Galapagos Islands Sea Kayaking
Sea Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands Adventure Tours:
ROW's Galapagos Islands adventure tour, "Galapagos Unbound,” is a unique land-based tour that includes a wide variety of activities. It is the only Galapagos Islands vacation that includes two nights camping on the islands. While the Galapagos Islands are famous for their wildlife, there is also a human population located in four small towns within the National Park. Our tour provides a holistic view of the entire Galapagos ecosystem including the human element since that is also very much a part of the landscape. The Galapagos adventure includes sea kayaking, snorkeling, hiking and amazing wildlife viewing. Because we stay in small, local hotels, eat most meals at local restaurants, use local transport and services and, buy all our supplies in the Islands, this trip represents the best in responsible, sustainable tourism to the Galapagos.
The Galapagos Islands are one of a few places on earth that allow for such intimate contact with a dazzling array of wildlife. Most Galapagos Islands tours are cruise-based and carry between 20-100 people. ROW’s journey, the only one of its kind, allows a small, 12-14 person group to visit sites that are not on the main tourist routes. And our multisport trip travels in an environmentally-friendly manner–by your own power. You leave the crowds of visitors and well-worn paths behind to enjoy the peace of walking, snorkeling and paddling your way through this island paradise.
This Galapagos Island trip was featured in the New York Times Travel Section January 8, 2006. You will find the article entitled "Galapagos Unbound" by Tim Neville here at Galapagos Islands Tour. While the original itinerary has been modified somewhat since that time, the essence of this pioneering adventure has not changed. Our expert local guides work alongside Galapagos Park Service certified guides to bring you a superlative Galapagos multisport adventure.
These trips are priced based on the number of guests per trip. Roll-over the trip name below for the tier price breakdown.
Looking to go on a Family Adventure to the Galapagos? Go here: Galapagos Family Travel
How about a Machu Picchu stop too before or after your Galapagos adventure?: Machu Picchu Tours
Here's also a great sea kayaking alternative to this Galapagos trip: Baja Sea Kayaking
- Duration: 10 Days
- Length: 10 days
- Intensity: Easy
- Season: January - December
- Minimum Age: 7
- Begins In: Guayaquil, Ecuador
- Ends In: Guayaquil, Ecuador
- Airport: Guayaquil
Galapagos Islands Tours
ROW's Galapagos Islands Adventure Tour, "Galapagos Unbound", is a multisport vacation and the first of its kind offered in this tropical archipelago. This trip gets you off the typical cruise ship-based Galapagos tour and allows you to see the diverse wildlife and scenery of these islands from behind a paddle. Snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking through the Galapagos gives you the most intimate journey possible in this incredible island chain.
The Galapagos Islands have been a national park of Ecuador since 1959. Organized tourism began in the 1960's, and the Galapagos remains a far-flung and iconic destination. Because of their famed natural history and remarkable land and marine species, these remote islands are revered the world over. In the effort to preserve and protect the Galapagos, access to the islands is strictly regulated.
Most Galapagos Islands tours are cruise-based, carrying from 10 to 100 people. ROW's Galapagos tour, the only of its kind, allows our small groups to visit sites off the main tourist routes. You travel in the most environmentally-friendly way imaginable - your own power. We walk and sea kayak where other more intrusive travel couldn't take us, and our reward is not only what we see, but also the pleasure we have in getting there. ROW's Galapagos adventure is the only that gives you the opportunity to camp on island beaches and to hike to the rim of a recently active volcano.
Our Galapagos Islands adventure vacation is the most sustainable eco-tour of the Galapagos you can support. First of all, compared to a cruise, this trip uses a fraction of the fuel (based on per person consumption) and thus has a much smaller carbon footprint. Second, a much larger percentage of your trip fee actually stays in the Galapagos Islands compared to cruises. This means your presence has a much stronger economic benefit to the local communities. Third, this is the only trip in the Galapagos that includes camping on an island beach and our camping site is approved and regulated by the Galapagos National Park Service. We are proud that we have developed minimum impact camping techniques that exceed established “Leave No Trace” practices.
Few places on earth allow for such close contact with wildlife as the Galapagos Islands. Words simply cannot describe the intense wonder you experience while exploring these oceanic islands where the birds and animals have little fear of humans.
On this superlative Galapagos adventure you'll play in the water with sea lions, get within a few feet of blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and the giant Galapagos tortoises. You'll watch pelicans and boobies dive for fish, snorkel in transparent water rich with sea-life and even swim with sharks, if you dare.
Our stable and speedy expedition sea kayaks are for one or two paddlers and specifically equipped for the conditions we encounter in the Galapagos. All kayaking portions of the trip are supported by a panga, or small launch, that ensures everyone's comfort and safety while on the water. Although we recommend that participants have some paddling experience, we begin each Galapagos sea kayaking trip with practice and a safety orientation.
Our Galapagos Islands tour takes us to five islands for a wealth of wildlife and ecosystem diversity. Every journey is more than its destination, and we are thrilled to offer a Galapagos adventure unlike any other.
If you need to purchase some gear before your trip, ROW has assembled the more common items at our ROWear online store.
- Dates & Rates
- Below you will find all available instances of this trip. Roll over departure dates to see a complete list of departures. Roll over the demographic icons to get a brief overview of the demographic group.
- Why ROW
The ROW Difference on Galapagos Islands Tours
- Trips limited to just 12 - 14 guests
- Expert bilingual tour leaders in addition to Park Service Certified Naturalist guides lead our trips
- Accommodations in locally-owned, high quality beach-front boutique hotels
- The only Galapagos Adventure that includes two nights camping on the islands
- All top-quality camping gear provided
- All appropriate camping gear included
- All airport transfers included
- We follow "Leave No Trace" camping practices
- Visit sites off the beaten path
- The original Galapagos multi-sport featured in the New York Times
- Strong Responsible Travel Actions (see below)
We are proud that our Galapagos Islands Tours have a significant and beneficial economic impact in the Galapagos Islands and we leave a large percentage of the trip fee on the Islands.
- We stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, hire local guides, and buy all our trip provisions and food in the Galapagos. This is sometimes quite challenging as what is available changes from week to week, but we believe in the importance of contributing to the local economy as much as possible. On the Island of Isabela we include a visit to the Pescado Azul Women’s Association whose principal objective is to increase the quality of life of fishermen and their families in the community of Puerto Villamil. The business provides a sustainable economic alternative for these women and the 200 fishermen who lack full-time employment on the island. We buy their delicious smoked tuna pâté and other items to serve on our trips.
- Our trips also offer an excellent opportunity for our guests to interact with locals, providing a cultural element that hardly exists on yacht based trips. If you have an interest in understanding how the local human population lives in the Galapagos, you will gain many insights on this ROW adventure.
- On each island, we also hire the services of local boat owners and tour operators who support our trips in various ways. Some of these operators are local fishermen who are currently transitioning their livelihood from fishing to tourism. This is a goal that the National Park Service fully supports in order to better protect the marine life of the Galapagos, as well as better diversify the local economy. The Park Service has recently created special provisions to encourage fishermen to make this transition and we are glad to be able to help make this a reality for some of them.
- We have helped our local dive and support boat operators to finance the conversion of their boats from 2 stroke to 4 stroke engines making them more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly.
- ROW is a full member of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA). We ask every single guest who travels with us to add to our contributions. IGTOA funds conservation projects across the archipelago and we are proud to be recognized, along with our guests, as one of the top contributors to this worthy cause. In addition to IGTOA we also support the important work of the Galapagos Conservancy. Both of these groups support the Charles Darwin Research Station among other great projects.
We "know" these islands! Go here for detailed info about each one: Galapagos Islands Descriptions
Galapagos Islands Tour - FAQs
Q: Where are the Galapagos Islands are located?
A: The Galapagos Islands (or Archipelago de Colon)are a Province of Ecuador located about 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of the Ecuadorian coast and are located directly on the equator.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Because the Galapagos Islands are on the equator, it’s warm most of the year. The warmest season is usually January to April and average temperatures range from a low of 70F/22C to around of 84F/31C. This is also the “wet season” and there may be afternoon thundershowers. During a severe El Nino year, it’s more likely to rain at any time of day. April to December is considered the “dry season” and is cooler, with average temperatures ranging from around 68F/19C to 82F/27C. At this time of year it is not uncommon to have the "garua" (misty rain) early in the morning and in the highlands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. Our experience is that the time of year doesn’t make a lot of difference in terms of the amount of rain as there isn’t enough to impact your trip too much.
Q: When is the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?
A: Whenever your schedule allows! Because it’s on the equator, air temperatures don’t change a lot. However water temperature does fluctuate as much as ten degrees during the year. The cooler Humboldt Current comes up from Antarctica from May to September/October and the sea is cooler and tends to be rougher at this time of year. Cooler water temperatures mean you generally see more sea life because there is more food for the animals that depend on the planktons and other sea nourishment. From November to April, the cooler Panama Current flows from the north and brings warmer water. The sea tends to be calmer at this time of year. If you’re going on our land-based tour then rough water is less of a concern. If you’re doing a cruise, and you are prone to seasickness, you might want to consider coming in the November to April time frame.
Q: What is the best way to get to the Galapagos Islands?
A: From the U.S. and Canada there are daily flights via Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York and Miami, to both Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador. If you are short on time flying directly to and from Guayaquil may save you time as our Galapagos Unbound trip begins in Guayaquil.
Q: Do you arrange international air to Ecuador?
A: We do not arrange international air travel but we do have a great air travel specialist we refer you to if you’d like.
Q: Do you take care of our ticketing for air travel within Ecuador?
A: Yes. When you book a tour with us we add your Ecuador flights to your invoice. Flights to the Galapagos depart several times daily from both Quito and Guayaquil aboard Boeing 737’s or Airbus 320’s or similar. Our partners in Ecuador hold space on the flights so we are sure to be able to accommodate you (as long as you sign up far enough in advance).
Q: Will we have to exchange any money before we travel to Ecuador or once in the country?
A: Ecuador uses the US dollar which was adopted as the official currency in 2000. Be sure to bring cash bills in good condition because bills with markings or tears won’t be accepted. There are also ATM machines in the larger towns. It’s a good idea to alert your bank that you’ll be traveling to Ecuador so they don’t stop the transactions.
Q: Are you able to arrange extensions to our Galapagos tour?
A: We have been running trips in Ecuador since 1992 and know the country well. We have plenty of ideas for extending your trip whether it be to the Amazon, the Cloud Forest, the highlands in the north or south, or whatever might be your special interest. We can also arrange extensions to Peru and Machu Picchu.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: There are a lot of arrangements to be made for a custom trip like our Galapagos Unbound active adventure. It’s very helpful with our planning if you book four to 12 months in advance. However, if you can’t plan that far ahead, then it’s usually not a problem to book up to about two months in advance. If you find yourself looking for last-minute space just call us and check!
Q: How much snorkeling will I do on this trip?
A: There is an opportunity for snorkeling almost every day on this trip and the underwater life is a true highlight of visiting the Galapagos. Our trip offers more opportunities than most, and on some days we stop at two or three locations to snorkel.
Q: Do I need previous snorkeling experience?
A: If you’ve never been snorkeling we highly recommend you practice before the trip. It’s best to buy your own mask and snorkel (around $20-$45) so that you have a good fit and for better hygiene. Fins are less necessary but are nice to have in terms of going a little faster.
Q: Can I rent snorkel equipment in the Galapagos?
A: Yes you can, but it is time consuming and a bit of a hassle on our Galapagos Unbound trips because we change islands and you have to rent it at each location. We recommend you bring your own.
Q: Is a wetsuit necessary for snorkeling?
A: No, a wetsuit is not necessary, but most people appreciate the extra warmth. Just bring a 2mm thick “shorty” meaning one with short sleeves and short legs. A thin one like 2mm won’t take up much room in your luggage.
Q: Is it possible to go scuba diving in the Galapagos?
A: There are one or two opportunities on our trip to arrange for a separate scuba diving experience at an extra cost. Contact us for details.
Q: What should we bring?
A: A "What to Bring" list is located here.
Galapagos Islands Tour - Itinerary
DAY 1 – Depart home and arrive in Guayaquil. Most flights arrive in the evening and a representative will meet you at the airport to transfer you to your hotel.
DAY 2 – Along with your ROW Adventures guide, take a morning flight from Guayaquil to San Cristobal, the first of the Galapagos Islands on our trip. This is also our first chance to get in the kayaks and meet some local wildlife. Next we take a catamaran to our secluded beach camp to settle in and enjoy watching sea lions, blue footed boobies and more as the sun sets.
DAY 3 - Today we will take our kayaks and paddle from our camp roughly three hours depending on the weather conditions. Our support boat is always close at hand if you need assistance or tire of paddling. We arrive at another pristine beach for lunch, bird watching and wildlife viewing. Then we continue in our catamaran to Kicker Rock. Once at Kicker Rock, we snorkel through an amazing channel where you are likely to see white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, sea turtles and eagle rays. We are sure to see hundreds of fish and sea stars. From here, we head to Isla Lobos to swim with ever-playful young sea lions; a true highlight of the trip. By late afternoon we return to relax at our beach camp, watch small hermit crabs scuttle along, as well as yellow warblers and other seabirds. Sunset over the Pacific is usually spectacular.
DAY 4 – This morning we take an early morning walk before heading to the airport to fly to the island of Isabela and check into our beachfront hotel. After lunch, we visit the small island of Tintoreras. This island is a unique volcanic formation that looks lunar. Here you will see dozens of marine iguanas and a lagoon filled with white-tipped reef sharks.
DAY 5 – Rising early, we head to the interior for a very different view of the Galapagos Islands. We drive just under an hour up to the highlands and begin our hike of Isabela’s Sierra Negra. This active volcano last erupted in 2005 and has the second largest caldera in the world with a diameter of approximately six and a half miles. The hike can vary from 8-14 miles and includes viewing the spectacular caldera and incredible lava formations. We return to town with time for relaxing on the beach, walking through town or simply resting.
DAY 6 – In the morning, weather permitting, we take a boat for roughly an hour to Los Tuneles: a most curious and remarkable lava formation which consists of arches and caves. We walk along the shore and also snorkel in crystal clear water for an insight into the remarkable underwater world. We have lunch and then head back into town. Then we walk a couple of miles to visit the Tortoise Breeding Center, an initiative of the National Park for the conservation of Isabela’s tortoises. We come back to the hotel walking along the beautiful white sand beach of Puerto Villamil.
DAY 7 – After breakfast, we will take a speed boat to Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz, is also called Indefatigable Island, it's located in the center of the Galapagos Islands archipelago. We will drive to the Santa Cruz highlands where we will see wild Galapagos Tortoises. These huge creatures weigh 200 to 500 pounds and are scattered all over the island. Then visit lava tunnels, these underground tunnels dug by hot lava twist, turn and intertwine while provide an exciting opportunity to view the immense effect of volcanic activity. When we return to Puerto Ayora in the afternoon we will kayak for one hour and a half to Punta Estrada, a calm shallow lagoon where rays, mullets and sharks can be seen while kayaking along the rocky coast line. (Depending of the tide the order of the visits can be changed)
DAY 8 – A short one hour boat trip takes us to one of the most beautiful coves in all of the Galapagos; a place visited by few. We take the opportunity to snorkel here and are often joined by the playful sea lion pups. The fluorescent fish make for great snorkeling as do the submerged rocks where the sea turtles and manta rays hang out.
Later in the afternoon we will then return to Puerto Ayora. Some may wish to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, or enjoy some free time before meeting for a happy hour drink on the waterfront patio of our hotel.
DAY 9 – In the morning we transfer to the airport on Baltra where the original runway was built during WW II by the United States Navy. Late morning or early afternoon, we fly about two hours by jet back to the mainland city of Guayaquil and transfer to our hotel. In the evening we gather for a final and festive farewell dinner.
DAY 10 – Transfer to the airport for your return flight home or continue your travels.
Consider our Ecuador Hacienda Extension or Amazon Jungle Lodge trips to lengthen your stay in this fine country.
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