The Galapagos Islands have long held a fascination for travelers around the world. There's something mysterious and unique about the destination. Between the creatures, history and natural features—there are numerous reasons the Galapagos Islands are so great. Here are 4 reasons the Galapagos Islands are a great choice to study, learn about, and of course, to visit.
Reason #1: The Islands
The Galapagos are made up of 21 islands, 18 of them major. There are also 107 islets and rocks that are beautiful for people cruising the waters.
Each island has an incredible landscape and story. People will learn that Floreana has the most interesting human history while San Cristobal has the largest freshwater lake. Other fascinating facts include:
- Marchena Island is home to the Marchena lava lizard, which is endemic
- Genovesa Island is known as the “bird island”
- Bartolome Island is one of the younger islands
- South Plaza has a unique color and landscape from the other islands
- Wolf Island is the only island that the famous vampire finch calls home
- Nameless Island is the hot spot for scuba divers
- Baltra Island was formed by a geological uplift and is very arid
The landscapes alone are awarded as a reason to visit the archipelago. However, the best way to learn more about the Galapagos and experience it is to go!
Reason #2: The Unique Wildlife
A majority of the species found in the Galapagos are endemic, which means they adapt to the changing environment. They evolve and change. As a result, there are species here that you can't find anywhere else in the world.
Some of these incredible species include:
- The Cormorant on Fernandina and Isabela islands, whose wingspan is one-third of the size needed in order to fly. Since the cormorant doesn't have any natural predators on the Galapagos has adapted to the need to feed underwater, the wings have adapted for a more suitable swimming shape. There are only about 1,200 of these birds in existence on the islands.
- Red and blue-footed booby, who can reach up to 60mph when entering the water. As a result of their diving prowess and feeding, their nostrils are permanently blocked. Their mating ritual is fascinating to see, and typically, the brighter the color of their feet, the more reproductive success they'll have.
- The Albatross, located on Española Island, have a giant wingspan and thus make great use of the wind speed to travel long distances. Being endemic to the Galapagos, their courtship rituals are one-of-a-kind, as the males perform a spectacular mating dance based on circling and bowing.
- Tortoises, who arrived from south of Chile 4-5 million years ago. Each island has a different species of turtle depending on what food was available to them.
Reason #3: A Living Laboratory of Evolution
The islands were all formed within the last 5 million years. Consequently, this means the environment has altered considerably from the mainland where many of the species arrived from. If animals didn't adapt to the new environment, then they didn't survive – which means evolution in the Galapagos is faster than any other place in the world.
As you may know, Charles Darwin famously created the Theory of Evolution, something scientists still study today. If you’ve never asked the question as to why the Galapagos Islands are so important regarding evolution, you should.
The quick answer is, when Charles Darwin visited and studied the Galapagos, he found a clear pattern that each island hosted similar creatures, but those creatures had adapted perfectly to their environment. The studies Darwin performed in the Galapagos Islands led to his famous book, The Origin of the Species.
Reason #4: Marine Life
Although the Galapagos Islands are by the equator, it's home to a large multitude of marine and underwater life. This is because of the unique Humboldt Current that passes through the Galapagos and brings plankton that thrives in cold water. This provides food for larger animals.
The sights you'll see below the surface are awe-inspiring, and can arguably make your entire experience to the Galapagos. We highly recommend snorkeling or even diving to get up close and personal to the tortoises, manta rays, sharks, and colorful fish.
Endless Reasons to Visit the Galapagos Islands
When you pause and consider it, there are endless reasons to visit the Galapagos Islands, and many of those reasons make the Galapagos a great travel destination. Adventure, mystique, entertainment, beauty and more all exist in the Galapagos. It’s a place that appeals to many, but in particular, those who love nature and unspoiled places. It’s a destination worth cruising—and one that will give you innumerable memories for a lifetime.