There are four inhabited islands in the Galapagos: Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and San Cristobal. Staying on one or more of these islands is a great way to start or end your trip in the Galapagos Islands. You can relax at the beach, snorkel in the local swimming hole, and watch fishermen bring in their daily catch. It’s an amazing way to experience life in the islands, and after a busy trip, it’s nice to have some time to yourself and explore on your own. More details on each island are below:
Deciding which island to spend time on can be a tough decision. It really depends on what you are doing for the rest of your trip in the Galapagos. Your travel adviser can help you decide where to go, and what to do in your free time.
We highly recommend that you stay on one or more of the inhabited islands as a compliment to a longer, organized trip in the Galapagos. 97% of the islands are in the Galapagos National Park, and you can only explore in the park with a registered guide. It’s possible to go to the islands, and arrange day trips with a guide. However, in our expert opinion, having a longer cruise or multisport adventure is a better experience. You normally have the same guide throughout, the guides on longer trips are generally better and more experienced, and it’s a more comprehensive, in depth trip.
When staying in the Galapagos, it is important to remember how remote these islands are. Everything from food to building materials has to be shipped in (not counting all the fresh caught seafood!) from mainland Ecuador. So food, lodging, and other services in the Islands can be more expensive compared to elsewhere in South America, and sometimes not as modern as what you may expect. That said, the Galapagos have infinite amounts unique charm and many of these hotels are run by Galapagueños families that have been on the islands for years and make up the human history and culture of the area. The hotels also pride themselves on sustainability and being environmentally conscious. So, while you are there enjoy the hospitality, the wildlife, the great food and don’t worry too much when the internet flickers on and off occasionally or the hot water doesn’t alway work!
SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Santa Cruz Island is the main jumping off point for most trips, and the main town of Puerto Ayora is the largest population center in the islands and the biggest travel hub. It’s a bustling town, with lots of shops, restaurants, and things to do. Puerto Ayora is a port town, and doesn’t have a nearby beach. The closest beaches are a 3 mile roundtrip walk (Tortuga Bay) or a 30 minute roundtrip drive (Garrapaterro Beach). We recommend staying on this island if you have a day or two before or after your main trip, and you want to explore a bit on your own or take a tour to an uninhabited island. If you have more than two nights to spend, then you may want to consider spending your free time on Isabela Island or San Cristobal Island.
Angermeyer Waterfront Inn
This historic hotel was built around the famous Angermeyer Cave, the former home of one of the earliest settlers of the Galapagos. Built with local lava rocks and driftwood to match the style of the Cave and idyllically located on Academy Bay, the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn features a waterfront restaurant and its own private deck and pier. The original Angermeyer Cave is still used as the Inn’s reception and lounge area, and two other buildings hold 16 unique rooms with a variety of layouts. The Inn is only accessible by boat – water taxis are a couple of dollars.
2020 & 2021 Rates
- Standard Room (double or single): $463.00 per night
- Standard Plus Room (double or single): $488.00 per night
- Superior Room (double or single): $635.00 per night
- Suite Room (double or single): $813.00 per night
- Additional Bed (to make a Plus or Superior Room into a triple): +$138.00 per night
Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Transfers, holiday surcharge for stays from Dec 21 to Jan 2 (+$138.00 per room per night)
Hotel Villa Laguna
This hotel is located tucked away but very close to the town of Puerto Ayora, so it is quiet while also being close to all the shops and restaurants. It is comfortable and clean with a fresh-water pool and Restaurant El Manglar on site.
2020 & 2021 Rates
- Standard Room (single): $145.00 per night
- Standard Room (double): $190.00 per night
- Standard Room (triple): $235.00 per night
- Superior Room (single): $175.00 per night
- Superior Room (double): $219.00 per night
- Superior Room (triple): $265.00 per night
Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Transfers
Enchanted Galapagos Lodge
This lovely and quiet lodge is located in the highlands of Santa Cruz, a mere 15 minutes away from Puerto Ayora and 15 minutes from the stunning Garrapatero beach. The lodge is secluded and tranquil, the perfect place to relax and enjoy the lush and extensive grounds. One can enjoy the beautiful large pool and jacuzzi, relax in the hammocks, take a walk or ride your bike along the country roads. This is a wonderful place for guests to unwind after a Galapagos cruise, or a great base for exploring the Galapagos while staying on land. This personal and cozy hotel can sleep a total of 20 people in 10 rooms. Breakfast is included, and dinner can be made on request.
2020 & 2021 Rates
- Standard Room (single): $205.00 per night
- Standard Room (double): $245.00 per night
- Superior Room (double): $264.00 per night
- Triple Room: $297.00 per night
Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees, one transfer service lodge – town – lodge, one arrival transfer service from Itabaca Channel Dock – lodge
Not Included: Other transfers, other meals, bike rental
Things to Do On Santa Cruz Island
There is tons to do on Santa Cruz Island! There are a lot of things that you can do on your own, without a guide or joining a tour. But if you want to go explore an uninhabited island or go scuba diving, you will need to join a tour!
- Day Tour to an Uninhabited Island (guided tour only): From Santa Cruz Island, there are a few islands you can get to on a day tour. You can go to North Seymour, South Plazas, Santa Fe, or Bartolome. North Seymour is known for its huge colonies of blue footed boobies and frigate birds. South Plaza and Santa Fe are known for land iguanas. Bartolome Island is great seeing penguins. On all of these day tours, you leave Puerto Ayora early in the morning, and take a boat to one of these islands. There you walk around the island for one to two hours. Then you go snorkeling for about an hour. Lunch is on board the tour boat. Then you return to Puerto Ayora in the early to late afternoon. Tour prices range from $300 to $400 per person.
- Walk to Tortuga Bay (on your own or with a tour): It’s about 45 minutes walking from town, most of the way on a wide pedestrian path. It’s not possible to drive there, so there’s no traffic. Tortuga Bay is a beautiful white sand beach. You can surf or boogie board in the breaks, but check with the locals first, as there is sometimes rip tides or undertow. You can also take snorkeling gear and snorkel in the calm part of the water. It’s not the most amazing snorkeling, but it’s always worth it to have your snorkel gear with you in the Galapagos. You’ll probably see lots of sea lions and marine iguanas.
- Giant Tortoises in the Wild in the Highlands (on your own or with a tour): You can take a taxi (or book a tour) and go to the highlands. Here there are a handful of local farms-turned reserves where you can walk around and see giant tortoises in the wild. There are also lava tunnels in the area that you can walk through. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the highlands.
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station (on your own or with a tour): It’s about a 10-15 walk from town. Here you can see giant tortoises from all over the islands, and see the differences from one species to the next. You can also go to the breeding center, and see giant tortoises at all ages.
- Fish Market (on your own): Go to the fish market in town in the later afternoon and evening. The fishermen bring in their catch, and hang out and chat. There are always lots of pelicans, frigate birds, and sea lions waiting around for scraps from the cleaning.
- Go to the Puerto Ayora docks at night (on your own): Baby white-tipped reef sharks and hammerheads are attracted to the lights on the dock, and you easily see them from the docks.
- Rent kayaks or SUPs (on your own or with a tour): Paddling around the Puerto Ayora bay is actually pretty cool, even though it doesn’t seem like it at first, with all the boats and cruises docked there. If you paddle around the shore line, you can see lots of birds nesting on the rocks, and see marine wildlife.
- Swimming at Las Grietas (on your own or with a tour): You can take a water taxi to Angermeyer point, and then walk to Las Grientas. These are really tall cliffs that go straight down into brackish water. It’s a fun local swimming hole. It takes about 30 minutes to get here by taxi and walking.
- Garrapaterro Beach (on your own or with a tour): You can take a taxi to Garrapaterro Beach, which is about 40 minutes away one-way. It’s a lovely white sand beach, with good snorkeling.
- Scuba Diving (tour only): See our trip Galapagos Scuba Diving from Santa Cruz Island
Isabela Island is our favorite island to stay on in the Galapagos! Puerto Villamil is a lovely little town, right on the beach. The local swimming hole, Concha de Perla, has amazing snorkeling, or you can wander through the wetlands to see flamingos.
This hotel boasts an excellent location with beach access right out its front doors. You will most likely see sea lions and iguanas wandering the beach outside the hotel. They have a very helpful and attentive staff that make for a comfortable stay.
– Interior View Single/Double Room: $147.50
– Triple Room: $195.00
– Exterior View Single/Double Room: $212.50
– Exterior View Triple Room: $260.63
Hotel Amenities: pool, breakfast, internet, laundry services
This converted home is right on the beach and has lovely views. It is close to the pier and the small town so you can conveniently walk from the hotel. It has its own restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner which varies daily (usually with the freshest catch!).
– Standard Single Room: $146.25
– Standard Double Room: $180.00
– Junior Single/Double Suite: $230.00
– Master Single/Double Suite: $305.00
Hotel Amenities: beach, restaurant, breakfast, bar/lounge, internet
Casa Isabela (La Casita de la Playa)
This hotel is right on the beach and a 5 min to Puerto Villamil. It is locally owned and makes a big effort on sustainability cutting down on waste, being efficient on energy and water, and recycling. This old house is comfortable and cozy and has amazing views.
– Standard Single/Double Room: $266.25
– Superior Single/Double Room: $291.25
– Superior Triple Room: $382.50
Hotel Amenities: beach, restaurant, breakfast, internet
Iguana Crossing is Opuntia’s flagship hotel, with modern, minimalist décor. It is also the winner of Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice Best Small Hotel for 2015. The hotel features a full-service indoor lounge with expansive views of the beach, as well as, a rooftop hot tub and oceanfront infinity pool. Their 14 rooms including the master suite are tastefully decorated with luxurious touches like down comforters and silk pillows. The team of hospitality professionals pride themselves on providing outstanding service, and their chef features a unique “Ecuadorian Gourmet” cuisine with decadent twists on traditional coastal dishes.
Nestled between an expansive, pristine beach and wildlife-filled lagoon, Iguana Crossing is located in a prime spot on this scarcely populated island. The marine iguanas that cross our grounds from the wetlands to the sea capture the wild spirit of Isabela Island and lend our hotel its name. At Iguana Crossing, you’ll find a new take on Galapagos hospitality, a blend of modern and natural that creates an environment like no other.
– Volcano View Single/Double Room: $297.50
– Ocean View Single/Double Room: $397.50
Hotel Amenities: beach, pool, restaurant, breakfast, bar/lounge, internet
SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND
This hotel has clean and spacious rooms and a pool in case you want to take a dip after your day of island adventure. Although, it does not have as many amenities as some hotels it has a good breakfast and an attentive (Spanish speaking) staff.
– Standard Single Room: $103.75
– Standard Double Room: $162.50
– Standard Triple Room: $193.75
– Junior Single/Double Room: $206.25
Hotel Amenities: pool, breakfast, bar/lounge, internet
This hotel has one of the best locations on the island, with the port only a few steps away. It has a very good restaurant with a great prices and cozy rooms. It also has the only gym on the island.
– Single Room: $165.00
– Double Room: $300.00
– Triple Room: $378.75
Hotel Amenities: beach, pool, fitness center, restaurant, breakfast, internet, laundry service
This hotel won Trip Advisor’s 2015 Travelers’ choice award for best bargain hotel. You will get a lot of charm and local flavor her. It is clean and comfortable and has an excellent staff that goes above and beyond to make sure their guests have a great stay.
– Single Room: $78.75
– Double Room: $126.25
– Triple Room: $193.75
Hotel Amenities: pool, restaurant, breakfast, laundry service
Located over the oceanfront boardwalk and only a few meters away from Playa de Oro beach, Casa Opuntia has amazing views and is one of the nicest hotel options on San Cristobal Island. In addition to a great location in town, Casa Opuntia features beautiful facilities, gourmet cuisine, and strong sustainability practices. Their restaurant is known for having some of San Cristobal’s best seafood, including their famous ceviche. The Casa Opuntia also does it’s part to conserve the incredible and fragile Galapagos environment with a very forward-thinking sustainability policy. They strive to produce zero plastic, paper, cardboard, or Styrofoam waste, and are working towards becoming carbon neutral.
– Pool Front Single Room: $150.00
– Pool Front Double Room: $187.50
– Pool Front Triple Room: $221.25
– Ocean Front Single Room: $198.75
– Ocean Front Double Room: $230.00
– Ocean Front Triple Room: $272.50
Hotel Amenities: pool, restaurant, breakfast, bar/lounge, internet, laundry service