliment to any Galapagos Multisport. Since you’ll be hiking and kayaking in the rainforest alongside your Huaorani guides and host, it is a unique and affecting adventure.
TOP RECOMMENDED WEEK-LONG MULTISPORTS
These weeklong Multisports combine the ideal combination of 3 Islands, challenging activities, and access to sites rarely visited by (or even restricted from) cruises.
Ultimate Galapagos Adventure, 4 Islands Multisport: This trip really does compete with cruises in terms of wildlife and is far more active than any other Multisport offered. With snorkeling at Los Tunneles, stand-up paddling in Floreana’s waters, kayaking a secluded beach on Santa Cruz and snorkeling Kicker Rock/Leon Dormido, this is truly the adventure suited for those who want to see the best of Galapagos wildlife but can’t stand the idea of a sedentary tour.
Galapagos Islands Multisport Adventure: This 7-day trip, also operated by Tropic, is a bit shorter than the Ultimate Galapagos Adventure (no San Cristobal). Very off-the-beaten-path, and lots of options (group or private tours; tourist or first-class; extensions to dive; etc.). Group tours are offered every Sunday and Wednesday.
Galapagos Multisport Adventure: The longest-running multisport in the Galapagos, operated by Ecuador Adventure is quite the crowd-pleaser. This trip goes San Cristobal to Isabela to Santa Cruz Island, with the same guide throughout. Group departures are offered once a month roughly.
Galapagos Premium Multisport Adventure: This upgraded version from Ecuador Adventure included accommodations at their very lovely Opuntia Lodge collection. The itinerary is roughly identical to the standard version. Mostly privately run, but some group tours are offered.
TOP RECOMMENDED SHORT MULTISPORTS
The shortest tours (3 or 4 days) are a perfect extension to any cruise or a SCUBA diving trip. Again, we recommend getting away from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal for at least part of your trip (if not the entire time) to see the best of the Galapagos on a short tour.
Isabela Multisport: This is an Isabela-only tour is 4 or 5 days and includes all the highlights of the Island. You’ll snorkel at Los Tunneles with penguins, bike to see juvenile tortoises in the wild, kayak to blue-footed booby hang outs, and hike up volcanoes. The beaches here are considered to be the most beautiful in the Islands and the small beach-town vibe is very chilled out.
Floreana Multisport: This 3-day trip takes you to one of the most far-flung places you may ever stay, Floreana Island. The picturesque Lava Lodge is the only accommodation option on the Island and the small cabanas all face the ocean. Here, you’ll stand-up paddle alongside sea turtles and hike to see Frigate birds, plus learn all about the fascinating history of this remote outpost where just 150 still live.
Isabela + Floreana Multisport: A 5-day combination of the Isabela and Floreana Multisports. Includes stand-up paddling, hiking, kayaking, biking, snorkeling – all with the goal of spotting awesome wildlife and getting remote in the Galapagos.
TOP RECOMMENDED SHORT CRUISES TO PAIR WITH A MULTISPORT
While we offer a number of short Galapagos cruises, we’ve found some are better than others for pairing with a short Multisport. Of course, if you want to do a longer Multisport and then an 8-day cruise, we can also help you find the perfect itinerary as well.
TOURIST-SUPERIOR CLASS CRUISES
- Aida Maria Cruise: A very dependable choice for a tourist-superior class cruise that has always impressed travelers who don’t need a lot of frills, just a good guide and a reliable, clean boat. The 5-day itinerary goes well with any short Multisport and the 4-day goes better with an Isabela-only Multisport.
- Angelito Cruise: The 4 and 5-day cruises fit exceptionally well with any of the short Multisports since you wouldn’t be repeating any Islands and the cruises themselves have outstanding naturalist guides.
1ST CLASS CRUISES
- Beluga Cruise: This 1st-class cruise is a very reputable cruise with exceptional naturalist guides. Any of the 4, 5, or 6 day cruises go nicely with a short or week-long Multisport. One of the 6-day tour actually ends in Puerto Villamil, so it’s very simple to combine it with an Isabela tour.
- Anahi Catamaran: The Anahi is super stable and has lots of short itinerary options to choose from. It’s run by the oldest continuous operator in the Galapagos, Angermeyer Cruises, so the naturalist guides are top notch.
SMALL LUXURY CRUISES
- Odyssey Cruise: Smaller, very reputable luxury yachts are difficult to find and this one gets it right. The 5-Day B itinerary works perfectly with either a Floreana or Isabela short multisport. Continue with the active trip theme by using one of the Odyssey’s 8 kayaks to explore rocky shores and get in a bit of exercise.
- Mary Anne Cruise: While this is more of a mid-way between 1st-class and luxury, the Mary Anne is a striking and incredibly stable sailboat. The weeklong “East” itinerary actually doesn’t overlap with any multi-Island multisport tour so is an excellent choice for those who want a 12 or 15-day trip.
LARGER LUXURY CRUISES
- Eclipse Cruise: The 48-passenger Eclipse stands out from the crowd for having stellar itineraries, no matter what the length of the cruise. The 4, 5 and 6-day tours compliment any of the shorter Multisports very well.