Books to Read Before You Travel to the Galápagos

Books to Read Before You Travel to the Galápagos

Apr 3, 2015|Traveler Resources| by Holbrook Travel

Here is a selection of books you may want to consider reading before (or after!) a journey to the Galápagos Islands. To order these books online, visit


Galápagos Wildlife, A Visitor’s Guide
by David Horwell and Pete Oxford
With chapters on visitor sites, history, conservation and habitats, this compact photographic guide introduces birds, reptiles, marine and other life of the archipelago.

Birds, Mammals and Reptiles of the Galápagos Islands
by Andy Swash and Robert Stills
This strikingly compact, comprehensive field guide features 500 color photographs, distribution maps and information on status, habitat and behavior.

Flowering Plants of the Galápagos
by Conley McMullen and Ghillean Prance
Indispensable for the botanically minded, this excellent guide features color photographs of 436 species, an overview of ecology and habitats, and a plant checklist for each visitor site.

Galápagos Wildlife
by Pocket Naturalist
This fold-up, laminated card guide, with
color drawings, will appeal to the whole family.

Wildlife of the Galápagos
by Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter, David Hosking
A compact identification guide to Galápagos nature and wildlife, featuring 400 color photographs, an overview of the history, climate, evolution and geology of the islands, and helpful full-color visitor site maps.

A Photographic Guide to Birds of Ecuador and Galápagos
by Clive Byers
Two hundred and fifty-two of Ecuador’s most interesting and spectacular birds are featured in this shirt pocket guide, each illustrated in full color with key information and range map.

Birds of Ecuador, A Field Guide (Vol. II)
by Paul Greenfield and Robert Ridgely
A comprehensive, gorgeous and exhaustively researched field guide to the birds of Ecuador (and adjacent countries), featuring 96 color plates. Volume II is particularly useful for identifying birds.


Galápagos Islands Explorer Map
by Ocean Explorer Maps
Not just handy for keeping track of your Galápagos cruise, this detailed map (1:400,000) of the islands includes illustrated biographies of famous visitors and a wildlife guide.

Ecuador, Galápagos Islands Map
by National Geographic Society
This double-sided, waterproof map covers Ecuador in splendid detail (1:750:00) and also includes a Galápagos map (1:1 million).


Insight Guide Ecuador and Galápagos
by Insight Guides
Presenting the natural history, politics, culture, wildlife and attractions of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands with style and authority.

Moon Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands
by Ben Westwood
A comprehensive, no-nonsense guide in the popular series, with good background information about history, culture, and popular attractions.


Galápagos, A Natural History
by Michael H. Jackson
This comprehensive guide to the natural history of the Galápagos is practically mandatory reading, the single best introduction to the geology and climate, habitats, plants, birds, animals, ecology and evolution.

Galápagos, Both Sides of the Coin
by Pete Oxford and Graham Watkins
A parade of Galápagos birds, mammals, reptiles and landscapes in full color and an illustrated, no-hold-barred human history of the islands and up-to-date survey of conservation.

Galápagos, Discovery on Darwin’s Islands by David Steadman
All the birds, mammals, reptiles and other vertebrates of the Galápagos are beautifully illustrated in this insightful overview.

Galápagos, Exploring Darwin’s Tapestry
by John Hess
A scientifically accurate illustrated coffee-table primer on Galápagos, its geology, evolution and magnificent wildlife.

Galápagos, Islands Born of Fire
by Tui De Roy
Author, naturalist and photographer, Tui de Roy’s original stunning celebration of the landscapes, wildlife and habitats of the archipelago.

Galápagos, The Islands That Changed the World
by Paul D. Stewart
Stewart and co-authors, associated with the BBC natural history unit, present the natural and human history of the islands in this wide-ranging, beautifully illustrated book, the companion to the BBC series.

The Beak of the Finch
by Jonathan Weiner
This Pulitzer Prize-winning work is an accessible look at the modern debate on the mode and rhythm of evolution, using the story of Peter and Rosemary Grant and their field work on Daphne Major as an example. This book is highly recommended for educators and others in the life sciences.

Understanding Galápagos: What You’ll See and What It Means
by Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner
This is the only book available that explains the history, stories, and research into how we’ve come to understand the geology, climate, history, and wildlife of Galápagos. Understanding Galápagos will answer the questions you’ll have about the islands, their wildlife, and their history.


Voyage of the Beagle
by Charles Darwin
The wide-eyed tale of a young man on a five-year voyage that changed his life and our way of thinking about the world.

Galápagos, World’s End
by William Beebe
This wry, wonderfully evocative account of a 1924 scientific expedition includes an excellent chapter on the human history of the Galápagos. This book inspired many people to go to the Galápagos in the 1920s and 1930s.


Evolution’s Workshop
by Edward J. Larson
A vivid history of the Galápagos and the role of the islands as a crucible of evolutionary ideas, written by a Pulitzer Prize winner. Along with Darwin, it covers the discovery of the islands, the visits of Hancock and Beebe, the influence of the United States during WWII and the establishment of the national park.

Galápagos at the Crossroads: Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin’s Cradle of Evolution
by Carol Ann Bassett
Bassett focuses on not only the threats to the Galápagos but also the dedicated and often colorful biologists, conservationists and others working to protect the archipelago in this eloquent, accessible field report.


Galápagos Affair
by John Treherne
Colorful early settlers including Dr. Ritter, Baroness Wagner von Bosquet and her three lovers and sturdy Margret Wittmer enliven John Trehorne’s riveting, real-life tale of murder in paradise. A movie based on this book is in post-production.


The Boy on the Back of the Turtle
by Paul Quarrington
Humorist, novelist and family man on a quest, Quarrington offers an entertaining account of a Galápagos voyage in the company of his seven-year-old daughter and seventy-year-old father.

The Panama Hat Trail
by Tom Miller
An entertaining and insightful social history of Ecuador – as told through its hat-making history. It’s a classic example of travel writing, and one of the best things written on Ecuador.

My Father’s Island: A Galápagos Quest
by Johanna Angermeyer
Angermeyer set off for the Galápagos Islands to attempt to solve a mystery about her father’s death. Like her father, she came to love the Galápagos and to dream of having a life there. Her experience was filled with the perils and incomparable pleasures of living on the Galápagos.


Galápagos, A Novel
by Kurt Vonnegut
In this madcap classic Vonnegut looks back from a future where the human race has been wiped out – all except for a small group stranded in the Galápagos on the Nature Cruise of the Century. This book contains adult content that may not be appropriate for high school readers.


Galápagos: The Enchanted Islands, Through Writer’s Eyes
by John Hickman
John Hickman weaves original accounts by Galápagos whalers, gentleman pirates, fitful castaways, settlers and scientists, including Ambrose Crowley Herman Melville, Charles Darwin and William Beebe, in this these tales of the colorful human history of the archipelago.

If you have suggestions for other books we should add to this list, let us know in the comments!