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Top Galápagos experiences for adventure seekers | Insight Guides Blog

Top Galápagos experiences for adventure seekers

From snorkelling with sharks and marine iguanas, to cliff jumping and volcano hiking, the Galápagos Islands are an unbeatably rewarding destination for intrepid adventure-seekers. Read on to discover the islands’ top high-energy experiences.
Pacific green sea turtle off Isabela Island in the Galápagos. Photo: Stacy Funderburke/Shutterstock
Pacific green sea turtle off Isabela Island in the Galápagos. Photo: Stacy Funderburke/Shutterstock

Imagine the Galápagos Islands and it’s highly likely you will think of encounters with giant tortoises, of Charles Darwin’s seminal voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, and of endemic wildlife such as the Galápagos penguin and marine iguana. And while this unique archipelago is certainly a nature-lovers’ paradise, it’s also a dream destination for adventure-seekers and explorers, a place where witnessing some of the world’s most astonishing wildlife wonders can be combined with activities to satisfy even the most intrepid adrenaline junkie. To help active travellers decide which islands to visit, here is our selection of the top adventure experiences to seek out on the Galápagos Islands.

Hiking an active volcano: Sierra Negra, Isabela Island

Located on Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago, Sierra Negra is the most active of its six volcanoes, and has the second biggest volcanic crater in the world. After a 40-minute drive from Puerto Villamil to the village of Santo Tomás, the 9km (5.5 miles) hike to Sierra Negra’s 1,124-metre-high summit takes you through varied volcanic terrain, from the vegetation-rich footpath to rugged lava fields. The 10km (6.2-mile) -wide crater at the top is movie-set magnificent, with clouds curling dramatically over the rim. 

While on Isabela, don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel alongside marine iguanas and sea lions at Tagus Cove on the island's west coast. You might also be able to spot Galápagos penguins, the only penguins found north of the equator, and flightless cormorants, both of which are endemic to the islands. Isabela Island is also home to five unique subspecies of giant tortoise. Head to the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Centre in Puerto Villamil to see specimens of all of them.

Crater of Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island, GalápagosCrater of Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island, Galápagos. Photo: Jess Kraft/Shutterstock

Diving with sharks at the Devil’s Crown, Floreana Island

Located off the north coast of Floreana Island, the Devil’s Crown (Corona del Diablo) is one of the archipelago’s most spectacular snorkelling and diving sites. Formed by a submerged volcano, the ‘crown’ is a ring of craggy rocks jutting out from the ocean waters. White-tipped reef sharks are frequently spotted here, and you might get lucky and see hammerheads too, along with an incredible variety of fish, sea lions and turtles, as well as stingrays, golden rays and spotted eagle rays. Floreana Island also boasts the finest flamingo lagoon on the Galápagos, in-between the two beaches at Punta Cormorant. 

White-tipped reef shark under coral, Galápagos IslandsWhite-tipped reef shark under coral, Galápagos Islands. Photo: nicolasvoisin44/Shutterstock

Cliff jumping at Las Grietas, Santa Cruz

As well as being home to the breathtaking wildlife and flora in the Parque Nacional Galápagos, Santa Cruz Island also offers a fantastic spot for some seriously exhilarating cliff jumping, namely Las Grietas. Located outside the town of Puerto Ayora on the island’s south coast, Las Grietas is accessible via a hike that takes travellers through an out-of-this-world landscape of lava rocks and salt lagoons. While the hike is fairly easy to begin with, it becomes more challenging when you reach the rocky staircase endpoint. 

At Las Grietas, narrow steps lead down to a pile of boulders from where you can easily slip into the water. Locals can frequently be seen jumping from different levels of the surrounding cliffs. You should check from where and exactly how these daredevils jump, before you take your own flying leap into the waters below!

Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands.Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands. Photo: fotos593/Shutterstock

Exploring an incredible bird colony, Genovesa Island

Uninhabited and remote, volcanic Genovesa Island is unforgettable for naturalists, unmissable for bird-lovers, and undeniably rewarding for off-the-beaten-track adventurers. The 25-metre ascent of Prince Phillip’s Steps – a steep staircase carved into the volcanic cliffs – leads to the largest of the archipelago’s bird colonies. 

Winged residents here include red-footed boobies, ground-nesting Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, short-eared owls and the unique, diurnal wedge-rumped storm petrels. No wonder, then, that Genovesa is also known as Bird Island. When conditions are calm, Darwin Bay is a great spot for snorkelling, and the winding trail from the beach offers more world class bird-watching opportunities in the mangroves.

Nazca Boobies at Genovesa Island, Galápagos, EcuadorNazca Boobies at Genovesa Island, Galápagos, Ecuador. Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock

Ready to take a trip to the Galápagos Islands?

Our local experts can help you to plan and book unforgettable trips to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. Simply get in touch to let us know your ideas for the trip and when you would like to travel. We will then create a personalised itinerary that you can amend until you're completely happy with every detail before booking. Take a look at our existing itineraries for inspiration, and keep in mind that they can all be tailored to meet your own specific needs.