Why the Galapagos are One of the Ultimate Solo Travel Destinations
The Galapagos Islands are one of the few places on our planet that still remain “off the beaten path,” making it a destination that still caters to the Solo Traveler’s intrepid spirit and desire to truly go somewhere that’s markedly different and undisturbed by the masses. Such untaintedness is thanks in large part to a.) just how isolated and faraway they are from the South American continent and b.) by just how regulated visits to the Galapagos are.
Fact: 97% of the Galapagos Islands are a National Park, Marine Reserve, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it one of the most highly regulated and protected destinations in the whole world.
A flight to the Galapagos as a solo traveler is just the first part of the adventure, as you’ll first need to travel to Ecuador (the country to which the islands belong) in order to get there. For more information on how to get to the Galapagos, be sure to read our blog here.
Once you arrive in the Galapagos to begin your solo trip, you’ll immediately feel like an astronaut that’s stepped out onto an entirely different planet. The adjectives otherworldly and impressive blend together here in the most surreal of ways here: petrified lava fields hang out of the mouths of colossal volcanoes (some of which are still active), arid coasts rise up to greet lush forests, and a plethora of alien species not found anywhere else in the world wander around this spectacular patch of earth, completely fearless in the presence of humans.
Get ready to follow along in this blog as we invite you to learn about the 5 reasons for why the Galapagos are one of the best solo traveler destinations to experience (tip: it’s even better when you go as part of your Fall Vacation!).
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1. They’re one of the safest destinations in the world
Grouped together, the human population of Galapagos is just 40,000 people, with half that number residing on the central island of Santa Cruz, while the rest remains spread out across the 3 other inhabited islands. As a result of its relatively small population, the proverbial island life is in full swing here – time moves at a slower pace for the majority of the locals, and just about everyone seems to know each other. You’ll find galapagueños to be remarkably nice, warm, and welcoming people as a whole, too. They are proud to be living here, and they’re also notably respectful of the more native “locals” (read: wildlife) that hang out around just about every corner in each town.
The streets are safe to walk down alone, even at night. Incidents of crime are practically zero and, if anything at all, they’re only incidents of petty crime.
The Galapagos Islands are also free of diseases and major viruses (Zika and Malaria are non-existent).
Note: As with any other major destination in the world, it’s best to always keep a close eye on your personal belongings no matter where you are, be it at the beach or at a restaurant.
Trust and safety are so common here that you can even see it aboard numerous Galapagos cruises! That’s right: the grand majority of Expedition Vessels in the Galapagos make use of a no-key policy for their cabins, as camaraderie and trust are quite enshrined amongst crew, guides, and staff. Guests onboard need never fear seeing their belongings “disappear” when they book with a reputable tour operator.
Have the Galapagos caught your fancy yet? Download our Galapagos Basics e-book right here to get highly acquainted with the archipelago!
2. They’re environmentally protected
Worried about the future of our planet? Fear not, for the Galapagos are still highly safeguarded from mass tourism. As a result of their status as a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the number of visitors coming in and out of the Galapagos is closely monitored and highly regulated. So much that, as part of these conservation efforts, all visitors are required to contribute and pay a National Park Entrance Fee ($100 for international visitors) along with an INGALA Transit Control Card ($20).
Expedition Cruises (of which there are 69 currently operating) are strictly required to navigate around the archipelago in the company of at least one or more (depending on cruise size) Galapagos National Park-certified Guides. These guides, by law, must accompany guests throughout every single expedition that occurs within the National Park, with a maximum ratio of 16 guests per guide. Consequently, visitor sites are never neglected and left to the sole disposition of visitors. Rather, guests will disembark in the company of a Naturalist guide that will lead them on an engaging, informative, and fun expedition of each unique visitor site.
Certain tour operators in the archipelago (such as ours!) are even Carbon Neutral, making a solo trip to the Enchanted Isles all the more enticing, given that we’ll happily offset your carbon footprint when you embark on this journey of a lifetime with us.
3. They’re easy to get around in
Bike rentals and taxis are quite ubiquitous on the inhabited islands, meaning visitors can easily get from point A to point B by either of these convenient means. Another benefit is that several visitor sites (that are not within the National Park) are often within walking distance from the main towns.
If you’re looking to experience more than just one of the inhabited islands, then Island-to-Island high speed boats and charter planes are available for those looking to venture to other towns in the archipelago, of which there are 4 in total – Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island), Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal), and Puerto Velasco Ibarra (Floreana Island).
On the other hand, Galapagos cruises are quite possibly one of the most time-efficient ways of getting around the archipelago, as these effectively take you on tours throughout the National Park itself in addition to select towns. Not to mention, you won’t just get a taste of the local island life on cruises – you’ll also get a highly immersive experience of the incredibly unique and iconic species that the Galapagos are home to, the majority of which will walk right up to you and ogle your camera lens! And speaking of Galapagos cruises for solo travelers…
4. Galapagos cruises are the perfect fit for solo travelers on the hunt for adventure
Galapagos cruises tend to be seen as the de facto method of exploring the Galapagos Islands. And it’s no surprise either – the Galapagos Islands are an Expedition Destination! This means that, when you embark on a solo tour of the Galapagos aboard a cruise, you’ll be actively and fully engaging with the islands that form a part of the National Park!
That’s why, when it comes to solo travel in the Galapagos, cruises are perhaps one of the most optimal ways of truly relishing and admiring the greater part of what the archipelago has to offer, be it through the unique animal encounters, iconic visitor sites, or fun activities through which you’ll get to experience the Galapagos. Galapagos cruises typically offer up to 2 or 3 different itineraries that explore distinct regions of the archipelago and that have been previously approved by the Galapagos National Park. These can last anywhere between 5 and 7 days (and up to 15 days when combining regions back-to-back).
Also: All meals, expeditions, and activities are taken care of and included on Galapagos cruises! So those are several things that you won’t have to worry about as you explore the islands!
The capacity of each cruise in the Galapagos varies too, ranging anywhere from 16-passenger boats all the way to (maximum) 90-passenger Expedition Vessels. And while the idea of hopping aboard a 90-passenger vessel as a solo traveler in the Galapagos might throw you off at first, be aware that several of these larger boats actually offer single rooms that don’t carry the added single supplement.
Seize our Galapagos Last-minute Deal aboard the Santa Cruz II!
Here’s a look at the difference between hopping aboard different-sized boats in the Galapagos as a solo traveler:
- Smaller Galapagos cruises: Solo travelers can expect to find themselves on a smaller and “more intimate” boat, but will most likely have to share their cabin with another passenger, and as to who your bunkmate will be, exactly, is anybody’s guess. We recommend taking a long, hard look at photographs (especially of the cabins) and the layout of the boat itself before you book your Galapagos tour aboard one of these as a solo traveler. Smaller boats also have the downside of typically having only one guide guide, which means you’ll only have one activity available at each visitor site.
- Larger Galapagos cruises: As daunting as the idea of embarking on a solo Galapagos tour aboard a larger boat might be for a single traveler, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out the opposite. On larger Galapagos cruises, there’s simply more space for you to enjoy and stretch out more. Heck! You might even have certain communal spaces all to yourself depending on how many guests are aboard. Most importantly, you’ll never experience that notorious “cramped” feeling that smaller, single-guided boats often deliver. And again: larger boats often even have designated, single traveler cabins.
Larger Boats also mean more than just one Naturalist Guide, and therefore give you more freedom to choose from the activities you want, rather than having to stick with whatever activity a smaller, single-guided boat has decided on (don’t forget: in order to experience the National Park, you need to be in the company of a certified guide). If you don’t fancy going snorkeling, larger Galapagos cruises (such as ours!) will happily let you partake in another activity such as a glass-bottom boat ride or a kayaking expedition.
Lastly, while larger Galapagos cruises will allow you, as a solo traveler, to have more spaces to enjoy, you’ll still have the added benefit of being able to sit down and share a meal or a drink with other guests whenever you see fit. Reader Warning: Swapping stories about your Galapagos highlight of the day will be hard to resist!
Ultimately, deciding on which Galapagos cruise you’d like to hop aboard will depend on your budget and the iconic wildlife and islands you wish to see. Just be wary about going for the cheapest boat you can find, as guiding on these may be sub-par, the itinerary might be lackluster, and devoid of interesting activities.
Don’t take our word for it – just have a look at what our guests have to say about our Galapagos cruises on TripAdvisor!
In a growing world where overtourism can often draw the line between traveling to a certain place or discarding it altogether, rest assured: the Galapagos Islands still remain on the ideal side of said line. If you’re looking to genuinely engage with a destination and soak in its landscapes, wildlife, and island life like never before, then the Galapagos Islands deserve to be on every solo traveler’s bucket list.
Book our Galapagos Last-minute Deal today!
With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia. He is now devoted to writing about all things related to travel in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia.