A Galapagos Islands Honeymoon for True Wildlife Lovers

Feel like a naturalist on your once-in-a-lifetime romantic getaway.
Bartolome Island in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador
Photo: Jess Kraft | Shutterstock
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Apr 23, 2024
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A Galapagos honeymoon offers couples the chance to go on a truly unique adventure. Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean, this top honeymoon destination is made up of 19 large islands and more than 100 small islands and islets. In this rocky coastal setting, couples can see unique wildlife firsthand, scuba dive or hike. Then, at night, they can relax in luxury, whether they're at a hotel or on a cruise ship.

This South American destination is known for its diverse and endemic wildlife, and provides an intimate setting far removed from the typical tourist trails. A honeymoon here means days spent exploring pristine ecosystems and up-close encounters with wildlife, from giant tortoises to playful sea lions, set against a backdrop of dramatic volcanic landscapes and crystal-clear waters.

Ready to book your once-in-a-lifetime trip? From the best months to visit to the top hotels and things to do, use our expert tips to plan your honeymoon in Galapagos.

Galapagos Honeymoon Tips in this Article:

    Courting Blue Footed Boobies in Galapagos Islands National Park
    Photo: Paul Souders | Getty

    Best Time to Honeymoon in Galapagos

    Correia says you can visit these islands anytime. Since they sit right on the equator, there is very little seasonal fluctuation. That being said, December through May weather is slightly hotter, sunnier and more humid, while June through November tends to be a bit cooler and more overcast, say Kara Bebell and Harlan deBell, co-owners of The Travel Siblings.

    Those who suffer from motion sickness might want to avoid July through September, when the seas tend to be at their roughest, Correia says. Those months—plus holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's—also tend to draw lots of families, so the best time to visit for a honeymoon will be outside of those time frames.

    Best weather: December to May.
    Festival highlights: While the Galapagos Islands are not known for large festivals, there are a few traditional celebrations you may come across, depending on when you decide to go on your honeymoon. The most notable include the Provincialization Festivities in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal on February 18 and the Feasts of Santa Agueda on February 5.

    Galapagos Islands Honeymoon Planning Tips

    The Galapagos Islands are one of the best places on the planet for adventurous couples and wildlife enthusiasts, says Erin Correia, senior trip planner with Adventure Life. The area is also ideal for couples looking to escape from the "real world" and avoid noise and large crowds.

    To arrive at the Galapagos, international travelers first fly into Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador. From the East Coast of the US, direct flights take about seven hours. Spend a couple of nights in mainland Ecuador to soak up the culture and adjust to the time difference. Then, fly to Baltra or San Cristobal, which will take two to three-and-a-half hours. From there, check into a hotel or board a cruise ship.

    Nature enthusiasts from all over the world make a pilgrimage to these remote, mountainous islands covered in white-sand beaches. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the islands are mostly protected. In fact, 97 percent of them are part of Galapagos National Park.

    In this pristine natural environment, couples can see endemic species not found anywhere else in the world, say Bebell and deBell. Couples can pair active days exploring untouched nature reserves with sumptuous nights in eco hotels or on sleek cruise ships.

    Since the destination controls the number of visitors to protect natural resources, you'll want to start planning your Galapagos honeymoon a year in advance to make sure there's availability.

    Entry requirements: A US passport that is valid for at least 6 months.
    Location: The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador.
    Currency: USD.
    Flight time to Destination: Flights from major US cities like New York or Los Angeles typically require a connection in Guayaquil or Quito, Ecuador. Total travel time, including the connection, can range from 10 to 16 hours.
    Getting around: The primary modes of transportation in the Galapagos are boats or small planes. Island-hopping can be done via scheduled ferries, private charters or through guided tour cruises. On the islands themselves, transportation options include taxis, buses, bikes and walking.

    Pro tip: Looking for even more planning advice? Invite a honeymoon planning expert to join your vendor team. Find travel agents near you on The Knot Marketplace for Galapagos Islands honeymoon expertise and more.

    Places to Visit During a Galapagos Honeymoon

    Sea Lions, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
    Photo: Guy William | Shutterstock

    Santa Cruz Island

    On this larger island inhabited by people, you can snorkel amongst sea turtles and sea lions. Then, take in the island's unique rock formations during a challenging and scenic hike, suggest Bebell and deBell. Wildlife-lovers interested in encountering Sally Lightfoot crabs might catch sight of them on this island's rocks.

    San Cristobal Island

    Many couples will arrive at the Galapagos by flying into an airport on this inhabited island. Most islands in the Galapagos don't permit surfing, Bebell and deBell say, but San Cristobal is an exception.

    North Seymour Island

    This island offers prime wildlife sightseeing. Newlyweds might see blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls and common noddies.

    Fernandina Island

    Plan a trip to this remote island to spot the indigenous Galapagos penguin, the second smallest species of its kind, say Bebell and deBell.

    Best Galapagos Honeymoon Hotels and Cruises

    Only four islands in the Galapagos are inhabited by people, and most hotels are on Santa Cruz Island. If you stay at a hotel, know that you probably won't visit as many islands and see as many species. Also, remember to factor in the cost and time to island-hop and explore, say Bebell and deBell.

    If you go the all-inclusive cruise route, you'll take in more sights and won't need to plan activities. Cruise fare includes full days of excursions (like wildlife hikes, small boat explorations, beach time, snorkeling and kayaking) with certified naturalist guides. When choosing between Galapagos cruises, know that the largest boat can accommodate a maximum of 100 people. For the most intimate experience and access to the most islets and hidden coves, opt for a smaller cruise ship, recommends Correia.

    Hotels in Isabela Island, Galapagos
    Photo: DFLC Prints | Shutterstock

    Casa Gangotena

    A Relais & Chateaux property in Quito, Casa Gangotena boasts stunning rooms with hand-painted murals, balconies and picturesque views, say Bebell and deBell. The on-site restaurant offers an upscale take on Ecuadorian food, like ceviche and empanadas.

    5.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

    This all-inclusive property in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island offers four- or five-day packages, including meals, airport assistance and a customizable itinerary. Honeymooners can choose between bay and oceanfront rooms at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Galapagos Safari Camp

    Inspired by the luxury tents typical of African safari experiences, the all-inclusive Galapagos Safari Camp in the lush Santa Cruz highlands features an infinity pool.

    5.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Pikaia Lodge

    Pikaia Lodge is an intimate retreat on Santa Cruz Island set between two volcanic craters. Along with an infinity pool, couples will find giant tortoises roaming the grounds, two lounges, a spa and a restaurant. Itineraries include land and sea activities.

    5.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Silver Origin Cruise

    With a maximum of 100 guests, the Silver Origin was designed to respect island biodiversity, and the itineraries center around wildlife and excursions, say Bebell and deBell. All-inclusive trips include zodiac tours, kayaking, snorkeling and hikes led by naturalist experts. Packages even include pre-nights in Quito and transfers. Luxury-loving newlyweds will also appreciate that this is the only ship in the Galapagos that offers butler service in every suite, Correia says.

    5.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Celebrity Flora Cruise

    With the ability to accommodate 100 passengers, Celebrity Flora was built with natural materials. Guests can experience excursions led by certified naturalists, dine under the stars, and visit the ship's observatory.

    4.5 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Yacht La Pinta

    Aboard this modern Galapagos expedition yacht that accommodates up to 48 guests, couples can take advantage of a hot tub, gym and sprawling sun deck, say Bebell and deBell. Yacht La Pinta can arrange land and aquatic activities like hiking, snorkeling and paddle-boarding.

    5.0 Star Rating | Read Reviews

    Pro tip: If you're looking for unique Galapagos accommodations that may provide a little more privacy or affordability, you might also want to consider staying at an Airbnb or VRBO.

    Galapagos Honeymoon Itinerary Ideas

    Each island in the Galapagos is unique, say Bebell and deBell. With plenty of things to do and a total land area of nearly 3,100 square miles scattered over 23,000 square miles of ocean, the area is too spread out for honeymooners to see everything. To narrow things down, decide which creatures you'd most like to see, Correia says, then ahead to the spots where you can find them.

    two pink flamingos walking side by side in a lagoon in Galapagos
    Photo: Westend61 | Getty

    Spot Unique Creatures

    Wildlife lovers can book tours to look for any of 9,000 species, many of which are unique to the islands. Couples can search out Darwin's finches, Galapagos tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies and more. Underwater, they can dive with a diversity of marine life, including sharks, penguins and coral reef.

    Learn About Wildlife

    Charles Darwin's 1835 voyage to the islands inspired his Origin of Species in which he introduced the theory of evolution by natural selection. Today, research continues, with The Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island serving as the center of scientific exploration in the archipelago. To get to know the area's indigenous species, honeymooners can book special experiences with naturalist guides.

    Travel by Zodiac

    Couples can explore hidden coves in zodiacs, which are small inflatable boats released by cruise lines at each island or port. After gearing up in wetsuits and rain boots, they can board these lightweight crafts and learn about local flora and fauna from expert guides.

    Pro tip: Add Galapagos honeymoon experiences to your gift registry so your family and friends can pitch in on the honeymoon fun. Make sure to post a few photos to your wedding website and social media accounts!

    What to Pack for a Galapagos Islands Honeymoon

    Darwin's Arch in Galapagos
    Photo: HakBak | Shutterstock

    For newlyweds who want to avoid lugging around a ton of honeymoon luggage, the Galapagos Islands are the perfect honeymoon destination. "If booking an expedition ship, the cruise line will give passengers all the equipment they need, from wet gear to footwear," say Bebell and deBell.

    For a land-based stay or time in Quito, pack comfortable and casual clothing, they suggest. "Think sturdy walking shoes or sneakers, jeans, casual pants and lots of layers to account for changing climates."

    Your packing checklist should include water shoes, at least two swimsuits (one for a morning excursion and another for an afternoon excursion) and reef-safe sunscreen, Correia says. To be comfortable in air-conditioned spots or during cooler nights, remember to bring a windbreaker or fleece.

    Brittany Barber contributed to this article.

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