If you go on a land-based trip in the Galapagos Islands, you are more limited in which islands you can visit than if you go on a naturalist cruise. You will visit one or more of the four inhabited islands in the Galapagos (Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana, and Isabela Islands), and possibly one of the four uninhabited islands accessible by day tour from Santa Cruz Island. Because of this, you want to make sure that you are visiting the best sites possible that will give you an amazing Galapagos experience.
San Cristobal Island: This island has stunning white sand beaches, fun sea kayaking routes, and most itineraries here include snorkeling at Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido), which is one of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos! Here you can swim with sea lions, sea turtles, rays, white-tipped reef sharks, and if you’re lucky, Galapagos sharks and hammerheads.
Isabela Island: On Isabela, there is a sleepy little beach town called Puerto Villamil, and it’s a lovely place to stay. There is great snorkeling right in town that you can do on your own after the days activities, or you can rent kayaks and explore the bay. Most itineraries will include going to Tintoreras, which is also called the mini-Galapagos as you can see so much of the iconic wildlife in one place: penguins, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, sharks, and rays. You can also hike the highest point in the islands: Sierra Negra Volcano.
Floreana Island: Floreana Island is the least populated island, and it’s a lovely place to explore for a couple of days. The decedents of the settlers of the Galapagos still live here, and you can explore the highlands with a local guide and learn all about the sordid history of the first people who lived here. The bay in front of the town has great snorkeling, or you can grab a kayak or stand up paddle board and explore on your own.
One or more of the uninhabited islands: Some land-based itineraries will include a day tour to an uninhabited island or two such as North Seymour (huge colonies of blue-footed boobies & frigate birds), Batrolome Island (awesome snorkeling with penguins and flightless cormorants), or Santa Fe or South Plaza Island (beautiful landscapes with great snorkeling, and the only place to see land iguanas). Going to an uninhabited island is a great way to see more wildlife and get away from the population centers.