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Exotic Exploration

by Lori Eastes
Photo by Royal Galapagos

Touring the Galápagos Islands by yacht offers an inspirational experience reminiscent of Darwin’s travels, albeit more luxurious and glamorous. Throughout your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a mystical land filled with unexpected inhabitants and unique species. As a double World Heritage site, where both land and sea are protected, yacht routes are monitored by Galápagos National Park officials to ease crowding and environmental stress that result in blissful seclusion and undisturbed waters for cruising. With a lack of natural predators, the wildlife inhabitants are remarkably friendly and welcoming, offering visitors an up close and personal experience: swim with sea lions and Pacific sea turtles, scuba dive among hammerhead and whale sharks, and spot exotic marine iguanas, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, albatross, and penguins on land.

Each island features its own distinctive landscape, ranging from barren grounds with volcanic rocks to stunning white sand beaches surrounded by aquamarine waters; every one of them unique.

Santa Cruz
A perfect spot to begin your journey, the island of Santa Cruz features lush vegetation, a host of exotic birds, and the legendary giant Galápagos tortoises in their natural habitat. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and Galápagos National Park headquarters for in-depth and informational look into this mystical environment. When your exploration of the island is complete, your yacht and crew await, ready to transport you on the journey of a lifetime.

Española & Punta Suarez
Española Island is the most southerly and one of the oldest isles in the archipelago, attracting visitors with its variety of endemic wildlife, including the Española mockingbird, lava lizard, and waved albatross. Punta Suarez, one of the most coveted visitor sites of the Galápagos, is renowned for its albatross breeding colony, as well as “the blowhole,” a proverbial geyser that sprays water some 75 feet into the air.

San Cristóbal & Kicker Rock
San Cristóbal, the island where Darwin first went ashore, is tranquil and beautiful, and home to Punta Pitt, the only place where all three species of boobies can be seen: blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca. If snorkeling is on your list, take the tender to Kicker Rock, an underwater paradise that’s home to exotic schools of fish, hammerhead sharks, and sea lions.

Santa Fé & South Plaza
Cruise to Santa Fé Island and marvel at its white sand beaches, typically covered with playful sea lions. The turquoise waters are calm and clear, offering the perfect respite for kayaking or snorkeling. Jaunt to the tiny island of South Plaza, known for its lush flora and large colony of Galápagos land iguanas.

Genovesa & Prince Philip’s Steps
When you arrive at the isle of Genovesa, anchor at Darwin Bay Beach, and head ashore where a short trail past tidal pools and lava ridges leads to a high point overlooking the bay, offering one of the most extraordinary views in Galapagos.  Make your way to Prince Philip’s Steps, an extraordinary stairway of rocks arranged by Mother Nature that leads through a seabird colony full of exclusive native species.

Santiago & Bartolomé Islands
The uninhabited island of Santiago, one of the most popular sites in the Galápagos, offers visitors several spots to stroll stunning land formations, observe inherent wildlife, and enjoy extraordinary diving. Walk across a recent lava flow that sparkles in the sunlight at Sullivan Bay. Visit Pinnacle Rock, a symbolic landmark in the Galápagos, that projects into Bartolomé’s northern bay. Here you can snorkel in the bay or climb the volcanic cone, an easy trail that leads to panoramic views of the surrounding islands.

Rábida Island
Rabida Island is home to Red Beach, an intriguing landscape of colorful eroded hills where you can explore a saltwater lagoon, spotting wading birds and ghost crabs along the way. Later, visit Sombrero Chino, where a hike on a white sand often features sightings of sea lions, American oystercatchers, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. After a day of adventure, return to your home on the water, open a bottle of wine, and reminisce about your journey as you cruise back to reality.

Photo by Royal Galapagos
Photo by Royal Galapagos

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