A Leading Green Destination in South America

By: Caridad Vela

Have you thought about visiting a paradise where all your senses are activated as if by magic? If you are willing to go to a place where sensory stimulation will cause unexpected emotions, then Finch Bay Hotel on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos is the perfect spot.

The first pleasant surprise is that the rooms are only one step away from the beach, something uncommon among most lodgings in the Galapagos. A tiny bay is enclosed by a small private beach graced with calm waters. It´s an ideal place to enjoy the seaside lifestyle, where coming face to face with multicolored fish and marine turtles is an incredible way to get to know the Galapagos´ marine fauna.

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Finch Bay hotel has 27 double occupancy rooms plus 5 more that are opened only when the hotel is completely full. Some rooms have an ocean view and others a garden view. Not surprisingly, the ocean view rooms are the first to be booked. The rates range between US$450 and $600 per night.

This hotel is perfect for people who seek a more exclusive and intimate experience as compared to a cruise ship. It´s ideal for those who want to create their own agenda of activities, for families with small children who appreciate the hotel´s comforts, as well as for groups whose members have different preferences. Here, some people can go diving or kayaking or hiking while others relax on the beach or by the pool.

A luxury yacht that accommodates up to twenty passengers is at the guests´ disposal to take them daily to unexpected destinations. It´s ambience is intimate and comfortable, with plenty of sunny and shady spaces, all the while catered with a well-stocked bar and spectacular food prepared on board.

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Qualified guides are keen to surprise guests with whatever special show Mother Nature offers each day. For example, one unique experience is to dive near manta rays, marine turtles or whale sharks. Another is to observe whales, from a short distance, cavorting during their mating season. A truly unforgettable spectacle is to watch some two to three hundred blue footed boobies diving into the ocean to catch sardines passing by in huge schools.

Guests take home anecdotes to last a lifetime, such as frolicking in shallow water among gentle sea lions. Or watching a penguin swimming at great speed hunting for its prey. Most divers eventually encounter one of the various types of sharks of the Galapagos, harmless as all other species in this magical archipelago. For less adventuresome travelers, snorkeling showcases a wonderful variety of corals and fish.

Tourists who prefer to stay on land can choose among several options. One is to climb a mountain to see Galapagos´ famous land turtles and diverse types of birds. Another is to visit the town of Puerto Ayora or head to Playa Tortuga (Turtle Beach) or Playa Garrapateros (Tick Beach), both marvelous beaches within walking distance.

Lunch and dinner are among the top pleasures in Finch Bay. The menu leads with fresh seafood every day, directly from the sea to the skilled hands of expert chefs and then to your table.

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The Galapagos are in season all year round. Between December and May, the temperature is warmer, both on land and in the water, thanks to the El Niño ocean current. Consequently, beaches and water sports are much more enjoyable. The June through November period is cooler, due to the Humboldt ocean current, and attracts more abundant marine life, so it´s the season of choice for divers and snorkelers.

Finch Bay hotel won this year´s World Travel Award as the Leading Green Destination in South America, an appropriate recognition for the great effort involved in building a green hotel in the islands and maintaining an ethos of sustainable tourism. Nature is always respected. The hotel´s interior design was recently renovated with a distinctive Galapagos personality. Plans are being completed to undertake a major restoration with the intent to highlight nature´s delights and to incorporate as much as possible the surrounding landscape.

“The employees of Finch Bay are responsible for earning this Leading Green Destination in South America award”, says Roque Sevilla, the hotel´s owner. “The tourists´ votes are partly due to the magical feeling in this place, but mostly thanks to the friendly and efficient service given by our employees. They are our best asset.”

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