Being on an organized tour was great. The food was taken care of and deliciously prepared. I knew exactly what the days itinerary was, what to wear, and how long it would be until we got back to the hostel.
But I also really loved my independent time in the Galapagos. This is how we spent our extra days….
- Explore the town center. We were lucky enough to find folkloric dancing at night in Puerto Ayora and children in costume dancing in Isabela.
- Eat out! Get the freshest fish and sometimes lobster at the local fish market where you might, due to lack of space, end up sharing a table with the locals.
- Bike riding. Our hotel, Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge, had free bikes to rent and we rode them all over Santa Cruz island. I especially liked this because all the locals ride bikes there too. Fun fact: Car ownership in the Galapagos is restricted (for environmental reasons) to people who work on farms, taxis, and other specific reasons. Not just any person can own them, hence most people ride bikes.
- Bahia Tortuga (Tortuga Bay). Unlike many of the sites in the Galapagos, you do not need to be accompanied by a naturalist guide in order to go to Tortuga Bay. It is an unspoiled white-sand beach which is a quick 45-minute walk from downtown Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island, where you will certainly spot wandering marine iguanas on the way.
- Las Grietas swimming hole. Don’t forget to reserve a day for Las Grietas. You can swim in the gorgeous turquoise waters, through an underwater tunnel, and for the courageous, jump off the cliffs above. And you can even go to a small but beautiful beach (Playa Alemanes) on the way.
Have you explored the Galapagos independently? Let us know how it went in comments!