The Galapagos Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean just west of mainland Ecuador, is a nature lover's paradise. This grouping of thirteen major islands and six small isles, situated along the equator, boasts both warm and dry seasons that provide the perfect setting for some of the most spectacular flora and fauna on the planet. A truly relaxing getaway, this area of the pacific is quite different from most ocean side vacation destinations.
In the Galapagos Islands one will find serenity and breathtaking beauty rather than resort laden shore lines, heavy traffic, and overwhelming crowds that plague most of the pacific's top locations. The Galapagos Islands have something to offer any outdoor enthusiast. From snorkeling, bird watching, nature photography, hiking, kayaking, fishing, boating, scuba diving to openly mingling with majestic wildlife. In fact, the Galapagos has such an impressive naturalistic landscape that these islands are considered one of the hottest filming destinations for nature documentary makers.
The diverse ecosystems this climate supports are able to host a plethora of species, including some specifically native to the island group itself. However, this region doesn't just host a dazzling array of wildlife; it takes great effort to protect it by dedicating much of its soil to nature conservation. About 97% of the lands that make up this island cluster are property of the Galapagos National Park, making it one of the world's largest nature preservation areas. Thousands of visitors each year come to explore the landscape as they mingle with exotic creatures, such as the famous Galapagos tortoise, two species of iguanas, the lava lizard, and numerous types of land birds. This amazing marine environment is what typically draws people to the Galapagos.
Located in an area of the sea where three major oceanic currents meet, the waters surrounding these beautiful islands house an undersea world all its own. With some of the most spectacular coral reefs, the Galapagos islands is a great place to experience an aspect of natural life that many people rarely get the opportunity to learn about first hand. In fact, the marine life there is so spectacular, many consider it one of the best places in the world for sea life exploration.
Literally thousands of intermediate and expert scuba divers make the journey to swim among the dolphins, sharks, eels, sting rays, and a host of other majestic marine life. However, one doesn't have to be experienced at diving to come face-to-face with the underwater world of the Galapagos. Snorkeling is an activity that almost everyone can enjoy. Although popular cruises and tours in the area offer access to snorkeling expeditions, the shores of these islands are adorned with reefs that one can explore unguided.
One of the most impressive snorkeling spots is Devil's Crown. Just off the shores of the island of Santa Maria (or Floreana), this sizable marine haven is the perfect example of Earths evolving nature. Once an active volcano, the eroding rocks surrounding Devil's Crown have created the perfect breeding ground for a multitude of wondrous sea creatures. Whether one decides to venture out alone or obtain a ride from one of the many panga boats that assist visitors in exploring these shores, gliding along the counter-clockwise current while taking in the glorious ocean life views below, is sure to inspire awe.
Exploring this largely undisturbed island cluster is a spectacular idea for anyone interested in nature, wildlife, volcanic geology, or simply achieving true relaxation, but the greatest part is that the Galapagos climate puts no limits on exploration. Although snorkeling and scuba diving is said to be best during the hot season (December through May), the year-round pleasant climate provides an exciting escape whenever you get the opportunity to go. No matter the season, the activity, or the adventurer, a once-in-a-lifetime experience awaits you in the Galapagos!
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