Adventure Guide: Galapagos

While it is a long haul, the Galapagos is a wonderful multigenerational destination. You can dive, snorkel, hike, stroll, and there is amazing uncrowded surf. We stayed in San Cristóbal for four days of surfing and touring and then took a boat tour for my father-in-law’s 80th birthday. It was an incredible trip of bonding, exploring and pushing ourselves to try new things. I would have loved more time in Santa Cruz, where we spent the day. There were tons of cute little shops and restaurants in town, as well as a place to see the tortoises.

Stay

The two islands most known for waves are San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz. I love The Golden Bay Hotel on San Cristóbal. The food is all farm-to-table, and they support local initiatives to help people on the island start their own farms. The week we were there, there was a surf competition where all the (two) guides were competing, so the hotel owner and manager took me surfing each morning. The rooms were clean and pretty. My kids loved the large freestanding bathtub overlooking the bay. You could snorkel right off the beach out front, which is full of sea lions that you can watch frolic all day long. It is right in town so you can walk to everything.

Do

The fun thing about San Cristóbal is you can do and see many of the things you would see on a boat cruise on the island by making day trips. We snorkeled with turtles and baby sea lions and went bird watching. Our guides, two young brothers who are also surf guides, would bring us fresh and tasty lunch their mother made for us. You can take a boat to snorkel or scuba dive (I am dying to go back and do the hammerhead dive). We visited a farm with giant tortoises. Diving is a big attraction in the Galapagos.

Salt + Snow City Guide: Galapagos Islands

Eat & Drink

You want to watch your belly here (in terms of health, not girth!). The delicious farm-to-table food at The Golden Bay changed nightly, and the drinks were divine, so we stuck with the hotel. They have good recommendations, however.

Surf

The Galapagos are hard to get to and not thought of as a typical surf destination, but the waves there are world-class and super fun (especially if you like surfing alongside turtles and sea lions). There are lefts and rights, hollow barrels, mellow longboard waves — it just depends on your timing.


The waves can be a bit of a haul if you are on foot, but the locals are friendly, and the lineups are pretty light if you don’t end up there on a surf comp weekend like I did! There are a few board rental shops in San Cristóbal. I did not surf in Isabela or Santa Cruz, but there are waves there as well. For San Cristóbal, check in with the folks at Lavawave Surf for surf instruction and tours.


Some popular breaks of varying difficulty are: Canon and Carola are premier waves for experienced surfers — you can pack a picnic and make a day of it.


La Loberia as there are great bird hikes and amazing snorkeling in the protected bay just inside the break.


I mostly surfed Tonga Reef, which has three sections for advanced (my first dry rock experience), intermediate and mellow. You can get there by foot (quite a walk) or boat. One early morning the only others in the lineup were the sea lions who body surfed alongside me.

Sea Lions Galapagos

By Boat

We embarked on a cruise from there on The Evolution (which also has a sister boat — The Grace). It was one of the most magical multigenerational experiences our family has had. The crew was off the hook. The cabins were good-sized and not at all claustrophobic. The ship’s doctor doubled as a camp counselor and came up with silly, fun activities all day long for kids of all ages. We went for days without cell service. The guides were top-notch and kept it interesting for everyone. They all assured me I needed to visit and surf with them in Ecuador as well. The comfy top deck served as a game room, bar and general lounge. We also met some other great families. If you are interested in the full boat experience (without surfing), travel company Indagare has wonderful itineraries. People have very mixed reviews about boat tours of the Galapagos, so pick your boat carefully. From all of the intel I have gathered — the smaller the group, the better.

The Adventure Continues! Read On...