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Top 12 Animals to Spot in the Galapagos Islands

  • sea lions galapagos espanola
  • frigatebirds galapagos
  • land iguana galapagos
  • sally lightfoot crab
  • green turtle underwater snorkel galapagos
  • galapagos penguin
  • cactus finch galapagos
  • waved albatrosses espanola galapagos
  • flamingo galapagos
  • blue footed booby feet galapagos
  • giant tortoise santa cruz galapagos
  • marine iguana galapagos

For travelers who love wildlife, a Galapagos cruise should be at the tippy-top of your bucket list. Not only is this remote chain of Ecuadorean islands home to some of the world's rarest animals -- tropical penguins, anyone? -- but its relative isolation has also engendered a community of creatures who are strikingly unafraid of humans. Forget the telephoto lens; on these islands, you'll be up close and personal with hundreds of animals during a weeklong visit.

Round a curve, and you might come upon a waved albatross right in the hiking path, sitting serenely for several minutes while you and your fellow tourists snap photos just a few feet away. Walk along the coast, and you might spot Sally Lightfoot crabs scuttling along the rocks, a blue-footed booby preening its feathers and a pile of marine iguanas soaking up the sun.

I spotted all of these animals and many more during a week aboard International Expeditions' 32-passenger Evolution. Click through our gallery for a checklist of 12 amazing animals to keep an eye out for during a Galapagos cruise.

--written by Sarah Schlichter