- See giant tortoises at Charles Darwin Research Station
- Go kayaking at beautiful Tortuga Bay
- Enjoy great views from the top of the Sierra Negra volcano
- Spot marine wildlife as you snorkel at scenic Kicker Rock
|Day 1||Arrive in the Galápagos, Visit Santa Cruz Highlands & Charles Darwin Station||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 2||Kayaking Adventure in Tortuga Bay & Afternoon Bay Tour of Isla Santa Cruz||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 3||Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles||Isla Isabela|
|Day 4||Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano||Isla Isabela|
|Day 5||Breeding Center & Wetlands of Isla Isabela||Isla Isabela|
|Day 6||Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Visit La Lobería & Afternoon at Leisure||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 7||Snorkel at Kicker Rock||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 8||Depart the Galápagos|
Day 1: Arrive in the Galápagos, Visit Santa Cruz Highlands & Charles Darwin Station
Welcome to the Galápagos! After arriving at the airport on Isla Baltra, a local guide will pick you up, and you'll cross to the neighboring Isla Santa Cruz by ferry. On your way to the town of Puerto Ayora, stop off at a local farm in the highlands, where dozens of giant tortoises live. Wander around on your own to appreciate these majestic creatures. Then, enjoy lunch before continuing to Puerto Ayora and settling into your accommodation.
In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. You can witness firsthand the work of international scientists who come to the Galápagos to conduct environmental projects. Afterward, 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 2: Kayaking Adventure in Tortuga Bay & Afternoon Bay Tour of Isla Santa Cruz
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—observing colonies of marine iguanas, marine birds, mangroves, cacti forests, and other fascinating flora. Pelicans and finches are local to the area, and near the salt lagoon that backs onto the mangroves, you even may spot flamingoes wandering. After kayaking at the nearby cove, sunbathe on the beach before returning to Puerto Ayora.
In the afternoon, take a tour on a small boat to visit places along the bay of Santa Cruz. Visit one or more sites, depending on how much time you have. First, stop at the small islet of La Lobería, where you can snorkel around sea lions and tropical fish. Afterward, head to the Shark Channel, where you may spot harmless whitetip sharks and blue-footed boobies. You'll also come upon the Canal del Amor, where you may find sea turtles and many tropical fish varieties. A 10-minute walk will allow you to see marine iguanas in their natural habitat—you'll have plenty of opportunities to take pictures!
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles
Early in the morning, take the public speedboat from Isla Santa Cruz to Isla Isabela, a journey of approximately 2-2.5 hours. Afterward, go on an excursion to Los Túneles, a perfect snorkeling spot. A series of lava flows have produced unique geological formations, such as jagged rock arcs and tunnels found both underneath and above the sea.
In these clear and shallow waters, you can find tropical fish, rays, turtles, seahorses, and whitetip reef sharks. Keep your eyes open to spot penguins sitting on the rocks! In the afternoon, return to the village of Puerto Villamil, where you'll spend the night.
Day 4: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano
Today, enjoy a scenic 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 a crater nearly 6 miles (10 km) in diameter. Your six-hour roundtrip hike to the volcano's summit will begin from Puerto Villamil. As you approach the crater, explore its stunning lava landscapes and see views of Isla Isabela and Isla Fernandina's volcanoes. End your day with time on the beach or a snorkeling trip through Concha Perla's mangrove forests.
Day 5: Breeding Center & Wetlands of Isla Isabela
Start your day with a visit to the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center. From Puerto Villamil, follow a boardwalk that takes you across wetlands and opuntia (prickly pear) cactus fields to get there. In total, there are 330 juvenile and adult tortoises here, including five different subspecies of Galápagos giant tortoises. These tortoises are all native to Isla Isabela but are currently threatened by damage to their habitat from invasive species and volcanic eruptions. The giant tortoise eggs are carefully incubated in a special hatchery, while the adults are cared for in large supervised corrals.
After spending some time with the tortoises, walk for thirty minutes to reach Isla Isabela's Humedales (Wetlands). This area is an essential habitat for migratory birds and is one of the only places to see all four native Galápagos mangrove species. These mangrove trees are hugely important—they are home to a rich variety of wildlife and help preserve the coastline and resist the eroding action of waves. Once you've explored the wetlands, return to your accommodation and relax.
Day 6: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Visit La Lobería & Afternoon at Leisure
Take an early morning flight from Isla Isabela to Isla San Cristóbal. When you arrive, visit La Lobería, a beautiful beach and snorkeling spot. Head out for a snorkel, where you may find sea turtles, rays, sea lions, and many species of colorful fish. Afterward, take a pleasant hike to a cliff where you can observe many marine iguanas and birds, such as blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, and frigatebirds.
After this visit, you'll have the rest of the day to spend at your leisure. If you'd like, take a stroll near your hotel, hike to scenic Tijeretas Hill, or watch the sunset at Playa Mann for a great evening view.
Day 7: Snorkel at Kicker RockToday's day trip is to Kicker Rock, a nearly 500-foot (152 m) pair of volcanic islands connected by an underground channel. Ride a speed boat along San Cristóbal's coast to reach the island and explore, and keep an eye out for tropicbirds, frigatebirds, and two types of boobies. After wandering on land, put on your snorkeling gear to see some amazing underwater marine life. You may spot tropical fish, sea turtles, marine iguanas, and four species of rays. Break for lunch on the boat, and then spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach at either Puerto Grande, Cerro Brujo, or El Manglecito.
Day 8: Depart the GalápagosAfter breakfast, your driver will take you to San Cristóbal Airport, where you'll take your return flight to mainland Ecuador. Upon arrival from the Galápagos Islands to one of Ecuador's mainland airports, connect with your international flight, and return home with many pleasant memories of your unforgettable trip. See you next time!
More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos Islands? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore other ways to spend eight days in the Galápagos, or learn about the best time to visit the Galápagos.