Are the Galapagos Islands a gay-friendly destination in South America?

User Avatar Author: José  Ayerve
3 months ago
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The Galapagos Islands are one of the most popular destinations in Latin America. They are part of Ecuador, which recently became the fifth country in South America to legalize same-sex marriage. With this advancement in human and civil rights, this small and beautiful nation of roughly 18 million people is positioning itself as one of the more gay-friendly destinations in the world. Social attitudes are changing, equal protections are increasing and, in popular places like the Galapagos Islands, tour operators, agents, and residents alike have been welcoming and providing LGBTQ travelers from all over the world with amazing experiences for many years now.

Here are some key reasons why you should consider the Galapagos Islands for your next LGBTQ-friendly vacation.

The Galapagos and Ecuador are gay-friendly

There are two main indicators when it comes to evaluating a nation’s quality as a gay-friendly tourist destination: the Spartacus Gay Travel Index, which is an important standard in the industry and is updated annually, and Destination Pride’s online analysis tool, which scores countries based on things like legal protections for LGBTQ and social media sentiment. The following table shows how well Ecuador is doing in comparison with other popular destinations.

Country

Spartacus Gay Travel Index (Ranking: Lower = Better)

Destination Pride
(Score: Higher = Better)

United States

47

52

Greece

57

65

Costa Rica

47

48

Seychelles

47

37

Ecuador/Galapagos

41

78

 

Ecuador recently legalized same-sex marriage

Just as there is much diversity to be found throughout the incredible, natural settings of Ecuador, its people are also becoming more and more diverse with each new generation. On July 8th, 2019, the highest court in the land ruled that an existing ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, thus opening the door to marriage equality. This is a tremendous feat for activists and allies of the LGBTQ community given that homosexuality had been illegal in Ecuador as recently as 1998. The marriage equality ruling follows a set of civil union laws that were passed in 2008.

To witness this nation making such a profound course correction within a relatively short period of time is a truly historic event worth celebrating. Of course, older generations tend to be more conservative, but there is visible and growing support for the LGBTQ community, especially among younger generations. This signals the potential and promise of a more inclusive future for the country and an even more welcoming destination for LGBTQ travelers.

Galapagos expedition cruises are a fantastic way to see the Islands

Galapagos expedition cruises are a fantastic way to see the Islands

With this in mind, let’s look at how Ecuador and, in particular, a Galapagos expedition cruise, aboard Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II, or the Santa Cruz II, can be a wonderful, safe, and welcoming alternative to other vacation plans popular among the international LGBTQ community. Also, autumn is a great time of year to travel to the Galapagos and you can often find amazing deals on packages.


Seize this Galapagos Last-minute deal!
 

The Galapagos is a different kind of “party” destination

Oceanside LGBQT-friendly destinations like Sitges, Spain; Provincetown, Massachusetts (U.S.A.); and Saba, Dutch Caribbean, are known for their warmth and inclusive hospitality. Some of these locations are also known for their incredible events and parties. If you’re looking for this latter type of celebration to compliment your stay in a coastal or island location, the Galapagos is perhaps not exactly what you’re looking for. However, if you’re looking for a place to connect with yourself, a significant other, and/or a group of interesting people from all over the world, all the while surrounded by nature, amazing vistas, and weather, the Galapagos Islands may be just the place for you.

Naturalist Guides in the Galapagos Islands lead exploration "parties"

Naturalist Guides in the Galapagos Islands lead exploration “parties”

97% of the Galapagos Islands and surrounding waters comprise the Galapagos National Park (GNP), and the experience of this incredible place when traveling aboard a Galapagos expedition cruise is truly unforgettable. Since the GNP requires that all visitors be accompanied by a Park-certified Naturalist Guide when exploring the archipelago, guests are organized into parties of 8-12 people (on average) to go ashore or take part in an exciting variety of activities amid the amazing settings and wildlife of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Our gay-friendly Galapagos cruises offer the following activities: snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, panga (dinghy) rides, glass-bottom boat rides, and paddleboarding.

Exploring the clear blue waters of the Galapagos shoreline by paddleboard

Exploring the clear blue waters of the Galapagos shoreline by paddleboard

In the Galapagos, cruise-based expeditions combine adventure with nature in an inclusive setting

Sightseeing in the Galapagos aboard an expedition cruise is a wholly different experience from touring the mainland. It is important to note the huge advantage of a cruise: that while you sleep or relax aboard a comfortable, climate-controlled ship with multiple spaces (both indoor and outdoor), a full-service bar, fine dining, and plenty of amenities, the vessel gently makes its way to your next exciting destination! Plus, the excursions offered through these cruises are both fun and insightful! This is the kind of environment that so many guests often describe as exciting, relaxing, comfortable, and inclusive.

Let’s examine this last bit in a little more detail. In the Galapagos National Park, the maximum ratio of explorers per Naturalist Guide is 16. Aboard Yacht La Pinta, Yacht Isabela II, and the Santa Cruz II, the average size of excursion groups is a much more comfortable 8 guests per guide. The camaraderie that visitors experience on these adventures is part of the charm and appeal of a Galapagos cruise. Many guests enjoy making friends and getting to know their fellow travelers. And, being that many folks visit from all over the world, a diversity of perspectives and outlooks often converge in eye-opening and inspiring conversations against the backdrop of newly-shared experiences!

Exploring the incredible Galapagos coastline by panga (dinghy)

Exploring the incredible Galapagos coastline by panga (dinghy)

Privacy, comfort, and connection

With multiple spaces and just the right amount of downtime, travelers can enjoy a quiet nap in their modern and comfortable cabins, a little sunbathing on one of the upper decks, a relaxing dip in the Jacuzzi, or a delicious drink in one of the ship’s lounges or bars. Naturalist Guides gather guests in the evening to brief them on the next day’s activities and share about a number of nature and history-related topics. Evening activities also include stargazing like you wouldn’t believe!

All of these daily adventures and excursions are balanced out by relaxing moments back on board the ship. As the sun begins to set, guests are treated to a delightful happy hour during which passengers, from all over the world, get to connect and interact with one another in an incomparable setting. Following the evening’s briefing and dinner, guests have the option of relaxing or socializing in any of the elegant and comfortable spaces, indoor or out, and bar service is available until midnight. It’s a delightful experience and it can be a fascinating alternative or lovely complement to the busy and crowded excitement of other LGBTQ-friendly destinations. With a Galapagos cruise travelers really get the best of both worlds: unforgettable wildlife encounters, just the right amount of downtime, plenty of space to relax, reflect, and admire, and the chance to connect with wonderful folks from all over the world.

Blue-footed boobies give a friendly welcome to Galapagos visitors

Blue-footed boobies give a friendly welcome to Galapagos visitors

 

 

Find out more about our 2019 and 2020 Galapagos Cruise Packages

 

About the blogger...

José Ayerve and his husband currently spend a fair amount of time in Ecuador. Just over the past few years, they’ve noticed a considerable and positive change in attitudes toward the LGBT community in this lovely and diverse South American nation. This is largely due to the efforts of an inspired and inclusive generation of talented artists and activists who are proudly shaping the future of their country. Ayerve and his spouse visited the Galapagos Islands shortly after getting married. Their experience was incredible and they are anxious to return.

    

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