Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sat June 13 2015

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  • Nicole Connolly | June 13, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    The Best of the Galapagos

    The Best of the Galapagos

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    Some of the most amazing wildlife and picturesque scenery to be found exist on the Galapagos Islands. A visit to this place is magical, enchanted, and will leave you wanting to return as soon as possible. There's so much to see and do, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. Here are a few of the best things to do while you are there. You have to pass the time somehow, right?

    Adventures on Land

    For starters, if you have a couple of hours to kill, why not spend it lounging with the locals? No, I'm not talking about people. This time it is the wonderful mammals of the Galapagos Islands that take center stage. The sea lions found on San Cristobal Island are playful and friendly. You will have a blast hanging out with them. A few cautions before heading over: If you are walking to the location, it will take you about 40 minutes or so. Also, make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen, because the rays can be quite unforgiving.

    Next, you have to spend some time with the giant tortoises. I mean come on, that's why the islands have their name after all. To do this, you can head over to the El Chato Tortoise Reserve. These gentle giants are massive and much older than you. Spending time with them will have you awestruck by their nature.

    The reserve is split into two areas, and is also a part of the Galapagos National Park. Be sure to wear your hiking boots — the sturdy footwear will come in quite handy while you are trekking around the varied terrain. A nature guide will add some context to the tapestry of scenery going by.

    Adventures Underwater

    Next, it's time to head underwater for a bit. After all, the Galapagos Islands are surrounded by some of the most beautiful sea life in the world. To miss it would be a shame. Suit up, and head out to enjoy a bit of snorkeling. There are many dive spots that the locals can familiarize you with. They are located around major islands like Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela.

    There are penguins to see, curious sea lions, a sea turtle or two, and of course tons of the most colorful tropical fish you could imagine. Look close, and you might see a few seahorses as well. Plan on spending half a day for snorkeling, and $70-$150 per person depending on the equipment required, training, and whether or not you want lunch.

    Adventures Up High

    Finally, now that you have gone under, let's go as high as we can on the islands. Sierra Negra stands majestic on the island of Isabela at an impressive 4,500 feet! You might be thinking that you did not know the Galapagos were home to any mountains and you would be right. Sierra Negra is not a mountain, but rather, a volcano. Though still active, there has not been any major activity recorded since 2005. Reassuringly, it is always under watch by seismologists, so visiting is safe.

    You can stand at the crater and look at the glowing fumaroles inside. You have plenty of spots to choose from too, as the crater is 6 miles wide. In fact, it is the second largest volcanic crater on earth!

    As a caution, be prepared to wear your hiking shoes, as the trek can be a bit wearisome. Yet the payoff is epic. You will stand in awe of a landscape that looks like it was crafted for a movie about the moon. It is very surreal to stand in a place like that in the middle of paradise.

    The Galapagos certainly have many things to experience. Enjoy your time there, and plan on returning each year to get a taste of an area that is rife with natural wonder. 


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Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
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