Immerse yourself in the wonders of the Galápagos on this 11-day itinerary, where you'll discover endemic wildlife as you speedboat between two major islands. Start on Isla San Cristóbal to spot rare birds, snorkel alongside tropical fish, and relax on beautiful sandy beaches. Pose with marine iguanas on a day trip to Isla Española, then hop over to Isla Santa Cruz to mingle with giant Galápagos tortoises in the highlands and explore Tortuga Bay by kayak.


  • Snorkel and swim with sea turtles around Kicker Rock
  • Go bird-watching on Isla Española and lounge with sea lions as they sunbathe
  • Head for the Santa Cruz highlands to learn about giant Galápagos tortoises
  • Kayak along Tortuga Bay to get up close with blue-footed boobies

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Isla San Cristóbal, Interpretation Center, Tijeretas Hill & La Lobería Isla San Cristóbal
Day 2 Snorkel at Kicker Rock Isla San Cristóbal
Day 3 Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal Isla San Cristóbal
Day 4 Day Trip to Isla Española Isla San Cristóbal
Day 5 Excursion to Isla Lobos Isla San Cristóbal
Day 6 Visit El Junco Lagoon, Galapaguera Colorado Hill & Puerto Chino Beach Isla San Cristóbal
Day 7 Day Trip to Punta Pitt Isla San Cristóbal
Day 8 Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, Highlands & Charles Darwin Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Explore an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 10 Kayak Tortuga Bay & Afternoon Boat Tour of Santa Cruz Bay Isla Santa Cruz
Day 11 Transfer to Isla Baltra, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Isla San Cristóbal, Interpretation Center, Tijeretas Hill & La Lobería

Arrival in San Cristobal Airport
Take in the island views of Isla San Cristóbal

Welcome to the beautiful Galápagos Islands! Fly three hours west from Quito to Isla San Cristóbal to begin your Galápagos adventure. Your guide will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your hotel, where you can get settled and relax after your flight. Then it's time to kick things off with a visit to an interpretation center to learn about the island's wildlife and conservation efforts. In the natural history room, see a presentation of the island's origins and human history since the Galápagos' discovery.

Next, you'll see some of the archipelago's wildlife in its natural habitat at Las Tijeretas Hill, named for tijeretas, frigatebirds, that inhabit and nest in this area. You may also see whales if you visit the island from June to October. Finish the day at La Lobería, an idyllic beach where sea lions and marine iguanas can be found basking on the white sands.

Day 2: Snorkel at Kicker Rock

Snorkeling at Kicker Rock
Take a day trip to Kicker Rock to see stellar marine life above and below the waves

Enjoy a day trip to Kicker Rock today, a nearly 500-foot (152 m) pair of volcanic islands connected by an underground channel. Ride a speedboat along the San Cristóbal coast to reach the island and explore as you see tropicbirds, frigatebirds, and two types of boobies. After exploring on land, put on your snorkeling gear to see what's underwater. Spot tropical fish, sea turtles, marine iguanas, and four ray species. Break for lunch on the boat and then spend your afternoon unwinding on a nearby beach at Puerto Grande, Cerro Brujo, or Manglecito

Day 3: Free Day on Isla San Cristóbal

Trek amid an opuntia cactus forest on Isla San Cristóbal

Make the most of a free day on Isla San Cristóbal. This easternmost island of the Galápagos comprises four extinct fused volcanoes, with its main town on the southwestern coast. Nearby is Naufragio (Wreck) Bay—it's here the English naturalist Charles Darwin landed in 1835 and compiled data that he later incorporated into his "On the Origin of Species" scientific report in 1859.

If you want to relax, spend the day on the beach at Playa Carola or Playa Mann. Sunbathe beside friendly sea lions and paddle in the warm ocean alongside sea turtles. If you're looking for something more active, arrange an excursion to Punta Pitt, where you'll take a boat to a remote shore and hike on a trail through thorny shrubs that manage to survive in this barren volcanic landscape. The reward is the magnificent viewpoints overlooking the beach. 

Day 4: Day Trip to Isla Española

Wildlife Encounter in San Cristobal: Española Island
Spot rare waved albatrosses on Isla Española 
Today's destinations are Isla Española and Gardner Islet to see some of Galápagos' most iconic wildlife, including albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, and Española iguanas. Take a two-hour boat ride, followed by a two-hour hike, to begin your exploration of the first stop, Isla Española. There will be time to hike on the island and hop back on the boat to get your snorkeling gear ready for Gardner Bay. Swim around Gardner Islet along with playful sea lion pups, fish, and marine iguanas. Take a break for lunch on the boat, and then head back to San Cristóbal in the late afternoon.
Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Excursion to Isla Lobos

San Cristobal sea lion
Spot the colorful 10-legged Sally Lightfoot crabs
Isla Lobos is aptly named after the many sea lions that reside here, resting and playing along the rocky shores. It's just a one-hour boat ride to explore the home to many different birds like pelicans, frigatebirds and their nests, yellow warblers, and more. Within the small channel, the waters are very clear, making it easy to find sea turtles, sea lions, stingrays, and perhaps even whitetip sharks. When you return to San Cristóbal, you can take a pleasant stroll along the stunning beach. Relax or read by the ocean, and in the early evening, enjoy the sunset over cocktails.

Day 6: Visit El Junco Lagoon, Galapaguera Colorado Hill & Puerto Chino Beach

Giant Galapagos Tortoise
Enjoy sighting the somewhat clumsy (when walking) blue-footed boobies

In the moist highlands of Isla San Cristóbal, visit the giant tortoise breeding center La Galapaguera to witness the most iconic creature of the archipelago. The tortoises wander in a semi-natural habitat, which provides good photographic opportunities. On your way into the highlands, you'll also stop at El Junco Lagoon, one of the few permanent freshwater lakes in the Galápagos. Observe the frigatebirds who shower in the freshwater to remove salt from their feathers. Notice white-cheeked pintails and common gallinules as they fly over typical highland vegetation and endemic tree ferns.

Afterward, make your way to the southeast of Isla San Cristóbal to reach Puerto Chino, a remote beach with various winged and flippered inhabitants. The fine white sand offers plenty of space to stretch out, while the calm water makes the beach a popular place to swim. You'll see finches in the mangroves that lie just behind the sand. The rocky outcrops to the left and right of the sandy beach are home to many sea lions.

Day 7: Day Trip to Punta Pitt

Blue-footed boobies
Boat to Punta Pitt on Isla San Cristóbal's eastern edge and check out its olivine beach

Visit Punta Pitt by boat, located in the extreme east of Isla San Cristóbal. Nearby is a 295-foot (90 m) trail leading to an olivine (green sand) beach, and another trail that ascends to the top of a hill made of volcanic tuff, passing through various natural viewpoints and lookouts along the way. The strong winds present in this place have caused natural erosion. This is the only spot in the Galápagos Islands where you can observe all three species of boobies and the two species of frigates making their nests in the same area.

Because of its location, you can find all three species of boobies in Punta Pitt. There is enough food here to be shared, meaning there is no competition between the species. Blue-footed boobies make their nests in the interior, red-footed boobies make theirs in the bushes, and Nazca boobies nest in the cliffs. An additional attraction here is the presence of many sea lions. After the hike, return to the boat for a snorkeling excursion, where you'll see a variety of fish, blacktip reef sharks, marine turtles, and manta rays.

Day 8: Transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, Highlands & Charles Darwin Station

Tourist with a giant Galapagos tortoise
Snap pics and mingle with giant Galápagos tortoises in the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz

Catch a three-hour speedboat from Isla San Cristóbal to Isla Santa Cruz. A driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in Puerto Ayora—the largest town in the Galápagos archipelago and your base for the next few days. On the way, journey to the highlands, where you'll stop at a local farm to observe giant Galápagos tortoises in the wild. After lunch, continue to Puerto Ayora to check in to your hotel.

In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. Witness firsthand the work of international scientists who come to the Galápagos to conduct environmental projects. Then head to the nearby Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, where giant Galápagos tortoises breed and are cared for. This is the best place on the islands to see different tortoise species and learn about each one.

Day 9: Explore an Uninhabited Island

Isla Bartolomé
Count the iguanas on Isla Bartolomé

Of the many islands in the Galápagos, only four have permanent settlements. The others are wild and the habitat of many endemic species. Visits to these islands are highly regulated by park authorities and are limited to small groups. Today's adventure takes you on a day trip to one of these rugged uninhabited islands. Board a yacht and visit one of the following islands: Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, or Seymour Norte, where you'll follow trails to discover their unique beauty. After lunch on board, you'll have the opportunity to go snorkeling and explore the area.

Santa Fé and Plaza Sur are home to endemic land iguanas, while Bartolomé is known for its beautiful lava flows. On Seymour Norte, look for frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies. Each island is home to its own distinctive ecosystem, offering spectacular scenery and opportunities to see rare wildlife.

Day 10: Kayak Tortuga Bay & Afternoon Boat Tour of Santa Cruz Bay

Kayaking Adventure in Tortuga Bay & Afternoon Bay Tour of Santa Cruz Island
Spot friendly and charming sea lions on your kayaking excursion of Tortuga Bay

Begin your kayaking adventure with a 45-minute hike from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay, famed for its soft coral sand and spectacular scenery. Take a kayak out onto the water to see marine life up close, and admire the coastline from a different perspective. Observe colonies of marine iguanas, birds, mangroves, cacti forests, and fascinating flora. Pelicans and finches are local to the area, and near the salt lagoon that backs onto the mangroves, you may spot flamingoes wandering. After kayaking, sunbathe on the beach before returning to Puerto Ayora.

In the afternoon, take a tour on a small boat to visit some highlights around the bay of Santa Cruz. Visit one or more sites, depending on how much time you have. First, stop at the tiny islet of La Lobería, where you can snorkel alongside sea lions and tropical fish. Afterward, head to the Channel of the Sharks, where you may spot harmless whitetip sharks and blue-footed boobies. You'll come upon the Canal del Amor, where you'll find sea turtles and many tropical fish. A 10-minute walk will allow you to see marine iguanas in their natural habitat, and you'll have plenty of time to take pictures!

Day 11: Transfer to Isla Baltra, Depart

Bid the Galapagos farewell
Bid the Galápagos farewell

If there is enough free time before your transfer to the airport, do some last-minute souvenir shopping or take a last stroll through Puerto Ayora. At the designated time, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Itabaca Channel, which you'll cross on a ferry to reach Isla Baltra. For the last part of your trip to the airport, take the public shuttle bus to the terminal, where your program ends with your return flight to the mainland and onward connection. 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 Galápagos Island Hopping: Isla San Cristóbal & Isla Santa Cruz- 11 Days
Map of Galápagos Island Hopping: Isla San Cristóbal & Isla Santa Cruz- 11 Days