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Five things to do in the gorgeous Galapagos Islands

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1. Stay

The islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela have laidback seaside towns with small hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants.

Part of Ecuador, the islands are 1200km from the mainland so you can expect to pay much more for everything.

While you can take a cruise, being up close to the abundant and often fearless wildlife while taking day trips to uninhabited islands and snorkelling spots is also popular.

travel galapagos islands

2. Snorkel

The sheer Leon Dormido, commonly known as Kicker Rock, teems with sea life that includes surgeonfish, sea lions, rays and sharks.

Snorkelling from the Wreck Bay Dive boat from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal costs $205.

3. Hike

Go with a guide ($77) to the massive Sierra Negra volcano with a 10-kilometre wide caldera and nearby Chico sub-crater for spectacular views of Isabela's five volcanoes on a clear day.

You can also snorkel the lava arches of Los Tuneles ($198) to see white-tipped sharks, turtles, sea lions, penguins, manta and eagle rays, even seahorses.

4. Visit

On a day trip to Bartolome Island ($345) you can climb the stairs built for the film Master and Commander to enjoy the dramatic view of Pinnacle Rock, watch the blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and hawks, then cool down with a snorkel to see the underwater lava flows with turtles, sea lions and the world's only equatorial penguins at nearby Sullivan Bay.

5. Watch

Wild giant land tortoises forage or laze in the muddy ponds at Rancho Primicias or Manzanillo on Santa Cruz.

You can also see captive tortoises at the fascinating Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora or at the impressive tortoise-breeding centre on Isabela, where the five sub-species from each of Isabela's volcanoes are thriving.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.
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