Pelican in flight at sunset near the fishermen's wharf in Puerto Ayora, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
First Light, Isla Floreana © Mike Richard

Visions of the Galapagos Islands: Adrift in Ecuador’s Most Famous Archipelago [Gallery]

Recently, we had the good fortune of cruising the Galapagos Islands for a week with Ecoventura luxury cruises. It was a truly unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime (maybe) experience from which we’re still reeling.

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Here, just a taste of our favorite photos that perfectly capture our time on and around the islands …

Passport + Irish Coffee at Guayaquil Airport

It all starts with a stiff Irish coffee in Guayaquil …

Passport and coffee on table at Guayaquil airport
© Mike Richard

Boarding the Ship for a Full Week at Sea

Taking a cruise is perhaps the best possible way to experience everything the Galapagos Islands have to offer.

Looking out over the cruise ships near Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A Frigatebird Hovers Effortlessly Over the Ecoventura Letty

Before almost any other animal in the Galapagos, you’ll likely be greeted first by any number of seabirds. Frigatebirds hold the record for “largest wingspan relative to their body size” of any bird in the world. It’s no wonder that they can float high above boats at sea for hours.

Frigate bird hovers over Ecoventura Letty in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Sea Lions Galore

… and sea lions rank a close second in the sheer number living on the islands. By the end of day two, we found it near impossible to take a picture of any other animal without being photobombed by one of these insanely adorable things.

Sea Lions are everywhere in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

You’ll Always Remember Your First Galapagos Sunrise

Pelican in flight at sunset near the fishermen's wharf in Puerto Ayora, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

The Brilliantly Colored Sally Lightfoot Crab

The stunning color of the Sally Lightfoot crab makes these common crustaceans quite photogenic.

Sally Lightfoot Crab (closeup) in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A Myriad of Seabirds

The swallow-tailed gull is found almost exclusively in the Galapagos Islands. As they nest on steep, rocky cliffs, they’re often found in dramatic (and quite photogenic) overlooks throughout the islands. Although, they clearly don’t always get along …

Swallow-tailed Gulls Chasing Each Other in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Nazca Boobies

The Galapagos Islands offer several varieties of booby species. Among the most common: the Nazca Booby. Perhaps the most interesting (and sad) fact about Nazcas:

Nazca Boobies are known for practicing obligate siblicide. Mothers lay two eggs, several days apart. If both eggs hatch, the elder chick pushes its sibling out of the nest area, leaving it to die of thirst or cold. The parent booby cannot intervene and the younger chick inevitably dies. Two eggs are laid so that if one gets destroyed or eaten, or the first chick dies soon after hatching, the second egg will produce an offspring.

Nazca Boobies in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A Picture Perfect Rainbow

A Picture Perfect Rainbow in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Beachcombing Isla Floreana

As one of the most protected ecological sanctuaries in the world the Galápagos Islands are extraordinarily clean. Still, the passengers from our cruise spent the early morning hours on Floreana Island combing the beach for random bits of trash to haul back to the ship. Every little bit helps …

Beachcombing Isla Floreana, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Discovering Treasure + Sea Creatures Along the Beaches

Of course, while combing the island beaches, it’s easy to uncover a wealth of rubbish, treasures and sea creatures (some living, some not) such as this tiny seahorse.

Seahorse on the Beach of Isla Floreana, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Hunting for Giant Tortoises

A great deal of time is spent in the Galapagos hoping for a rare giant tortoise sighting. Until a sign like this guarantees a glimpse!

Giant Tortoises in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Solitary, But “Affectionate” Marine Iguana

Iguanas as a species are solitary creatures and the marine iguanas of the Galapagos Islands are no different. As cold-blooded animals however, they rely on external heat sources to keep warm during the day. Large colonies can be seen haphazardly crawling all over and resting upon one another to maintain warmth especially at dawn and dusk.

Marine Iguanas of Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

… and Their Not-so-distant Cousins, the Land Iguana

Land Iguana in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Mail Call at Post Office Bay

This small barrel has served as a marine post office of sorts for hundreds of years. Cruise passengers are invited to check for mail addressed to recipients near their hometown. They’re encouraged to take the mail with them and hand deliver it upon returning home. I was surprised that a post card addressed to my mother arrived in Florida in less than a month! That’s almost more efficient than the US Postal Service!

Exploring Post Office Bay, Galapagos Islands

Flowers in Bloom Everywhere

Flowers in Bloom Everywhere, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

On Island Time: Relaxing on the Ecoventura Letty

After exploring the islands, a good deal of time is spent relaxing on the water. Every day ends with a bottle of Pilsener, good conversation with good company and the most spectacular sunset you’ve ever seen.

Relaxing on the Ecoventura Letty

A Pelican Hovers Around Fisherman’s Wharf, Waiting for Errant Scraps in Puerto Ayora

Even on land, there’s no shortage of seabird colonies. Near the fisherman’s wharf in Puero Ayora, pelicans circle endlessly, hoping for errant scraps of fish bait from the day’s catch to be tossed into the water.


A Male Frigatebird Peacocking Hard for a Mate

Frigatebirds are among the most beautiful seabirds in the Galapagos Islands. During their annual breeding season, flocks of males wait patiently on the ground for love-seeking females to glide overhead. They fill their large, red gular sacs in an effort to draw the females to the ground. After several hours of showmanship, this successful male is taking a well-deserved break. His new mate is just out of frame, relaxing by his side.

Male Frigatebird in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Elaborate Mating Ritual of the Blue Footed Boobie

Frigatebirds may be the most beautiful, but the award for most fascinating goes to the blue footed boobie. At least when it comes to their mating ritual. The dance, which can last for several hours, involves the male attempting to impress the female with an elaborate combination of whistles, coos and foot and tail maneuvers. Some females (like the one below clearly looking away) are a bit harder to impress than others …

Mating Ritual of the Blue Footed Boobie, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Another Day Ends in the Galapagos Islands

After a full week at sea, we were stunned to find every day’s sunset even more impressive than the one before it. The sky touches the water along every edge of the horizon as far as the eye can see. Day or night, it’s among the most pristine, crystal clear skies we’ve ever witnessed.

Sunset in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

All photos © Mike Richard.

Founding Editor
  1. I had the good fortune to be included on this same trip aboard an Ecoventura yacht in September 2012, and captured images similar to yours. Your photos and comments bring back many good memories of that special week I experienced, enhanced by having the brother-sister team of naturalists — Ivan and Karina Lopez — with us. It is a place I will never forget…

    1. @Debbra: That’s so great to hear! It sounds like you had an amazing time as well.

      It’s cliche to say, but it’s truly a special place + for us it was (probably) a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  2. Wow, you’ve really captured some amazing pictures! I visited Galapagos last year…and I agree with you, it was truly unforgettable. We didn’t go on a cruise but still managed to see tons of wildlife…it is for sure a place like no other!

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