Hotel OxoHotel in Biarritz
This chic, beachfront ecolodge with an organic vegetable garden is 2 km from the Charles Darwin Research Station and Puerto Ayora’s shops, and 25 km from Galápagos National Park. Featuring stylish wood furnishings, upscale rooms offer balconies with hammocks and garden or ocean views, as well as free Wi-Fi and desks. There are no TVs. A breakfast buffet is free. Other amenities include a trendy lounge and an open-air bar and restaurant serving local, healthy and vegetarian options. There’s also a garden with a pool. Activities including guided hikes, snorkeling and yacht trips are available.
Fabulous location on the water, delicious food, beautiful gardens and pool, comfortable accommodations and a quality of service dedicated to make your experience memorable……….special kudos to Manuel, Irene, Jorge and David. And if you book any tour try to get Mario as your guide……….his knowledge of the islands is unsurpassed and he is the consummate guide. We had no bad surprises. Everything they promised…..airport transfers, tours, etc, went off without a hitch. We have no reservations in referring Finch Bay Eco Hotel as the place to stay when visiting the Galapagos Islands.
After all, we each have our own idea of what makes a successful vacation. Some want to check as many Big 15 animals off their bucket list as possible. Others prefer to pursue their favourite adventure sports like kayaking, scuba diving, biking, and hiking, and Galapagos in this respect is a world-class destination. Still others want to just lie back and take it easy. Or maybe you want to do a little bit of each. And that’s why you come to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel. Explore on your own or accept our suggestions based on 50+ years of experience on the islands. We’re here to help you make the most of your Galapagos trip.
The Finch Bay recently became “South America’s Leading Green Hotel” for the third year running at the World Travel Awards
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It was through observing the unique and diverse wildlife of the Galapagos Islands that led Charles Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution. These 17 isolated, oceanic oases have been declared a national park and even today, only 5 of the islands are inhabited. The archipelago is the result of fairly recent volcanic surges from the sea floor that remain very active, particularly Isabela Island. The coastal fringe is made up of lava reefs and boulders, because the water is too cold for coral formation. Some islands don’t have that many good spots thanks to steep and broken up lava outcrops, while other islands like San Cristobal have a concentration of top quality waves in a small area. Waves jack up suddenly out of deep water and have plenty of power, drawing the odd comparison with Hawaii. Further exploration may reveal more breaks, but many islands are off limits and permits are required to leave the main tourist areas. The predominant S-SE trade winds mean that the most consistent spots are to be found on the north-facing shores during the Northern Hemisphere winter, but there are also options to ride swells that have made the long journey from the Southern Ocean throughout the year. Most of the reefs are sharp and the very clear water makes it hard to figure out exactly how deep it is. The water is actually the coldest equatorial water on earth, due to the Humboldt Current working its way up the coastline of South America and past the islands, bringing with it water from Antarctica. This water is nutrient rich explaining the attraction for the prolific marine wildlife.
When to Go
The good news about being located right on the equator is that the islands receive the cleanest swells from both N and S, but the bad news is that these swells are generated more than 5,000k’s (3,000mi) away and can suffer from heavy decay. Nevertheless, during the peak season from Dec-Mar, NW swells throw up steady waves in the 2-8ft range, with occasional forays into the 12-15ft range and winds have more E angle at much lower speeds. During April to Dec, SW swells dominate, showing super-high groundswell consistency, long periods and greater wave height. At the same time, the trade winds pick up pace (15mph/25km/h) and clock around to the SE or due S, bringing cross-onshore winds to mess up exposed spots, so the early season months (Apr-May) are the best bet for good conditions at southern spots. Deep in the Austral winter, water temps can drop as low as 18-20ºC (64-68ºF) due to upwelling, la niña and the Humboldt current. Be aware of the tides varying from 1-2.5m, which can make for a difficult time at certain spots, especially on small to medium-sized days when rocks can suddenly pop out of the water.
Despite its equatorial position, the Galapagos enjoys a relatively dry climate. The dry season, also called “Garua”, causes low clouds, fog and drizzle on the hillsides from May to Dec but virtually no substantial rain. This is supposedly the cold season with constant SE to S winds. March and April are both the hottest and wettest months of the short wet season from Jan to May, when a springsuit should suffice, while around Aug/Sept, a light steamer is needed. El Niño years are much warmer in the sea and wetter on land.
The Galapagos is a World Heritage Site due to the amazing wildlife, which shows little fear of people. From midnight to 6am all electricity is switched off – don’t expect any nightlife.
In the case of an emergency, adequate hospitals are far away. Most lava reefs are shallow and the rocks have sharp edges. A shark attacked a surfer at an Isabella break in 2007 and another hit occurred at Villamil beach on Isabela Island (both non-fatal). Male sea lions are swimming around and have been know to nip at surfers. The true local surfers are few and friendly.
Bring everything you may need with you. A couple of boards (a semi-gun may be needed), leashes, fullsuit and springsuit, booties, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent, flashlight and a conservationist attitude, because the Galapagos is a very special place. The National Park entry fee is $100, payable in cash at the airport.