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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Group or Private Trips
Wildlife: Multisports vs Cruises
Can I Do a Multisport Tour on a Cruise?
What if I Want a Multisport Tour in Both the Galapagos and in Mainland Ecuador?
Top Recommended Week-Long Multisport
Top Recommended Short Multisports
Top Recommended Short Cruises to Pair with a Multisport
ISLANDS VISITED ON A GALAPAGOS MULTISPORT ADVENTURE
A good multisport adventure should visit at least three different islands, and not just stay on one island. Most multisport trips explore San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz Islands, as these islands are the easiest to get to, and there is a lot to see an do. Our favorites that go to these three islands are the Galapagos Premium Multisport Adventure, Essential Galapagos Multisport Adventure, and the Express Galapagos Land-Based Adventure.
If you have the time and want to get more off the beaten path in the Galapagos, you can also go to Floreana Island, in addition to the three commonly visited islands of San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz. Our Ultimate Galapagos Adventure combines all four islands into an epic 8 day trip in the Galapagos (this trip also includes a day in Quito on either end, making it a 10 day trip total). Floreana Island is more challenging to get to, so it’s not a common place to visit on a land-based trip. It’s a beautiful island with a rich human history in addition to incredible wildlife. Nighttime brings some of the best stargazing you’ll ever see!
Another great way to see another island or two is to add on an extra day or two to go to an uninhabited island. Most of the uninhabited islands can only be reached while on a cruise, but there are some that you can get to on a land-based trip. These are North Seymour (famous for huge colonies of blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds), Bartolome (lots of penguins), South Plaza (land iguanas), Santa Fe (land iguanas), and Española Islands (waved albatross). All have incredible wildlife, and are worth the extra time to explore. Day trips to these islands are not multisport trips. You will go on a naturalist walk and go snorkeling. The Galapagos Family Adventure is a trip that spends 8 days in the Galapagos (plus 2 days in Quito), which combines a 7 day multisport adventure with a day to visit Española Island.
Short 4 or 5 day trips will typically visit only one or two islands, but if you only have this much time to explore the Galapagos Islands, it will be more worth your time and the amount your spending on your trip to go on a cruise. You won’t see enough on a multisport trip to be worth it in that time frame, but you will on a good cruise itinerary.
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 strenuous 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 5 to 8 days, with the most common tour being 7 days long.
- 5 Days: This would be a super short multisport trip, and it would only be worth doing if you have a really tight schedule or budget, and definitely want to avoid a cruise. Normally, this length of multisport only goes to one or two islands, and it isn’t really enough time to see all the highlights of the Galapagos.
- 6 Days: While it doesn’t seem like a big difference, 6 days is much better than 5 days for a short, adventurous multisport trip in the Galapagos. It’s enough time to visit the three main inhabited islands, see lots of wildlife, and do some amazing snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking. We recommend our Express Galapagos Land-Based Adventure.
- 7 Days: This is the most common length of trip for a Galapagos multisport. It’s plenty of time to explore the three main inhabited islands fully. If gives you more time to see all of the incredible wildlife of the islands, as with all wildlife viewing, the longer you can stay the more you’ll see! We recommend the Galapagos Premium Multisport Adventure or the Essential Galapagos Multisport Adventure.
- 8 Days: A multisport trip of this length will generally are similar to the 7 day trips, where you fully explore the three main inhabited islands, but you also take an extra day to explore a fourth island. On the Ultimate Galapagos Adventure, you go to Floreana Island in addition to the three main islands. On the Galapagos Family Adventure, you go to the uninhabited island of Española to see the waved albatross (from May to November), the only place in the islands where you can see these birds, in addition to blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and so much more. Please note, both of the trips listed here are full 10 days long, as time in Quito is included in the trips, but they spend 8 days in the Galapagos Islands.
For more on the different islands, please see the section above on Islands Visited on a Galapagos Multisport Adventure.
GROUP OR PRIVATE TOURS
Private departures are just for your group, and you would have your own private guide for all activities. There is some 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 to two 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), and the pace of all of the excursions is up to the entire group.
We always 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 superior / comfort hotels (3 stars) or first class hotels (4 star). Check out the typical hotels used on each tour to get a better sense of their accommodation choices. You’ll find these in the Accommodations tab on all of our trip pages. Generally, first class hotels and lodges will be very comfortable and moderately luxurious, and located right on the waterfront or beach. Tourist superior or comfort hotels will be comfortable, but not too fancy. Normally, these hotels are well located in town, and right on the beach or waterfront, but within easy walking distance. The towns in the Galapagos have very limited waterfront or beach in the town, and since the real estate is at a premium, most of the hotels located there are luxurious. But all of the towns are small, and it is super easy to walk or take a short taxi ride to a beach.
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 or flight 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 you get to learn about the islands from multiple experts.
Once you arrive in the Galapagos, there are a few ways of getting around.
On the ground on each island, you’ll be taking taxis or, if you’re in a bigger group, small private buses. But since you’re on a multisport adventure, you’ll also be biking, walking, and hiking a lot!
To get between all the islands, there are a few different ways. There are private speedboats, public speedboats, and inter-island flights.
- All trips take an inter-island flight between San Cristobal and Isabela Islands, as it’s not practical to take a speedboat. Inter-island flights are small, lightweight planes that hold about 6 to 10 passengers. These flights have a very strict weigh restriction, and you can only have 20 lbs of luggage plus a small carryon. The flight takes about 30 minutes.
- For the other transfers between islands, you’ll take a speedboat. Private speedboats mean they are just for you and your group. They aren’t on as strict of a schedule, so the captain will keep an eye out for sea birds, whales, and dolphins, and you’ll be able to slow down to observe them. On public speedboats, they are on a strict timeline, and their main goal is to get from island to island as quickly as possible. Most people get at least a little bit sea sick on all speedboat rides, but the public speedboats generally are worse for sea sickness.
If you can’t tell the type of transportation used on a multisport from the detailed itinerary, you can check with your travel advisor!
WILDLIFE: MULTISPORTS VS. CRUISES
On a land based multisport adventure, you’ll see most of the iconic wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. You’ll see blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, rays, finches, and more. The one animal you may not see is the waved albatross. They are only on Española Island from May to November, and this island can only be reached on a cruise or on a day tour to the island (which can be added to a multisport).
On a cruise, you’ll see all of the same wildlife as you would on a multisport adventure, but you will see the animals in greater quantities. For example, on a cruise you will probably see huge colonies of blue-footed boobies, because you get further away from population centers on a cruise. You will still see blue-footed boobies on a multisport, but not in as great of numbers. On a cruise, since you get to more islands, you will start to see variations in the animals from island to island. Using blue-footed boobies as an example again, you may see them nesting on one island, and mating on another island.
CAN I DO A MULTISPORT TOUR ON A CRUISE?
Unfortunately, no. This is not allowed by the Galapagos National Park. The closest you could get is doing a little kayaking or stand up paddle boarding on a cruise. But paddling is not a big part of any cruise, as the activity limited by the National Park. If you go on an 8 day cruise, you would probably get to paddle 2 or 3 times for 20 to 30 minutes each time. But any cruise will have lots of snorkeling and naturalist walks. It’s not as active as a multisport, but it’s not sedentary.
If you truly want the best of both worlds, combining a short cruise and a short Multisport 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. Cruises and group departures for multisports have very specific dates, and it’s best to be flexible on travel dates to make this work. There are some logistics involved with combining a land based trip with a cruise, but your travel advisor will help you with all of that! See the section below on Top Recommended Short Cruises to Pair with a Multisport.
WHAT IF I WANT A MULTISPORT TOUR IN BOTH THE GALAPAGOS AND IN MAINLAND ECUADOR?
Congratulations! You are both hardcore and in luck. Ecuador is a small but incredibly diverse nation, making it easy to explore some of the most unique ecosystems on the planet in one trip. 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:
Andes, Amazon, & Galapagos Premium Multisport: You will explore all three of these amazing ecosystems by hiking, biking, rafting, sea kayaking, and snorkeling, while staying in comfortable lodges at night. This trip can be 11 or 13 days long. The trip starts with 6 days explore the high Andes, the cloudforest, and the Amazon. Then you head to the Galapagos Islands. You can choose to spend 5 days or 7 days in the Galapagos Islands. We highly recommend 7 days, as it explores San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz Islands, taking in all of the highlights of the Galapagos. The shorter version goes to just San Cristobal and Isabela Islands, which are amazing islands, but it’s a very short time to be in the Galapagos.
Amazon Stand Up Paddle Expedition: SUP in the heart of the Amazon, the most biodiverse place in the world. You paddle through river lakes and waterways, to see hundred of species of tropical birds, monkeys, reptiles, pink river dolphins, and possibly the Amazonian manatee. You are guests of the Siona indigenous community and get to learn about their way of life.
Land of the Imbayas Biking Adventure: Mountain bike on amazing trails in the Andes Mountains north of Quito, by crater lakes and volcanoes, and through high altitude forests. Experience the history and culture of the region by exploring pre-Inca ruins, riding through small villages, and visiting indigenous markets.
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.
The Ultimate Galapagos Adventure: Kayak, snorkel, hike, and bike your way through the four inhabited islands of the Galapagos (San Cristobal, Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz), getting up close and personal with the incredible wildlife, learning about the natural history from your expert guide, experiences the local way of life. This trip includes a day in Quito on either end and roundtrip Galapagos flights, so everything you need for your adventure is set to go!
Galapagos Family Adventure: Families who love to recreate outdoors will love the Galapagos Family Adventure as it is designed for kids of all ages to experience the Galapagos islands’ famous wildlife while paddling, hiking, biking, and snorkeling. You will explore four very diverse islands (San Cristobal, Española, Isabela, and Santa Cruz), included an uninhabited island, to experience the incredible diversity of wildlife in the Galapagos. With evenings free and suggested self-guided excursions you gain access to the park through your guided excursions while still keeping your autonomy to enjoy and explore the islands on your own. A couple of days in Quito before the Galapagos round out your adventure.
Galapagos Premium Multisport Adventure: The longest-running multisport and the most active adventure in the Galapagos, operated by NeoTropic (formerly 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.
TOP RECOMMENDED SHORT MULTISPORTS
These trips are perfect for travelers who don’t have tons of time to spend in the Galapagos! As mentioned in the section above on Galapagos Multisport Trip Lengths, 6 days is really the minimum length we recommend for a multisport adventure. If you only have 4 or 5 days, we recommend either a more mellow land based island hopping trip, or a cruise.
Express Galapagos Land Based Adventure (6 Days): For those who want to see and do a lot, but don’t have a ton of time, this land-based Galapagos adventure is perfect. Hike, SUP, bike, kayak and snorkel your way across 3 diverse islands in the Galapagos (Santa Cruz, Island, and San Cristobal Islands) on this action packed 6-day multisport adventure, checking out the Galapagos’ iconic wildlife all along the way. Trip price includes roundtrip flights between mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos!
Galapagos Wildlife Discovery (5 Days): This trip isn’t a multisport, but you do go on lots of naturalist walks and snorkeling excursions! A lodge-based naturalist trip in the Galapagos that visits and explores 3 different Islands (San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz). An ideal option for those who don’t like boat travel, but still want a full itinerary, wildlife-viewing opportunities, and comfortable accommodations.
TOP RECOMMENDED SHORT CRUISES TO PAIR WITH A MULTISPORT
While we offer a number of short 4, 5, and 6 day 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/or a longer cruise, we can also help you find the perfect itinerary as well.
You will want to consult with your travel advisor to make sure that there are any repeated sites when combining a multisport with a cruise. Sometimes this is unavoidable, just because there are some sites that are very popular with both multisports and cruises, such as going to see giant tortoises in the wild in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Tons of itineraries include this excursion. Luckily, giant tortoises are incredible and so unique to the Galapagos, it’s worth seeing them more than once! In addition, there are usually some logistics to sort out when combining two different trips. Our travel advisors are experts and can help you with this!
You can read about the differences between the classes of cruises here.
Tourist Superior Class Cruises
- Angelito Cruise: The 4 and 5 day itineraries fit exceptionally well with any of the multisport adventures, since you wouldn’t be repeating any islands. The Angelito is a perfect trip for travelers seeking a quality Galapagos cruise experience — good guides, service and wildlife-rich itineraries — without the high end prices for fancy accommodations. The owners take great pride in the attention to detail, and you probably will find yourself on board with the owners themselves.
- Archipel I Cruise and Archipel II Cruise: These cruises are sister ships, and their itineraries are nearly identical and the pricing is the same. They have lots of 4 and 5 day itineraries to choose from. On any of the itineraries, there would be a little overlap with some multisport adventures, but you can talk to your travel advisor to find out which cruise itinerary they recommend with which multisport.
First Class Cruises
- Beluga Cruise: The Beluga has excellent 4, 5, and 6 day itineraries. It’s possible there could be some overlap of places visited, depending on which multisport trip you’re doing, but any repeats are short and well worth a second visit! This 16-passenger motor yacht provides a first-class experience from start to finish. Enchanted Expeditions, operators of the Beluga, has operated in the Galapagos for approximately 30 years and consistently impresses clients with attention to detail and customer service. Sea kayaks on board make this a more active Galapagos cruise.
- Odyssey Cruise: This cruise has excellent 5 and 6 day itineraries, all would pair very well with a multisport adventure. The Odyssey was designed specifically for comfortable cruising in the Galapagos Islands, with spacious communal areas and picture windows in each double cabin. During your downtime, you can relax and enjoy the view from one of the many decks, or soak in the outdoor jacuzzi.
Luxury Class Cruises
- Sea Star Journey Cruise: The Sea Star has exceptional 5 and 6 day itineraries. The itineraries have very little overlap with any of the multisport trips, so it’s perfect to pair with any of them. This cruise is one of the most luxurious, small yacht trips in the Galapagos, with exceptional guides and wildlife itineraries, and spacious cabins.
- Passion Cruise: The 4 and 5 day itineraries on the Passion are excellent for wildlife viewing. There would be a little overlap with any multisport trip to see giant tortoises. The Passion was previously a private family yacht, and it is extremely spacious and luxurious. It only has capacity for 14 travelers, so it is one of the smallest group sizes. For every traveler on the Passion, a donation is made to WildAid’s Galapagos Conservation Fund, which works to stop illegal fishing and prevent invasive species.