One of the best ways to experience the Galapagos Islands away from the controlled hiking trails and tour itineraries is to hop on two wheels and explore by bicycle.
We include biking on our core Galapagos tours, because it provides you with a perspective of the islands that is different than what most visitors see when they stay in hotels in town or on cruise boats.
Farms, highland dirt roads, isolated beaches and great scenic lookouts are among the highlights to enjoy on bike rides around the Galapagos. Here are some of our top places to go cycling around the Galapagos Islands!
5 – Explore the ‘big city’ of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island
Puerto Ayora is not like the rest of the towns in the Galapagos. This big town is bustling and busy compared to other islands that are inhabited. This means a lot of people and a lot of shops. Since most people only have one or two days in Puerto Ayora they miss out on a lot of things this town has to offer.
There are dedicated bike lanes on the major road too, making it very easy to get around. places worth stopping include the fish market, biking out to the Charles Darwin Research Station, cycling along the malecon, or exploring some of the back streets. If you’re up for a bit of a challenge, head inland to the quiet suburbs like Bellavista!
4 – Coffee Farm in the Highlands, San Cristobal Island
Lush highlands, a stark difference from what you experience on shore excursions or walking around town!
Depending on the season you visit, coffee farms in the Galapagos may be in full swing, offering tours and happy to showcase their beans and operations to curious visitors. Coffee is the major export from the Galapagos Islands, so why not buy it straight from the source? A perfect souvenir! Most Galapagos visitors have no idea that such agriculture exists on the islands.
You’ll also come across many bird species in the highlands, which are not always spotted at lower elevations. So if you want to see as much wildlife as possible, head to the highlands! It can get humid up in the highlands, so bring plenty of water and take it easy. Consider hiring a taxi to take you up there, so that your biking will be more downhill. If it is has rained recently, expect it to be muddy as these are rough, dirt roads you’ll be on!
3 – Wall of Tears, Isabela Island
The big island with the small town, Isabela has a lot of charm, and a lot of options for travellers who have some free time. Our Galakiwi guides often like to include a trip out to the Wall of Tears near Puerto Villamil, as it also offers a unique glimpse into what life was once like on the island when it was a penal colony.
The road out to the Wall of Tears used to allow taxis and vehicles, but it is generally off limits now except for people biking or hiking on foot. This means you’ll have a (mostly) flat path all the way to the wall! Expect some sandy and rough patches as only part of the road is paved. There are lookouts and beaches to stop at along the way too. meander around some mangroves, see if you can spot some herons, sea lions, marine iguanas or even tortoises along the way!
This ride is exposed to the sun, so bring a lot of water and sunscreen. Afternoon rides can get extremely hot!
2 – Route to Asilo de la Paz, Floreana Island
Floreana was the first island to be inhabited in the Galapagos, yet there are still fewer than 200 people living here today. This is an island if mystery and intrigue and the focus of the movie Galapagos Affair: When Satan came to Eden. There is one main road that heads inland, past the cemetery and towards to pirate caves and Asylum of Peace. You can’t really get lost here if you stick to the road. One end is the waterfront in town, the other end is a tortoise corral and sign for Asilo de la Paz.
Uphill biking is doable. It is a slow and steady climb that will take some effort on the dirt road. You’ll pass by a cemetery, quarry and some farms. vegetation will change as you get higher, likely turning a bit misty. Cows may block your path. It will feel like biking out in the countryside. Downhill is of course easier! One challenge with Floreana Island is that the tourism infrastructure is still being developed. Not many people visit this island on their own as there are no scheduled ferries. Services such as bike rentals aren’t as reliable as other islands. This is a trip you’d need to plan out and book ahead of time…which is why we visit Floreana on our Galapagos Biking Tour and take care of all the logistics for you!
1 – Downhill from La Soledad, San Cristobal Island
We love this Galapagos bike ride for so many reasons!
First off, La Soledad is a lookout high above Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. You can see the town, you can see Kicker Rock, and you can see the vast green carpet of vegetation that covers the island from up here. At La Soledad is a small school area and field where you may spot some horses too. It is an easy taxi ride to get up here from town, but a slight bit of amaze to find on your own.
Biking down from La Soledad towards town offers you a number of options and places to stop. The first half is done on a paved road, passing by farms where chickens, cows, avocado trees, banana trees and orange trees are plentiful. There are a number of interesting photo stops along the way. Aside from the occasional protective dog you need to bike past, it is quiet and serene up here.
El Progresso is a small residential area you’ll come across on this bike ride. There are a few small restaurants open here at peak times along with a shop or two if you need a bottle of water. There is also the La Ceiba treehouse a fun stop with ice cream, drinks and snacks. You can climb up or even inside of the huge tree that has been turned into a treehouse.
After El Progresso, there is a dedicated paved bike lane on the side of the road that can take you all the way into town. On our tours we usually continue on to a beach to go snorkelling with sea lions, the perfect way to finish off a fun bike ride.
Have you gone cycling in the Galapagos Islands? What was the highlight for you?