Latin America

Top 3 Galapagos Island tours you can't miss! [2023]

Top 3 Galapagos Island tours you can't miss! [2023]
Sydney Brown
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Sydney is a freelance travel writer and content creator based in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Through her travels, she aims to connect with the heart of a destination through having authentic conversations and immersing herself in local traditions and cuisine. When she’s not writing or traveling, she’s planning her next adventure!

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The Galapagos Islands are a magical volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador.

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind experience with nature, the Galapagos is the place for you. Taking a trip to the Galapagos requires a lot of planning, and you will need to book some tours to see unforgettable attractions.

Read our top tour suggestions for exploring the Galapagos islands.

Top Galapagos Islands experience
Photo by Nathalie Marquis on Unsplash

The Galapagos National Park

The unique bio-diversity found on the Galapagos Islands is unlike anywhere else. With many endangered species, the Galapagos Islands are a protected national park. 97% of the Galapagos Islands are part of the Galapagos national park and have strict rules. Some beaches are only open during park hours (i.e., 9am-6pm).

There are often checkpoints when entering a beach or protected attraction. Many locations require a national park tour guide to ensure the safety of both the guests and nature. 

Why choose a guided tour over going solo?

Guided tours, also called group trips, involve traveling with a guide to explore specific destinations on an itinerary during a set period. One of the biggest perks of taking a guided tour instead of exploring independently is that all logistics are taken care of by the host company or tour guide. You won't have to worry about transportation, booking accommodations, or scheduling tickets for attractions.

This is especially convenient if you're planning to travel to Ecuador's famous Galapagos Islands. A set itinerary for exploring the islands is the best way to optimize your trip. Some attractions even require groups to hire a tour guide, as their visit needs to be supervised by park officials. Planning ahead for tours can help you ensure a pleasant journey. 

Sealions Galapagos tour
Photo by Maria Hervas

Also important to note: prices listed below reflect pricing available on website at time of publication. Prices may vary at the host's discretion and the prices listed in this post may not reflect updated pricing structures implemented by each individual website. Additionally, pricing varies based on dates, demand, and seasonality. Please check pricing on the provider's website to ensure accuracy for the intended dates of your trip. 

Best tours to see the Galapagos Islands!

There are currently no direct international flights that land in the Galapagos Islands. To visit the Galapagos Islands, you'll need to connect to mainland Ecuador first. Important to note is that you can only get to the Galapagos Islands by air, and once there, you'll be able to travel by boat.

You can get to the Islands in just a few hours via plane from Quito or even quicker from Guayaquil. Many flights to the Galapagos Islands out of Quito will stop in Guayaquil. It's roughly a 30-minute flight from Quito to Guayaquil and then about 2.5 to 3 hours from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands. 

The Galapagos is an isolated and pristine ecosystem, one of the most unique island chains on the planet. Travelers should practice "leave no trace" guidelines and remember to be careful not to disturb the Islands' wildlife. 

Wildlife Galapagos Tour
Photo Courtesy of Contiki

Ecuador & Galapagos Island Hopper

Hosted by: Contiki

Length: 12 days

Max Tour Size: 25 people

Price: $3,795 USD

One of the best tours on this list is the Ecuador & Galapagos Island Hopper tour Contiki offers. It's one of the best because it allows participants to explore mainland Ecuador and island-hop around the Galapagos--do it all in one trip!

This is truly the ultimate itinerary to make the most of your time in Ecuador. The Ecuador and Galapagos Island Hopper tour is also the best bang for your buck, with all the activities, accommodations, transportation, and food included in the tour price. 

The Ecuador and Galapagos Island Hopper tour itinerary can also be booked in smaller sections for a lower price. For example, if you only want to visit the Galapagos, you can book the Galapagos Island Hopper portion.

If you only want to visit mainland Ecuador, you can book The Lava Line tour. This tour is labeled as "coming soon" on Contiki's website. You can register your interest for the Lava Line tour here

Where will you visit on this tour?

The Ecuador and Galapagos Island Hopper tour begins and ends in Quito. The first night is spent in Quito, where you'll get to straddle the Equatorial line and visit the IInti-Ñan Museum. 

The next day, you set off to explore mainland Ecuador and will stay two nights in Tena and two nights in Baños. 

Then, you'll spend one night resting in Quito before spending the next five nights in the Galapagos. You'll visit Santa Cruz Island, San Cristobal Island, and Isabela Island in the Galapagos. 

Sounds like a blast, right?

Who should go on this tour?

The Ecuador and Galapagos Island Hopper tour is perfect for solo travelers, couple travelers, and small group travelers who want a fully immersive Ecuador experience. Having a significant amount of time to explore the Galapagos Islands is essential.

This is the second-longest tour highlighted on this list. Hence, participants need to have enough time available to arrive in Ecuador and proceed to enjoy the entire tour. Even though the tour is 12 days, participants should plan for added travel time to and from Ecuador. For this reason, 14 days would make the most sense to have a cushion of a day at the beginning and end of your trip. 

This tour is adventure-focused, and participants should expect to do a significant amount of walking and physical activity.

Galapagos Islands Boat Tour
Photo Courtesy of G-Adventures

Galápagos — North, Central, & South Islands aboard the Eden

Hosted by: G-Adventures

Length: 10 days

Max Tour Size: 16 people

Price: $4,143 USD

This Galapagos tour is unique because it's a sailing adventure tour. You'll be exploring and "living" in the Galapagos Islands waters during your trip! What a unique way to experience this magical ecosystem.

The accommodation type on this tour is a marine vessel known as The Eden. On the boat, there can be up to 16 passengers. The bed set-up is mostly bunk beds, and there is also a small lounge, bar, and dining room onboard for passengers. 

Where will you visit on this tour?

This Galapagos Eden sailing adventure tour is the most extensive Galapagos Islands offering on this list. The tour starts and ends in Quito, but the other 8 days of the trip are spent exploring the Galapagos Islands.

Participants can expect to visit the following islands and destinations in the Galapagos: Baltra Island, Genovesa Island, Bartolomé Island/Sullivan Bay, Black Turtle Cove/Cerro Dragón, Puerto Ayora, Floreana Island/Punta Cormorant, Punta Suárez/Bahía Gardner, and San Cristóbal Island.

Galapagos Tour map
Photo Courtesy of G-Adventures

Who should go on this tour?

This tour is the best option for travelers wanting the most unique experience in the Galapagos. You'll learn about the abundance of wildlife and marine life on the islands and enjoy it all from the Eden!

Plus, this tour itinerary features an extensive list of Galapagos destinations--more than any other tour highlighted on this list. If you know you'll want to dive deep into the Galapagos archipelago, this is the right tour for you.

This Galapagos tour is not recommended for travelers who get scared or nervous on lengthy boat trips or those who experience seasickness. 

seaturtle galapagos tour
Photo by Dustin Haney on Unsplash

Best of Galapagos Tour

Hosted by: Intrepid

Length: 10 days

Max Tour Size: 16 people

Price: $3,699 USD

Intrepid is an internationally known tour guide company. They offer tours around the globe, and many of their tours have unique theming specifically for adventure travel, 18 to 29 travel, wildlife travel, and more. Here's our review of Intrepid travels if you'd like to learn more about their tours!

Where will you visit on this tour?

This Galapagos tour features wildlife spotting and outdoor adventure activities like hiking and snorkeling. The 'Best of Galapagos' tour begins and ends in Quito, and the tour price includes the flights to the Galapagos Islands from Quito. 

Once you arrive at the Galapagos Islands from Quito, you'll visit Isla San Cristobal, Isla Isabela, Isla Santa Cruz, and Isla Baltra.

Photo Courtesy of Intrepid

Who should go on this tour?

The 'Best of Galapagos' tour is perfect for solo or small group travelers who want a taste of the Galapagos Islands in a shorter time frame. You'll get a great sampling of the beauty of the Galapagos Islands in 10-days! The Best of Galapagos Tour is an excellent option for hikers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Because snorkeling and swimming are a big part of this itinerary, confident swimming skills are required to participate.

If seeing wildlife on the Galapagos Islands is on your bucket list, the 'Best of Galapagos' tour is perfect for you!

Visit the Galapagos with Pilot

The Galapagos Islands will be sure to leave you speechless.

Check out our Ecuador tours if you want to see what other tours there are on the mainland. It is essential to plan ahead when embarking on an adventure. Use pilot to keep all your travel information in one place!

Pilot is your brand-new travel planner that helps you discover and build travel itineraries connecting you to resources everywhere. Make the planning experience more fun by collaborating with your travel buddies! Pilot makes it fun and easy to share and relive your favorite travel memories with many useful features!

Did we mention that it's completely free? Try it out now!


Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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