Social Distance in Luxury on a Galapagos Yacht Charter
Written by Missy Johnston
Bartolome Island, Galapagos
Tired of social distancing? Plum out of ideas of fun and creative ways to escape the crowds and still have fun? How does a trip to the place where Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution sound? Enjoy a vacation that combines total isolation, natural beauty, and relaxation with a private yacht charter in the Galapagos Islands!
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands that lie approximately 600 miles off the coast of mainland Ecuador. There are six large islands, twelve smaller ones, and more than 40 small islets. Man did not inhabit any of these islands until more recent times, making this a unique private yacht charter destination. In fact, a charter yacht is the only way one can travel between many of the different islands and see the variations between the natural species from one island to the next.
Adding to the enjoyment of this trip is that the true inhabitants of the islands—wildlife, marine life, and birds—won’t bat an eyelash when man is present. They simply go about their business, providing the opportunity to watch nature unfold before your eyes.
The remoteness of the Galapagos Islands make them a top pick for a socially distanced vacation that is still full of excitement and wonder. Your group of close family and friends will see animals in their natural environment and enjoy nature in its raw form, unlike in any other location in the world. Combine this with being onboard a crewed charter yacht with your own private naturalist, and this is a trip that will leave you feeling relaxed, renewed, awed and inspired.
Galapagos Prickly Pear Plant
Getting to the Galapagos: What You Need To Know
As we are all aware, travel requires a bit more planning these days, and we will help with all of the details. A flight into Ecuador is required for a Galapagos private yacht charter escape with an onward flight to the Galapagos Islands from either Quito or Guayaquil.
On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be met by crew from your chartered yacht to start your crewed yacht charter to experience nature in a truly immersive way that is only possible in this unique location.
Private Yacht Charter: The Best Way to Enjoy the Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands are well known for the large variety of endemic species. But what is so amazing is that the species of animals can be so varied from one island to the next. Everything here was either blown by the wind or carried by the ocean currents thousands of years ago. While one species of finch was blown to one Galapagos island, the same or another species was blown to another island.
The geography and terrain on each island is unique and extremely varied for such a small geographic area. Over thousands of years, each species was forced to adapt and evolve to the conditions on their specific island in order to survive. New species evolved in response to conditions on each Galapagos island, each of which has completely different environments, yet may be only 50 miles apart. Without man, there was no communication between islands and no manner to travel between islands, so the islands remained totally isolated from one another until the 1800’s as new species developed and evolved in the environment specific to their habitat. It is truly amazing to see, and can easily be seen simply by cruising from island to island in the Galapagos.
It’s no wonder this is where Charles Darwin developed his Theory of Evolution. He studied the natural species inhabiting the islands, analyzing how they hunted and survived in the untouched landscape and observing how each species adapted to the unique conditions of each island. Specifically, Darwin studied the changes in the shapes of the finch bill between the various finch species on the different Galapagos Islands, as evolution dictated unique adaptations for food gathering in the different island habitats. These observations led Darwin towards his famous theory most of us are taught in school. Now, it is possible to see the Theory of Evolution in action rather than in a textbook by just traveling a few miles between different islands. Your onboard naturalist can point out those differences in the evolution of species, showing you the different finches (if able to be found in their natural habitat, as they are wild birds), and the differences in island terrains that formed the basis for Darwin’s Theory for you to compare and see in person.
Galapagos Sea Lion
A small silver lining from the recent reductions in travel is that the Galapagos feels even more remote and untouched than it has for the past few decades. And exploring the Galapagos on a private yacht charter provides the ability to visit the various islands and see how the different indigenous species live and how they adapted to survive in their natural habitats. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both adults and children—remote, educational, exciting, and awe-inspiring—but balanced by seeing it all aboard your private charter yacht where you bring your accommodations and private chef with you to each anchorage.
Every private yacht charter comes with a crew, but when you visit the Galapagos, a naturalist is always added to the onboard crew. He or she will accompany you on all of your shore and water expeditions as a National Park requirement to make sure the land and wildlife are treated respectfully, and that your party stays on the proper trails. However, having a naturalist in this location adds exponentially to the experience, as the naturalists are all specially trained in all of the Galapagos species, flora and fauna, and the evolution of the islands, including the difference between the “old” and the “new” islands, which is the basis for the extreme difference in natural habitats from one island to another.
The naturalist knows what seasons baby birds might be hatching, and all about the baby sea lions and where they might be hiding as they wait for their mothers to return from an ocean hunt with food. He or she can explain the sea turtle tracks on the sand, the mating rituals of the great frigate birds where the male throat blows up into a large red mating “invitation,” and the antics in the water of juvenile sea lions. And since he or she is there just for your group, ask as many questions as you like and truly immerse yourself in the wonder of nature that abounds. Learn, for example, how land iguanas evolved into marine iguanas—a species which only exists in the Galapagos on certain islands due to the lack of vegetation on those islands on which they originally settled so many millennia ago. Discover how these intrepid iguanas, in search of a food source, dive from cliffs into the surrounding salt water to eat underwater algae, the only nearby source of vegetation on the island. Another excellent example of Darwin’s concept of evolution!
Your itinerary while visiting the Galapagos will be pre-arranged by the Galapagos National Park Authorities. A major benefit of a pre-set itinerary is that the National Park spreads out all yachts and cruise ships in the area across all of the possible anchorages, so no particular location is ever crowded. This protects the natural wildlife and environment, and also affords you a truly private and socially distanced trip ashore.
Blue footed Boobies in the Galapagos
An enormous benefit of a private yacht charter is greater flexibility in planning your expeditions ashore as opposed to the pre-set, rigid schedule of a “by the cabin” vessel. Spend some time the night before with your naturalist to fine-tune your itinerary for the next day. Your group of close friends and family have final say in the focus of your expeditions and how long you spend at each activity. Think that sea lion pup is getting ready to feed from his mama? Hang around a little longer to see. Having fun swimming with the penguins? Spend more time as this is the only location for warm water swimming with these aquatic birds. Maybe you want to swim with the young sea lions that love to play—go ahead, that is the beauty of a private yacht charter.
And if you want to be up and on the go early, just let your naturalist know. There is no need to wait for a set time for your shore excursion as is the case on a “by the cabin” vessel. Customize the fine details of each day to your preferences and interests.
If there are people in your party with different agendas or interests, this is not a problem either. A challenging hike over lava fields may sound like fun to some, while others may prefer to bird watch. Or for a family charter with grandchildren, older family members might want to hike inland to see the pink flamingos,while the grandchildren may prefer to stay on the beach, splash in the water, and have the sea turtle tracks on the beach explained. This is an easy fix! A second naturalist can be hired as part of your crew, so two expeditions can run simultaneously keyed to various interests or various age groups. Everyone on board can enjoy the Galapagos in a way that fits their lifestyle and preferences.
Your smaller group on a charter yacht will also be able to get a closer look at the Galapagos wildlife. (In fact, we recommend a group of 16 or less aboard your charter yacht. Groups of this size or less are small enough to get close to the local wildlife without causing a disruption.)
Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Swim with penguins and watch them catch their next meal. Play alongside sea lion pups as they splash and frolic in the beautiful waters. Catch that touching moment as a pup nurses from his mother. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to see a blue-footed booby sitting on her nest of speckled eggs. Better yet, maybe one of her hatchlings will make their grand entrance into the world while you’re there. Even the smaller kids will be able to keep up with the giant Galapagos tortoises as they make their way across the terrain. Be sure to keep an eye out for the bright red throat of a male Frigate bird as it balloons while calling for his mate. Prepare to be amazed when marine iguanas brazenly dive off the shore cliff sides to fill their bellies with the marine alga underwater. Anything is possible in this totally freestyle wild “zoo” without cages!
After sunset, venture out in the tender and jump in the water as the phosphorescence creates a huge glowing bubble around you. This is a truly illuminating experience to be enjoyed each night (if you like) on your private yacht charter.
Sample Galapagos Private Yacht Charter Itinerary
For a closer look at what your specific Galapagos yacht charter vacation might look like, here are some highlights from a sample itinerary. But, first check out this short video of just some of the amazing wildlife to be seen on these beautiful islands.
Start your trip in Baltra, and cruise around the Daphne islets while enjoying all of the amenities on board. Watch the tropical birds as they fly above. The pink flamingos in the lagoon at Playa de Las Bachas is a picture-worthy moment. Anchor overnight, and then make your way to Genovesa and Darwin Bay. Enjoy the colonies of birds on a nature walk through Bahia Darwin. The bird watching continues after a tender ride to Barranco with your naturalist. Or stay back for a swim. After working up an appetite, enjoy dinner prepared by your private chef on board.
The next morning, your charter yacht will cruise to Santiago Island. Head ashore to Puerto Egas and watch the fur seals in the grottos. In the afternoon, cruise via your private charter yacht to Bartolome Island. Enjoy a tender ride around the Tower to see the Galapagos penguins. Jump in to swim with them!
After another overnight anchor (and a night time swim in the phosphorescence) cruise to Santa Cruz Island, featuring native forests and twin volcanic craters. Visit the National Park and the Charles Darwin Station to see the giant tortoises. A small town is available for some local shopping if desired.
Next up is Plazas Island, where your party can watch the sea lions loll about. Feel free to get up close and personal. They won’t mind. Then cruise to Santa Fe Island to see the land iguanas in the cactus forest.
As your captain makes way to Espanola Island, take a short tender ride to shore after breakfast for a walk on the beach at Gardner Bay. Later in the day, cruise to Punta Suarez and explore the lava beds and lava tunnels. Be on the lookout for jaw-dropping albatross with their giant wingspan if you’re there between May and December.
Galapagos Land Iguana
There is still more to see and do in the Galapagos! On Floreana Island, a short walk from Point Cormorant brings you to the Flamingo Lagoon. Continue along to La Picona beach to see the spawning grounds of marine turtles. Swim and snorkel at your leisure before returning back on board for yet another delicious meal. Of course, your chef can pack a picnic lunch and snacks for your enjoyment on your land excursions as well. There is never a need to worry about feeling hungry while you enjoy the wonders of the Galapagos.
Anchor overnight, and wake up to your final breakfast just offshore North Seymour Island. This is one last chance to get up close and personal to various species of birds, marine iguanas, and sea lions. Take it all in and be sure to ask your naturalist any last remaining questions you may have about all the amazing marine, bird, and wildlife seen during your expeditions.
The Galapagos is a largely untouched natural wonder that is sure to win over every one of your yacht charter guests. A private yacht charter trip here transforms social distancing into something spectacular—truly social distancing at its finest. Become one with nature and immerse yourself and your loved ones in a wild paradise. Contact us to start planning your Galapagos private yacht charter trip today!
With 35 years of experience in crewed yacht charter as both a yacht charter broker and yacht charter crew as Chef, Missy Johnston has a wealth of knowledge, most gained from personal experience on which she draws for every blog written. Missy has traveled and cruised extensively in many of the worldwide yacht charter destinations, providing excellent first-hand knowledge and the opportunity to take photos in many off the track locations to include in all her blogs and itineraries. And, of course, extensive cruising and time spent as yacht crew gives Missy terrific knowledge about what constitutes comfortable cruising and how to create the best charter experience and itinerary possible taking into consideration wind, weather, currents and tides. Having been a charter chef, Missy understands your onboard cuisine needs and can help guide you in completing your provisioning information for the best onboard charter cuisine.