Charles Darwin was only 26 years old when he first stepped ashore in the Galápagos Islands in 1835, and the islands’ unique wildlife left a lasting impression. The lava-sculpted realm teeming with unusual creatures was “a little world within itself,” he later wrote in his book The Voyage of the Beagle, and it famously inspired his theory of natural selection. Today, the Galápagos still look much as they did when Darwin passed through. Sea lions loll on shore, welcoming visitors with their convivial, barking chorus. Wizened marine iguanas sunbathe on volcanic rocks after a swim, while giant tortoises roam through misty meadows. And situated at the heart of it all, Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is poised to offer guests a complete immersion in one of the most extraordinary wildlife sanctuaries on Earth.
The only beachfront hotel on Santa Cruz Island, Finch Bay both embraces and reflects its surroundings, with contemporary, clean lines and an artful design that incorporates natural elements. Here, ducks might join you in the swimming pool, herons meander through the gardens, and Darwin’s finches dart from tree to table. This island retreat offers the best of all worlds, with abundant opportunities to explore Santa Cruz’s diverse ecosystems and stunning beaches with naturalists, as well as easy access to the rich biodiversity of other islands within Galápagos National Park.
In a unique destination like the Galápagos, where human populations are small and every effort is made to protect the delicate ecosystems, Finch Bay has set the standard for environmentally responsible hotels. The lodge offers a world-class guest experience while maintaining a light environmental footprint and supporting the islands in numerous ways—sourcing local foods whenever possible, integrating endemic species into its landscaping, and employing native Galápagueños from nearby communities.
The synergy between Finch Bay and local communities extends well beyond the shores of Santa Cruz. In addition to helping to fund coastal cleanups in the islands, the lodge serves as a forum for collaboration and conservation, hosting meetings between organizations such as the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galápagos National Park Service. Finch Bay has also established several successful educational initiatives, which include taking local students to explore the islands aboard the lodge’s yacht. Through these voyages, hundreds of young Galápagueños have gained a deeper understanding of the natural wonders of their native archipelago—and have been inspired to help protect them.
When you reserve your space through National Geographic Unique Lodges, you’ll be treated to a private cooking class with Finch Bay’s executive chef or sous chef. Learn how to make authentic ceviche, one of Ecuador’s most popular dishes, incorporating fresh seafood and herbs from the lodge’s organic garden. Then enjoy your tasty creation, paired with homemade plantain chips and Ecuadorian beer, as you relax by the pool and watch Darwin’s finches and mockingbirds flit through the trees.
Finch Bay’s commitment to conservation permeates its operations, from the reusable water bottles that are provided to each guest to the onsite water treatment plant that desalinates ocean water for use throughout the property. In 1989, Finch Bay’s parent company, Metropolitan Touring, created the Fundación Galápagos-Ecuador, which established a solid-waste management recycling center on Santa Cruz. While this pioneering project was later handed over to the local municipality, Finch Bay continues to fund the initiative, which has led to the processing of thousands of tons of organic and recyclable waste on the island. Organic waste is turned into compost and sold to local farms, while recyclable materials are used in a variety of inventive ways, such as the repurposing of glass in the sidewalks of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz’s largest town.
Finch Bay’s organic garden and greenhouse supply much of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs used at the restaurant, lessening the amount of food that needs to be imported into the Galápagos. Other products are procured from organic farmers and local fishermen, and any fresh seafood served at the restaurant is sustainably harvested within the strict rules of the Galápagos Marine Preserve. The lodge’s staff members are also trained in environmental and sustainability issues—practices that they take home with them.
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