Visit three of the most famous islands in the Galapagos archipelago — San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz — on this 10-day adventure. You'll hike volcanoes, snorkel around rock formations, and explore each island in-depth, keeping your eyes open for giant Galapagos tortoises and marine iguanas. The itinerary involves travel by plane and speedboat, making it possible for travelers to see far-flung areas of the famous archipelago.

Highlights

  • See blue-footed boobies, seals, iguanas, and tortoises in their natural habitats
  • Swim next to marine turtles, iguanas, and sharks at Los Tuneles
  • Hike up Sierra Negra to see the world's second-largest volcanic crater
  • Go on an exciting snorkeling trip around Kicker Rock
  • Visit the Charles Darwin Station and learn about conservation in the islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive on San Cristobal Island San Cristobal Island
Day 2 Tour San Cristobal Island San Cristobal Island
Day 3 Snorkel at Kicker Rock San Cristobal Island
Day 4 Transfer to Isabela Island Isabela
Day 5 Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano Isabela
Day 6 Excursion to Los Tuneles Isabela
Day 7 Take a Speedboat to Santa Cruz Island Puerto Ayora
Day 8 Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island Puerto Ayora
Day 9 Visit Another Island in the Area Puerto Ayora
Day 10 Transfer to Airport & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive on San Cristobal Island

San Cristobal Island
A beach on San Cristobal Island

Welcome to the beautiful Galapagos Islands! Your driver will meet you at San Cristobal Airport to take you to your accommodation. Spend the afternoon at leisure on the gorgeous island of San Cristobal, where you can stroll through town or admire the sea lions and other wildlife on the coastline. At sunset, head over to Playa Mann beach for incredible views over the water.

Day 2: Tour San Cristobal Island

Frigate bird nesting
A frigate bird nesting on San Cristobal Island

This morning, you will embark on an exciting tour of the island, beginning with a visit to the Interpretation Center with your guide. Here, you will learn about the history of the Galapagos and future planned projects that concern the surrounding collection of islands. Afterward, you will take a short walk to Tijeretas Hill, where you'll see frigate birds nesting and find a spectacular panoramic view over the island. Finish the day at La Lobería, a beach that is home to a colony of sea lions. From afar, you can observe these adorable mammals interact with each other and play in the sand.

Day 3: Snorkel at Kicker Rock

Kicker Rock, an excellent snorkeling spot
Kicker Rock, an excellent snorkeling spot

Today, you'll get to visit the famous Kicker Rock (also known as Leon Dormido, or "the Sleeping Lion"), a volcanic formation that protrudes from the ocean waves. Put on a wetsuit — the water's cold! — to snorkel with sea lions, colorful fish, rays, and turtles. If you're lucky, you may also spot hammerhead sharks. 

After a leisurely lunch, you'll head to one of the area's pristine beaches to relax in the sunshine. Later in the afternoon, you'll head to the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to enjoy a free evening. Have a seafood dinner in a local restaurant, enjoying the views of fishing boats in the harbor.

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Day 4: Transfer to Isabela Island

Marine iguana soaking up the sun
A marine iguana soaking up the sun

In the early morning, you will head to the airport to board a short flight to Isabela Island. Once there, you'll have the rest of the morning and early afternoon to explore at your own pace, visiting the Flamingo Lagoon or the Giant Tortoise Breeding Station.

In the afternoon, you will visit the tiny island of Tintoreras to do hiking and snorkeling. During the first activity, you'll see Humboldt penguins, marine iguanas, and sea lions resting in the natural channels formed by lava. Later, you'll get to snorkel in the turquoise water with vibrantly colored fish, sea turtles, rays, and sharks. You might even see iguanas in the water! 

Day 5: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano

Crater of the Sierra Negra volcano
Crater of the Sierra Negra volcano

The majestic Sierra Negra Volcano is the highlight of today's agenda. You'll do a six-hour roundtrip hike to its summit to see the second-largest volcanic crater in the world. Walk around spectacular lava landscapes, taking in the northern volcanoes in Isabela and Fernandina Islands. During your climb, make sure to be on the lookout for the unique vegetation that inhabits the area.

You'll have some free time after you get back to Isabela Island. If you still have energy, you can go snorkeling at Concha Perla, a natural pool, or head to the beach to relax.

Day 6: Excursion to Los Tuneles

Sea turtle in Los Tuneles
A sea turtle swimming in Los Tuneles

Get ready for more wildlife encounters with today's thrilling excursion to Los Tuneles, a perfect snorkeling spot. A series of lava flows have produced unique geological formations here, including arches and tunnels underneath and above the water. This makes the area a uniquely interesting place to swim around. In the shallow waters, you can see tropical fish, rays, turtles, seahorses, and white-tipped reef sharks. Keep your eyes open for penguins sitting on the rocks and be ready for the possibility of swimming alongside majestic sea turtles. At night, you can rest or explore Isabela Island at your own pace.

Day 7: Take a Speedboat to Santa Cruz Island

Giant Tortoise in the highlands of Santa Cruz
A giant tortoise in the highlands of Santa Cruz

Get an early start this morning to take the public speedboat to Santa Cruz Island, a journey that takes approximately two hours. Meet your guide at the dock, then head to the highlands to see giant tortoises in the wild. Enjoy lunch at a local farm before continuing to the port of Puerto Ayora

In the afternoon, visit the Charles Darwin Station, where scientists from all over the world meet and work together. Environmental projects include water analysis, protection of endemic wildlife, analysis of the effects of tourism on nature, and other pressing issues. Visit the turtle rearing station to see where animals are raised before being released into the wild. Make sure to look for the land iguanas who live around the station.   

Day 8: Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island

Marine iguanas sunbathing on the shore
Marine iguanas sunbathing on a rock

Today, you'll travel by yacht to an uninhabited island near Santa Cruz. Depending on the weather, scheduling, and permissions granted by the national park, you'll visit one of the following islands: Santa Fé, South Plazas, Bartolomé, or North Seymour.

Each island is unique, offering spectacular scenery and opportunities to see rare wildlife. Santa Fé and South Plazas are home to endemic land iguanas, while Bartolomé is known for its beautiful lava flows. On North Seymour, look for frigate birds, land iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. 

Day 9: Visit Another Island in the Area

Volcanic rock formations on Bartolomé Island

Today you'll take another boat trip to an uninhabited island — this time, you'll go to a different one than yesterday. Once again, you'll get incredible opportunities to see endemic wildlife in its natural habitat and protected lands. The boat trip itself is also an experience, as you'll enjoy magnificent ocean scenery on the way to and from the island. Afterward, enjoy your evening in laid-back Puerto Ayora, dining al fresco in one of the restaurants in town and doing some souvenir shopping on the last night of the trip.

Day 10: Depart Galapagos 

Beautiful sunset in the Galapagos
A beautiful sunset in the Galapagos

Do some last-minute souvenir shopping in Puerto Ayora before transferring to the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross by ferry to make the connection to the airport terminal. Check in for your flight back to the mainland. Safe travels!

More Great Galapagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galapagos? Check out these other 10-day Galapagos Islands itineraries, with island-hopping cruises, land-based trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.

Map

Map of Highlights of the Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal Island, Isabela, & Santa Cruz - 10 Days
Map of Highlights of the Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal Island, Isabela, & Santa Cruz - 10 Days