From first discovery, to their visitors, to their promoters, and especially to their inhabitants - These are “Las Islas Encantadas”, “The Enchanted Islands”. But while the Islands do, indeed, have their own special allure, they were originally considered enchanted in the sense of bewitched rather than blessed. Early navigators had great difficulty finding the islands. They are extremely isolated and a mixture of rapidly changing sea conditions, often poor visibility and vague charts made them almost impossible to find. Some swore they even moved.
Galápagos is a semi-autonomous province of Ecuador, governed by special laws, most notably LOREG - Ley Organica del Regimen Especial de la Provincia de Galápagos.
The Islands are 600 miles off the west coast of Ecuador. Our clocks are one hour behind the continent (GMT - 6.0 hrs). We do not do Daylight Savings.
There are 15 main islands, 3 smaller islands and numerous rocks and islets.
Five of the islands have populated areas:
Baltra (also known as South Seymour)
The islands are further apart than many people realize. For example:
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal) to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) is 80km \ 50mi.
Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) to Puerto Villamil (Isabela) is 85km \ 53mi
Galápagos Marine Reserve
The Galápagos Marine Reserve, created in 1998, is one of the largest in the world, covering an area of 133,000 square kilometres. The boundary is defined by a 40 mile extension beyond the baseline which connects the outermost limits of the archipelago.
Fishing within the Reserve is limited to small local boats, subject to stringent regulations. Since 2016, even they are forbidden to fish north of parallel 0.7º, in the Darwin and Wolfe Marine Sanctuary.