Enjoy a week-long escape from civilization as you explore the Galápagos Islands. Visit the Santa Cruz highlands and Charles Darwin Research Station and learn all there is to know about giant tortoises and their conservation. Explore an uninhabited island and snorkel to discover an underwater world where you'll swim with fish and sea turtles. Hike the Sierra Negra volcano and bike along the coast of Isla Isabela. Learn about the islands' coffee and enjoy the sea breezes of Tortuga Bay.


  • Get to know the giant tortoise up close in the Isla Santa Cruz highlands
  • Explore an uninhabited island to experience nature in its purest form
  • Kayak and snorkel to heart's content at Garrapatero Beach and Los Túneles
  • Hike and explore Sierra Negra volcano, Isla Isabela, and Tortuga Bay

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Isla Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Highlands & Charles Darwin Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 2 Yacht Trip to an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 3 Kayak at Garrapatero Beach, Visit an Organic Coffee Farm Isla Santa Cruz
Day 4 Transfer to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles Isla Isabela
Day 5 Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano Isla Isabela
Day 6 Explore Isla Isabela on Bike Isla Isabela
Day 7 Kayak & Snorkel at Las Tintoreras, Return to Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 8 Visit Tortuga Bay, Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

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

Giant tortoise in its natural habitat
Observe giant tortoises in their natural habitat

Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! Upon arrival at Isla Baltra airport, your guide will be waiting to welcome you and help arrange your transfer from the airport to Puerto Ayora—the largest town in the archipelago and your base for the next few days. On the way, you'll cross the beautiful Itabaca Channel to reach the island of Santa Cruz. Private transportation will take you on a journey through the highlands, where you can observe giant Galápagos tortoises in the wild. After lunch, continue to Puerto Ayora to check in to your hotel and spend the afternoon at your leisure.

If you feel like stretching your legs, you'll find the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center nearby, where giant tortoises are raised in a secure environment before being released into the wild. This is the best place in the Galápagos to view various species and see how their tortoiseshell shapes have evolved differently to match the terrain and vegetation of the islands to which they are native.

Day 2: Yacht Trip to an Uninhabited Island

Visit an uninhabited island like Bartolomé on today's boating excursion

Of the many islands in the Galápagos, only four have permanent settlements. The others are wild, untouched, and prime habitats for their many endemic species, so visits are highly regulated by park authorities and limited to small groups. Santa Fé and Plaza Sur are home to endemic land iguanas, while Bartolomé is known for its beautiful lava flows. On Seymour Norte, distinctive frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies flourish. Each island is unique, offering spectacular scenery and opportunities to see rare wildlife.
Today's adventure takes you on a fantastic day trip to one of these uninhabited islands, traveling by yacht around the archipelago. When you reach the island, you'll drop anchor and follow trails on foot to discover its beauty and wildlife up close. After lunch on board the yacht, you'll have the opportunity to go snorkeling and explore the area further before sailing back to Santa Cruz.

Day 3: Kayak at Garrapatero Beach, Visit an Organic Coffee Farm

Paddle out into the turquoise waters off Garrapatero Beach

You'll have the morning free to enjoy some downtime on Isla Santa Cruz's beautiful Garrapatero Beach. Take a walk along this secluded, 2-mile (3 km) stretch of shore, then explore the shallow waters and coves by kayak. Stretch out on the pristine white sands, and observe the many resident sea lions, iguanas, marine birds, and colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs in their natural habitat, unbothered by the presence of humans.

In the afternoon, take a trip to a coffee farm near Puerto Ayora to sample some of the island's famed coffee. Not your average coffee plantation, this farm is part of a social responsibility program that grows coffee beans while contributing to the conservation of plants and soil. Meet the local growers and learn the process of gathering, drying, and peeling coffee, then pick up a bag as a taste of the Galápagos to take home with you.

Day 4: Transfer to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles

Watching out for wildlife while snorkeling
Take in the diverse marine life while snorkeling at Los Túneles

Meet your guide in the morning for a ride to the dock in Puerto Ayora, and from there, take a two-hour, scenic speedboat ride to Isla Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and your base for the next three nights. Upon arrival at the island's small town of Puerto Villamil, get checked in at your hotel and grab your swimsuit and sunscreen before heading back out on the water with a trip to the island's famous snorkeling spot of Los Túneles.

Renowned for its unique geological formations like lava-formed arches below and above water, this area is excellent for swimming and snorkeling, as you'll encounter a wide variety of marine life in the shallow waters. Keep your eyes peeled for seahorses, colorful fish, rays, turtles, and whitetip reef sharks, and don't miss the wildlife above the surface as well—penguins and blue-footed boobies often frequent the rocky shores. After a day full of underwater wonders, you'll return by boat to Puerto Villamil for a well-earned dinner and a good night's sleep.

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

Day 5: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano

Hike the Sierra Negra crater, the second largest of its kind 

Another adventurous day awaits today, with a hiking excursion to the famous Sierra Negra volcano. As you explore the second-largest volcanic crater on the planet, you'll walk through a striking geological landscape. The area is dotted with lava paths, and its unique terrain creates a remarkable ecosystem for endemic flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for some of the many rare and colorful bird species that frequent the area as you make your way toward the rim, and spot cooled lava flows and other evidence of the crater's most recent eruption in 2005.

Enjoy spectacular views from the top of Sierra Negra, then continue for another hour's hike up to Chico volcano, a secondary crater, where your exertions will be rewarded with more panoramic views and a boxed lunch. While the walk is long in terms of distance at 10 miles (16 km), the terrain is straightforward and easy to navigate, making this a must on your Galápagos bucket list. After descending, return to Puerto Villamil, where you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon however you please in the laid-back town or on the surrounding beaches.

Day 6: Explore Isla Isabela by Bike

Biking on Isabela Island
Cycle along the roads of Isla Isabela and stop for a chat with the locals

Today you can explore more of the island by bike as you cruise along Isabela's coastal roads. Along the way, stop at various viewpoints and beaches, such as Playa del Amor (Love Beach), home to a huge population of marine iguanas. Continue pedaling to reach the famous Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears), a historic landmark built by the prisoners of this former penal colony. Coast back to Puerto Villamil and make a last stop to explore the diverse environment and colorful residents of Flamingo Lagoon.

The afternoon is free to explore, so take a stroll along the boardwalk through mangroves out to La Concha Perla. Bring snorkeling gear, as this small beach with brilliant turquoise waters is full of marine life. Or, visit the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center for a closer look at one of the Galápagos' most iconic species. Later, watch the sunset over snacks and drinks at the Iguana Point Bar, with a terrace overlooking the beach. 

Day 7: Kayak & Snorkel at Las Tintoreras, Return to Isla Santa Cruz

Kayaking around Las Tintoreras
Kayaking alongside penguins at Las Tintoreras

Pack your sun hat and your sense of adventure for today's excursion to Las Tintoreras. Located just offshore from Isla Isabela, this chain of small volcanic islets teems with diverse wildlife, and you'll get the chance to spot its many species as you paddle around the black lava outcroppings by kayak. Be on the lookout for penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions, and blue-footed boobies, as well as the harmless whitetip sharks or tintoreras that bask in the shallow waters and give the area its name. You can also opt to snorkel in the turquoise waters, gliding alongside colorful fish, sea turtles, rays, and penguins.

Later in the day, you'll meet at Puerto Villamil Pier and say your goodbyes to Isla Isabela as you catch a two-hour speedboat ride back to Isla Santa Cruz and Puerto Ayora for the night.

Day 8: Visit Tortuga Bay, Transfer to Isla Baltra & Depart

Marine iguanas at Tortuga Bay
Marine iguanas basking on the white sands of Tortuga Bay

You still have plenty of time to savor your final day in the Galápagos. Spend this morning experiencing more unspoiled nature with a 45-minute walk through an opuntia (prickly pear) cactus forest to reach the stunning Tortuga Bay. This paradise of fine coral sand and turquoise waters vies for the "best beach in the Galápagos" title, and it makes the perfect spot to spend your final hours sunbathing, swimming, or snorkeling. Sit back and watch for marine iguanas and Darwin's finches, or rent a kayak and explore farther afield.

Later in the day, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Itabaca Channel, where you'll cross by ferry to the airport on Isla Baltra and catch a flight to your final destination. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries

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


Map of Jewels of the Galápagos: Isla Santa Cruz & Isla Isabela - 8 Days
Map of Jewels of the Galápagos: Isla Santa Cruz & Isla Isabela - 8 Days