The Galapagos Islands offer wonderful close encounters with marine mammals and birds. These remote islands (500 miles off the coast of Equador) are heavily visited. Most touring is done by boat with timed landings on the islands and structured walks with local guides. The Galapagos are situated over a natural geothermal hot spot in the Pacific Ocean. As a result, volcanic activity is relatively frequent and becomes an interesting aspect to consider (and if possibly to observe) as it shapes the environment.