In each installment of Hotel Report, I profile a hotel that I’ve personally enjoyed and think you’ll enjoy too. Here, you’ll find the need-to-know info, insider tips and photos that’ll help you have a perfect stay of your own.
REASONS TO STAY
You’re a honeymooning couple looking for something adventurous and ultra-luxurious (that’s not a African safari).
You won the lottery — or worked incredibly hard to become financially successful and now want to experience the absolute best Galapagos adventure money can buy.
Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos // Island highlands, atop an extinct volcano
Pikaia Lodge is unlike any other hotel in the Galapagos.
In terms of the level of luxury, no other hotel in the archipelago comes close (it’s the first, true 5-star hotel in the Galapagos). It’s also the only hotel in the Galapagos with its own private yacht for exclusive use by hotel guests.
Good To Know: It’s not possible to book an arbitrary number of nights at Pikaia Lodge or to stay at the hotel and plan your own excursions. Guests must choose one of three packages (3-night, 4-night and 7-night) that include room, food, daily excursions and airport transfers.
That means your nights will be spent on land eating a gourmet dinner and sleeping comfortably at Pikaia Lodge and your days will be spent exploring the Galapagos on the hotel’s private yacht with fellow guests on the same itinerary as you.
Aside from those in your group, you’ll rarely see other guests since each group is on a different schedule based on the length of their stay. You will however be able to meet other guests at the hotel’s Evolution Restaurant — where all guests dine once returned from their excursion.
The gated entrance to Pikaia Lodge. Follow the long and winding driveway up to the lodge — just watch out for giant tortoises (this is also a private giant tortoise reserve).
A sitting area off the lobby area. The architecture and decor are streamlined and minimalistic.
The infinity-edge pool is the lodge’s defining feature.
1) Make sure to spend some time at Pikaia Lodge’s Sumaq Spa (spa common area pictured below). For a uniquely Pikaia experience, I recommend the Shamanic Massage which utilizes palo santo oil and a warm rainstick to massage your body.
2) The majority of your time at Pikaia Lodge will be scheduled full of incredible activities (except for those partaking in the 7-night package which offers more free time). But if you’d like to spend a little more time relaxing and enjoying the hotel, consider skipping or cutting short the excursion to Puerto Ayora (the small port town on Sant Cruz) in exchange for more time at the pool or spa.
The Best Rooms
Pikaia Lodge has just 14 rooms — all of which are generous in size.
Of the 14 rooms, there are two suites — the Garden Suite (with its own private garden) and the Pool Suite (with its own private plunge pool). But you won’t be disappointed with the remaining 12 rooms, all of which share the same floor plan but slightly different views.
So what’s the best room? Reserve a “Private Balcony King Room” on the second floor (pictured below). Rooms on the second floor feature high, vaulted ceilings and massive windows framing jaw-dropping views (the rooms on the ground floor feature similar views, but being higher up and having bigger windows makes a world of difference).
Staying in a second floor room feels like staying in a treehouse — the views are unobstructed and go on forever.
Mornings usually begin quite early — but waking up to views like this make it worth it!
Price depends on the length of your stay (3 nights, 4 nights or 7 nights) and the room type chosen. But for example, I did the 4-night program and stayed in a Private Balcony King Room which costs $11,020 based on a double occupancy (so $5,510 per person). See full rates here.
HOW TO SPEND YOUR TIME
One of the best things about staying at Pikaia Lodge is that you’ll barely need to think about how to spend your time as your schedule will be determined based on the package you select. Most mornings you’ll wake early and be shuttled to the coast where a dingy will be waiting to ferry you to the M/Y Pikaia I, the hotel’s private yacht. From there, you’ll motor to nearby islands for land and sea excursions lead by your naturalist guide and one or two assistants.
Relax in the onboard hot tub!
Whenever you return to the boat from a land or sea excursion, an attendant will be waiting to offer you a cold drink, a platter of snacks and a cold towel to freshen up with.
A hot breakfast will be waiting for you on board, and lunch is prepared by the yacht’s chef.
The yacht’s mid-level back deck is a perfect and quiet spot to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the morning.
If you’re afraid of the ocean or jumping into deep water, this is not the trip or you. Although most snorkeling excursions take place in shallower water.
There’ll be endless opportunities to view wildlife — this is the Galapagos after all. You’re guide will be with you the whole time and able to answers all of your questions.
Make sure to carve out time to relax and enjoy Pikaia Lodge’s amazing infinity pool.
With any additional free time, consider checking out one of Pikaia Lodge’s complimentary mountain bikes and taking the 15-mile ride to pristine and usually deserted El Garrapatero beach. Don’t worry, the ride is almost entirely downhill and the hotel can arrange for a taxi to pick up you and your bike and bring you back up to the lodge.
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