During this Galápagos Islands adventure, you will explore the famous archipelago, swim with playful sea lions, and see giant tortoises up close. The itinerary is land-based, meaning you'll sleep on the islands instead of on a yacht. But you'll still spend plenty of time on the water as you navigate to various islands by speedboat, enjoying hiking, snorkeling, and guided wildlife viewing walks along the journey.


  • Discover endemic wildlife on two uninhabited islands
  • Snorkel with playful sea lions
  • See the giant Galápagos tortoises in the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz
  • Swim with Humboldt penguins at Las Tintoreras

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz & Visit Charles Darwin Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 2 Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 3 Speedboat to Isla Isabela & Las Tintoreras Islet Isla Isabela
Day 4 Snorkel Around Rock Formations at Los Túneles Isla Isabela
Day 5 Kayak in Tortuga Bay Isla Santa Cruz
Day 6 View Wildlife on Another Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 7 Transfer to Airport & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz & Visit Charles Darwin Station

Getting up close with a giant Galapagos tortoise

Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! You'll start the adventure on Isla Santa Cruz. Enjoy lunch at a local farm in the highlands, followed by the observation of giant turtles in the wild. Then continue to the port in Puerto Ayora to check into your hotel. 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 2: Day Trip to an Uninhabited Island

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

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, Plaza Sur, Bartolomé, or Seymour Norte.

Each island is unique, offering spectacular scenery and opportunities to see rare wildlife. Santa Fé and Plaza Sur are home to endemic land iguanas, while Bartolomé is known for its beautiful lava sceneries. On Seymour Norte, look for frigate birds, land iguanas, and blue-footed boobies. In the evening, return to Puerto Ayora to enjoy some free time. 

Day 3: Speedboat to Isla Isabela & Las Tintoreras Islet

Hike the Sierra Negra volcano on Isla Isabela 

Start your morning with a speedboat trip to Isla Isabela. Then make your way to the Flamingo Lagoon or the Giant Tortoise Breeding Station to learn about local wildlife. After lunch, you'll visit Tintoreras Islet for a short hike and some snorkeling. You'll likely see Humboldt penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions, and sharks in the natural channels formed by lava flows. If you're up for it, go snorkeling in the turquoise water, spotting colorful fish, sea turtles, rays, and penguins. The evening is free, with an overnight stay on Isla Isabela.

Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
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Day 4: Snorkel Around Rock Formations at Los Túneles

Swimming with sea turtles
Swimming with sea turtles at Los Túneles

Go on an excursion to Los Túneles, 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. 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. In the afternoon, return to Puerto Villamil and relax before spending the night there.

Day 5: Kayaking in Tortuga Bay

Pristine beach of Tortuga Bay
Playing on the pristine beach of Tortuga Bay

Early this morning, take a speedboat back to Isla Santa Cruz. Spend the day exploring the island, starting with a 45-minute hike from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay, widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galápagos. Take a kayak out onto the water to see marine life up close and view the coastline from a different perspective. After kayaking, sunbathe on the beach or dive beneath the waves for some afternoon snorkeling. 

Day 6: View Wildlife on Another Uninhabited Island

Sally Lightfoot crabs
Sally Lightfoot crabs on an uninhabited island in the Galápagos

Once again, you'll get incredible opportunities to see endemic wildlife in its natural habitat and protected lands with a boat trip to another uninhabited island. The boat trip itself is an experience, as you'll see magnificent seascapes along the way. Later, enjoy your evening in the laid-back town of Puerto Ayora. Do some souvenir shopping and go for a seafood dinner in a family-run restaurant to finish the last full day of the trip.

Day 7: Transfer to Airport & Depart

Beautiful sunset in the Galapagos
Beautiful sunset in the Galápagos

Enjoy one last breakfast in Puerto Ayora before transferring to the Itabaca Channel, which you will cross by ferry to make the connection to the airport terminal in time for your flight back to the mainland. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore other ways to spend a week in the Galápagos, or discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Island-Hopping in the Galápagos: Santa Cruz & Isabela - 7 Days
Map of Island-Hopping in the Galápagos: Santa Cruz & Isabela - 7 Days
Written by Linda Schulz Old, updated Apr 27, 2023