Paradise on Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are a bucket-list destination for good reason: Thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as playful sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close and personal. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets sprinkled 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site (both land and sea are protected) and served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Each island boasts its own unique landscape, ranging from barren black, volcanic rocks to swaths of white sand beaches melting into gemstone-blue waters.

Best time to go

This depends on what you’re looking to experience. Busiest months for tourism tend to be June, July and August, as well as mid-December to mid-January (prices are often highest at these times as well). The hot, rainy season of December through May is when the ocean is the calmest, daily rains give way to mostly-sunny skies, and temperatures are in the 80s.

The cooler, dryer season is June through November, thanks to the Humboldt Current which brings chilly water and cooler temperatures (in the 70s). Though the seas are rougher, experienced divers believe it’s the best time to visit because colder water attracts even more fantastic marine life (such as big schools of hammerhead sharks). It’s also when visitors have a better chance of spotting legendary whale sharks at Wolf and Darwin islands.

Where to stay – Pikaia Lodge

Pikaia Lodge


Explore the Galapagos from the comfort of the luxury Pikaia Lodge, which sits atop an extinct volcano with views out across the savannah, a mountain range, and the Pacific Ocean. “One of our guests put it best when he reviewed the property by saying, ‘This place is better than Jurassic Park,’” writes Andrea Malis of Camelback Odyssey Travel. Pikaia Lodge offers land-based eco-adventure tours—choose from packages ranging from three to seven nights—that might involve traversing lava tunnels, visiting organic coffee farms, or stretching out on pristine beaches. Each package includes a yacht trip where you’ll get to hike, kayak, snorkel or otherwise enjoy the more remote islands of the Galapagos. For those nights when you’re staying at the Lodge, you can take advantage of the infinity pool, Sumaq spa, 3.5 kilometers of trails for walking, biking, and jogging. There’s also a private tortoise reserve on the property so guests have an excellent chance of spotting iconic giant tortoises during their stay.