From Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela
One of the highlights of your Galápagos adventure will be your daytour to one of the uninhabited islands of the archipelago. The Galápagos National Park puts a lot of efforts to regulate and restrict the access to each island and there are limited spaces and only certain visiting days. Make sure you always check your travel in advance. You can miss a bus back home, but you can’t miss your tour boat here in the Galápagos! Always verify your voucher for your pick up time (reconfirmed upon arrival) or to know which island has been confirmed for you. On board, you will meet your bilingual naturalist guide and find snorkel mask and your lunch. From July to December, the Galápagos water can be quite cold, so if you would like to have a wetsuit, make sure to rent it the day before. For all the daytours, we advise you to bring sun protection, comfortable walking shoes, a bathing suit and off course your camera.
You will not find a single moment to get bored during your time on Santa Cruz Island as there are many places to visit. Some of the daytours mentioned below might already be part of your booking. If not, you can decide to add them yourself in your spare time. Just contact us and it will be our pleasure to add it to your itinerary. So that we can check the availability, make sure we receive your reservation at least 24 hours in advance.
For all the daytours, we advise you to bring sun protection, comfortable walking shoes, a bathing suit and off course your camera.
Your first stop will be a refreshing one; you will be snorkeling at Punta Carrion where you will see colorful fish and sea turtles. Afterwards you continue to Plazas. There are actually two islands, Plaza Norte and Plaza Sur. Only Plaza Sur, the southern bigger island is visited by tourists. This island has a lot to offer and the flora and fauna will astonish you! This island is mostly known for the many land iguanas that live on it.
When you are a little further from the coast, it looks like you’ve walked into the movie “Jurassic Park”, because you will be eye to eye with beautiful green, yellow and orange land iguanas. This is all surrounded by beaches, beautiful cacti and in the background the blue ocean. At the coast the male sea lions live in peace. The militant lifestyle is only maintainable for males who are in their prime. The elders spend their last days in colonies, of which one can be found at Plaza Sur. It is sensational to see how the sea lions and iguanas mix. They play together as real pals.
This island also offers a lot to bird lovers and a “birdwatchers paradise” can be found; a steep cliff with swallow tailed gulls, masked boobies, blue-footed boobies, tropical red bill birds, frigates, pelicans and Audubon’s. The gulls, partners forever, are always here cuddling or nesting.
Your next destination is North Seymour Island, located north of the Baltra Island. The island is not especially big (1.9km2) and is almost totally flat. But it is from far, one the most appreciated spot in the archipelago for birdwatching. You will find here breeding colonies of the frigates, the blue-footed boobies and the swallow tailed gull. You will witness a real seduction show from the frigates. To impress the female frigates, the male blows up his red throat bag and, to attract more attention, they fly around in the surroundings of the female. You can imagine its difficulties to fly with a blown-up throat bag, losing their balance quicker.
Afterwards, you will navigate towards the beach of Bachas, a beautiful white-sand beach on the northern coast. During WW2, the US navy abandoned two barges on the beach. The local tried to pronounce “barges” which sounded like “Bachas” and gave the name to the beach. You can style find the barges on the beach were you can relax or follow the trails of the nesting sea turtles. The beach is a good spot for some snorkeling a bit or for a dip in the water. You can also walk a trail leading to a flamingo pool where there might be flamingos.
Upon your arrival to the island, you will be welcomed by noisy sounds from the local sea lion colony. You will take a trail that climbs the fault cliff overlooking the southern half of the bay to reach Santa Fe’s main attraction, a towering forest of giant cacti. Scattered around the cacti trees you will see a number of the island’s indigenous sun-seekers: the famous endemic land iguanas. This yellowish-green iguana lives only in Santa Fe and you won’t find him anywhere else. You will also meet the rainbow-streaked lava lizards and, if you are lucky, some land tortoises or the Galapagos hawk. Back at the beach of Santa Fe, you can observe the sea lion colony and in the bay you might spot some rays, white tip sharks and sea turtles. At the rocky side of the bay, you will enjoy snorkeling with colorful fish or marine iguanas.
This is a full daytour and breakfast (in most cases) and lunch are included.
Your journey to Bartolomé Island will be a bit longer as the island is further away than other islands, therefore you will start early today. If you are not awake yet, do not worry, your tour will start with a refreshing snorkeling activity at Sullivan Bay. You will snorkel from the boat or relax at the beach. Here you can find, from December until April, green sea turtles that come ashore to lie in the sun. This is special because in other places the turtles only come ashore at night to lay eggs. During the day they are staying in the safe water so snorkeling is almost a must here. With a little luck you will see the “Moorish Idol” (also famous for being in the movie Finding Nemo); this is the most beautiful fish from the Galapagos. Afterwards, you will walk the trail to the highest point of the island, at 114 meters. You can reach this point by taking a path through an almost surrealistic moon looking landscape and pass recent signs of volcano eruptions. At the highest point of the island, you will take many pictures of a spectacular view over the lava in different colors, the many volcanoes and the deep blue see as well as the famous “Pinnacle Rock”.
Floreana is an inhabited island with only 60 inhabitants but holds an impressive history of them. This tour to Floreana will take you past the pirates and settlers history and have you enjoy its natural beauties at the same time. During your visit, you will visit the highlands, including Asilo de la Paz where you will discover a pirate cave and a fresh water spring. Afterwards you will visit Playa Negra where you can swim with different types of fish and seals. Later you will go to The Loberia, which has a 900 meter long path which passes through the Galapagos National Park. You can also observe marine iguanas along the banks and along the rocky reefs of the bay you can observe a large quantity of Chelonia turtles. Snorkeling is the main activity that you can do here. You will have the lunch in a restaurant of the island before your return to Santa Cruz.
The Highlands (Parte Alta)
It´s important you’ll bring warm clothes because it can be cold in the highlands. We also recommend taking comfortable walking shoes and a camera. Our tour has a Spanish-speaking driver only, but also an additional English speaking guide can be booked.
The “Parte Alta” as the highlands are called in Spanish is very lush and green and is the natural habitat of the giant Galapagos tortoises. You will visit a private rancho where you will have lunch (depending on your reservation). Here you will walk between the trees and bushes to search for the giant tortoises that prefer to stay close to the small lagoons. You will also visit the lava tubes, which are formed when the surface of a lava stream solidifies, but the inside stays liquid and flows out like a river.
If you are adventurous we recommend you to cycle back from Santa Rosa to Puerto Ayora after the tour. If you want this option, you should arrange bicycles before you leave on the tour; the driver can take the bikes for you in his pick-up. Rent your bike at Lonesome George Travel Agency (Address Av Opuntia & Av Padre Julio Herrera).
Academy Bay Tour
This tour lasts half a day and the snorkeling equipment is included. Bring along sun protection, a bathing suit and a towel, a camera and comfortable walking shoes.
During the tour you are going with a boat to Academy Bay where you can swim and snorkel with sea lions and all kind of colorful fish, also known as La Lobería. You can see the blue footed boobies who are resting at the edge of the cliffs. If you climb to the viewpoint and if you are lucky, you can see white-tipped reef sharks swimming. From that spot you can walk to ‘Playa de los Perros’ were many sea iguanas are resting in the sun. The enormous cacti, the red color of the rocks and the turquoise color of the ocean make great photo moments!
Snorkel day tour Santa Fé
Departure around 8:00 am. After about an hour you’ll be near the island of Santa Fe. From the boat you will see the huge cacti of which the island has many of. These cacti are endemic and only exist on this island. Furthermore, you will encounter various colonies: pelicans, gulls and perhaps blue footed boobies. The cliffs are home to many of these birds. In turquoise, calm waters in the bay of Santa Fé you will likely see a lot of sea lions. It is the ideal place to snorkel, maybe you will swim with a manta ray, surrounded by marine iguanas and many colored tropical fish that habit in these waters. Occasionally also sea turtles come here. Lunch on board. You will continue by boat – for about half an hour – until you arrive at Playa Escondida. Playa Escondida is a beautiful beach with clear water, the perfect place to enter the water one more time to swim and snorkel. You can also decide to go for a walk to observe the colonies of marine iguanas and their natural habitat. Until about 15.30 you can enjoy the beach, before heading back to Santa Cruz.
Snorkel day tour to Pinzon
Departure around 8:00 am. After about an hour, you´ll be near Playa Borrero where you can see various seabirds. In the rocky area you will encounter crabs and marine iguanas. You can swim or snorkel here, surrounded by tropical fish, sea lions, penguins and sea turtles. After this visit you will continue by boat to the next destination: the island of Pinzon. But first you’ll enjoy lunch on board. From the boat you can see the blue footed boobies and finches (called Pinzones). Here there will be the possibility to go into the water again. The diversity of the underwater fauna is large, here you can encounter the following species: blue sharks, puffer fish, white tip sharks, marine iguanas etc. During the trip back to Santa Cruz, you may be treated to see dolphins or a hammerhead shark!
There are very nice places to visit during your time on San Cristóbal Island. Some of the daytours mentioned below might already be part of your booking. If not, you can decide to add them yourself in your spare time. Just contact our us and it will be our pleasure to add it to your itinerary. So that we can check the availability, make sure we receive your reservation at least 24 hours in advance. During your daytour, both lunch and snorkeling equipment will be included. Also make sure to bring along some sun protection, a bathing suit and a towel, a camera, comfortable walking shoes and, if you brought them in your luggage, binoculars.
In the morning, you will board on a small boat and head to the beautiful Isla Lobos. From the boat you can already observe much of the wildlife before disembarking on Isla Lobos: frigate birds and blue footed boobies. “Lobos” means sea lion, so you shouldn’t be surprise to encounter them on the island. For a better impression, you will land on the island for a walk. Afterwards you will have some time to snorkel in the small canal between the two islands and will be able to swim with playful sea lions and observe rays or turtles. After this visit, you will continue to Playa Ochoa or a similar beach. You will enjoy a lunch box at the boat or at depending on the day you will have lunch in a local restaurant. At, Playa Ochoa, you will have the opportunity to walk around a white coral beach, relax and swim in shallow waters.
Kicker Rock (León Dormido)
You will take a small boat int the morning and set sail for the lava formation in the middle of the ocean called Kicker Rock (León Dormido which means “sleeping lion” in Spanish as they say it looks like). First, you will circle around the rock formation to observe the different bird species that use the rock formation as a resting or nesting place. Afterwards, the boat will anchor and you will jump of the boat to snorkel the canal in between the rock formations. Beware that the currents can be strong and that you will be snorkeling in open waters without being able to see the bottom. Here you will be able to spot different shark species (sometimes even hammerheads!), turtles, rays and more. In some seasons you might encounter jellyfish which can sting, however a wetsuit will be provided when this is the case. After the snorkeling you will continue to Manglecito or a similar beach and enjoy a lunch box on board. At Manglecito, you will have the chance to walk around a white coral beach, relax and swim in shallow waters before returning to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
This is a full daytour and lunch, fishing equipment (optional) and snorkeling equipment are included.
On the 360 tour, you will make a full loop around San Cristóbal Island during which you will have several opportunities to snorkel or even fish in one of the most diverse marine wildlife. In the morning, you will first admire the impressive waterfall ´Cascada de Agua Dulce´. Later on, you will continue to the Bahía de Rosa Blanca and on the way you will be able to spot the beautiful white beach of Puerto Chino. At Bahía de Rosa Blanca you will be able to hike around the area and snorkel in the beautiful bay. A well- deserved lunch will be served at the boat before visiting Punta Pitt, the only place where you can see all the booby birds nesting so enjoy spotting these cute birds. You will head for a hike and more snorkeling at Bahía Sardina. Then your tour will bring you to Cerro Brujo (Witch Hill) and León Dormido, a large rock formation made of lava that looks like a sleeping lion, hence the name. During the day, you will also enjoy some snacks and drinks provided. At the end of the day you will return to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
At 07:30 you will depart from the harbor of San Cristóbal with destination of the Española Island. You will arrive at Punta Suarez, where you will be on the beach and go for a walk. Then we will continue towards Islote Gardner, where we will make a check dive and snorkel for about one hour or one hour and a half. All the activities will be accompanied by a naturalist guide who will explain the visited sites and answer all your questions. The return to San Cristóbal will be between 4.30 and 5.00pm.
Highlands (Parte Alta)
Bring along sun protection, a rain jacket and warm sweater, a camera and comfortable walking shoes.
Get ready to discover the San Cristobal Highlands! Your day will start with a 30 minutes drive to your first stop: El Junco Crater Lake, the only sweet water lake on the Galapagos Islands. Afterwards, you continue driving to Puerto Chino, a beautiful white sanded beach (watch out for horseflies). You will follow a path where you will pass the typical Opuntia cactuses until you get to the white sandy beach of Puerto Chino. Here, you can make a small walk passing the lazy sea lions that sleep on the beach, towards the blue footed boobies on the rocks. From the top, you will have an amazing view and you might see some sea turtles in the turquoise seawater. You will walk back to the car so you can head to La Galapaguera, a breeding center with very nice wooden walkways and clear indications. To get to the station, you will walk from the entrance towards the incubation center for around 20 minutes. Along the way you might have to step over a tortoise, as they walk around loose in this area! After the tour your driver will bring you back to your hotel or you will have lunch, depending on your reservation.
If you are the sportive type you can also mountain bike, either all the way or just downhill from El Junco. Do not forget to book you bikes separately and in advance!
There are great places to visit during your time on Isabela Island. All daytours mentioned below can be booked or can be done by yourself in your spare time.
Sierra Negra and Volcano Chico
This tour takes about 6 to 7 hours and a small box lunch is included. It´s important to bring sun protection, a rain jacket, comfortable hiking shoes, camera, water and, if desired, some snacks.
In the morning, you will be picked up for a transfer by car or chiva (open wooden bus) to the foot of Volcano Sierra Negra. From here you start to hike up the volcano to see the 2nd largest caldera in the world, almost 10km diameter. Here you will see the alien landscape of lava fields and fumaroles. Then you continue the hike for another 1- 1.5 hours to the spectacular sights of Volcano Chico who had its last eruptions 1979 and 2005. This hike will take you about 6 hours. Although it is possible to see animal life, the focus of this hike is on the interesting geology. The lava eruptions have created a beautiful landscape. The hike is a hard one as you will walk up the hill and partially on rocky lava stones.
This tour takes half a day and it´s important to bring sun protection, a bathing suit, a towel and a camera. The snorkeling equipment and a snack are included.
The islet Las Tintoreras is located south of Puerto Villamil which you will visit in a small boat and with a naturalist guide. During your boat ride you will most likely be able to observe Galapagos penguins, blue footed boobies, sea lions and more. But the big star here is the white-tip shark which gave his Spanish name, Tintorera, to the place. The bay of Tintoreras is connected to a crevice of crystal clear water, that’s shallow and when the tide is low, the entrance closes. In this crevice, you can see how white-tip sharks rest and swim. After half an hour you will set foot to the islands. Most of the trail is lava AA, except for a white sand beach and a black stone beach. At the first beach, tou will encounter colonies of sea lions or the nesting site for marine iguanas, during the nesting season. Throughout the trail you can see many marine iguanas in the rocks or under the mangroves. Las Tintoreras is one of the few places where the iguanas breed successfully because of the absence of non-native animals that could kill the youth. After the walk, it is time for some nice snorkeling in the bay.
Snorkeling Tour Los Tuneles
This tour takes about 5 to 6 hours. It´s important you’ll bring sun protection, a bathing suit and towel, camera and comfortable walking shoes. Snorkeling equipment and a box lunch are included.
This marine sanctuary is characterized by its unique geologic formations. A series of lava flows have produced a number of arches and tunnels both under and above water, where you find a number of animal species that have taken up residence in these magnificent formations. Together with your bilingual guide you will walk through this incredible landscape and there will be time make photos of the blue footed boobies, sea lions, penguins and the landscape. Then we will head to El Finado, just 10 minutes from Los Tuneles. Here is an inlet that for many years has been used by local fishermen to rest from their journeys in the ocean. El Finado is one of the most spectacular places for snorkeling in Isabela as the water is shallow, clear and calm, giving us chance to see sea horses, parrot fish, hog fish, wrasses in a mysterious habitat. You will snorkel between lava rocks or formed caves, a preferred spot for stingrays, white tipped sharks, sea turtles and colorful tropical fish. In the early afternoon we will return to Puerto Villamil.
Wetlands and Wall of Tears
This biking tour will start at our partner agency, where they will give you your bike. The tour takes about 3,5 hours and it is important to bring sun protection, comfortable walking shoes and a camera.
By bike you will leave to the first stop right out of town, which is the flamingo lagoon called Pozo de las Diablas. Many flamingos spend their time here most of the year. Then you will continue biking towards the Wall of Tears, which is about an hour (8 km) cycling away. The Wall of Tears is the most important historical sight of Isabela. About 300 prisoners worked on the wall in the most horrible conditions. The name Wall of Tears comes from the guards who would use to say: ‘Here, the strong will cry and the weak will die’. There are signs along the way that tell you some more about the history in English. In the surroundings areas, it is possible to see giant tortoises in the wild. Close to the Wall of Tears there is a newly built observation tower. If the weather allows it, you can walk up here for an amazing view over the volcanic landscape of Isabela Island and its shore. Then it is time to return back by bike. On the way back, your guide will take you to the Playita del Amor and El Estero, a small beach where you can see 3 types of mangroves, penguins and blue footed boobies if you are lucky! Depending the time left your guide might even take you to some lesser-known walking paths in the Wetlands to look for more incredible wildlife. The tour will end at the Breeding Center ‘Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan’, where you can see giant tortoises of all sizes.