How many islands make up the Galapagos Islands?
There are 13 larger islands that make up the Galapagos with 61 smaller islands and a plethora of even smaller islets and rocky landings adding to the archipelago's landscape. However, the area's terrain is constantly changing due to volcanic eruptions causing islands to form, expand, or erode completely. The population of the Galapagos Islands is around 30,000 (according to the last population census) with only 5 of the 13 larger islands inhabited. These are Isla Baltra, Isla Floreana, Isla Isabela, Isla Santa Cruz, and Isla San Cristobal.
If you enjoy getting among nature then it makes sense why you picked the Galapagos Islands as your holiday destination, but, more specifically, Isla Baltra is the island you need to explore. Often used as the launching pad for adventures through the Galapagos as it's home to the main airport in the region, this island will undoubtedly mesmerize you with its extraordinary landscapes full of local flora.
While it may not boast as much wildlife as some of the other islands, it does have a large group of iguanas who might see casually strolling along the main street, along pathways, and even down the airport's runway.
Originally named Charles Island after King Charles II of England, Isla Floreana may be one of the smaller islands visited by avid travellers but it's undeniably one of the most beautiful. And just because it's small, doesn't mean there's nothing to see here. Not short on fascinating and interesting things to do from visiting one of the world's most remote post office boxes (used by early whalers to the region in the 19th century) to making your way to Cormorant Point to watch flamingos primp and preen as they wander in the shallows of a lagoon, Isla Floreana is every adventurist's dream.
Isla Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos and boasts the highest point in the whole archipelago thanks to its 5600 ft. Wolf volcano. Unsurprisingly, its volcanic landscape is one of the major drawcards to the island with travellers coming around the world to wander its rocky peaks and seek out its fascinating wildlife. In fact, Isla Isabela is home to the region's largest tortoise population so spend as much time as you can outside in order to catch a good look at these guys in their natural habitat.
Other popular activities include snorkeling, diving, trekking, and visiting convict-built remains, as well as hanging out on its pristine beaches.
Isla Santa Cruz
Exploring the spectacular Isla Santa Cruz has to be at the top of your Galapagos Islands bucket list if not for its connection to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution then definitely for its population of giant tortoises. See these gentle giants in action as they slowly wander the grassy plains in search of food to eat, treating your camera to pictures you'll look back on for years to come. But the wildlife on this island doesn't stop there.
Get the chance to spot marine iguanas as they bask in the sun's rays, scout the island's shallow lagoons for tiptoeing flamingos, watch as brightly coloured hermit crabs scuttle across rocks, look out for diving blue herons as they bomb the water's surface, swim with harmless sharks among crystal clear water, and spy turtle tracks leading from the ocean to their sandy nests.
Isla San Cristobal
It makes sense to visit the Galapagos Islands if you're an animal lover and it makes even more sense to stop at Isla San Cristobal on your cruise around the archipelago. The perfect mix of bustling and relaxing, this island is home to a large population of sea lions - we're not exaggerating when we say they're literally everywhere - and is a prime spot to watch blue-footed boobies dance the two-step as part of a bigger mating ritual.
If you feel like participating in an activity or two, try your hand at snorkelling around Charles Darwin Cove, take a hike to Cerro Tijeretas lookout, spotting breeding sea birds as you go, and stop in at the interpretation centre to learn about how humans have impacted the islands and the environmental issues they now face. To top off an incredible day, head to Playa Mann to catch the sun as it sets, throwing a collection of oranges, reds, and pinks out over the harbour.