Family Travel, Hotels & Resorts, South America

Pikaia Lodge Review – A Luxury Land-Based Galapagos Experience

September 9, 2018

Perched on the edge of two extinct volcanic craters on Santa Cruz, one of five inhabited islands in the Galapagos Archipelago, Pikaia Lodge delivers a unique luxury land-based Galapagos experience. Instead of cruising through the Galapagos Islands on a liveaboard boat, guests at Pikaia Lodge enjoy luxury eco-resort living on Santa Cruz Island along with exclusive access to a fleet of yachts. Pikaia Lodge guests can explore other Galapagos Islands or more of Santa Cruz by day and return to the luxury resort each afternoon. Read this Pikaia Lodge review to learn more about why you should consider this luxury land-based option when you visit the Galapagos Islands.

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Pikaia Lodge Review – Yacht Fleet

M/Y Pikaia I

The 105-foot Pikaia I yacht, a former custom built steel hull liveaboard, was refitted in October 2015 for the exclusive use of Pikaia Lodge guests. As a result, the yacht is well-suited for land and snorkeling day tours. There are eight air-conditioned staterooms on the Pikaia I with two guests per cabin. Four staterooms contain two single berths that can be converted into a queen bed. After swimming with sea lions, sharks (seriously), and a kaleidoscope of fish, you can take a freshwater shower in the ensuite bathroom. Or rinse off in the outdoor shower and hop into the outdoor hot tub. Berths-Pikaia-I-yacht-Pikaia-Lodge-Review-Luxury-Land-Based-Galapagos

Breakfast is prepared and served onboard while the Pikaia I is sailing. There is a self-serve snack bar in the galley with beverages and light bites available all day. Guests typically eat lunch around noon while the Pikaia I moves between islands.

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There are numerous common areas on the Pikaia I. We often relaxed in lounge chairs on the upper deck and watched frigate birds soaring above the yacht.

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Frigate birds soaring above Pikaia I

M/B Pikaia II

For fishing, snorkeling, and exploring Santa Cruz Island’s coastline, Pikaia Lodge guests use the 35-foot Pikaia II yacht. This boat accommodates a maximum of eight guests, but without the additional amenities (e.g. cabins) afforded by the Pikaia I.

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Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island

Luxury Resort Living Pikaia Lodge

Galapagos Islands are a famous destination for observing evolution. Darwin’s Finches (also known as Galapagos Finches) are one example. At least 13 different species of finches live on various islands in the Galapagos Archipelago, and they all evolved from one species. The 31-hectares of private property surrounding Pikaia Lodge is home to one variety of Galapagos Finch and many other creatures, including the wild giant tortoise.

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Galapagos Finch Pikaia Lodge

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Tortoise Reserve Pikaia Lodge

When guests at Pikaia Lodge aren’t exploring the Galapagos islands with their personal guide, there is plenty to do at the luxury eco-lodge. The outdoor infinity pool with a 270-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding islands, Sumaq Spa, wellness facilities, and finally, the Homo Sapiens Lounge with 3D HD-TV, DVDs, and 3D glasses are a few of the amenities available at Pikaia Lodge.

Hot tub Pikaia Lodge

Pikaia Lodge Review – Dining

Pikaia Lodge EVOLUTION

EVOLUTION is the name of the on-site restaurant, and this theory is the theme at Pikaia Lodge. The Lodge’s name comes from Pikaia gracilens believed to be the first creature to evolve into a vertebrate about 500 million years ago. Evolution-inspired art including a metallic DNA structure in the centre of EVOLUTION is found throughout the property.

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At EVOLUTION choose to dine outside near the infinity pool or inside overlooking Santa Cruz and surrounding islands. Breakfast at EVOLUTION is an American-style buffet with made-to-order items. For local flavours, try the Ecuadorian tortilla with yucca, costeño cheese, and ishpingo (cinnamon-flavoured) syrup. The lunch and dinner menus at EVOLUTION include typical offerings like pasta as well as flavourful Ecuadorian cuisine.

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Pikaia Lodge Lobby Lounge and DNA Bar

Share photos and discuss the other-worldly creatures encountered in the Galapagos over drinks in the cozy lobby lounge, outside at the DNA Bar or around the firepit. It’s a fitting start to each evening at the luxurious Pikaia Lodge.

Pikaia Lodge Review – Rooms and Suites

Twelve rooms, as well as two suites, are available at Pikaia Lodge. Floor-to-ceiling windows focus attention on the surrounding landscape, while natural materials like bamboo floors, fabrics, and Peruvian travertine marble bathrooms decorate the guest rooms. We booked a Terrace Room with two queen beds and the Garden Suite. Read more about the accommodation options at Pikaia Lodge here.

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Pikaia Lodge Review – Garden Suite

Is Pikaia Lodge Suitable for Families?

Absolutely! Our boys loved Pikaia Lodge and the freedom afforded by a luxury land-based Galapagos experience. The other families we met during our five-night stay at Pikaia Lodge seemed to be enjoying themselves too.

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Good to Know – Pikaia Lodge Review – Luxury Land-Based Galapagos Experience 

  • Travellers prone to seasickness should consider Pikaia Lodge as a land-based alternative to cruising the Galapagos Islands. I suffer from motion sickness so I need to be thoughtful about how I travel. There were times when the Pacific Ocean was rough, but it was intermittent. And each afternoon or evening I was back at Pikaia Lodge.
  • Guides accompany guests on each small-group excursion from Pikaia Lodge. Our guide, Lois Rodriquez was passionate, knowledgeable, and engaging – I can’t imagine a better Galapagos guide. We often toured with one other family of four, but it was rarely the same family.
  • The room rate at Pikaia lodge includes meals, guides, land and marine tours, as well as transportation to and from Baltra Airport. Find out more about the highly evolved luxury land-based Galapagos experience and plan a vacation at Pikaia Lodge here.

 How to Travel to Pikaia Lodge

  •  Pikaia Lodge guests have access to the VIP Arrival Lounge at Baltra Airport. From here a Pikaia Lodge guide escorts guests to a boat for a short but scenic crossing of Itabaca Channel that separates Baltra from Santa Cruz Island. Once on Santa Cruz, it takes approximately 50 minutes to drive to Pikaia Lodge. In reality, the trip from the harbour to Pikaia Lodge seems a lot less than 50 minutes because the guides share so much information about Galapagos along the way.
  • Most flights to Galapagos stop in either Quito, Ecuador or Guayaquil, Ecuador. LATAM and Avianca are the primary airlines serving Galapagos from the mainland. Emetebe Airlines provides inter-island flights within the Galapagos. We flew with all three carriers.
  • If you are travelling to the Galapagos with children, you appreciate these tips for flying with kids. Similarly, this post on how to navigate airport security like a pro may be helpful.

Have you traveled to the Galapagos Islands?

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13 Comments

  • Reply Janice September 9, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Absolutely fascinating. The photographer is beautiful, the starry night is my favourite.
    What a wonderful lesson learning about evolution❤️

  • Reply Dawn September 10, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Wow – what an amazing place to experience the Galapagos! I love the minimalist architecture and the freedom to explore by boat or on land. Galapagos are on our hit list, so I have pinned this:)

  • Reply Harmony, Momma To Go September 11, 2018 at 5:17 am

    I would love to make it to the galapagos someday, soon! I could use that hot tub right about now! Pinned this for when we hopefully go!

  • Reply Priya Vin September 15, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    We have been wanting to visit Galapagos and had no luck finding a good land based option. We are not fans of the big cruises. Thanks for sharing the information about Pikaia Lodge, now I can move Galapagos up on my list.

  • Reply Indrani September 16, 2018 at 1:39 am

    The wild life around is amazing, I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing them. The interiors to have been done up so well. Really a hard choice between the two. Good to know it is ideal for families too.

  • Reply Vanessa Workman September 16, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Gorgeous photos, it all looks so beautiful! I have a real kinship with turtles, in particular, so I’m quite fascinated by the idea of hanging out with those massive Galapagos turtles. Really love the idea of wildlife being protected, so kudos to Pikaia Lodge for their sustainable efforts.

  • Reply anto September 16, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    Great to see there’s a luxury option for those not wanting to be out on the sea all the time. I’d love to see the Galapagos one day, but fear that I may get sick … thanks for the suggestion!

  • Reply James McAlister September 17, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Stunning photography and what a beautiful resort. I love the floor to ceiling windows allowing you to see the incredible views at all times, great idea. My wife suffers from seasickness so this would be a perfect option for us as well. And that infinity pool!

  • Reply Mike September 17, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    I would completely agree that land-based travel is the way to go in the Galapagos. You still have plenty of time on boats and get to support the island communities in a more direct way. Plus, those lodges look gorgeous!

  • Reply Lisa September 18, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Darwin’s Finches is so fascinating – WOW! And Pikaia Lodge just looks absolutely dreamy, everything about it! Thanks for the post, would love to visit one day!

  • Reply Francesca Murray September 19, 2018 at 12:17 am

    Looks amazing! I definitely would gladly take a small group guide to explore. Pikai Lodge looks like the prefect place for a visit to the Galapagos! I’ll keep it in mind for sure

  • Reply Meenakshi September 19, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    What amazing photographs to a compliment an amazing property. Looks a perfect place for a family getaway! I loved the interiors of the lodge!

  • Reply Kate F September 20, 2018 at 1:02 am

    Absolutely awesome experience! I’ve kept it on my Pinterest cause this blog really would want me to book to Picaia now! Haven’t traveled by ship with my family yet, now I know I must give it a try! Thanks for the tips, too!

  • Leave a Reply


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