Discover the unique diversity of the Galapagos Island’s on this ultra-luxurious 7-night cruise.
Cruise amongst the islands, anchor in quiet inlets and explore beaches crowded with birds, sea lions and iguanas. With its dramatic volcanic landscapes and unique wildlife, the Galapagos have been a fascination for scientists and travellers since Charles Darwin first visited the islands in 1835. Hidden 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, the evolutionary changes that have taken place amongst the wildlife over millennia helped Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution, changing our understanding of the origins of life. As you sail from island to island, search for renowned species such as the marine iguana, Waved albatross and flightless cormorant.
The islands are influenced by ocean currents and dry winds that create a moderate desert-like climate, and are populated by different shrub and grass species, endemic cacti and mangrove forests. Birdlife abounds and wildlife have become so used to humans that you can get within a few feet of some species. The giant tortoise is a must-see when exploring the Galapagos Islands. Keep an eye out for bird species such as blue footed, red footed and Nazca boobies, frigate birds, flamingos, finches and Galapagos penguins. When walking on the island’s you will always have to watch your step in case you stand on a sunbaking land or marine iguana. Spend your days on guided walking excursions, swimming or snorkelling the crystal-clear waters or exploring the coastline by kayak or motorised-dinghy.
Please note: To reduce the impact of tourism, the national park authorities control the itineraries for all Galapagos cruise operators.
- Set foot on the island’s made famous by Charles Darwin
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
- Discover the diverse birdlife including blue-footed booby’s, frigate birds and shearwaters
- View bachelor sea lions at South Plaza Island
- Swim and snorkel with sea lions and other marine species
- Be careful not to step on sunbaking iguanas or sea lions
- Marvel at the breathtaking scenery such as Pinnacle Rock
- Travel onboard the M/V Origin or M/V Theory – members of esteemed Relais & Châteaux collection.
There are daily flights (2 hours) from Ecuador’s capital Quito and the country’s largest city Guayaquil to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island. Both Quito and Guayaquil are serviced by a number of airlines directly including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, American Airlines, Air France and United. Latam Airlines, the major airline in South America offers direct flights to a handful of major US and European cities.
Beaches & Bays
8 Days / 7 nights
Please note: This itinerary is an example of what you may do and see. Changes to the itinerary may occur without prior notice due to readjustment of National Park policies, weather conditions, seasonal changes or safety reasons. These decisions are oriented in terms of passenger safety and in the interest of the islands’ conservation and protection.
San Cristobal Island
Upon arrival on San Cristobal Island you will met and transferred to the vessel by bus and zodiac. Settle into your cabin and enjoy a delicious welcome lunch before a brief safety drill and introductory talk where you will also select your snorkel equipment. Your very first excursion will be to El Junco Lake on San Cristobal. Spanish for “sedge” El Junco is the caldera of an extinct volcano, filled with freshwater. Keep an eye out for sea lions in the harbour as you head back to the yacht – they can often be seen lounging around on the boardwalks and other boats. When you return onboard the Captain and crew will be there to welcome you with a refreshing drink before a briefing on tomorrow’s activities. Get to know your fellow passengers this evening during am multi-course dinner.
Punta Pitt (San Cristobal) & Cerro Brujo
Today starts with a zodiac excursion to look for wildlife at Cerro Brujo – translating to “Wizard Hill”. There are a wide variety of birds that can be found here including brown pelicans, brown noddy terns and blue-footed boobies who dive-bomb the water as they fish. Sally lightfoot crabs that scurry over the rocks can also be spotted – the crabs are black when they’re young but extremely colourful once fully grown. There are also unusual geological formations to witness, including the Cathedral, jokingly called Darwin’s Pants. This morning you’ll also be able to take in the gorgeous coral sand beach at your own pace. Enjoy a peaceful walk, swim with sea lions, paddle board or even kayak – the choice is entirely yours. Your guides will teach you about the various species of fish you encounter as well.
Following an eventful morning, return to the yacht for a BBQ lunch served on the sun deck (weather permitting) before going ashore at Punta Pitt for a hike. The terrain involves a little bit of climbing, but the site is considered one of the best places for bird-watching – as it is the only place where you’ll see all three species of boobies: the blue-footed, the red-footed, and the Nazca booby. Other birds you may see include frigates, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels and brown pelicans. Stop for a snorkel excursion at Pitt Rock, where you may find sea lions and colourful fish such as King Angel and Surgeon fish. Transfer back to vessel for a briefing and dinner. If weather permits, stare up into the night sky for star gazing.
Punta Suarez & Gardner Bay (Espanola)
This morning you’ll land at Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. There are a large number of endemic species living here, such as the waved albatross. These gorgeous birds spend the first several years of their lives in the open ocean before return to land to mate. Take care not to step on the marine iguanas sunbathing on the dark rocks and watch out for colourful sally light-foot crabs. These iguanas are usually black but acquire bright red and green coloration during mating season from the algae they eat. The trail leads to a dramatic ocean blow hole. The island is home to Darwin’s Finches, Hood mockingbird, Galapagos Doves, red-billed tropicbirds, Galapagos Hawks, Nazca boobies and fascinating swallow-tailed gulls – the only nocturnal gull in the world. Return to the yacht for a BBQ lunch served on deck (weather permitting). You may also like to watch a cooking demonstration on how to make Ecuadorian ceviche.
In the afternoon there is the option to snorkel at Tortuga Rock and explore the caves covered with invertebrates before heading to Gardener Bay. The bay offers beautiful white-sand beach where colonies of sea lions dot the shoreline. You will have the option to snorkel from the beach, kayak or paddle-board, or simply walk along the beach, sunbathe or explore the area. Darwin Finches, Espanola mockingbird and Galapagos hawks are all possible sightings. Following a fabulous afternoon’s excursion, return to the yacht for a briefing and dinner.
Punta Cormorant, Post Office Bay, Baroness Point (Floreana)
Floreana Island’s Punta Cormorant olive-sand beach is alive with the sounds of sea lions, lava herons, yellow-crowned night herons and blue-footed boobies. The colouring of the beach is caused by a high concentration of iron and manganese from the basaltic lava. Inland there is a brackish lagoon home to Bahama ducks, common stilts, Galapagos flycatchers and bright pink flamingos, the guides will point out the rich variety of plant life, including morning glories, cut-leaf daisies and the different mangrove species. The trail continues on to a beach where sea turtles lay their eggs in the powdery sand dunes and sting rays swim in the shallow water. There will be an opportunity (not to be missed) to snorkel at Devil’s Crown or Champion Islet, a shallow sunken crater colonised by a brilliant array of colourful fish and coral, white-tipped sharks, sea turtles, spotted eagle rays and sea stars.
Return to the yacht for lunch. Enjoy a lecture on the human history of the Galapagos and hear the fascinating story of why this island is sometimes called the Island of Mysteries. This afternoon participate in a thrilling Galapagos tradition at Post Office Bay, the site where English whaling vessels erected a post barrel in the late 18th century. When you drop a postcard in the barrel, no postage is required. Search through the postcards left by previous visitors, until you see one addressed to a location near your home, you may choose to take it with you and deliver it in person. Similarly, your note will be delivered by future visitors. Postcards will be available on board. Take a Zodiac excursion at Baroness Point to look for sea turtles and rays. Return to the yacht for a briefing followed by dinner and a fun filled entertaining pirate themed party (participation is optional).
Highlands of Santa Cruz & Charles Darwin Research Station
This morning you will wake up to a very different view – a harbour full of boats. The harbour at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island is bustling with activity. The town has a population of just 24,000. Travel by bus to a higher altitude with beautiful geological formations including the lava tunnels at El Mirador and Los Gemelos (the twins), a pair of massive craters. The highlight of the morning is a visit to a privately-owned ranch where giant tortoises roam free. These slow-moving giants can weigh as much as 225 kilograms (500 pounds). Lunch is served back onboard the yacht.
This afternoon learn about the most famous visitor to the Galapagos – Charles Darwin – as well as current conservation efforts, when you visit the Fausto Llerena breeding centre and Charles Darwin Research Station. Visit the exhibit honouring Lonesome George, whose death marked the extinction of his species of tortoise from Pinta Island. There’s another story with a happier ending: Diego, a tortoise from the San Diego zoo. Diego brought his species back from the brink of extinction by fathering hundreds of offspring. There will also be a chance to enjoy some free time to explore the town as you head back to the main dock. If you’re looking for a souvenir, this is the perfect time. Along the way there will be cafes with coffee, ice cream and internet. You’ll have the option to stay on land for dinner with transfers provided by Zodiac. Otherwise, return to the yacht for the usual delicious multi-course dinner. Today’s daily briefing will be held in the afternoon to allow for extra time in the evening.
Sombrero Chino, Las Bachas or Black Turtle Cove Bartolome
This morning you’ll have two options: Today’s hike is a challenge, climbing about 400 wooden steps winding around Bartolome Island, ending in a gorgeous panoramic view of Pinnacle Rock. Stop along the way as your guide describes the remarkable geology of the landscape – mini lava cones and bombs formed by flowing magma from past volcanic eruptions. Alternatively, If you’d rather skip the hike, enjoy a Zodiac ride around the island and look for penguins. These adorable animals (the second smallest type of penguin) may be swimming, diving playfully or grooming themselves on rocks. Following your hike, the crystal clear water beckons you to wade in from the beach. You may see schools of tropical fish, white-tipped reef sharks and Galapagos Penguins. Return to the vessel for a BBQ lunch served on the sundeck (weather permitting).
The itinerary for the remainder of the afternoon will depend on your vessel; but all visitors will enjoy lovely views and some of the Galapagos’ renowned wildlife.
- Origin – Guests will go ashore at Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat), a small island that owes its name to its shape. Sea lions await on the beach, and as you explore, you’ll see marine iguanas and oystercatchers. The trail takes you past remnants of the island’s geological history, with volcanic rubble and cracked lava formations.
- Theory – Visit Playa las Bachas (Spanish for barges), on the northern side of Santa Cruz. There will be an opportunity for snorkelling after exploring interior lagoons with vivid flamingos. Guests on the Letty have a Zodiac excursion at Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves.
This evening after dinner, enjoy an informative and entertaining lecture. The topic for this evening is on Charles Darwin and evolution or some of the social and environmental projects on the islands.
South Plaza Island & North Seymour Island
Today’s adventures will begin at South Plaza, a small islet with tall cliffs and a trail home to a variety of plants and animals. This island’s species of “Opuntia” or prickly pear cactus has been decimated by invasive species, so you’ll see young plants surrounded by nets to protect them. Keep an eye out for nests belonging to a variety of birds, such as swallow-tailed gulls, shearwaters, small ground finches, and red-billed tropicbirds. This geological uplift is also home to a colony of bachelor sea lions, with dominant bulls in various stages of recovery from battles over prime beach territory. You’ll also have an opportunity to see land iguanas up close, and learn about how they differ to marine iguanas.
Return to the vessel for lunch, at which time the Captain will sail to North Seymour Island, where a spectacular sight awaits – frigate birds with red sacs on their chests inflated, seeking mates. At the height of mating season, you’ll be surrounded by dozens, but no matter what time of year you visit, there will still be some individuals seeking mates. The Galapagos Islands are home to two different species of frigates, Great and Magnificent, and your guides will teach you to identify the difference. You will have a final opportunity to snorkel in deeper water. Look for sharks, sea lions, and starfish, along with a variety of tropical fish.
Before dinner, the captain and crew join you for a champagne toast to celebrate a wonderful week during the Captain’s farewell party. During the briefing, you’ll receive detailed instructions for disembarking the next morning. After dinner, there is a special presentation from your guides.
San Cristobal Island
This morning you will disembark after breakfast. As a perfect way to finish your trip, visit the interpretive centre on San Cristobal and learn more about the human history of the islands. Enjoy a bit of last minute free time in town before transferring to the airport.
More Galapagos Itineraries
This 15 day/14 night itinerary combines the very best of the southern, north and central islands exploring Floreana, Espanola, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, South Plaza and North Seymour islands.
Legendary Galapagos – Beaches & Bays
This 7-night itinerary combines the very best of the southern and central islands exploring Floreana, Espanola, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, South Plaza and North Seymour islands.
Legendary Galapagos – Volcanic Wonders
This 7-night itinerary combines the best of the northern and central islands including Genovesa, Santa Cruz, Isabela, Rabida and Fernandina islands.
Talk to one of our South America Experts
Galapagos Islands Overview
Why travel to the Galapagos Islands?
With its iconic wildlife, unique marine life and beautiful landscapes, the Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most fascinating places on Earth to visit.
What can I combine the Galapagos with?
The Galapagos Islands are easily combinable with mainland Ecuador. The country is home to fascinating cultures, beautiful colonial cities, Amazon rainforest experiences and the marvellous Andes Mountains. Alternatively, neighbouring Peru is another popular options. Peru has a handful of superb Amazonian eco-lodges and luxury riverboats, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and of course Machu Picchu – the mesmerising 15th century “Lost City of the Incas”.
How do you get to the Galapagos Islands?
There are daily flights from Ecuador’s two biggest cities – Quito and Guayaquil – to Baltra Island, just off Santa Cruz Island, and to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island.
US – Ecuador is very easy to fly to from the United States. There are plenty of direct flights to either Quito or Guayaquil from a number of US cities. Airlines that fly between the countries include United Airlines, American Airlines and Latam Airlines.
UK/Europe – There are a number of countries that operate direct flights into Ecuador from Europe including France and the Netherlands. Alternatively Latam fly to European countries such as Germany and Spain.