Galapagos Islands - East vs West

We’ve designed our Galápagos itineraries to highlight the best islands of the archipelago, with in-depth explorations of the eastern or western islands—or combine both for the Ultimate Galápagos experience! The east and west have unique characteristics (see below), but no matter which journey you choose, you’ll enjoy fascinating excursions on land, daily swimming and snorkeling, optional sea kayaking, and awe-inspiring wildlife encounters—sea lions, iguanas, boobies, frigatebirds, flamingos, finches, penguins, sharks, rays, majestic sea turtles, and of course, giant land tortoises!

Galapagos combo map
galapagos land tortoise

Western Islands

The western islands, famed for their dramatic volcanic landscapes, giant uplifted coral beds, and spectacular beaches, are younger, larger, and completely off-limits to day-trippers. Thanks to the upwelling of cool nutrient-rich waters from the open ocean, these islands are home to a vast array of marine diversity, from iguanas, sea lions, and fur seals, to Sally Lightfoot crabs—watching for large pods of dolphins and whales is a true highlight of this trip. On land, we’ll meet giant tortoises in the wild, explore historic Post Office Bay and pirate hideaways on Floreana, and hike across Isabela’s stunning lava fields to a mangrove lagoon frequented by pink flamingos. On Fernandina, one of the most pristine places on the planet, expect sea turtles, countless marine iguanas, and a colony of endemic flightless cormorants.

galapagos green sea turtle

Eastern Islands

The eastern islands are more mature and protected from the open-ocean currents, creating a safe haven for a wide variety of birdlife as well as endemic flora. These islands tend to be smaller than their western counterparts, with lots of flora to create a lush habitat for birds, including waved albatross, great frigatebirds, and elegant swallow-tailed gulls. We visit Isla Genovesa, where one of the only colonies of red-footed boobies exist, walk on red-sand beaches on Rábida, and see the iconic Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé. The eastern islands’ warm waters attract colorful reef fish, tiny Galápagos penguins, and green sea turtles, and you’re likely to see young sea lions and fur seals sunbathing on white sandy beaches.

Contact our Galápagos Specialists

Galápagos Specialists

Our Galápagos Specialists know every detail about our itineraries, boats, and trip extensions, and will be happy to help you choose the journey that’s right for you!

View The Galapagos Islands Brochure

The Galapagos Islands 2023 Brochure

View our The Galapagos Islands 2023 Brochure to learn more about our day-to-day itineraries, prices and dates, yachts, and when to go.