The allure of the Galapagos Islands has no limits, it is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. When planning a trip to this unique destination, one of the most crucial decisions your clients will face is whether to explore the islands by hopping between them or embarking on a cruise.

However, the best option depends on several factors including flexibility, budget, activities, cultural immersion, and wildlife encounters, among others. Continue reading to find the best way to discover Galapagos. 

Why choose Galapagos Island hopping? 

Island hopping involves staying on 4 main islands Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana, taking day trips to nearby locations. This method allows more flexibility in terms of schedule and activities.

  • Benefits of Galapagos Island Hopping Tours
  • Flexible itineraries:  Island hopping allows travelers to decide which islands to visit, how long to stay, and what activities to do. 
  • Flexibility to purchase your air tickets, but it is highly recommended to be sure about the starting and ending points of the itinerary. Baltra and San Cristobal airports are the only ones that connect the Galapagos Islands with Quito or Guayaquil airports on Ecuador’s mainland.
  • Budget-friendly: Depending on the accommodations and activities decided, island hopping can be more cost-effective than a cruise, especially for budget-conscious travelers.
  • Accommodations: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela offer a selection of standard to luxury options, while on Floreana Island you can find quite limited and standard categories. 
  • More adventure activities are available: Longer hikes, mountain biking, horseback riding, diving excursions, snorkeling, kayaking and also biking around the paths assigned on each island by the Galapagos National Park.
  • Cultural immersion: Visit the island’s towns to experience the local dynamics. Try out street food and a variety of restaurants for all budgets. Enjoy a drink at the local bars, including Galapagos craft beer experiences.
  • Family-friendly itineraries: Convenient for families with small children with flexible itineraries that include fun and educational activities with endemic species, such as blue-footed boobies, Galapagos giant tortoises, marine iguanas, Galapagos albatross, and Galapagos finches, among others.
  • Less chance of seasickness: For those prone to seasickness, island hopping involves shorter boat rides between islands, reducing the likelihood of discomfort.


Tips for Galapagos Island Hopping Tours 

How to plan an itinerary to the Galapagos Islands? It is suggested an Itinerary with at least 3 nights visiting one single Island and doing full-day excursions. If you have more time from 4 to 7 nights you can combine 2 or 3 main Islands and full days which have daily departures from each island, these full-day excursions always include 2 activities, an accessible hike, lunch, and snorkel in a selected spot assigned from the Galapagos National Park. 

How to get from one main island to another? There are two available options to connect between islands: 

  • Public speedboats: These trips can take from 2.5 hours to 3 hours, depending on currents.
  • Inter-island flights: There are flights in small aircraft which take 30 minutes to get to the other Island. When considering an inter-island flight, this can increase the budget of your trip, and always ask for the luggage allowance as there are certain weight restrictions.

Why choose a Galapagos Cruise? 

Galapagos cruises provide an all-inclusive way to see the best of the islands. These cruises range from budget-friendly boats to Galapagos luxury travel yachts, ensuring there is an option for every type of traveler. A cruise typically includes accommodations, meals, guided excursions, and even equipment like snorkeling gear.

Benefits of Galapagos Cruises 

  • Time efficiency: Cruises offer itineraries that include visits to multiple islands in less time. This is an advantage for travelers with limited time or those who want to see as much as possible during their trip.
  • Discover remote islands: Some remote and less-visited islands are only accessible by cruise, offering a chance to see unique wildlife and landscapes away from the more touristy areas. Cruises navigate from one island to another during the night, which permits reaching further islands.
    All-Inclusive experience: Galapagos cruises cover accommodations, meals, guided excursions, transportation, and airfare between islands. 
  • Comfort and amenities: Cruises often provide more comfortable accommodations and amenities compared to island-hopping itineraries. Travelers can enjoy the convenience of staying onboard a yacht or vessel while exploring the islands during the day.
  • Interactive lectures on board: During a cruise expedition naturalist guides offer lectures and insights about the wildlife and ecosystems which helps travelers understand the origin, species, and history of each island to be visited during the itinerary.

    Tips for Galapagos Island Cruise 

  • Cruise capacity: You can find options from 16 up to 100 travelers. The choice of the travelers will depend on the level of intimacy; small cruises offer less interaction with people, whereas larger vessels are more spacious with bigger cabins and more common areas to enjoy on board.
  • It is important to notice that despite the size of the cruise and its capacity, all excursions would set up to 16 travelers. This is a policy established by the Galapagos National Park to have one guide for 16 travelers to do land excursions in any of the assigned islands as a way to control the impact on the visitor sites.
  • Cruise categories: They vary from standard, mid-range, and luxurious yachts, to catamarans, or vessels. However, it does not mean a difference in the itineraries, as the Galapagos National Park assigns specific itineraries and set departure dates from 3 nights up to 14 nights.
  • When selecting a cruise itinerary, consider that some islands are more oriented to fauna than others. On the other hand, other islands are more oriented toward geology.
  • If you are traveling with children, check the minimum age allowance. Most cruises permit kids over 8 years old, but it could change depending on the cruise.


Finally, deciding between a Galapagos cruise and island hopping depends on your client’s preferences, budget, and travel style. Cruises offer convenience and comprehensive itineraries, ideal for those wanting to maximize their wildlife experiences on the Galapagos. Island hopping provides flexibility and cultural immersion, perfect for budget travelers and those seeking a more relaxed pace. 

Are you ready to help your clients embark on their dream journey to the Galapagos? Contact Pure! Ecuador, our local expert team will make it a reality!

Published in May 2024