Discover the natural wonders of three islands in the Galápagos—San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela—on this 11-day adventure around the archipelago. Highlights along the journey include snorkeling at the iconic Kicker Rock, biking to a historic landmark on Isla Isabela, and hiking at Sierra Negra volcano. Before returning to the mainland, you'll also visit a fourth uninhabited island, home to rare wildlife.


  • Snorkel at Kicker Rock, one of the Galápagos' most iconic landmarks
  • Visit one of the archipelago's many uninhabited islands
  • Interact with giant tortoises on Isla Santa Cruz
  • Hike around the lava fields and craters of Sierra Negra volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive on Isla San Cristóbal, Visit Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill Isla San Cristóbal
Day 2 Snorkel at Kicker Rock  Isla San Cristóbal
Day 3 Enjoy a Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal Isla San Cristóbal
Day 4 Transfer to Isla Isabela, Kayak & Snorkel at Las Tintoreras Isla Isabela
Day 5 Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano Isla Isabela
Day 6 Explore Isla Isabela by Bike Isla Isabela
Day 7 Snorkel at Los Túneles, Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 8 Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Discover an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 10 Relax on Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 11 Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive on Isla San Cristóbal, Visit Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill

Frigate birds nesting on Tijeretas Hill
See nesting frigatebirds on Tijeretas Hill

Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! Upon arrival at San Cristóbal Airport, your driver will welcome you and escort you to your hotel. After settling in, you'll learn about the islands and local conservation efforts at the Interpretation Center. It's a great place to get oriented before exploring one of the world's top destinations for wildlife viewing and outdoor adventures.

Later in the afternoon, you'll have your first chance to see some of the archipelago's wildlife in its natural habitat while hiking Las Tijeretas Hill, named for the tijeretas (frigatebirds) that inhabit the area. The males, with their bright red features, are exciting to spot. Finish the day on a snorkeling excursion, where you may observe sea lions, sea turtles, and colorful fish. Enjoy a fresh seafood dinner at a local restaurant, then get some rest before tomorrow's outing.

Day 2: Snorkel at Kicker Rock 

The iconic Kicker Rock
Take to the water on a snorkeling adventure around the iconic Kicker Rock

A 50-minute boat ride will transport you to one of the most iconic places in the Galápagos, Kicker Rock, also known as León Dormido (Sleeping Lion). While snorkeling around this spectacular rock formation, you'll encounter sea lions, rays, turtles, and an array of fish. If you're lucky, you might even spot a hammerhead shark. Lunch will be served onboard. Afterward, visit a pristine beach to relax, swim, and snorkel offshore.

In the afternoon, return to Isla Isla San Cristóbal, where you can enjoy the evening while walking along the promenade or watching the sunset at Playa Mann. This white-sand beach is also notable for the clear waters just offshore, which is good to keep in mind for tomorrow when you'll have some free time to swim or snorkel. 

Day 3: Enjoy a Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal

Sea lions on Galapagos
Sea lions relaxing in the sun on the beaches of Isla Isla San Cristóbal

Check out some of the beautiful beaches on San Cristóbal during a free day on the island for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. For a hike, you might venture into the highlands, where the temperatures are cooler, and the views are magnificent. Or head to the freshwater El Junco Lagoon to see more giant tortoises and relax in the sun.

The crescent-shaped La Lobería Beach is an easy walk from town. It's a gorgeous spot to sunbathe and snorkel. You could also consider an excursion by boat to Isla Española or Pitt Point to see albatross (depending on the season), blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and much more. 

Day 4: Transfer to Isla Isabela, Kayak & Snorkel at Las Tintoreras

Kayaking around Las Tintoreras
Kayak around Las Tintoreras and see more wildlife—possibly penguins!

You'll fly from San Cristóbal to Isla Isabela today. Enjoy the panoramic flight over the archipelago, a journey that lasts about 45 minutes. At the small airport on Isla Isabela, another driver will be waiting to accompany you to your hotel in the small town of Puerto Villamil.

In the afternoon, explore Las Tintoreras by kayak. These small volcanic islets are rich with wildlife: watch out for penguins and blue-footed boobies. You'll also have the chance to go snorkeling in crystal-clear waters. Explore a fascinating underwater world with its colorful fish, turtles, and sea lions.

Day 5: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano

Sierra Negra crater
Hike around the rim of the world's second-largest crater volcano

Another adventure awaits you today. You'll hike the famous Sierra Negra volcano, the second-largest crater volcano on the planet, and walk through its unique geological landscape. The area is dotted with lava paths and local plant and animal life. Watch out for different bird species while hiking to the crater rim. Parts of the caldera provide evidence of its last eruption in 2005. 

Enjoy the spectacular views as you continue the trek up to the Chico volcano, a secondary crater, where you'll break for a picnic lunch. The hike is long in terms of distance (10 mi / 16 km), but it's not difficult. After descending and returning to Puerto Villamil, the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure.

Day 6: Explore Isla Isabela by Bike

Biking on Isabela Island
Enjoy quiet roads and empty beaches as you bike around Isla Isabela
Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today, cycle along one side of Isla Isabela on a bike tour. You can stop at various viewpoints and beaches, such as Playa del Amor (Love Beach), home to a vast population of marine iguanas. Continue pedaling to the famous Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears), a historic landmark. This wall was built by prisoners of the island's penal colony, which existed here from 1946 to 1959. It's said that hundreds of people lost their lives during its construction.

Return to Puerto Villamil, but not before making one last stop to explore the richly diverse environments at Flamingo Lagoon. The largest coastal lagoon in the archipelago, it's a prime nesting area for flamingoes. Depending on the time of year, you may spot them foraging for shrimp or even participating in mating rituals. The nesting season, from March to July, is the best time to spot these colorful displays.

Day 7: Snorkel at Los Túneles, Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz

Watching out for wildlife while snorkeling
Enjoy a day discovering the marine wildlife while snorkeling

Los Túneles is famous for its unique geological formations, including lava-formed arches below and above water. This area is excellent for swimming and snorkeling, as you can encounter a huge variety of wildlife in the shallow waters. You'll snorkel here today, keeping your eyes open for seahorses, colorful fish, rays, turtles, and whitetip reef sharks. You might also spot some penguins or blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks.

After the excursion, return by boat to Puerto Villamil. Later in the day, take the public speedboat from Isla Isabela to Isla Santa Cruz. The trip lasts around two hours. Once you arrive, you'll check into your hotel in the archipelago's largest town of Puerto Ayora and have the evening to relax. 

Day 8: Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

Giant tortoise in their natural habitat
Come face to face with giant tortoises in their natural habitat

Travel with your guide into the highlands of Santa Cruz today to observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. You'll also explore lava tunnels and stop at the twin craters of Los Gemelos, home to various unusual bird species. After a healthy meal on a farm in the highlands, your guide will bring you back to Puerto Ayora.

In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Foundation and its research station to observe giant tortoise and iguana species. Witness the tireless efforts of conservationists and learn about how they are helping to repopulate the island with different tortoise species.

Day 9: Discover an Uninhabited Island

Blue-footed boobies
Spot blue-footed boobies in the wild on a wild and uninhabited island

Of the many islands in the Galápagos, only four have permanent settlements. The others are wild and home to many endemic species. Visits to these islands are highly regulated by the park's authorities and are limited to small groups. You'll visit one of these untamed islands today. Aboard a modern yacht, take a 1.5 to 2.5-hour ride to one of the following islands: Bartolomé, Seymour Norte, Plaza Sur, or Santa Fé. The island visited will depend on park permits and the boat's schedule.

Every island has a different landscape and unique flora and fauna. For example, on Santa Fé, you'll likely see the Santa Fé iguana. Meanwhile, colonies of sea lions, frigatebirds, and blue-footed boobies populate Seymour Norte. Lunch will be served on the yacht, and you'll be taken to a snorkeling spot in the afternoon. After an exciting day, you will return to Puerto Ayora in the early evening.

Day 10: Relax on Isla Santa Cruz

Marine iguana at Tortuga Bay beach
A marine iguana at Tortuga Bay beach strikes a pose

Enjoy Isla Santa Cruz on your own today. At Tortuga Bay, accessible via a 45-minute walk through a scenic cactus forest, you can sunbathe and swim on one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. You'll also go on a snorkeling or kayaking excursion here, and it's an excellent place to spot marine iguanas and Darwin's finches. 

Alternatively, head to Las Grietas to snorkel. This popular swimming area also attracts cliff divers and bird watchers. To get there, take a water taxi across the bay, then hike the rest of the way to the three natural pools. It's a great half-day trip. You could also set out for a full-day trip to another of the uninhabited islands in the area.

Day 11: Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart

Marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
Say your farewells to the marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the edge of the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross by ferry to reach the airport on Isla Baltra, and catch your flight back to the mainland. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore other ways to spend 11 days in the Galápagos, and discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Explore the Galápagos Islands: San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz & Isabela - 11 Days
Map of Explore the Galápagos Islands: San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz & Isabela - 11 Days