Galapagos Islands Tourist Attractions
Tourists flock to these tropical attractions (Photo: Galapagos image by Sandra Makara from Fotolia.com )
The Galapagos Islands are famous for an abundance of wildlife that led UNESCO to name the islands as one of its World Heritage sites. The islands also have the usual array of tropical attractions. With 97 percent of the islands considered part of Ecuador’s national park land, tourists to the Galapagos have an endless source of largely unspoiled beauty at their fingertips.
The Galapagos Islands are in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of South America. The largest island, Isabela, is J-shaped and lies to the east, and is flanked by the smaller isles of Fernandina, Santa Cruz and Santiago. To the west of the archipelago are the San Cristobal and Espanola islands. In their spot on the equator, the Galapagos Islands have the distinction of being in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
The majority of Galapagos tourists reach the islands by heading first to the Ecuadoran capital of Quito and then flying directly to the islands. Once on one of the Galapagos isles, visitors can stay put or take one of many ferries or cruise ships to tour multiple islands.
When to Go
Travel experts advise tourists to visit the Galapagos during certain times of the year, depending on what they are planning to do there, though they say there is no bad time to visit the islands. For those who intend to snorkel or scuba dive, January through April is the ideal time to visit. The Galapagos’ warm season lasts from December to May, and April, May, September and October are considered to be low months for tourism, when prices tend to decline.
The Galapagos are a prime environment for exploring exotic wildlife, the likes of which originally drew evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin to its shores. Both below and above the sea exists a plethora of animals native to these far-flung islands. These animals include large sea turtles, flamingos, iguanas and sea lions. Tourists flock to the islands’ national park sites such as Cousin’s Rock in Santiago and the Sierra Negra Volcano on Isabela Island.
Though tourism has brought considerable financial prosperity to the Galapagos Islands, it has also contributed to the area’s environmental decline. Sharks and certain fish species in the islands are dwindling as increasing numbers of fishermen catch the animals for tourist consumption. Additionally, the human waste created by increasing numbers of hotels, shops and restaurants continue to degrade the local environment.