The Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous wildlife-watching destination in the world. And no wonder – it’s almost impossible to exaggerate the sheer spectacle of the place that provided inspiration for Charles Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of natural selection – Mark Carwardine
The Galapagos Islands are unlike any other place on Earth. They’ve intrigued travellers for ages. Yet, planning a trip to these remote islands can be a daunting taste. Santa Cruz is the starting point of most vacations in Galapagos irrespective of whether you’ve chosen a land-based itinerary to explore the unique Islands or a cruise based holiday. Santa Cruz, while pleasant, can get chaotic. The bustling markets, alleyways laden with shops peddling day tours, and the crowds are bound to get tiring. But Santa Cruz is also the focal point of all land-based activities in the Galapagos Islands.
This presents quite the conundrum for the luxury traveller who wants a bit of peace and quiet! Finch Bay Hotel presented the perfect solution to us. It’s ideally located – the 4 star hotel offers a respite from the madness of Santa Cruz despite being just a ferry ride away from the main pier
The delicate eco-system one can witness on the Galapagos Islands is nothing short of spectacular. Consequently preservation is the need of the hour. In keeping with this Finch Bay hotel is eco-friendly. Little touches like bio-degradable soap and shampoo dispensers go a long way. The hotel has won several accolades for its conservation efforts, something that sat rather well with us when we were choosing a hotel for our holiday in Galapagos.
We were pleasantly surprised to see the quality of accommodation was not compromised in any way due to this, as can often be the case. Rooms at Finch Bay are clean, equipped with hot showers, and generously stocked with L’occitane toiletries. Spacious verandahs boast of hammocks and garden/ocean views. Finch Bay’s bar, located right next to the pool, looks over the glistening blue Pacific Ocean and provides the ideal location for a sundowner.
Finch Bay Hotel is also the only hotel in Puerto Ayora that has a stretch of the beach to itself. As this is a protected area, the beach isn’t landscaped or preened. Instead it’s handsome and rugged, just like the rest of The Galapagos Islands. Make sure you take a short walk to Las Grietas, a gorgeous maze of lava-rocks and turquoise swimming holes. It is one of the most popular spots for tourists visiting Santa Cruz.
There’s loads of opportunities to go snorkelling, kayaking, and swimming in the immediate area. But do not forget to book a day trip for yourself while you’re at Finch Bay Hotel because the hotel owns one of the most luxurious yachts in The Galapagos Islands, one that was recommended by most locals we met during our stay in Ecuador.
Finch Bay Hotel offers several 3 and 7 day itineraries but we chose a day trip to North Seymour Island due to paucity of time. Of all the day trips we took, this was undoubtedly our favourite. We booked the North Seymour day trip with Metropolitan Touring while we were still in London. On getting to The Galapagos, every local we met would keep praising the luxury boat Sea Lion. So we were very stoked to find out that Sea Lion is, in fact, Metropolitan Touring’s boat.
Our day trip to North Seymour Island was memorable, to say the least. The boat is luxurious and spacious. A number of instructors and naturalist guides accompanied our small group. After a hearty breakfast, we stopped for a spot of snorkelling at a tiny island. Spotting flamingoes on that little island that made me feel a bit like Robinson Crusoe.
I must confess I wanted to keep lying at that pristine beach forever but the lure of a freshly-cooked lunch pulled me back to the yacht. We had a scrumptious lunch on board the Sea Lion – Tuna in coconut curry, rice, fresh pineapples, and salad. Finally it was time to pull over at North Seymour Island, one of the most talked about islands in the Galapagos archipelago. Only small groups of people, accompanied by certified naturalist guides, can visit the trails at any given time. Moreover it is illegal to stray away from a marked path. So we followed our guide as he introduced us to the wonders of nature.
The characteristic whistles of blue-footed boobies welcomed us to the island. Soon enough we saw dozens of gorgeous blue-footed boobies in their natural habitat. Did you know the bright blue colour of their feet comes from carotenoid pigments, which they obtain from their diet of fresh fish? The colour is used to their advantage for mating rituals – oh the things males do to attract females!! 😉 North Seymour Island is also home to one of rarest birds in the world. The male frigate bird is extraordinary. It has a red gular pouch, which inflates like a balloon only when it wants to mate. We saw hundreds of frigate birds with bright red pouches that day. The most incredible part? This isn’t a show or a simulation – this is their world and we humans are privy to the birds’ most intimate rituals here in Galapagos.
Back at the hotel, we savoured 2 more days of warm Ecuadorian weather, sumptuous meals prepared from scratch from organic ingredients, and lavish breakfast buffets with a smattering of fresh-fruits, a selection of cheeses, cold-cuts, and local Ecuadorian specialities. Soon it was time to leave but this is the vision my mind conjures every time I think of Finch Bay and our stay in The Galapagos Islands.
- Finch Bay Hotel is a short ferry ride away from the Santa Cruz harbour. The hotel is the perfect base for land-based holidays in Galapagos.
- The eco-friendly hotel has won several awards for its conservation efforts. Rooms start at £200. More information on their website www.finchbayhotel.com
- We booked our day tour to Seymour Island with Metropolitan Touring and would highly recommend their yacht, Sea Lion
Read our guide to planning a land-based tour in Galapagos
Planning a trip to South America? Check out all our posts on South America here
We were guests of Finch Bay Hotel. We are two extremely opinionated ninjas – so all views (hyperbolic, good, and bad) are entirely our own. Click on to read our full Disclosure Policy