Spend two magical weeks island-hopping around the Galapagos on this highlights tour of the archipelago. Start at San Cristobal Island, where you'll observe sea lions, go snorkeling, and hike to see rare birds in their natural habitats. Then you'll head to Isabela Island to swim next to iguanas and sea turtles, hike a volcano, and relax on the beach. The trip ends on Santa Cruz Island, where you'll get up close with giant tortoise residents and learn about conservation efforts in the region.

Highlights

  • Watch a colony of sea lions playing in the sand on San Cristobal
  • Explore an underwater world as you snorkel around Kicker Rock
  • Hike to the massive crater of the Sierra Negra Volcano
  • Sunbathe next to marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
  • Learn about giant tortoise conservation efforts in Santa Cruz

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 Day Trip to Española Island San Cristobal Island
Day 5 Free Day on San Cristobal Island San Cristobal Island
Day 6 Fly to Isabela Island Isabela
Day 7 Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano Isabela
Day 8 Excursion to Los Tuneles Isabela
Day 9 Relax on Isabela Island Isabela
Day 10 Take a Speedboat to Santa Cruz Island Puerto Ayora
Days 11 Venture to an Uninhabited Island Puerto Ayora
Day 12 Visit Another Island in the Area Puerto Ayora
Day 13 Hike, Swim & Sunbathe on Santa Cruz Island Puerto Ayora
Day 14 Depart Islands - End of Trip  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive on San Cristobal Island

San Cristobal Island
San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos

Welcome to the beautiful Galapagos Islands! You will meet your driver at San Cristobal Airport, then transfer to your hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure on this gorgeous island. You can stroll through town, admiring the sea lions and other wildlife. At sunset, head over to Playa Mann for incredible views. Then try some freshly caught seafood at one of the island's family-run restaurants.

Day 2: Tour San Cristobal Island

Frigate bird nesting
A vibrantly colored frigate bird nesting

This morning, you will embark on an exciting tour of the island, beginning with a visit to the Interpretation Center with your guide, where you will learn about the history of the Galapagos and future planned projects that concern this unique collection of islands. Afterward, you will take a short walk to Tijeretas Hill, where you'll see frigate birds nesting and get 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 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 dinner in a local restaurant, enjoying the views of fishing boats in the harbor.

Day 4: Day Trip to Española Island

Blue-footed boobie
A blue-footed boobie in the wild

Rise early for an exciting day trip to Española Island. You'll travel by boat for more than an hour before disembarking at Punta Suarez. You will immediately begin hiking through the island, looking for waved albatrosses and blue-footed boobies. These birds are some of the most famous wildlife in the Galapagos, so seeing them will be a highlight of your trip.

After the hike, you'll enjoy lunch onboard the boat before heading to a great snorkeling spot. If you're interested in seeing more wildlife, you can jump into the water to look for tropical fishes, rays, and other aquatic species. Otherwise, you can stay on the boat and take in the views of Española Island as you relax.

Day 5: Free Day on San Cristobal Island

Sea lion sleeping at the San Cristobal docks
A sea lion sleeping on the docks of San Cristobal

Make the most of a free day on San Cristobal Island. If you want to rest, spend the day on the beach at Playa Carola or Playa Mann. Sunbathe next to friendly sea lions, play in the water, and enjoy island life. If you're looking for something a bit more active, go on an excursion to Pitt Point or Cerro Brujo (Witch Hill), both of which provide access to some of San Cristobal's astonishing natural landscapes.

Day 6: Fly 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. Consider visiting the Flamingo Lagoon or the Giant Tortoise Breeding Station.

In the afternoon, visit the tiny island of Tintoreras to hike and snorkel. During the first activity, you'll see Humboldt penguins, marine iguanas, and sea lions resting in the natural channels formed by lava. When you snorkel in the turquoise water, you'll spot different fish, sea turtles, rays, and sharks — you might also get to swim next to iguanas!

Day 7: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano

Crater of the Sierra Negra volcano
The massive crater at 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, from where you'll get to see the second-largest volcanic crater in the world. Walk around spectacular lava landscapes, taking in views of the northern volcanoes on 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 or head to a beach to relax.

Day 8: Excursion to Los Tuneles

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

Get ready for more wildlife encounters with a thrilling excursion to Los Tuneles, a perfect snorkeling spot. A series of lava flows have produced unique geological formations here, including arches and tunnels both above and underneath the water, making the area an excellent place to swim. In the shallow waters, you can find tropical fish, rays, turtles, sea horses, and white-tipped reef sharks. Keep your eyes open for penguins sitting on the rocks and prepare yourself for the possibility of swimming with majestic sea turtles. At night, you can rest or explore Isabela Island as you wish.

Day 9: Free Day on Isabela Island

Puerto Villamil in Santa Isabela
Puerto Villamil on the island of Santa Isabela

Have fun during a laid-back free day on Isabela Island. One option is to rent a bike and visit the famous Muro de las Lagrimas (“The Wall of Tears”). When the Ecuadorian government first took possession of the islands, their main purpose was to harbor Ecuadorian prisoners. Since there wasn’t much for them to do, they were forced to carry rocks to a distant location and build this wall. Then, ride to different viewpoints on the island. If you prefer to spend the day on the water, head to Concha Perla for snorkeling, swimming, or sunbathing on the beach. 

Day 10: 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. 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 Puerto Ayora. In the afternoon, you'll 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 nature. Keep an eye out for the land iguanas who live around the station.   

Days 11-12: Venture to an Uninhabited Island

Marine iguanas sunbathing on the shore
Marine iguanas sunbathing on the shore

Ride a yacht to an uninhabited island around Santa Cruz. Depending on the weather, scheduling, and permissions 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. In the evening, return to Puerto Ayora to enjoy some free time. 

Day 12: Visit Another Island in the Area

Volcanic rock formations on Bartolomé Island

Another day, 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 a joy to do, 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.

Day 13: Hike, Swim & Sunbathe on Santa Cruz Island

Sea lions diving
Sea lions playing in Tortuga Bay

With no planned activities today, you're free to enjoy the island's beauty at your own pace. Hike to Tortuga Bay, go for a stroll in the peaceful town of Puerto Ayora, shop for souvenirs, explore hidden coves, or rent a bike to explore the highlands. Enjoy the beauty of the Galapagos, take lots of photos, and slow down the pace to truly appreciate island life on your last day in the archipelago.

Day 14: Transfer to Airport on Baltra Island

Beautiful sunset in the Galapagos
A beautiful sunset in the Galapagos

Have breakfast and do some last-minute souvenir shopping in Puerto Ayora. Then you will transfer to the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross by ferry, and head to the airport. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Highlights of the Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal Island, Isabela, & Puerto Ayora - 14 Days
Map of Highlights of the Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal Island, Isabela, & Puerto Ayora - 14 Days