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5 Fun Things to do Independently in the Galapagos

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….

  1. Explore the town center. We were lucky enough to find folkloric dancing at night in Puerto Ayora and children in costume dancing in Isabela.

    Children in costume dancing in the town center of Isabela

    Children in costume dancing in the town center of Isabela

  2. 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.

    Eating at the Fish market in Puerto Ayora

    Eating at the Fish market in Puerto Ayora

  3. 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.

    All the locals had these white bikes to ride around town.

    All the locals had these white bikes to ride around town.

  4. 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.


    Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island

  5. 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.


    Las Grietas Swimming hole

Read more about mainland Ecuador and diving in the Galapagos.

Have you explored the Galapagos independently? Let us know how it went in comments!

About the author: Lisa Cho Lisa Cho is an expat living in Ecuador, originally from San Francisco, California. She writes about the Galapagos Islands on the Red Mangrove Galapagos Travel Blog and about her mainland Ecuador adventures on

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Debbie March 18, 2014, 7:33 AM

    I’m traveling to Galapagos in one month; so excited! I’m trying to read and learn everything I can before I go.

  • Mickel Ross April 16, 2014, 5:15 AM

    Very nice! Looks like so much of fun. I did visit Galapagos last April and it was amazing trip for me. After reading such great posts about Galapagos,I am planing to visit Galapagos again. I visited Charles Darwin Research Center, I learn many facts about the human revolution and the most revolutionary theory “The Theory Of Evolution”.

    • Lisa June 15, 2014, 6:50 PM

      Great slides! Thanks for sharing. I like all the species of finches together on one page.


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