I remember when I first learned about the Galapagos Islands. I was in high shool and we were studying evolution and natural selection.

As my teacher explained Darwin’s Theory of Evolution telling us how the finches were different on each island because they had adapted to fit into each island’s unique ecosystem, I remember being blown away by the possibilities of Mother Nature.

Seeing pictures of animals such as the marine iguana and giant tortoises that looked like prehistoric creatures, never in a million years would I have believed that you could actually visit the Galapagos Islands.

Fast forward ten years and I was aboard the Mary Anne for an 8-day/7-night tour traveling around Islands such as Bartolome, Santiago, and Genovesa where I watched the Blue-Footed Boobies doing their mating dance.

We ended our adventure on Santa Cruz where we toured the highlands and saw possibly the most outrageous creatures yet, the giant tortoises.

Down again at the Charles Darwin Research Center, we met Lonesome George (who unfortunately passed away on June 24, 2012), a giant Galapagos tortoise who was known as the rarest creature in the world as he was the last of his species.

I learned on Santa Cruz that there were actually people who inhabited the islands and besides Santa Cruz, people also live on Floreana, Isabela and San Cristobal.

As life would have it, that same year I was hired to teach English on San Cristobal at the San Francisco de Quito University (USFQ) where I lived for four months in paradise, snorkeling with sea turtles, stepping over sea lions to cross the beach, watching Darwin’s finches fly by on my way to teach class, and occasionally taking a stroll in the San Cristobal Highlands to visit the giant tortoises.

Five years later I still can’t believe I actually lived there, it feels like a dream.

Some things I took away from my various experiences in the Galapagos Islands:

  • The animals you see on the Galapagos are like nowhere else in the world.
  • The Galapagos is one of the few places where animals and humans cohabit peacefully. As the animals never experienced humans as predators, you can get up close and personal with them without them being afraid of you.
  • It’s a place where when snorkeling you are guaranteed to see something of interest: sea turtles, sharks, sea lions, exotic fish, and in some places you may even see penguins or kayak along with dolphins!
  • The weather is amazing 365 days of the year, making it a year-rong travel destination.
  • It’s a bird watcher and animal lover’s paradise.
  • The Galapagos locals will make you feel immediately at home. As tourism is limited to the Islands, the locals are still excited to see tourists and interact with them unlike in other island destinations that have been over-run with tourism.
  • As the dollar is the official currency in Ecuador, it’s easy and inexpensive to get around.
  • It’s the safest place I’ve ever lived.

If the Galapagos Islands aren’t already on your bucket list, then you definitely must add them—it’s an once-in-a-lifetime adventure that you will never forget!

You can fall in love with the Galapagos.