The Best Galápagos Books to Read Before You Go

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Man hiking on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

From epic narratives of discovery and exploration to comprehensive field guides and engaging novels, these must-read Galápagos books dive deep into the history, natural environment and wonder of the world’s most fascinating archipelago. If you’re planning a visit to the Galápagos Islands, you’ll surely want to put a few of these books on your reading list.

Essential Galápagos Books

The Best Galápagos Books to Read Before You Go

The Voyage of the Beagle | By Charles Darwin

The true tale of a wide-eyed young man on a five-year voyage that changed his life – and our way of thinking about the world. First published in 1839, Charles Darwin’s personal account from his historic journey aboard the Beagle, is still a marvelous introduction to the wildlife, nature and allure of the Galápagos and South America.

Galápagos: World’s End | By William Beebe

This wry, wonderfully evocative personal account of a 1924 scientific expedition led by William Beebe that followed in Charles Darwin’s footsteps includes incredible research, vivid illustrations by expedition members and an excellent account of the human history of the Galápagos Islands.

Evolution’s Workshop | By Edward J. Larson

Through compelling stories, Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward J. Larson shares a comprehensive history of the Galápagos from Darwin and the discovery of the islands to its establishment as a national park while also examining the archipelago’s influence on evolutionary science and thinking.

Insight Guides Ecuador & Galápagos | By Insight Guides

Presented with style and authority, this essential visitor guide includes the natural history, politics, culture, wildlife and attractions of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.

Galápagos Wildlife & Natural History

The Best Galápagos Books to Read Before You Go

The Galapagos: A Natural History | By Henry Nicholls

This guide to the natural and human history of the Galápagos—from the islands’ volcanic origins to its playful wildlife—is a lively, concise and useful book for anyone who is preparing for a Galápagos trip.

Wildlife of the Galápagos | Photography by Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter and David Hosking

The definitive and compact identification guide to the flora and fauna of the Galápagos, featuring over 650 color photographs, as well as an overview of the climate, history and geology of the islands, and helpful visitor site maps.

Birds of Ecuador and Galápagos | By Clive Byers

Get to know the spectacular birds of Ecuador and the Galápagos in this pocket-size photo guide that includes 252 of the most interesting species.

Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of the World’s Most Famous Tortoise | By Henry Nicholls

The lone tortoise from Isla Pinta, corralled at the Charles Darwin Station from 1971 until his death in 2012, stands at the center of this witty, affectionate tale of conservation, biology and hope.

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time | By Jonathan Weiner

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book uses the story of Peter and Rosemary Grant and their ground-breaking fieldwork on the finches of Daphne Major to provide an accessible look at the modern debate on the mode and rhythm of evolution.

Galápagos: The Islands That Changed the World | By Paul D. Stewart

Part natural history guide, part visitor guide, this beautifully illustrated book combines scientific and historic information with personal accounts and travel advice into a wide-ranging Galápagos resource.

Additional Recommendations

The Best Galápagos Books to Read Before You Go

The Voyage of the Beagle: Darwin’s Extraordinary Adventure Aboard FitzRoy’s Famous Survey Ship | By James Taylor

The perfect supplement to Darwin’s classic account of the Beagle expedition, this retelling weaves together official narratives, letters and diary entries from expedition members, as well as artwork and survey charts, into an engaging story of adventure.

Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist | By Adrian Desmond and James Moore

The definitive biography of Charles Darwin as a man and scientist. In this enthralling story, the authors bring Charles Darwin to life as they unwind some of the paradoxes of his world.

Galápagos: The Enchanted Islands (Through Writers’ Eyes) | Edited by John Hickman 

A colorful human history of the Galápagos told through a series of tales from whalers, gentleman pirates, fitful castaways, settlers and scientists—including Ambrose Crowley, Herman Melville, Charles Darwin and William Beebe.

Galápagos: A Novel | By Kurt Vonnegut

In this madcap classic, Vonnegut’s narrator lives in a future where the human race has been wiped out – all except for a small group who boarded the “nature cruise of the Century” only to get stranded in the Galápagos.

Galápagos: Islands Born of Fire | By Tui De Roy

A stunning celebration of the landscapes, wildlife and habitats of the Galápagos by a photographer who was raised in the archipelago.

Floreana: A Woman’s Pilgrimage to the Galápagos | By Margret Wittmer

A remarkable first-hand account of a woman who settled on the Island of Floreana in 1932.

Photos: James Kaiser, Corey Robinson, Justin Bailie

Cari Morgan heashot

Cari Morgan

Cari Morgan is the Content Marketing Manager for OARS. Since 2014, she has managed the company’s blog, The Eddy, and has been the primary “voice” behind the brand’s social media sphere.

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