June 15, 2018 8


Day 1: (-/Lunch/Dinner)

We fly from the mainland of Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. Nothing is more exciting than flying over 1,000 km (620 mi) of pure ocean and then gradually approaching the first islands of the Galapagos archipelago. Our first view will be of the attractive coast of San Cristobal Island and, just a few minutes later, we’ll be landing on Baltra Island – home to the islands’ most popular airport. After registering with the local authorities, we’ll collect our luggage and proceed to meet the staff of Scalesia Lodge for directions to board the local inter-island flight.

While other visitors await their airport shuttles and cruise transfers, we’ll get ready for a treat that very few people in Galapagos (less than 1,000 per year!) ever get to experience: a small aircraft flight from Baltra Island to the colossal Isabela Island. From the moment we take off, the volcanic beauty of Galapagos will quickly put on a show for us as, en route, our eyes get to check out the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island with its shoreline full of white-sand beaches, its arid zone with palo santo trees, and even some volcanic cones that already covered in vegetation due to just how old the island is. We then fly over the expanse of water that separates Santa Cruz Island from Isabela Island, checking out Pinzon Island and Nameless Islet along the way. The immenseness of Isabela Island will then begin to materialize slowly over the horizon, like a giant black antediluvian creature.

We then begin to fly over its dark shoreline, which is heavily dotted with mangroves, tidal pools and then an immediately lack of vegetation. The big black shadow that emerges in  front of us will then reveal itself to be the massive Sierra Negra Volcano – the second largest volcanic crater in the world. Slowly, the airport runway appears, and in minutes we have arrived to the most untamed area of the islands: the Wild West. Scalesia Lodge expedition staff meet us here and quickly take us for a short drive just to get familiar with Puerto Villamil, the main island town, before our drive up to the highlands on a very well paved road. In less than 20 minutes, we arrive at Scalesia Lodge. Check-in takes place right away, giving us time to explore our luxury tent, and lunch is then served while we enjoy the green vistas of the landscapes that surround this area.

By mid-afternoon, we are ready to explore and visit Sucre’s Cave, which is located not all that far from the lodge itself. The cave is a former lava tube which proves to be a great introduction to the geology of the islands. Here, we’ll also get to enjoy a short walk that gives us an excellent sense of what the typical island vegetation is like as well as the endemic plants it is home to. We now head for the lowlands and stop at the local rearing center for giant tortoises. The rearing center serves as an exciting place for us to see one of the most iconic reptiles of the islands as they’re taken care of in semi-captive conditions. Visitors can even spot young ones which will be repatriated soon. The giant tortoises here at endemic to the island of Isabela: it is the only tortoise in the entire archipelago that has a rather flat top carapace.


From here we’ll begin our walk to the brackish water ponds of Poza Baltazar, where we’ll have the chance to improve our understanding of this island’s desert vegetation and view some unique lagoon bird species, such as: stilts, ducks, and flamingos. As we get closer to town, we’ll gradually begin to hear the sound of ocean waves and suddenly be greeted by the stunning white beach of Puerto Villamil. It is as this wonderful beach that we’ll have a chance to kick off our shoes, and let the waters of Galapagos soothe our feet. Enjoy a drink over at one of the local beach bars and celebrate a glorious sunset before heading back to Scalesia Lodge for dinner. And this is all just the beginning! Overnight at Scalesia Lodge.

Day 2 (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Today, we’ll get an early start. The reason being? We are about to explore the Sierra Negra Volcano, the second largest caldera in the whole world and one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos (its most recent eruption took place in 2005). The crater alone is considered one of the largest of any island volcano in the world, with a whopping diameter of 10 km (6 mi)! Volcan Chico is the youngest volcano sitting on the flanks of Sierra Negra, over towards its northern rim. The walk along the crater provides spectacular views of the barren volcanic floor, where the older and more recent volcanic flows contrast in different shades of black basalt.


A  snack lunch is provided on this excursion and we will find the perfect spot (with an excellent view of the crater!) to sit down and enjoy our meals.
The hike, in total, lasts around 6-7 hours, meaning the early start guarantees that we’ll have cooler temperatures to walk around in. It also has the added benefit of opening up the entire afternoon to experience other great options and excursions on the island. Walking along the rim of the volcano involves very little uphill climbing. In fact, the entirety of the hike is rather flat, with the exception of some gradual ups and downs. Our Naturalist Guide will be sure to stop at a couple of locations for some interpretation, regrouping, and rest. Sierra Negra Volcano is the place to appreciate the splendour of the western volcanoes as well as the endemic vegetation of this area (which serves as evidence of its evolutionary isolation). Afterwards, we’ll head back to the lodge for lunch, a good rest, and then have an afternoon of open-ended activities over at Puerto Villamil.

This is the moment to hang out at the beach by yourself or replenish your energy amidst the cooler highlands at Scalesia Lodge. If you opt for the beach outing, you’ll can rest assured that you’ll catch a great sunset that will reveal the grandeur of Isabela Island. Overnight at Scalesia Lodge.

Day 3 (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

It’s hard to believe we have been here for over two days already! On our third day, it’s time to explore more of the shoreline habitat where plenty of surprises await over at Las Tintoreras – a group of islets, located a short distance away from Puerto Villamil. Reachable only by boat, the site includes a short walk alongside a maze of narrow lava crevices, broken “AA” lava flows, tiny sandy beaches and stunning coves that are framed by mangroves. Its wildlife ranges from giant marine iguanas basking under the sun, perched boobies and pelicans, stalking herons, Galapagos penguins, sea lions, turtles and whitetip reef sharks (locally known as tintoreras). It is here that we’ll get our chance to snorkel along one of the islets and rocks nearby in order to understand the beauty of the underwater realm of the islands. Note: Snorkeling gear is provided; wetsuits are available for rent. After this excursion, we’ll head back to Scalesia Lodge for lunch and a well-deserved siesta.

Watch a group of white-tip reef sharks at tintoreras as they rest and swim

Check out this Galapagos penguin calling out for its mate!

The afternoon calls for something fun, and while you are more than welcome to hang out on your own at the beach, we certainly recommend you take the outing that explores El Muro de las Lágrimas (The Wall of Tears). Our driver will take us along the beach and take a detour into the arid zone that offers an exploration of this site that’s saturated with melancholic history. It just so happens that an Ecuadorian penal colony existed on Isabela Island between 1946 and 1959, and manually building this wall out of volcanic rock was one of the punishments that prisoners received. There are a couple of viewpoints nearby that let you see the volcanic coast of Isabela Island. Once here, we’ll get on our mountain bikes and slowly make our way back a gradual downhill descent. We’ll make several stops to look at interesting hidden beaches, wetlands, coastlines, and mini lava tubes. Consider yourself lucky if a wild giant tortoise appears next to the road!

We’ll finish at the beach and celebrate our Isabela adventure with cocktails before driving back up to Scalesia Lodge for dinner and overnight.

NOTE: Bike rentals have an extra charge (helmets are included).

Day 4 (Breakfast/Lunch/-)

We are now ready to fly over beautiful Isabela Island in order to reach Baltra Island. Upon arrival, the Finch Bay’s Naturalist Guides will meet guests and accompany them directly to the Sea Lion Yacht. A basic introduction to our onboard activities is provided and we are then ready to explore! A dry landing welcomes us to North Seymour Island. This particular island was uplifted from the ocean floor by past volcanic events, and its origins as a seabed provide its characteristic low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high are what form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks.

This island is teeming with life! So much that you might have to move out of the way for a passing sea lion or marine iguana! You’ll find blue-footed booby nests sitting right beside the trail, where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven and rocky terrain. Lunch is served onboard the Sea Lion Yacht.
After the visit, the yacht sails to the Itabaca channel, allowing us to catch a faster bus that will allow us to reach the southern shore of Santa Cruz Island where the Finch Bay Eco Hotel is located. Once there, you’ll check in and we are now ready to enjoy this beachfront property (the only one on Santa Cruz Island!).
Dinner and overnight at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

Day 5 (Breakfast/Lunch/-)

After breakfast, our guests will depart from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and begin their journey up into the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there, a short drive across the farming area will lead us to El Manzanillo – an area that sits right along the natural path that tortoises take every year as they migrate up to higher, more humid regions of the island, particular during the garúa season (June-September); or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year-round, tortoises can be seen grazing throughout the surrounding vegetation or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively tinted by red-tinted, surface pondweeds).
Lunch will be served in the cooler highlands, with stunning views of Santa Cruz Island.
After lunch, we visit a small farm where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are organically and sustainably grown, harvested and prepared. While here, we’ll get the chance to taste these products and learn about the artisanal in which these island spirits are distilled and produced! We then return to the hotel to enjoy its pool or beach, or pursue other suggested activities.
Overnight at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

Day 6 (Breakfast/Lunch/-)

Santa Fe Island offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets that form an ideal place to drop anchor. A wet landing on a white-sand beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be the “Beach Master,” while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galapagos hawks are often easily approached and found perched atop saltbushes.
The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name with their tree-sized trunks! Our goal here is to spot one of the largest species of land iguana, which is native and exclusive to the island of Santa Fe. Their colors range from beige to chocolate-brown with dragon-like spines. In many ways, these iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs.
An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets here, and lucky hikers might even manage to spot harmless Galapagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, which are a great time to go snorkelling with the diverse marine life. Afterwards, lunch will be served aboard the Sea Lion Yacht. Sail back to Puerto Ayora.
Overnight at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

Day 7 (Breakfast/-/-)

Divine Bay: this is where the magic of Galapagos resides, and it’s found just a short distance away from bustling Academy Bay and the Puerto Ayora! Named after one of the archipelago’s first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and, over on the third side, by cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole place provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife. Guests can choose to explore this lovely cove by boat or, if you are feeling more adventurous, hop on top of one of our tandem kayaks and paddle there directly from the hotel’s beachfront. This morning’s visit will include snorkelling along a calm, but active, area of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km / 0.31 mi) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called Playa de los Perros (“Dog Beach”). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young whitetip reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices.
After this morning’s visit, we’ll return to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. The afternoon activity on this day includes a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant-tortoise breeding programme, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities.
Overnight at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

Day 8 (Breakfast/-/-)

After breakfast, we’ll leave the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel and, on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters that are tremendous geological depressions of volcanic material that have slowly been sinking deeper into the Earth, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen along the surroundings. After this, we’ll transfer to the airport in Baltra to catch the flight back to the continent.

Nathalie Moeller


May 24, 2018 0

The Galapagos has something for every taste, and at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel you can enjoy it all! From superb cuisine to relaxing by the pool, cocktail in hand. From wildlife observation to the exploration of the islands’ unique landscape. You don’t have to choose just one! You can do it all and get a complete Galapagos experience that encompasses all the details and activities that will make it a truly unforgettable journey.  For the most sporty and adventurous, Finch Bay also offers an array of interesting options, which are only enhanced by the mesmerizing location where they take place in, the Enchanted Isles! If this sport is something you’ve done before or you want to do for the first time, this is the place to do it. Read on to learn how to go about kayaking in the Galapagos and get ready to enjoy!

Where Does the Activity Take Place?

Once you’ve booked the activity, we make sure to go through all the safety procedures that will make it even more enjoyable. Our kayaking program takes place in Divine Bay, a beautiful location with protected waters that make for a very pleasant trip. We leave when the tide is high from Playa de los Alemanes (German Beach), located by Finch Bay – one of the advantages of staying at the only beach-front hotel in Santa Cruz! We start rowing southward for about 15 minutes until we get to the Lover’s Crevasse, as the locals call it, and surround the mangroves that grow by the bay.

More About Divine Bay

Located very close to Academy Bay and buzzy Puerto Ayora, you’ll find the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this beautiful cove is protected from the swells by natural reefs on one side, mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created by the uplift of the lava plateau. Divine Bay provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife, and kayaking is one of the best ways to discover it! Watch the herons cross the Bay and the noddy terns nesting in the cliffs alongside the blue-footed boobies. If you watch carefully, you might even spot a sea turtle grazing in the ocean floor or a curious young reef shark.

How Longs Does the Activity Last?

It can last from 1 to 2 hours. It all depends on how fast you row or how you want to go about your trip. Some want the ride to feel more like a stroll in order to observe the coastline with ease. Others like to do it for the sport and they take the opportunity to test their strength and speed. Either way, you will be able to enjoy amazing landscapes and observe the unique wildlife of Galapagos.

How Technical and Demanding is the Activity?

The Kayaking Program is a really friendly activity and can be enjoyed by young and old. On a scale from 1 to 5, our kayaking activity has a medium-level difficulty of 2. Keep in mind that it can feel a little strenuous on the arms if you haven’t been exercising much, but it’s not too hard to handle. This activity that combines sport, adventure and sightseeing is a definite must-do!

What Kind of Kayaks do you Use?

We have open, tandem, sit-on-top kayaks. This means you can do it by yourself or share the experience with a friend, partner or family member. If you do it amongst two, you will have to get in sync with your rowing. Once you find your pace, you will feel like you are flying on top of the water.

Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands
Kayaking in Divine Bay

What Does the Activity Include?

It includes paddles and life vests. You can rent a wetsuit if you are one to get cold easily, but you really won’t as you will be moving your muscles all the time. We do recommend wearing a hat, sunscreen and a long-sleeved t-shirt in order to protect your skin from the equatorial sun.

Is it a Guided Activity?

A guide will be provided if the group has 6 or more people, as per Galapagos National Park rules. However, anyone can request a guide, no matter the number of people.

What is the Minimum Age Allowed for This Activity?

For this activity, kids of all ages are allowed. All minors younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. As safe as this activity is, like any other aquatic activity organized by the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, we always like to remind the parents that the minor’s safety is their responsibility.

Nathalie Moeller


May 10, 2018 0

When you live and work in a natural paradise such as the Galapagos Islands, there are many things to consider. But when you work at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel – one of the world’s leading GREEN hotels – you know things are done differently. We strive to be a leading example of sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices not only for the people of the Galapagos, but for our guests as well. This month, we went deeper into what sustainable Galapagos food ought to be like and even welcomed the visit of a very interesting guest. Read on to learn more about what’s cooking at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel!

Finch Bay
Finch Bay’s Chef Emilio Dalmau at the “Chakrita”

Investigation & Sustainable Galapagos Food

Our team at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel dedicates itself to numerous different projects in order to protect the amazing environment of the islands. One of these is our sustainable Galapagos food project, which sees us continuously investigating the diversity of local produce and ways of encouraging farmers to grow more sustainably. At the Finch Bay, we try to buy local as much as possible in order to lower our environmental footprint. We also send our teams out to investigate the fruits and vegetables that are grown on the inhabited islands. We even talk to fishermen and learn about their fishing techniques, along with the species of fish, crustaceans and/or mollusks that they catch. Once we’ve gathered all this knowledge, we bring it back to our kitchen and put it all into our creative efforts that help develop our menu that represents the best of Galapagos food and Ecuadorian cuisine. We know that we can only grow as a restaurant and a company so long as our community grows with us.

As part of our ongoing efforts to leave less of a carbon footprint, we have even created our own organic vegetable garden. The “Chakrita,” as we call it, is home to a varied selection of flowers and herbs that we use in all our recipes, either as garnish or the main ingredients.  To have all these amazing and fresh greens at our disposal allows us to develop our creativity, which is a crucial component in allowing our “crazy” chef minds to continuously grow.

During my time here, I have seen a growing interest and curiosity from our guests, cooks and chefs, about all things organic and local, especially when they come directly from the islands. It’s something we look forward to working on constantly!

A Visit From a Gastronomic Icon 

Chef Emilio Dalmau at Finch Bay
Chef Emilio Dalmau at Finch Bay’s kitchen

Last month we were fortunate enough to receive a visit from famous chef Juan Luis Fernandez and his girlfriend Dolce Nida, owners of the restaurant “LÚ Cocina y Alma” in Jerez, Spain. They stayed at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, during which time they cooked with us, experimenting with our ingredients and updating our understanding of cooking techniques. Juan Luis, also known as JuanLu, spent several years working at the famous “Aponiente” restaurant (3 Michelin stars), where he himself learned the latest gastronomical techniques for preparing seafood in the best way possible.

After spending a day looking for the best ingredients and sharing our expertise with JuanLu and Dolce, we were delighted to share our kitchen with them. They couldn’t have been more generous! They taught us about the techniques they use at their restaurant, and we even got to learn about new cooking methods that we can apply to our own recipes and products here at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel!

We Are All Cooks

I love how the world of food and cooking has no frontiers or barriers. In life, we are all cooks! However, when you are a chef, and so long as you cook with passion, it doesn’t matter where you are – you always have to give it your best! At the Finch Bay, we give each meal and plate our best, every single day, so that our friends and guests learn and fall in love with our products, our country, our people and our cuisine.

My team and I, we never get bored: We are always improving and looking forward to coming up with new and magnificent flavors, using all the wonderful natural ingredients that the Galapagos Islands has to offer us.

Join us on our journey! We love to cook, we live to cook and we cook to live!

One of Finch Bay
One of Finch Bay’s dishes, prepared and decorated with herbs from the “Chakrita”

Nathalie Moeller


March 15, 2018 0

The Galapagos Islands have something for everyone! Explorers, adventurers, curious travellers and even those who are just looking to relax and unwind (or a combination of both!) will fall in love with this magical place. The archipelago has it all, and the way you decide to discover it is entirely up to you! Whether it be aboard a Galapagos expedition vessel or a land-based option, you can rest assured you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime! For a land-based option, head to the only beachfront hotel on Santa Cruz Island – Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel – and unravel the mysteries of the islands with your friends and family! If you are looking to explore the amazing highlands of Santa Cruz and do some sports while engaging in a fun and safe activity, then biking in the Galapagos Islands is the activity for you! Read up and ride on!

An activity for explorers and adventurers
An activity for explorers and adventurers

Biking in the Galapagos Islands: How to do it?

Biking is an activity available at the Finch Bay upon request. Depending on how much time you’ll be spending in the archipelago, you can make this activity either a full-day or a half-day activity. Biking in the Galapagos presents a unique opportunity to discover the highlands and enjoy some amazing views of Santa Cruz Island, in our case. Once you book the activity, we take care of everything else!

Bikes and helmets will be waiting for you at the dock. Our Naturalist Guide will be in charge of the activity, and a car and driver will take you all the way up to Bellavista – the highlands’ biggest town and where your adventure begins. Once there, we’ll bike down to the beautiful beach of El Garrapatero, so remember to put on your swimming suit at the hotel before leaving, as there are no changing rooms at the beach! The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel will provide you with water and a beach towel for you to take with you in your backpack!

Get ready to bike away!
Get ready to bike away!

When do we go biking in the Galapagos?

We leave in the morning at 9 a.m., giving us time to enjoy the Finch Bay’s delicious breakfast buffet. Load up on pancakes, omelettes, fresh fruit, coffee and other local delicacies and get ready to roll!

Once your car drops you off at Bellavista, you will gear up and, following your guide’s instructions and briefing, you will begin your biking journey in Galapagos! Enjoy the view, feel the refreshing wind in your face, let endorphins flow as you pedal to the beach, and anticipate an invigorating dip in the Pacific Ocean! That’s the proper way to end a biking trip in the Galapagos Islands! You will hang out at El Garrapatero for about an hour or an hour-and-a-half. Afterwards, you’ll hop in the car and head back for lunch. Whether you choose to eat in the town of Puerto Ayora or back at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is entirely up to you!

El Garrapatero beach will be waiting at the end of your bike ride
El Garrapatero beach will be waiting at the end of your bike ride

How physically demanding is biking in the Galapagos? Is it safe?

Our biking activity is designed to be enjoyed to the fullest by both young and old guests. The whole activity takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete. We drive you up to Bellavista, and from there all you do is bike down towards the coast. We pedal on a flat asphalt road that descends to El Garrapatero beach. We take safety very seriously, which is why, before beginning the activity, your Naturalist Guide will brief you on all safety measures. We will remind you to keep to your right at all times (to let eventual cars pass by), and to wear a helmet. We also have knee pads for anyone who might want a little extra protection.

Your Guide will accompany you during the entire trip. While biking, he or she will sometimes be at the front of the group and sometimes at the rear, making sure that everyone is doing OK. If, for whatever reason, you feel a little tired or unwell, our driver will pick you up as our car will be following the group all the way from a safe distance, ready to assist anyone who should require it. You will be pedalling for about an hour downhill. How fast or slow you go is totally up to you. In the Galapagos – as you will see – there is no need to hurry! You don’t have to be the fittest person in order to partake in this activity, which is why we always recommend biking in the Galapagos to families travelling with children, or couples and groups that want to discover the islands in a different way!

Our car will be following the group from a safe distance
Our car will be following the group from a safe distance

Traveler’s tip: Remember to wear sunscreen at all times, as the sun on the equator is really strong! Also: keep your eyes open while you bike, as Galapagos giant tortoises are frequently seen crossing the road or ambling alongside it!

Other Biking Options

If you are looking to find an amazing view of Santa Cruz Island, we recommend that you visit Cerro Mesa. This viewpoint that’s located atop a crater is the perfect spot for photos. On a very clear day you can see all the way to Itabaca Chanel! Just like with our Bellavista-El Garrapatero biking excursion, a driver and Naturalist Guide will pick you up in town and drive you up to the viewpoint. From there, you will bike down to El Garrapatero beach.

If you opt for a full day option on either of our Bike Tours, lunch will be included at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. On our Bellavista-El Garrapatero full-day tour, you will also visit El Manzanillo, a Galapagos giant tortoise reserve where you will be able to get close and personal with these gentle giants!

You also have the option to explore Santa Cruz Island on bike on your own. Let us know and will make all the arrangements!

Biking in the Galapagos Islands: the adventure of a life-time
Biking in the Galapagos Islands: the adventure of a life-time

Are you up for it? Let us know in the comments below!

Nathalie Moeller


February 23, 2018 0

There are different ways in which to explore the magnificent Galapagos Islands. When it comes down to planning, travellers usually base their decisions on budget, time or specific interests. Be it through a Galapagos expedition vessel or a land-based option, there’s no doubt you will be amazed with the wonderful world you will encounter in the archipelago. The unique and tame wildlife, the rare vegetation, the hospitality of its people (yes, for those of you who didn’t know, 3% of the Galapagos are inhabited), they all add up to a one-of-a-kind experience. When choosing a land-based option, make sure you go for the one that will transform a regular vacation into an unforgettable one. It’s all about the details, service, and exploration choices!

A beautiful Galapagos landscape
A beautiful Galapagos landscape

Day Tour or Bay Tour in the Galapagos?

A beach-front hotel in a secluded location, like Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island, is the perfect place from which to discover the Enchanted Islands. Once there, visitors are highly encouraged to try to visit some of the archipelago’s most beautiful beaches and its most iconic neighbouring isles in order to get a more in-depth understanding of this wholly unique place. To do so, you will find two highly popular options that are in Puerto Ayora: a Day Tour or a Bay Tour. Read on to learn the difference between the a Day tour or a Bay Tour in the Galapagos and choose the one that will make the most of your time in this unique destination!

Bay Tour

Bay Tours are usually operated by small motor boats that do not have permits for disembarking on uninhabited Galapagos islands. This means they only visit the surrounding beaches of Puerto Ayora and passengers are only allowed to snorkel around the boat in open water. Bay Tours also don’t include a Naturalist Guide as part of their trips and it’s usually the boat’s owner and “chauffeur” that are in charge of everything, from explanations to safety. Most of time, Bay Tours don’t include snorkelling equipment and they may or may not include a box lunch, depending on the package visitors decide to go for. The boats are usually small and have no indoor space or air conditioning to help cool down from the intense Galapagos sun.

Bay Tour motor boats in Puerto Ayora. Photo credit:pulsoguayaco.blogspot.com
Bay Tour motor boats in Puerto Ayora. Photo credit:pulsoguayaco.blogspot.com

A Bay Tour, as its name implies, focuses on observing Santa Cruz’s coastline and bays without disembarking at National Park Visitor Sites (remember that inhabited areas are not considered part of the Galapagos National Park). On a Bay Tour, passengers would have the chance to observe some of the Galapagos BIG15 and other wildlife from a distance, but no close-up observation and understanding of their behaviors is possible, or even explained. As mentioned before, Bay Tours in Galapagos do anchor in specific places, but only out in open water to let their guests swim and practice snorkelling directly beside the boat. As safety measures, Bay Tours are required to provide their passengers with life jackets.

Day Tour

A Day Tour is the other option that you can choose for exploring the archipelago if you decide on opting for a land-based excursion. Day tours are provided by yachts that do have permission to disembark at iconic islands – North Seymour, Bartolome, South Plaza and Santa Fe – and are done in the company of a professionally-trained Naturalist Guide. It’s an excellent way to experience to the Galapagos National Park and the uninhabited islands. If you want to have the best coverage of Galapagos BIG15 iconic species and see a plethora of wildlife in its natural habitat (without the disturbance of human civilization!) a Galapagos Day Tour is the way to go. Witness blue-footed boobies nesting or doing their silly courtship dance, walk by huge colonies of frigate birds and Galapagos sea lions, or observe marine iguanas basking under the equatorial sun. A true and fulfilling Galapagos experience comes from being able to observe these beautiful creatures up close.

Frigate bird hatchling
Frigate bird hatchling

It’s also important to note that Galapagos Day Tours on yachts, as is the case with the Finch Bay’s own Sea Lion Yacht, usually take care of everything for those onboard. Not only are all safety measures considered, but also lunch and snorkelling masks are included. On our Sea Lion Yacht, a delicious buffet-style lunch awaits guests that are coming back from swimming, hiking or snorkelling. This lunch is prepared fresh and onboard by the yacht’s own cook. If you require a special meal or have dietary restrictions, be sure to let us know at the Hotel’s reception – we’ll be more than happy to accommodate our culinary fare to your specific needs. The Sea Lion also has an indoor, air-conditioned space where guests can sit comfortably and an open, covered deck from which to observe the amazing Galapagos landscapes!

Aboard the Sea Lion Yacht, a 5-member crew is at your disposal, making sure you are safe and comfortable at all times. Our Naturalist Guide briefs the group prior to disembarking at a specific island or before partaking in any activity. That way, they talk the group through all safety procedures as well as informing them on what they are about to see: animal and plant species, geology and history. Each island has its own particularities that make it unique and special. Without a doubt, they are all worth a visit, which makes a Galapagos Day Tour a superb choice!

Finch Bay
Finch Bay’s Sea Lion Yacht

NOTE: According to the National Park’s latest count, there are only 11 yachts authorized for Day Tours on the island of Puerto Ayora, so make sure you don’t have the wool pulled over your eyes!


Nathalie Moeller


January 29, 2018 0

Stargazing in the Galapagos! Think about this for a second. Few things make us marvel at our own existence more than staring into the night sky. The vastness that surrounds us reminds us of just how small we are, helping us appreciate the planet we live in a little more. However, when we live in the city, the night sky tends to go unnoticed. More often than not, our hectic lifestyles keep us from remembering to look up. We jump from one activity to the other, from one meeting to the next, and by the time we get home, we are too tired to even consider admiring the beauty of the stars that linger overhead. Should we ever actually manage to look up and discover a few twinkling lights trying to catch our attention, we’ll soon realize that, in the city at least, they are hard to perceive. The artificial lights coming from urban areas are often too strong and too many to truly appreciate the stars.

Stargazing in the Galapagos! Observe the Stars of Two Hemispheres in One Place!

When we finally leave the city, one of the first things that catches our attention is the brightness of an unpolluted night sky! Where we choose to admire the night sky from greatly affects our experience: the clearer the starscape, the more engaged our senses are, the more relaxed we are, the less we think about time, and the better we even feel sometimes. Did you know that, when you observe the sky from the equator, you have the rare opportunity of discovering the stars that are seen in both hemispheres? You might recognize the Big Dipper, but have you ever admired the Southern Cross? Better yet: have you ever seen them both at the same exact time? It’s something that can only happen on the Ecuador! And where can we reconnect with the greatness of the universe again, one star at a time? In the Galapagos Islands, of course! Where life, time and space remain virtually untouched! Visit Santa Cruz island’s only beach-front hotel and discover it for yourself!

Fall in love with the night sky at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is located in front of Playa de los Alemanes, one of the only beaches in the town of Puerto Ayora, and is accessible via a very short panga ride and a 10-minute walk. Even though the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is located in the archipelago’s most populated town, it has the advantage of being situated in its least populated neighbourhood across the bay – Punta Estrada. Surrounded by mangroves, marshes, frankincense trees and a few houses mostly owned by European families, light pollution in this area is almost non-existent, and the night sky seen from the Finch Bay practically a stand-alone top feature of the hotel itself. If you are into stargazing, or you simply like to admire the beauty of an immaculate starry night, then the Finch Bay is the place for you.

If you want to make sure you locate the sky’s most important stars, planets and constellations, then we also recommend that you download some apps to help you with this task. We recommend Star Chart, SkyView Free or Night Sky Lite (they are all free!). At the Finch Bay, there’s all Wi-Fi so you will have absolutely no problem using them! Talk to our Expedition Leader before sundown so that he can set up Finch Bay’s telescope – it’s very easy to use and you will be able to observe some amazing things! If it’s a moonlit night and the stars are less visible, then you should definitely take a peek at the moon’s craters and soak in its beautiful light! Because you are on the equator, on certain nights when the moon is at its zenith, you will find it casts no shadow!The night sky seen from Finch Bay

The night sky seen from Finch Bay So sit back, order one of Finch’s signature cocktails and be blown away by the beauty and greatness of a starry Galapagos night!


Nathalie Moeller


May 17, 2017 0

Galapagos Coffee: A Niche That’s Waiting to Become a Part of the Galapagos Tourism Experience

Let’s put together two of our favourite words, Galapagos + Coffee. Yes, you heard that correctly. There’s a paradisiacal place on earth called the Galapagos Islands. They also happen to have a micro-climate which, along with its volcanic soils, makes for a rare coffee bean. If you are coffee curious, you will love this post.

Favourable Micro-Climate

Coffee production in the Galapagos is uncommon. This mainly because coffee beans grow only at an altitude of 1200-1400 metres above sea level. The archipelago, however, has an advantage. It is strategically located where the cold Humboldt and Cromwell currents converge with the warm equatorial currents – also known as Panama flows (felt stronger from February to April). These, combined with its rich volcanic soils, allows for coffee plants to grow at only 300-400 metres. The cold currents bring fog and drizzle to the highlands of the archipelago, allowing it to have a cloud-forest type of climate.

– Scalesia forest in the highland of Santa Cruz –

A Galapagos-style Cup of Joe

There has certainly been a rise in the popularity of Ecuadorian coffee, thanks in large part to its high quality, perfect flavours, earthy tones and the efforts being made to make it a sustainable product. Nonetheless, coffee beans from the Galapagos have not yet broken through the local barrier. This is due to the fact that it is produced in a very artisanal way, with very small yearly productions and a quality that, despite tasting good, is still working its way to becoming renown within the coffee-loving community.

Social Integration

Coffee production in the Galapagos is a niche that has all it needs to progress into an international-quality product. Additionally, it serves as a means for local coffee growers and merchants to integrate themselves into the Galapagos’ main source of income: tourism. This beautiful industry can help integrate the population at many levels, not only by providing work, but by opening spaces that complement the touristic experience – like restaurants, coffee shops, stores, local design, art, culture, sports, adventure and such. This is where Galapagos coffee could play a significant role, given that it’s a beverage that is loved all throughout the world. It might even serve as another unique thing that the islands have to offer, possibly attracting explorers that are looking to indulge their highly-refined palates. Even though coffee in the Galapagos is still being produced at an artisanal level, it is indeed integrating itself into the tourism world.

Environmentally Friendly!

Also, you will be happy to know Galapagos coffee is bird-friendly! Due to the strict regulations on the islands regarding the use of chemical fertilizers or any products that could affect the flora or fauna, these crops are not harmful to birds and other animals that might feed on its seeds. Consequently, Galapagos Coffee is 100% organic.

– Coffee is a popular drink around the world –

Where can it be found?

Galapagos coffee made by local brands is sold in both Bellavista (the highland town of Santa Cruz) and El Progreso (the highland town of San Cristobal). It is also sold at souvenir shops over in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Ayora. If you decide to stay at the only beachfront hotel in Santa Cruz, Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, you can ask at the reception about highland tours. When stopping at Bellavista, you will also find a couple of shops where you can try the freshly-squeezed sugarcane juice and buy some locally-grown Galapagos coffee.

Visits can also be arranged to the “Trapiche” farm, where you will get to see how an artisanal sugar cane mill works. You will also be able to taste the different products manufactured from sugar cane, from the very sweet but fresh sugarcane juice all the way to the panela (unrefined sugar) and sugarcane liquor. They also have their own coffee plantation and visitors are able to aid both in the mill and the in roasting of the coffee beans.

The Magic of Galapagos Coffee

After having learned about the rare Galapagos coffee, we invite you to enjoy a cup of this dark beverage, get caught in a little bit of light conversation with a galapagueño (inhabitant of the Galapagos Islands) and feel like a local yourself. Coffee does have that way of making us feel like home, wherever we go, doesn’t it?

Nathalie Moeller


April 13, 2017 5

Do not miss these three Santa Cruz must-visit beaches

Three Santa Cruz Must-Visit Beaches

Santa Cruz is home to some beautiful spots you certainly have to visit during your stay at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. Even though you will be staying at the only beach-front hotel of the island, these three other locations should be on your Santa Cruz must-visit beaches.

Garrapatero Beach

Garrapatero beach is but a 20 minute bus-ride from town. Going through the highlands of Santa Cruz, you will pass the town of Bellavista. Enjoy a different view made up of above-the-shoreline flora that will grab your attention, like the beautiful scalesia tree –a giant member of the daisy family!

Once you’re at the entrance of the beach, get prepared for a pretty easy 15 minute walk to the sandy shore. Local fauna and flora will be waiting to surprise you along the way. Finches, lava lizards, mangroves and the very common Poison Apple tree make up most of the landscape. Right before reaching the beach you will see a small pond where many species stop to find food. Almost any time of the year, you will be able to see pink flamingos, herons, oyster catchers and ducks.

– Garrapatero Beach. Photo by: Sally Taylor –

You will get a glimpse of the beach right away. So make sure to apply sunscreen, take off your shoes or sandals to feel the sand between your toes, find a nice place to place your towel, and go for a relaxing swim amidst the waves.

Las Grietas

This really is a magical location! Picture yourself swimming amongst lava crevasses – where its Spanish name comes from – in crystal clear water. Sound like an image right out of paradise? Lucky for us, this place actually exists and it is just a 20- minute walk away from Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel!

A trail that could perfectly belong on Mars leads the way to this site, but not without first going through a forest of beautiful Opuntia cacti that have grown as tall as trees. When you reach the spot you won’t immediately see the three, rectangular-shaped pools right away. You will have to go down a set of artificial stairs, from which you will get a nice view of what awaits you. Just be careful when you reach the rocky bottom of the crevasse: sandals, backpacks and sun glasses have been known to slip down into the rock’s unreachable crannies. Get ready for a refreshing plunge through emerald waters!

– Las Grietas –

Tortuga Bay

It is no surprise that Tortuga Bay came in at #10 on Trip Advisor’s Top 25 Beaches in the World. Go up the stairs to the entrance of the protected area, which is only a 5-minute taxi ride away from the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel. Make sure you register yourself before going, as this is a requirement by the Galapagos National Park whenever you visit a protected area without a naturalist guide.

A scenic path will lead you to the first beach called Playa Brava (Angry beach). It is a 30 minute walk but it is totally worth it. From this first beach, where guests and visitors are advised not to swim in due to the force of the currents and the waves – hence the name of the beach – it will take another 25 minutes to get to Tortuga Bay. This second, more secluded bay with mangrove-covered shores will welcome you. Its calm waters strongly contrasted with those of its neighbour and are perfect for a nice, long swim. Find a shadowy spot under one of the many Poison Apple trees, and get ready to have native finches steal some of your snacks. Have your snorkel equipment ready, too! You won’t want to miss what’s hidden underwater, amongst the mangrove’s roots. Did someone say white-tip reef shark?

– Marine iguana at Tortuga Bay, one of Santa Cruz must-visit beaches –

Nathalie Moeller


March 15, 2017 0

What are the best places to eat in Puerto Ayora?

A common question when on Santa Cruz Island: What are the best places to eat in Puerto Ayora? Though Ecuador is not yet widely chosen as a gastronomic destination, everyone who visits the country marvels at the immense variety of ingredients, the richness of flavours and the culinary options particular to each region. An homage to this country’s heritage and culture is reflected in every dish, be it a delicious locro de papa (a creamy potato soup with cheese and avocado) from the Andes region, to a perfectly acidic and savoury ceviche from Esmeraldas or Manabí, to a maito or river fish cooked inside a plantain leaf with herbs and spices from the Amazon region. Whatever dish you try, Ecuador’s cuisine will surprise even the most refined palates.

Galapagos, having been inhabited longer after continental Ecuador, did not develop a culinary tradition of its own. Instead, it brought the best from the continent and took advantage of what resources were already readily available – fresh fish and sea food.

While on Puerto Ayora, you have the chance to taste some of Ecuador’s most traditional flavours and get a little more entwined with the local culture. Here we present you a list of some of visitors’ favourite places that are definitely worth trying!

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel Restaurant

While on your visit to the islands, we recommend that your first culinary stop be at the best restaurant in the Galapagos – the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel Restaurant. While it might be off the main path of Puerto Ayora for some, it is only a 5 minute boat ride away from the docks of town. You will disembark on the pier that takes you to the famous “Las Grietas” and “Playa de los Alemanes”. It’s a pleasant path that traverses Galapagos flora and will lead you directly to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel – the only beachfront Hotel in all of Santa Cruz. It’s hard to miss!

Their Le Cordon Bleu certified chef will awaken your senses with his very own twist on local and international dishes. We recommend their famous fresh tuna fillet, sealed with a black sesame seed crust; and finally, for dessert – the rum-macerated fig pie! Don’t miss this luxurious experience!

– One of the best places to eat in Puerto Ayora: Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel –

Isla Grill

When walking around town, we recommend stopping at Isla Grill. This family-friendly restaurant is known by both tourists and locals as one of the best grills in town. For anyone looking to diverge from the more commonly-served seafood menus, Isla Grill is a nice change. Even so, their grilled seafood is not to be missed. Some of their most popular dishes are the grilled beef cuts and barbecued pork ribs. For seafood lovers, you will not want to miss the tsunami parrilla (grill) featuring filleted tuna steaks, octopus, shrimp and squid.

– Isla Grill –

Il Giardino

If a more international menu is what you are after, Il Giardino is a good option for you. This open-air Italian trattoria sports a rustic décor that gives it a close-to-home sort of feel. They offer everything from steaks to pastas, but are quite known around the island for their decadent desserts and delicious coffee. Find a seat on their lovely dining patio and savour a creamy Italian ice cream as you watch locals and visitors walk by.

– Il Giardino –

La Garrapata

This casual and open restaurant is one of Puerto Ayora’s oldies but goodies. Even though it is named after the bug we all know as the tick (or garrapata in Spanish) its name has nothing to do with its culinary offerings, which range from chicken curry, grilled seafood platters, fish in coconut sauce to a delicious local lobster. All of these options can be accompanied with some white wine from Puerto Ayora’s best wine list. There are options for every palate. In addition to these, you can also find very good sandwiches and pasta dishes on the Garrapata’s menu.

– La Garrapata –

Nathalie Moeller

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