Experience the natural wonders of the Galápagos on this nine-day journey. Begin on Isla San Cristóbal. There, you'll spot colorful frigatebirds, sea lions, turtles, and marine life, as you go hiking on Tijeretas Hill, enjoy snorkeling at Kicker Rock, visit nearby Isla Española, and explore local beaches. Try standup paddleboarding and visit a crater lake, then transfer to Isla Santa Cruz, where you'll see giant tortoises, watch for wildlife on an uninhabited island, and enjoy more spectacular snorkeling and beaches.


  • See diverse birdlife as you hike up Tijeretas Hill
  • Enjoy a scenic snorkeling trip around Kicker Rock
  • Go standup paddleboarding on a guided tour along Isla San Cristóbal
  • Explore an uninhabited island near Isla Santa Cruz

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Isla San Cristóbal, Visit the Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill Isla San Cristóbal
Day 2 Snorkel at Kicker Rock (Leon Dormido) Isla San Cristóbal
Day 3 Day Trip to Isla Española Isla San Cristóbal
Day 4 Standup Paddleboarding Tour, Visit El Junco Lagoon & Puerto Chino Beach Isla San Cristóbal
Day 5 Transfer to Puerto Ayora, Highlands of Isla Santa Cruz & Bay Tour Isla Santa Cruz
Day 6 Excursion to an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 7 Kayaking at Garrapatero Beach Isla Santa Cruz
Day 8 Scuba Diving Day Trip from Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 9 Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, Depart the Galápagos  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Isla San Cristóbal, Visit the Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill

Frigate birds nesting on Tijeretas Hill
Frigatebirds nesting on Tijeretas Hill

Welcome to the Galápagos! Upon arrival at the airport on Isla San Cristóbal, your driver will welcome you and escort you to your hotel. Settle into your accommodation, then head to an interpretation center, where you'll learn about the islands and their conservation efforts for the unique wildlife. 

Afterward, you'll have the chance to see some of these fantastic species up close in their natural habitats as you hike up Las Tijeretas Hill. The hill is named for the tijeretas (frigatebirds) that inhabit and nest in the area. These birds are known for their males, which have strikingly bright red features. Finish off the day with some snorkeling, where you may spot sea lions, sea turtles, and colorful fish. 

Day 2: Snorkel at Kicker Rock (León Dormido)

The iconic Kicker Rock
Enjoy a snorkeling excursion around the iconic Kicker Rock

A 50-minute boat ride will bring you through sparkling blue waters to one of the most iconic places in the Galápagos: Kicker Rock, also known as "León Dormido" (sleeping lion). While snorkeling around this rock formation, you may encounter sea lions, rays, turtles, and an array of fish. If you're lucky, you might even spot hammerhead sharks.

After enjoying lunch onboard the boat, visit a pristine beach where you'll have time to relax, swim, and snorkel. Return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in the afternoon to dry off and relax. Enjoy the evening while walking along the town's promenade or watching the sunset at Playa Mann beach. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Isla Española

Waved Albatrosses
Waved albatrosses

Early in the morning, depart from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno for an approximately two-hour boat ride to Isla Española. From there, follow a trail that leads to the island's interior, passing a colony of waved albatrosses. These are the largest birds found on the Galápagos and are endemic to the islands (they can be spotted between approximately April and December on Isla Española). You may also see blue-footed or Nazca boobies here.

After enjoying lunch aboard the boat, swim and snorkel at a scenic nearby bay with a sandy beach. This area is home to a colony of sea lions. After a day of adventure and wildlife spotting, return to Isla San Cristóbal.

Day 4: Standup Paddleboarding Tour, Visit El Junco Lagoon & Puerto Chino Beach

SUP along the coastline of San Cristobal
Standup paddleboarding along the coastline of Isla San Cristóbal

The next adventure awaits you: during a standup paddleboarding (SUP) tour, you'll visit beautiful beaches with crystal-clear water. Watch out for sea lions, rays, sea turtles, and other marine life while paddling along the coastline of Isla San Cristóbal. Sunbathe, swim, and enjoy the beauty of the Galápagos!

In the afternoon, head to El Junco Lagoon, a scenic crater lake. This is the only freshwater lake in the Galápagos Islands, located approximately 2,297 feet (700 m) above sea level. It's a great place to see pintail ducks and frigate birds. The lagoon got its name from the endemic junco (rushes) plants that grow around the shore. Your next stop will be the beautiful Puerto Chino Beach, a white-sand beach with turquoise waters in the southeastern part of Isla San Cristóbal. It's an excellent place for snorkeling, surfing, and observing sea lions and blue-footed boobies. 

Day 5: Transfer to Puerto Ayora, Highlands of Isla Santa Cruz & Bay Tour

Giant tortoise in their natural habitat
Giant tortoise in its natural habitat

Take the public speedboat from Isla San Cristóbal to Isla Santa Cruz today, a journey of about 2-2.5 hours. Settle into your accommodation in Puerto Ayora, then travel with your guide into the Santa Cruz highlands, where you can observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat. You can also explore the impressive lava tunnels that dot the area and make another stop at the twin craters of Los Gemelos, home to diverse bird species. After a healthy meal on a farm in the highlands, your guide will bring you back to Puerto Ayora.

If you're looking for a laid-back activity for the afternoon, why not try a half-day bay tour? You'll be taken to a couple of hidden bays and beaches where you can snorkel, sunbathe, or wander around at your leisure. The perfect relaxed day!

Day 6: Excursion to an Uninhabited Island

Blue-footed boobies
Blue-footed boobies

Of the many islands in the Galápagos Archipelago, only four have permanent settlements. The others are wild and are the natural habitat of many endemic species. Visits to these islands are highly regulated by park authorities and are limited to small groups. Today, you'll have the chance to experience one of these untamed islands. Aboard a modern yacht with a small group of 15 people, take a 1.5 to 2.5-hour ride to one of the following islands: Bartolomé, Seymour Norte, Plaza Sur, or Santa Fé. The island you visit will depend on park permits, the boat's schedule, and your preferences.

Every island has a different landscape and unique flora and fauna. For example, on Isla Santa Fé, you'll have the chance to see the Santa Fé iguana while colonies of sea lions, frigate birds, and blue-footed boobies populate Seymour Norte. On board the yacht, a warm meal will be served, and in the afternoon, you'll have the chance to snorkel at a nearby bay or beach. After an exciting day, return to Puerto Ayora around 4-5 pm.

Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Kayaking at Garrapatero Beach

Santa Cruz Island
Have the day to explore Garrapatero Beach as you like
Spend time today enjoying beautiful Garrapatero Beach, a remote, sandy beach located just 13 miles (21 km) east of Puerto Ayora. Take a walk along the shoreline, then hop in a kayak to explore the shallow waters and coves up close. Keep an eye out for sea lions, iguanas, marine birds, and Sally Lightfoot crabs as you go. When the kayaking excursion is over, head back to relax on the beach and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure, or opt for a bay tour if you haven't tried one yet. 

Day 8: Scuba Diving Day Trip from Isla Santa Cruz

Scuba diving in the Galápagos
Scuba diving in the Galápagos

Get ready to visit one of the dive sites in the surroundings of Isla Santa Cruz today! Depending on availability, scheduling, and permits from the National Park, you may visit any of these islets: Mosquera, Plaza Norte and Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, or Cousin's Rock. Each of these places is home to a unique underwater world. For example, near Mosquera, you may spot hammerhead sharks, blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, and sea lions, among other wildlife. An easy and relaxing dive from Plaza Norte will allow you to spot marble and diamond rays, reef sharks, and garden eels. 

Bartolomé is known for its unique spear-like pinnacle and underwater cliffs and is an excellent place to spot pelagic animals (animals that live in the open sea). You may find seahorses, yellow-tailed surgeon fish, barracudas, turtles, and mobula rays. You'll find a stunning topography of jagged rocky shelves at Cousin's Rock. This is one of the few places where you can see endemic black coral among the riot of colorful clams, algae, flora, and fauna that cover the rocks like paint splashes. When you return to the surface, keep an eye out for the penguins that inhabit the surrounding area.

Day 9: Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, Depart the Galápagos

Iguana on the rocks
An iguana suns itself on the rocks

Puerto Ayora is the seat of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its research station, where you can see giant tortoise and iguana species. At this fascinating spot, you can witness conservationists' tireless efforts and learn how they are helping to repopulate the island with different tortoise species.

Once you've had the chance to explore, observe the animals, and ask questions, return to your accommodation and pack your belongings. When the time comes for your flight back to mainland Ecuador, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the Itabaca Channel, which you'll cross by ferry. 

More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos Islands? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries or learn about the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Highlights of the Galápagos: Isla San Cristóbal & Isla Santa Cruz - 9 Days
Map of Highlights of the Galápagos: Isla San Cristóbal & Isla Santa Cruz - 9 Days