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See Blue-footed Boobies on your trip to the Galapagos

Explore Santa Cruz & Isabela Islands

Hotel-Based Tour - Example 8 Day Tour
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Visit the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela during this 8-day trip in the Galapagos. The excursions on this tour will take you along coastlines and up into the highlands to see the incredible biodiversity on the Galapagos and witness first-hand the fearless wildlife and unique scenery of the "Enchanted Islands." Travelers stay active with hiking and snorkeling excursions each morning and afternoon, and there is plenty of time to relax at your beachfront hotel and or on the beach in the towns of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, and Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. To learn more about the intriguing natural history of the islands, your guide will introduce you to National Park Visitor Sites teeming with wildlife and an unforgettable visit to the famous Charles Darwin Research Center.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Arrive Quito
Day 2 : Fly Galapagos | Explore Santa Cruz Highlands
Day 3 : Santa Cruz Kayaking | Off to Isabela Island
Day 4 : Hike in the Isabela Highlands
Day 5 : Snorkel Los Tuneles
Day 6 : Explore Las Tintoreras | Return to Santa Cruz
Day 7 : Return Quito
Day 8 : Return Home


  • Explore Los Gemelos, two enormous collapsed lava chambers
  • Kayak through mangroves searching for pelicans & blue footed boobies
  • Snorkel with fish, rays, sea turtles, & Galapagos penguins
  • View giant Galapagos tortoises as they roam, graze, and sleep

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Aventura Lodge
  • Baltra
  • El Chato Tortoise Reserve
  • Isabela
  • Isabela Lodge
  • Los Gemelos (Twin Craters)
  • Puerto Ayora
  • Quito
  • Santa Cruz


Trip Type

  • Independent

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

See Blue-footed Boobies on your trip to the Galapagos I guess he wanted to see my camera A family explores the shores of the Galapagos Isabela Lodge My friends Nap time In the Galapagos up close

Day 1 Arrive Quito

Spend your first night in Quito exploring the city on your own.

Day 2 Fly Galapagos | Explore Santa Cruz Highlands

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
In the morning, catch a flight from Quito to the Galapagos. Arrive Baltra Island, meet your guide, and transfer to Santa Cruz Island. Check into your hotel in Puerto Ayora and enjoy lunch on the deck of the hotel over looking Academy Bay.

After lunch, take your first excursion to Los Gemelos (The Twins), two enormous collapsed lava chambers nestled in the Highlands of Santa Cruz. This is the perfect introduction to the majestic power of the forces of nature that created the Galapagos Islands. This short, easy hike to each of the twins is swarming with endemic flora and fauna. See a remnant of a Scalesia forest, draped in liverwort, lichens and mosses. It’s easy to spot some Darwin finches and if you are lucky maybe even a short-eared owl.

After Los Gemelos, a short bus ride takes you to a 600-acre private tortoise reserve. Here the giant Galapagos tortoises freely roam, graze, and sleep. After visiting these amazing creatures in their natural habitat, take a 5-minute ride to the entrance of a 450-meter (1350 feet) illuminated lava tunnel. With a ceiling nearly 20 feet high, this is an incredible opportunity see lava stalagmites, stalactites, sulfur, and mineral-colored walls. Return to town for dinner.

Day 3 Santa Cruz Kayaking | Off to Isabela Island

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After breakfast, depart for a morning of kayaking and snorkeling. Head to German Beach where you set out in your kayaks. Make your way through the mangroves, searching for pelicans, frigate birds, and blue-footed boobies as you paddle. Arrive in Franklin Bay where you might have a chance to spot sea turtles and matarays. Continue through the "love tunnel", where two natural cliffs of volcanic rock create homes for endemic plants and nesting birds. Return to German beach and have an opportunity to snorkel before continuing to La Grietas. The clear, cool waters between the two tall cliffs here make this a favorite swimming spot for travelers. Return to the hotel for lunch.

After lunch, take a two hour boat transfer to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. Cruise by Isla Tortuga, which is full of frigates, blue-footed boobies and other seabirds. As you enter the port on Isabela, be greeted by stunning green and turquoise water that is so clear, you can see sea turtles, sea lions, and penguins as though looking through glass. Arrive to the Isabela Lodge where a welcome drink and dinner awaits.

Day 4 Hike in the Isabela Highlands

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
From Puerto Villamil, journey to the Sierra Negra Volcano (approximately 6 miles, round-trip). From here, you can walk to the rim of Sierra Negra, an active volcano that last erupted into a blazing show in October 2005. From this altitude, enjoy a fantastic view of the over 4-mile-wide caldera, the Perry Isthmus, and the other volcanoes including the Chico Volcano with its puffing fumaroles and striking lava formations. Isabela offers an extraordinary environment and exemplifies the dramatic geological events that forged the Galapagos Islands. Adventurous hikers have the option to continue across the open lava fields to Chico Volcano (1 1/2 miles beyond Sierra Negra Volcano).

Enjoy lunch at a local farm that cares for giant tortoises as part of a special agreement with the National Park. After lunch you have the chance to visit Concha Perla, a beautiful lagoon-like bay, where you have the opportunity to snorkel with more marine wildlife. Return to the hotel where the rest of your time is free to explore Isabela on your own. Enjoy snorkeling, swimming, or relaxing on the beach.

Day 5 Snorkel Los Tuneles

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After breakfast at the lodge take about a 45-minute boat ride to Los Tuneles

Along the ride, enjoy seeing beautiful Galapagos wildlife such as giant mantas rays, sea turtles and more. The boat makes a short stop at Roca Union where you can see masked boobies, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, sea lions, and occasionally a fur seal from the boat.

Upon arrival to Los Tuneles see a breathtaking site formed by lava arches on the water. Take a tour of the site by boat, then go snorkeling. You have the potential for some close encounters with many species of fish, rays, sea turtles and perhaps the Galapagos penguins. After this first snorkeling, continue on discovering this labyrinth of lava arches and try a second snorkel. Return to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch, visit the Galapagos National Park Isabela Breeding Station where you learn more about the different species of Galapagos tortoises, and the growing process from newborns up to centenary individuals found at this station. Then take a 45-minute-walk along the beautiful boardwalk along the Isabela wetlands, with good opportunities to see flamingos and other stunning seabirds. Before returning to the lodge, visit the well-known Playa del Amor (Love Beach) and enjoy the magical feeling of this organic sand beach surrounded by mangroves.

This evening you have time to relax and discover the town of Puerto Villamil on your own.

Day 6 Explore Las Tintoreras | Return to Santa Cruz

  • Hotel
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Begin the day with a panga ride to Las Tintoreras, a resting site for white-tip reef sharks that is situated between a small natural lava outcropping and an enormous lava field. Tintoreras is one of nature's wonders, set against a backdrop of emerald-green sea, white-sand beach, dark-green mangroves and the hills of Isabela. On the shores, well above the resting sharks, the rocky sides are lined with marine iguanas. This is one of the few iguana colonies on Isabela that have not been disturbed by introduced species. On the way back to Puerto Villamil, you might have the rare opportunity to see a penguin colony lounging side by side with blue-footed boobies. Once you return to the dock, you can snorkel this warm, shallow bay surrounded by mangroves and search for white-tipped reef sharks, sea lions, and penguins. Late morning, return to the pier to begin a two-hour trip to Santa Cruz.

Return to the Aventura Lodge and have lunch. If time allows this afternoon, visit the renowned Charles Darwin Research Station where you learn about conservation and management projects in the archipelago. The research station is also home to tortoises from all over the islands.

Day 7 Return Quito

This morning, return to Baltra and catch your return flight back to the mainland. Tonight, enjoy the sights and sounds of Quito -- toast your travels and the remarkable Galapagos Islands!

Day 8 Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Catch your flight home, or with more time, extend your trip to explore the Andean highlands or the Amazon!

Aventura Lodge

Isabela Lodge

Quito - Hotels

Per person starting at


Based on Mangrove View rooms at Aventura Lodge. Shorter itineraries available. Please contact us for alternative options.

Please note: For departures between December 15 - January 5, internal flights must be paid at the time of booking.


  • 7 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
    • 7 Nights Hotel
  • 5 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Gear Rental
    • Snorkeling
  • INGALA Transit Control Card


  • Internal Flights
    • $590 Quito-Galapagos-Quito
    • Flight cost is subject to change
  • Both International Arrival and Departure Transfers are excluded.
  • International Flights

Recommended Budgeting

  • $40 Meals not Included
  • $55 Airport Departure Tax
  • $110 Park Entrance Fee
    • $100 Galapagos entrance fee
Payment & Cancellation Policies
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Jessica L

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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
Gale Cantor

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Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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