One of the net’s biggest online travel and tourist resources and magazines, the Travel and Leisure Awards are held each year and name the best destinations, hotels, and resorts around the world. People saw the 19th time the awards have been held, with Travel and Leisure asking their discerning readers to vote in a number of categories. These include the 500 best hotels in the world, America’s best cities and also the world’s best islands.
It’s a prestigious set of awards and an honor to be named amongst the winners, which is why it is very good news indeed that the Galapagos Islands placed amongst them in the World’s Best Islands category. Being recognized along with the other winners, including Santorini in Greece, Maui, and Kauai in Hawaii and Bali in Indonesia is a very big deal for the small Pacific archipelago.
With an overall score of 86.37 out of one hundred, a Galapagos Islands is now officially amongst the world’s best. However, for those ‘in the know,’ this hardly comes as a surprise. In fact, perhaps the only thing that stops a Galapagos Islands cleaning up at the awards each year is the relative difficulty of getting there. At 600 miles off the Ecuadorian coast, these small and totally unique volcanic islands are accessed by plane. But they are well worth the effort – just ask any of the 170,000 people that visit each year.
The whole archipelago is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to one of the most unique ecosystems in the world. Undiscovered by man until the 16th century, the plant and animal life here evolved in a bubble that was unlike any other place on the planet.
Today, thanks to the efforts of conservationists and the Ecuadorian government, much of the islands retain this unique charm. Only a small number are inhabited by numbers strictly controlled. Tourist numbers are similarly limited, with an usual Galapagos Islands tours or taking place aboard a Galapagos yacht.
This has a practical purpose too, as the islands are more easily accessed by boat and the night time sailing cuts down on travel times during the days. Meaning you are free to explore the incredible islands, spot endemic wildlife, and dive or snorkel in marine reserve waters. Combine this with its own unique climate controlled by the vast Pacific currents and you get an island destination unlike any other.
So, while being listed among the Travel and Leisure winners is a great privilege, we can’t help thinking a Galapagos custom vacation would be the stand out winner if more people had experienced its charms.