11 of the best books about Galapagos (and a film!)
An exciting reading list of the best 11 books (and a film) to educate and inspire you about the Galapagos Islands.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll love reading about your dream travel destinations. You might also have some books lined up before you’ve even booked your trip. Galapagos is full of incredible wildlife, breath-taking scenery and fantastic conservation projects – and the stories about it as just as remarkable. I’ve drawn up an exciting reading list of 11 Galapagos books to educate and inspire you. Whether you’ve been to Galapagos before, are planning a trip, or just dreaming of travelling to the Enchanted Isles, there will be a book you love here:
The Galapagos: A Natural History – Henry Nicholls
A fantastic, vivid book by Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) Ambassador Henry Nicholls. The story weaves together natural history, evolution and first-hand experience of the Galapagos Islands. It gives a brilliant overview of the history of the Archipelago, from its fiery volcanic origins through to the arrival and impact of humans. A must-read whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned Galapagos traveller.
My Family and the Galapagos – Monty Halls
Monty Halls is an explorer, marine biologist, ex-Royal Marine and GCT President. He first visited Galapagos over 20 years ago, and his immediate enchantment with their wild beauty would go on to shape the rest of his life. Written with warmth, humour and authority, My Family and the Galapagos follows Monty and his family as they decide to move to Santa Cruz island in 2017 and navigate life in the Galapagos Archipelago, one of the most unique and ecologically important but vulnerable areas in the world, and strive to preserve it for generations to come.
Galapagos Crusoes: A Year Alone With The Birds – Bryan Nelson and June Nelson
A new, updated edition of the celebrated 1968 title Galapagos: Islands of Birds, by the renowned late ornithologist Bryan Nelson. This version, published in 2022, includes additional unpublished stories and memories from his wife, June. This story of the extraordinary hardships of isolation is balanced with wonderful descriptions of mischievous mockingbirds and friendly sea lions that will captivate you and appeal to bird-lovers and Galapagos-lovers alike.
Galapagos: Ocean, Earth, Wind and Fire – Jonathan Green
A stunning collection of photographs from across the Galapagos Islands taken by GCT Science Partner Jonathan Green (Galapagos Whale Shark Project) during his time spent on the Islands over 14 years. It also includes introductory chapters on the Archipelago’s history, geology, climate and ocean currents, explores the process of evolution on these remote islands, and highlights the effect of introduced plants and animals. The perfect coffee table book.
Mostly Underwater: Galapagos – Josef Litt
A beautiful photography guide to the Galapagos Islands, full of captivating information and first-hand stories, taking you on a breath-taking journey through the magical Archipelago, including underwater and bird’s eye perspectives. It uncovers the fascinating behaviour of the unique Galapagos fauna, and is filled with stories of discovery and colonisation, but also of exploitation, deceit, mutiny, and murder. Perfect for inspiring any keen traveller.
Galapagos: A Guide to the Animals and Plants – Nigel Sitwell
Nigel Sitwell was a writer, editor and one of the founders of GCT. He first visited the Enchanted Isles in 1965 and returned many more times. His expertise shines through in this beautifully illustrated field guide of the most seen birds, mammals, reptiles and plants of the Galapagos Islands, presented in three languages – English, Spanish and German! If you plan to visit Galapagos, this is the book for you.
The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle – Charles Darwin
What list of Galapagos books would be complete without one of the most influential books of its time? Published in 1859, The Origin of Species explored Darwin’s concepts of evolution by natural selection; alongside The Voyage of the Beagle, where you will learn of Darwin’s travels as a young naturalist to far-off lands in vivid detail and how Galapagos, and its incredible land birds, inspired his remarkable theory.
Floreana: A Woman’s Pilgrimage to the Galapagos – Margret Wittmer
A fascinating first-hand account of Margret Wittmer, who, at five months pregnant, settled with her family on the remote island of Floreana in 1932, after leaving Germany to seek a new life in a place not yet touched by civilisation. Their first home was a cave previously abandoned by pirates. This story follows Margret as they balance the beauty of the harsh landscape of Floreana, and the difficulties of living in such a wild and lonely spot. If you’ve been to Floreana and visited the tiny (and quite eerie) cave where the Wittmers first lived, as I have, this story will appeal to you!
The Beak of the Finch – Jonathan Weiner
This compelling book documents Peter and Rosemary Grant’s 40-year study of Darwin’s finches on the island of Daphne Major, and won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1995. The Grants’ remarkable research shows that Darwin himself did not appreciate the full power of his theory, with the process of evolution playing out in real time before their eyes. Weiner’s book is accessible and completely fascinating, the perfect read for those who want to better understand the scientific significance of the Galapagos Islands and the famous Darwin’s finches.
Marti the Hammerhead Shark: A Galapagos Journey – Galapagos Conservation Trust
Marti the Hammerhead Shark is GCT’s very first educational book. It follows a young scalloped hammerhead shark on her journey from her mangrove nursery home in the Galapagos Islands to Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Through Marti and her marine friends’ magical yet perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean, children will learn about the dangers that Critically Endangered scalloped hammerheads face on their epic migrations. From industrial fishing to plastic pollution, this colourful educational book teaches children about global threats facing our oceans. Furthermore, they will discover more about the scientists who track these incredible journeys and how to protect marine species. Perfect for inspiring all ages but most suited to readers aged 7-11.
Tessa the Giant Tortoise: A Galapagos Journey – Galapagos Conservation Trust
Join our adventurer, Tessa the Galapagos giant tortoise, on her migration to and from the highlands of Santa Cruz island in Galapagos. She faces perils such as busy roads and non-native species. Throughout this beautifully illustrated book, children will also learn about other wildlife found in Galapagos, both native and introduced, as our brave tortoise makes her journey. This book is aimed at younger primary school children aged 5-8 years old and is presented both in English and Spanish. It’s also amazing for beginners learning Spanish, just like me!
And finally, a film – The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden
Often described as ‘Darwin meets Hitchcock’, The Galapagos Affair is a fascinating, if not a little long, true-crime documentary about a mysterious 1930s murder on Floreana island – they say truth is stranger than fiction, and this story will not disappoint. This is a must-watch for anyone interested in the human history of the Archipelago, or anyone planning to visit Floreana!
Get in touch!
Did we forget to mention one of your favourites? Send your Galapagos book and film recommendations to [email protected].