Experience plenty of outdoor thrills on this active 12-day journey around the Galápagos. You'll base yourself on two islands—Isla Isabela and Isla Santa Cruz—as you explore the archipelago's most beautiful landscapes. Hike around a volcano, rappel into a cave, learn to surf, snorkel with sea lions, ride a bicycle on quiet island trails, and treat yourself to the Galápagos' original craft beer after touring the brewery.


  • Rappel into a volcanic cave at Los Trillizos
  • Sip the Galápagos' first craft beer in the brewery where it's made
  • Snorkel with sea turtles and seahorses at Las Tintoreras
  • Cycle past vibrant wildlife on Isla Santa Cruz 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive on Isla Santa Cruz, Visit Charles Darwin Research Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 2 Kayak in Tortuga Bay, Tour Santa Cruz Brewery Isla Santa Cruz
Day 3 Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles Isla Isabela
Day 4 Discover Los Trillizos Cave, Cycle Back to Puerto Villamil Isla Isabela
Day 5 Enjoy a Day of Leisure on Isla Isabela Isla Isabela
Day 6 Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano Isla Isabela
Day 7 Trek & Snorkel at Tintoreras Islet Isla Isabela
Day 8 Learn to Surf in Puerto Villamil  Isla Isabela
Day 9 Try Standup Paddleboarding,  Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 10 Explore an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 11 Bike at Cerro Mesa Reserve, Snorkel at Garrapatero Beach Isla Santa Cruz
Day 12 Depart the Galápagos  

Detailed Itinerary

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

Tourist with a giant Galapagos tortoise
Get up close to a giant Galápagos tortoise
Welcome to the Galápagos Islands! After arriving at Baltra Airport, you'll cross the narrow Itabaca Channel by ferry to reach Isla Santa Cruz, where a guide will be waiting to take you into the island's verdant highlands. Your first stop is a local farm where dozens of giant tortoises live. Wander around on your own to appreciate these majestic creatures, and have lunch before continuing to the island's main town of Puerto Ayora.
After getting settled at your hotel, spend the afternoon at the Charles Darwin Research Station to witness firsthand the work of international scientists who come to the Galápagos to conduct environmental projects. Next, head to the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center nearby, which is dedicated to protecting giant Galápagos tortoises. This is the best place on the islands to see different tortoise species and learn about each one. As evening falls, enjoy a delicious meal in a restaurant by the sea, then return to the hotel for a good night's sleep. 

Day 2: Kayak in Tortuga Bay, Tour Santa Cruz Brewery

Kayaking on Tortuga Bay
Grab a kayak and set out to explore Tortuga Bay

Begin today's adventure with a 45-minute hike from Puerto Ayora to the heavenly Tortuga Bay, famed for its soft coral sand and spectacular scenery. Take a kayak out onto the water to see marine life up close, and admire the coastline from a different perspective, observing colonies of marine iguanas, sea birds, mangroves, cacti forests, and fascinating flora. Pelicans and finches are endemic to the area, and near the salt lagoon that backs onto the mangroves, you even may spot flamingoes wandering.

After kayaking at the nearby cove, sunbathe on the beach before returning to Puerto Ayora. End your day at the place where the Galápagos' first craft beer was invented: Santa Cruz Brewery. Go on a short tour to learn about the brewery's history and the processes of beer production. Then enjoy a craft beer tasting. You'll head back to your hotel to get some rest at the end of the tour. 

Day 3: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel at Los Túneles

Sea turtle
Spot a sea turtle while snorkeling near Isla Isabela
Meet your guide in the morning for a ride to the dock in Puerto Ayora. From there, catch a speedboat to Isla Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and your base for the next six nights. Head straight for one of the island's unique snorkeling spots is Los Túneles, famous for its unique geological formations, including lava-formed arches below and above water. This area is excellent for swimming and snorkeling, as you can encounter a huge variety of wildlife in the shallow waters.
You'll snorkel here today, arriving by boat. As you enter shallow water, keep your eyes open for seahorses, colorful fish, rays, turtles, and whitetip reef sharks. You might also spot some penguins or blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks. In the late afternoon, head to Puerto Villamil, the only inhabited area on the island, for dinner and a laidback evening at your hotel.

Day 4: Discover Los Trillizos Cave, Cycle Back to Puerto Villamil

Try some rappelling at Los Trillizos Cave
Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Get your blood pumping today on a trip to Los Trillizos Cave, an artery of the Sierra Negra volcano. You'll rappel down into the volcano, descending 493 feet (150 m) through a hole created by spurting lava. As you continue, pass through a cavern decorated with glittering quartz and spot the bones of cows who've stumbled into the volcano shaft.

Take a break for lunch before cycling back to the small seaside village of Puerto Villamil. The leisurely downhill route leads through Isabela's spectacular scenery; look out for exotic birds en route and watch for turtles crossing the road!

Day 5: Enjoy a Day of Leisure on Isla Isabela

Explore the coast of Isla Isabela by kayak
Have fun with a free day on Isla Isabela. Rent a bike and visit the famous Wall of Tears, built with the forced labor of prisoners at the island's former penal colony, before riding to different viewpoints on the island. Keep your eyes open for sea lions, giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, and iguanas. If you prefer to spend the day on the water, the island also offers lots of opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, or sunbathing on the beach. 
Finish the day with an evening cruise to watch the sunset over the islands. Then enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the area's seafood restaurants. You'll head back to your hotel to get some rest before tomorrow's active excursion to the Sierra Negra volcano. 

Day 6: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano

Hike around the rim of the world's second-largest crater volcano

Hike around the crater of the Sierra Negra volcano today. It's one of the largest shield volcanoes in the world, with a distinctive low profile and a nearly 6-mile (10 km) diameter crater. It's also one of the most active volcanoes in the archipelago: its most recent eruption happened in 2018, and the volcano's northern side is largely devoid of vegetation due to lava flows. 

Your six-hour roundtrip hike to the volcanic summit will begin from Puerto Villamil. As you approach the crater, explore its lava landscapes and enjoy views of the Isabela and Isla Fernandina volcanoes. End your day with time on the beach or snorkeling through the mangrove forests of Concha Perla. This natural pool is a habitat for turtles, sea lions, and penguins, and the clear water offers excellent visibility.

Day 7: Trek & Snorkel at Tintoreras Islet

Explore Tintoreras Islet
Spot penguins on today's excursion to the Tintoreras Islet

Today you'll visit the small volcanic islets known as Las Tintoreras, accessible via a short boat ride, for hiking and snorkeling. The place takes its name from the reef sharks (also known as tintoreras or whitetip sharks) that inhabit these waters—when the tide is low, you may spot a few swimming in natural channels formed by lava flows. Rich with biodiversity, the area is also home to sea lions, turtles, iguanas, penguins, and many other species.

On a snorkeling excursion, you'll explore the turquoise water and have the chance to see marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, sea turtles, starfish, tropical fish, rays, sharks, pelicans, and Galápagos penguins. Boat back to Isla Isabela late in the afternoon and enjoy a relaxing evening at your leisure.

Day 8: Learn to Surf in Puerto Villamil 

Puerto Villamil in Santa Isabela
A sandy beach in Puerto Villamil offers the perfect setting for a surf lesson

Today you'll stay on Isla Isabela and learn how to surf—or perfect your skills if you're already a surfer! Puerto Villamil has a wide beach with gentle waves that are ideal for beginners. Take a lesson with a local instructor, then venture out to catch a wave on one of the island's other surf areas, like El Faro, El Hospital, or Barahona. You'll return to your hotel later in the day and have free time to relax and have dinner.

Day 9: Try Standup Paddleboarding, Speedboat to Puerto Ayora

Puerto Villamil Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
Discover the hidden corners of Puerto Villamil Bay by standup paddleboard
Today, explore Puerto Villamil Bay on a standup paddleboard. Navigate mangroves and the calm bay, and be on the lookout for blue-footed boobies, pelicans, and frigates. Then put on snorkeling gear to swim in Concha Perla, especially if you didn't get a chance earlier in the week. You'll also have the option to relax on the beach!
Later on, you'll catch a speedboat from Isla Isabela back to Isla Santa Cruz. You'll base yourself at a hotel in Puerto Ayora for the next few days, enjoying day trips to smaller islands in the area. Since this is one of the only sizeable towns in the Galápagos, it's an excellent place to take advantage of various dining options and perhaps pick up a souvenir or two.

Day 10: Discover an Uninhabited Island

Isla Bartolomé
The rugged landscapes of uninhabited Isla Bartolomé

Of the many islands in the Galápagos, only four have permanent settlements. The others are wild and home to many endemic species. Visits to these islands are highly regulated by the park's authorities and are limited to small groups. You'll visit one of these untamed islands today. Aboard a modern yacht, and take a 1.5 to 2.5-hour ride to one of the following islands: Bartolomé, Seymour Norte, Plazas Sur, or Santa Fé. The island visited will depend on park permits and the boat's schedule.

Every island has a different landscape and unique flora and fauna. For example, on Santa Fé, you'll likely see the Santa Fé iguana. Meanwhile, colonies of sea lions, frigatebirds, and blue-footed boobies populate Seymour Norte. Lunch will be served on the yacht, and you'll be taken to a snorkeling spot in the afternoon. After an exciting day, you will return to Puerto Ayora in the early evening.

Day 11: Bike at Cerro Mesa Reserve, Snorkel at Garrapatero Beach

Adventure: Cycling at Cerro Mesa Reserva & Snorkeling at Garrapatero Beach
Pedal past giant tortoises on today's cycling activity
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the starting point for today's cycling excursion. Get outfitted with a bicycle and helmet, then bike across a lovely stretch of Isla Santa Cruz to the protected Cerro Mesa Ecological Reserve. Hop off the bike to enjoy a guided nature walk and fantastic island views from a lookout. 

Continue to Garrapatero Beach, where you'll relax with a waterfront picnic on the pristine white sand. Explore the crystalline waters by kayak, or take advantage of the opportunity to snorkel. Soak up the serene, unspoiled landscape populated by birds like flamingoes and mallards. After the excursion, you'll take in the sunset while dining by the sea.

Day 12: Depart the Galápagos

Sunset over Baltra Island
Sunset over the Galápagos

The adventure has come to an end. After breakfast, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and help you make your way to the airport for your connecting 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 12 days in the Galápagos, and discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Snorkel, Cycle, Kayak & Hike in the Galápagos Islands - 12 Days
Map of Snorkel, Cycle, Kayak & Hike in the Galápagos Islands - 12 Days