Everything You Need to Know About Galapagos Kayaking

galapagos kayaking blog post

Chances are, anyone who has braved a high school biology course has heard of the Galapagos Islands.

Perched along the equator in the Pacific Ocean, these archipelago islands belonging to Ecuador boast a lush, tropical ecosystem teeming with life that lured Charles Darwin and his evolutionary research in 1835. Two hundred years later, the same white sandy coast welcomes thousands of tourists seeking the island adventure of a lifetime.

Hiking, snorkeling, and observing wildlife activity are all essential itinerary items for a Galapagos trip. But there’s no better way to explore the land than Galapagos kayaking, which allows you to take in the beauty of water, shoreline, and wildlife all at once.

Can You Kayak in the Galapagos Islands?

Woman kayaking in the ocean during a Galapagos Islands tour


Kayaking excursions are one of the most common activities in the Galapagos Islands. Because of the clear, calm, turquoise waters, kayaking in the Galapagos Islands is a lot like riding a bike with training wheels. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, the only thing that you need for kayaking here is a love for adventure and a determination to not fall out of the boat (unless that’s your goal).

What to Expect from a Galapagos Kayaking Tour

galapagos kayaking tour

Between witnessing marine life that will release your inner Attenborough to gritting your teeth over kayaking aches, kayaking in the Galapagos in a completely unique experience. By the end of the day, expect to be thoroughly exhausted (in a good way) and in awe of the life that exists on Earth.


wildlife turtle galapagos

In terms of seeing wildlife, expect the unexpected.  The clean, transparent waters of the Galapagos Islands offer crystal-clear glimpses of the vibrant marine life below. Tropical fish that come in colors you’ve never seen, marine iguanas searching the waves for algae, and sea turtles are just a few of the creatures you’ll see under your boat.

Did you think you had to go to Antarctica to see penguins? Think again! The Galapagos penguins are the only penguins naturally found in the northern hemisphere. If you explore the coastline of the islands on your kayak, you may encounter these feathery friends.

Along the shore, a curious bird with what appears to be neon blue rain boots might catch your attention. These are the blue footed boobies, found on almost every island in the Galapagos.

If you happen to float past Isabela Island, you may see the signature Galapagos giant tortoises basking in the sun. The Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island and the Tortoise Breeding Center, which is a short walk away from the town of Puerto Villamil, helps to combat the population decline of the gentle giants of the Galapagos.

Difficulty Level

A seal on a beach seen during a Galapagos Islands tour

Try not to skip arm day at the gym in preparation for your trip. Just kidding (sort of).

Paddling the kayaks will take a considerable amount of energy. But luckily, unlike kayaking over rapids or the open ocean, sea kayaking in the Galapagos is a relatively gentle experience thanks to the calm waters of the Pacific. Slow-moving waves paired with high visibility make kayaking excursions perfect for beginners who want to experience both the land and sea of the Galapagos.


remote islands

The best part about remote islands is the unobstructed 360-degree view visible at all times while kayaking.

When you’re out paddling in the sea, you can see everything all at once. Above you, you’ll see the brilliant crimson chest of the frigate bird streak through the sky. Below you, you’ll see massive whale sharks, eels, and manta rays. Towards land, you’ll see playful sea lions lounging on the rocks. 

The horizon stretches endlessly until the sea blends into the sky, making you and your kayak feel like small specks in a big blue world.

Safety for Sea Kayaking in the Galapagos Islands

kayaking in galapagos island

For kayaking, pack like you’re going to the beach (minus the cheap paperback romance novel). Sunscreen is essential, especially since ultraviolet rays are strongest at the equator where the Galapagos lies. Grab a hat and a pair of sunglasses for extra protection.

Though having a basic idea of how to swim will always come in handy on an island, don’t count yourself out of kayaking tours if you’re a bit out of practice! Your tour should provide equipment like kayaks and life jackets. We highly recommend everyone wear their life jackets at all times while using the kayaks. You never know when a humpback whale might suddenly splash out of the water and capsize your kayak!

Join Explorer Chicks on a Galapagos Kayaking Adventure!

galapagos girls trip

Ready to try your hand at sea kayaking in the Galapagos?

Explorer Chick offers a 9-day trip to the Galapagos Islands where you get to kayak, hike, snorkel, and bike across three different islands. Plus, you’ll do it all with fourteen bold, like-minded female travelers. Hang out with tortoises, hike the Sierra Negra volcano, and stay in a 4-star hotel while getting to know the coolest people you’ve ever met.

Meet the Writer

sarah john writer bio

Sarah John

Sarah John is a freelance writer and world traveler passionate about preserving historical and natural landmarks. She has a knack for eccentric travel itineraries and uncovering stories wherever she goes. When she’s not documenting her adventures online or painting landscapes in her travel journal, you can find her cozied up with a strong cup of coffee, an archaeology book, and her two cats, Fifi and Juniper.

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