Naturalist Cruises in the Galapagos Islands are “hotel ships” which cruise the Galapagos archipelago under a fixed itinerary. These boats can accommodate from 8 to 100 people on board and provide all the services within the vessel. Short day navigations to and from visit sites and overnight transits allow these autonomous cruises to access distant places of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Naturalist cruises are not allowed to any Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands without the support of a land based diving operator but can accommodate snorkeling, kayaking and swimming as alternatives.
Liveaboard cruises in the Galapagos Islands are also “hotel ships” which cruise the Galapagos under a fixed itinerary. The boats accommodate 16 divers on board and are allowed to perform live-aboard diving in the Galapagos Marine Reserve; on the other hand, liveaboard vessels are not authorized to make any land visits to the areas defined as Naturalist Cruise visitor sites by the Galapagos National Park Administration. Diving live-aboards allow access to distant places; this is a must when divers want to visit the world renowned and northern-most islands of Darwin and Wolf.
Daily tour operators are land based in the inhabited islands, mainly in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. Galapagos daily tour operators offer a wide variety of trips to areas within the Galapagos National Park. Daily tour operators in the islands are specialized by the Galapagos National Park regulation. Naturalist daily trip operators are not allowed to any Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands without the support of a third party diving operator but can accommodate snorkeling, kayaking and swimming as alternatives. On the other hand, land based diving operators in the Galapagos can take divers out to the Marine Reserve but have limited access to land visits and other activities. All daily tour guests have to sleep on a land based accommodation on an inhabited island such as a hotel, hostel, etc.
Recently developed in the Galapagos, Island hopping is a modality which combines the daily tour model with overnights at a different island every one or two days.
Due to the conditions particular to the Galapagos Islands, all of the tour modalities described above usually include transportation as one of the main parts of the service provided. On the other hand, independent travelers usually try to take advantage of the inter-island transportation
Tip Top Diving is a travel agency and can organize trips