south america | Galapagos Islands

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The Galapagos archipelago is an awe-inspiring, one-of-a-kind destination. No other place on Earth offers travelers the opportunity to get so close to such a wide variety of wildlife, sea life, and gorgeous landscapes. That natural beauty is independent and strong, and it’s simply our privilege as visitors to the Islands to get to enjoy them...with the correct Galapagos yacht.

But what about the parts of your trip that can be controlled? What about the yacht you take to the Galapagos?

While a trip to the Galapagos is certainly not about the boat you take, that vessel can either detract from or enhance the experience of your adventure—which is why picking the right one is so important.

So what do you look for when selecting the right yacht company? Here are some of the most important factors, as selected by our Galapagos and sailing experts and confirmed by our previous passengers.

Plenty of Outdoor Space

The climate of the Galapagos is widely considered to be ideal, with an average high air temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit. So why would travelers want to be stuck inside a highly enclosed ship?

Strangely, many Galapagos yachts are clad in smoked glass, with very little outdoor space and shade and even less visibility from inside the boat. This makes photos of the surrounding landscape difficult, and lounging out on the deck of the boat under the pleasant sun impossible.

outdoor deck of Galapagos yacht
Grace yacht deck

Look for a yacht that offers plenty of space outdoors and under shade. Remember that you are on the equator, and that shade is as important as outdoor space. The best yachts have plenty of open space to relax in comfort, because their owners recognize that comfortable, well designed and attractive outdoor spaces are critical to having the trip of lifetime.

High Mobility and Walkability

When you’re living aboard a boat for a week or longer, it can be easy to feel trapped if the yacht isn’t designed for freedom. That’s particularly true considering that more and more Galapagos luxury cruise boats are being designed with the inability to let passengers walk around the entire circumference of the deck. In fact, many constrain passengers to the aft as the only available outdoor space.

Imagine hearing your captain over the intercom, saying, “I know you can’t see them, but I thought you’d like to know that a huge school of dolphins is ahead of us and some are surfing the bow wake?”

Dolphin watching in Galapagos

You shouldn’t have to have experiences like this described to you—you want to see them for yourself. That’s why you want a yacht that allows you to walk around the entire perimeter of the vessel, allowing you to enjoy every sunset, every breaching whale, every pod of dolphins, every passing sea turtle, and every gorgeously unobstructed view of the Islands and their spectacular volcanoes.

The Advantage of Single-Hulled Yachts

Catamarans (boats with two or three separate hulls) used to be extremely popular in the Galapagos, but they come with a problem. Their raised underside results in waves that crash into the bottom surface with a great deal of pressure, resulting in a loud and shaking slam. The entire vessel becomes like a drum being played by the ocean. Typically, this happens when the yacht is sailing into an opposing sea. In the Galapagos, that happens when you from one island to another... at night when you’re trying to sleep.

But on single-hull or monohulled yachts, such as those used by Quasar, this doesn’t happen. Why? There’s no raised underside where it can occur.

And because monohulled yachts are heavier than catamarans, they cut through opposing seas more smoothly. If you’re looking for a smoother, gentler, and quieter sailing experience, opt for a single hulled yacht.

Single-Hulled Yachts, the Evolution and the Grace

Cabins vs. Common Spaces

Evolution yacht cabin
Evolution yacht hot tub

When it comes to choosing a cabin, it’s important to remember that location matters. If you’re sensitive to motion, you’ll want to be closer to the fulcrum of the Galapagos yacht. Comfort is also important—your days will be full of activities, so you’ll want to ensure that your sleep is comfortable and restful. Otherwise, your cabin is mainly a place to sleep and change clothes.

Common spaces, on the other hand, we’ll find you spending much more of your time. That’s why it’s so important to pick a yacht that offers:

  • Both indoor and outdoor or indoor-outdoor dining areas.
  • An outdoor saloon under shade with plenty of space and comfortable deck furniture.
  • An attractive bar.
  • An outside deck that stretches all the way around the yacht.
  • A comfortable main saloon where you will have your briefings. Also, a good place to relax at night.
  • A large jacuzzi or hot tub. This is for warming up after snorkeling, so look for those large enough to accommodate multiple passengers.
  • Sun deck with comfortable lounge furniture and shade.

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Galapagos Yacht Safari or Cruise Ship?

The Galapagos Islands remain a natural wonder, and today the bar has been raised when it comes to what travelers expect from a vessel. The Ecuadorian companies that grew up with the Galapagos National Park over the years took the approach that the Galapagos was all about experiencing the animals, habitat and natural history with the yachts being a complement as the means of access.

With that in mind, we recommend choosing yachts with passenger numbers smaller than 40. Otherwise, anywhere you arrive will cease to be a quiet paradise the moment you arrive with 100 or more fellow passengers.

Evolution boat in the Islands waters

The Importance of Crew

Aside from your fellow passengers and guides, you’ll spend more time with the yacht crew than anyone else on your trip. That makes the quality of your crew absolutely essential. Fortunately, this is easy to find out—look up reviews from actual guests who have used the yacht provider you’re looking to try. You’ll hear plenty of positive words about great crews, and if the crew is less than satisfactory you’ll certainly hear about that, too.

Galapagos excursions aren’t about riding in the utmost opulence and luxury on a world-class super yacht. However, you do want to be comfortable as you travel to and from landing sites, relax at the end of a long and thrilling day, and sleep comfortably in order to do it all again the next day. That’s why it’s so important to choose a company that will provide a quality Galapagos Islands cruise experience that will enhance your adventure, rather than detract from it.

Paul Schicke
Manager E-Commerce & Direct Sales at Quasar Expeditions

Hello! My name is Paul. I am a photographer, traveler, teacher and writer. I have extensive experience in travel to Galapagos, Peru, Patagonia and the western seaboard of South America specializing in ways travelers can experience these once-in-a-life destinations like locals on the road. Lover of wine, chocolate, travel, coffee, and helping others plan vacations of a lifetime!



  • Would appreciate information on the “small boat” cruises in Galapagos. Also, would love to have opportunity to see/dive with whale sharks. I am experienced diver as well, but not looking for a full diving itinerary. Possibly 1 or 2 days and could be pre- or post- cruise excursion.

    • author

      Hi Jim! Thank you for your comment. Quasar is the leader in “small boat” safari style yacht adventures in the Galapagos. We have some amazing specials right now and I will be sending you details via email. While our guests often get to go snorkeling with white tipped reef sharks and hammerheads, if you want to go diving with whale sharks and large schools of hammer heads you will need to go on a week long dive dedicated live aboard the Wolf and Darwin Islands between July and October. Keep in mind that in 2012 all vessels had to choose between offering dive dedicated trips where you spend almost the entire time diving and naturalist trips where you have shore visits, snorkeling, kayaking and dinghy rides. Companies offering naturalists trips are not permitted to offer diving. However you can arrive a day or two early and dive with a land based outfitter at places like Cousins Rock where you have a high chance of seeing sharks. Please feel free to email me [email protected] if you have any other questions.


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