This exciting week-long adventure in the Galápagos is perfect for travelers who want some moderate activity. You'll spend most of your time on two key islands in the archipelago—Santa Cruz and Isabela—partaking in hiking, biking, kayaking, and snorkeling while observing a wide range of landscapes from active volcanoes to white-sand beaches. Of course, this being the Galápagos, every activity involves looking for exotic species like whitetip reef sharks, penguins, and giant tortoises.
Bike to an inland nature reserve while looking for giant tortoises in the wild
Snorkel in an area known for its underwater rock arches and tunnels
Work up a sweat by hiking the rim of an active volcano on Isla Isabela
Boat to one of the Galapagos' uninhabited islands to explore wildlife and beaches
Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz, Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
Isla Santa Cruz
Bike to Cerro Mesa Reserve, Snorkel at Garrapatero Beach
Isla Santa Cruz
Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles
Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano
Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Kayak on Tortuga Bay
Isla Santa Cruz
Explore an Uninhabited Island
Isla Santa Cruz
Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart
Day 1: Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz, Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! This volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador has 19 main islands. Your first point of entry is the ecological airport on Isla Baltra where you'll register at the Galápagos National Park. From here, take a bus to the docks ofthe Itabaca Canal and catch a small ferry to Isla Santa Cruz where your guide will be waiting on the other side.
Then you're off and running! Your first destination this afternoon is the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is where you can witness firsthand the work of international scientists who come to the Galápagos to carry out environmental projects. You'll also head to the nearby Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, where giant Galápagos tortoises are bred and cared for. This is the best place on the islands to get close to different tortoise species and learn about each one. Afterward, transfer to your hotel for the evening.
Day 2: Bike to Cerro Mesa Reserve, Snorkel at Garrapatero Beach
Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After breakfast at your hotel, get ready for a beautiful, eco-friendly adventure around Isla Santa Cruz. First, your guide will lead the way as you cycle across a lovely stretch of the island to the protected Cerro Mesa Ecological Reserve, where you can enjoy a guided nature walk and fantastic 360-degree island views from a lookout at 1,608 feet (490 m) above sea level. Keep your eyes peeled for giant tortoises in the wild.
Next, head down to the ocean at Garrapatero Beach, where you can relax with a waterfront picnic on the pristine white sand. You'll have free time to venture into the crystalline waters for kayaking or snorkeling to soak up the serene, unspoiled landscape. There will also be time to walk around the surrounding mangroves while looking for native flora and fauna, including flamingoes and mallards. In the late afternoon, return to your hotel for a well-earned rest!
Day 3: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles
Today you'll meet your guide in the morning for a ride to the dock on Isla Santa Cruz. From there, catch a speedboat to Isla Isabela—a journey of 3.5 hours—where you can sit back and enjoy the views.
Upon arrival, your guide will take you on an excursion to Los Túneles, a site known for its unique geological formations. This is one of Isla Isabela's top snorkeling spots, with rock arches and tunnels that are located below and above the ocean. When you're suited up, start in shallow water and look out for tropical fish, rays, turtles, seahorses, and even whitetip reef sharks. Emerge above the surface every so often and look for penguins that are common on this part of the island. After the adventure, you'll be transferred to your hotel.
Day 4: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano
Fill up at breakfast this morning! Today you'll take a daytime excursion that includes a moderate hike on the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano. This is one of the largest shield volcanoes in the world, with a distinctive low profile and crater that spans nearly 6 miles (10 km) in diameter. This is a six-hour roundtrip hike that includes exploring lava landscapes and seeing views of both Isla Isabela and Isla Fernandina. End your day with chill time on the beach or snorkeling through Concha Perla's mangrove forests.
Day 5: Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Kayak on Tortuga Bay
It's time to depart Isla Isabela! This morning, you'll catch a return speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, where you'll finish the trip. Upon arrival at your hotel, your first destination starts with a 45-minute hike to Tortuga Bay. There, grab a kayak to see the coastline from the sea and explore mangroves, cacti forests, and marine bird habitats, including the homes of flamingoes, pelicans, and finches. Take a kayaking break to relax on the beach, and then put on your snorkeling gear to take a dip underwater. In the evening, head to your hotel for some relaxation.
Day 6: Explore an Uninhabited Island
Today is your chance to visit one of the gorgeous uninhabited islands in the Galápagos, like Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, and Seymour Norte. Which one you'll see today depends on the permit granted by the Galápagos National Park authorities, so it's a bit up to chance. Either way, though, you'll have the chance to see and experience the archipelago's untouched natural habitats.
First, you'll take a boat ride to one of the aforementioned islands with your guide. Then take a hike to see the island's landscapes and wildlife, followed by some time to relax on the beach. There will also be a break on deck for lunch. At the end of your tour, return to your hotel on Isla Santa Cruz and enjoy your last evening of the trip.
Day 7: Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart
The day has come to say goodbye to the Galápagos! Perhaps you want to wake early and take one last sunrise stroll on Isla Santa Cruz. At the designated time, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Itabaca Channel for your ferry crossing. From there, take the public shuttle bus to the terminal for your departing flight. Safe travels!