Charter Wild Waters: A Gander to the Galapagos Islands

By Catriona Cherrie

This is not the Bahamas. This is not the Caribbean. The Galapagos Islands are not your typical island paradise in appearance nor in their inhabitants. Known to be the home of ancient tales, this isolated group of volcanic islands looks more like the moon than an idyllic scene from a postcard. But for those who are willing to seek out the wonders of the islands, they will uncover a treasure trove of experiences in this secluded wonderland.

Lying 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are a haven for some of the world’s most varied and rare wildlife known to man. It was this diversity that first led naturalist Charles Darwin to propose that species evolved in response to their environment. Darwin’s work also helped to alert the world to the need to preserve these islands from degradation by humans.

Today, tourism to the Galápagos is closely managed, protecting the wildlife while allowing you to experience the environment much as Darwin did. Because of this, it is difficult to bring your own superyacht to the Galapagos Islands, and there are a number of regulations that must be adhered to when in this area.

Because weather, water and wildlife conditions are so unique, it is a requirement of visitors to be very responsible and for the opportunity to visit to not be taken lightly. However, the islands are an incredible opportunity that should not be missed, so make sure to read up on the do's and don'ts before making plans for this adventure of a lifetime.

Home to an astonishing variety of endemic species — enough to inspire a theory of origin that would change the world — this archipelago is also one of the few places on earth where adventurers can observe unafraid wildlife up close.

Travel to Santa Cruz Island to meet the island’s most famous inhabitants; the endangered Giant Tortoises, which can live up to 200 years, at the Charles Darwin Research Station. This iconic national park hosts incredible wildlife research and conservation projects including the giant tortoise breeding program. On this island, you will also find fascinating underground lava tunnels to explore with a naturalist guide.

Kayak from here to Eden Islet, located off the coast of Santa Cruz, where you can observe blue-footed boobies diving into the water and frigates. For an even more breathtaking experience, journey to the tiny island of Sombrero Chino, which gets its name from its appearance reminiscent of a Chinese hat. The island’s cove offers excellent swimming and snorkelling opportunities amid white-tipped reef sharks, stingrays and colourful seahorses. 

Take a panga (small Asian fishing boat) ride along the dramatic cliffs of Genovesa to El Barranco. Also known as Prince Phillip’s Steps, this 90 feet steep cliff face has narrow stairs carved into rock. Choose to disembark and climb these stairs to the Palo Santo forest, which is full of birds, including Nazca boobies, Galápagos doves, mockingbirds and storm petrels. With some luck, you may even spot a short-eared lava owl.

This destination is perfect for those travelling by luxury superyacht, as accommodation is easily located wherever you decide to anchor around this maze-like archipelago. However, for those looking for a night on land where one can be immersed in the unique eco-system, Scalesia Lodge offers a luxury safari-like tented camp experience. With fabulous views over the island and a secluded location, Scalesia will allow guests to relax and enjoy these magnificent islands at their own pace.

La Loberia and Punta Carola are just two of the most ideal spots for serious surfers to catch some waves along the Galapagos shores. The crystal clear waters and balmy temperatures make for hours of uninterrupted fun on the white sand beaches that frame the islands. From here, you can make your way back to your luxurious superyacht to unwind after a day of exploration and adventure, with a cocktail in hand and the final image of a gold and rose dyed sky as the sun sets on the Equator.

By Catriona Cherrie