There are two basic types of trips in the Galapagos Islands: land-based and yacht-based.
In the land-based trips, you will overnight on land in a hotel. There are three towns that can accommodate tourists: Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz; Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal; and Puerto Villamil in Isabela. Often, the town and island names are interchangable.
In a land-based trip, you will travel by day to various sites in the Galapagos. If you go by boat to nearby islands, it usually takes 2-3 hours. Of course, this will vary according to which islands you’re visiting and the calmness of the sea. You will typically eat your breakfasts and dinners in town; lunch is usually provided while on the tour.
In the yacht-based trip, you will sleep in a cabin on a boat. Much of the traveling between islands will be done at night, but you will do some boating during the day as well. You will eat most of your meals on board except maybe when you visit a town (like Puerto Ayora) for a day.
A multisport trip is typically a land-based trip, while naturalist and dive trips are typically yacht-based. There are certainly a few exceptions to this, such as a single-day dive trip or a yacht-based active itinerary.
On most land-based trips, but you won’t see as much diversity because you won’t visit as many islands. However, if you’re on a multisport trip, you will spend more time outside viewing wildlife while hiking, riding bicycles and horses, sea kayaking, and snorkeling. Also, a land-based trip is good for those without much time or those who dislike sleeping on boats.
A yacht-based trip can take you to the furtherest sites and you can visit a wider variety of islands. Some yacht-based naturalist cruises have sea kayaks and SCUBA diving.
With both types of trips, you must stick close to your guide while on touring an island or in the water. The Galapagos National Park is one of the most protected areas on earth and tourists are not allowed to wander off on their own