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Sea lion on the beach of Espanola Island

South-Central Islands

Example 6 Day Cruise aboard Aida Maria
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The Galapagos Islands are completely unique and you’re about to see why! Join the Aida Maria on this 6-day voyage and learn more about this incredible destination. Explore Punta Cormorant and follow a footpath to a lagoon inhabited by pink flamingos. Also pass by Carolina Beach, a Sea Turtle nesting area and a superb spot for watching seabirds and sea rays. Visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Station, a non-profit institution that dedicates itself to studying and protecting the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This is one of the best places to see land tortoises.
Sea lion encounter while snorkelingSanta Fe land iguanaCruising in the GalapagosSnorkeling with friendsSea lion on the beach of Espanola Island
Highlights
  • Discover Floreana, one of the greenest islands in the archipelago
  • Visit Devil’s Crown, a submarine crater that offers some spectacular views
  • Enjoy Garner Bay, a great place for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling
  • Admire Isla Lobos, a small islet that gets its name from a colony of Sea Lions
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Baltra | Embark | Santa Cruz Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Arrive at Baltra Island Airport and embark on the Aida Maria. Start the day in Santa Cruz Island, and visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Station, a non-profit institution that dedicates itself to studying and protecting the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This is one of the best places to see land tortoises, including the Lonesome George Museum.

Then visit the station’s Tortoise Rearing Center. Here you can find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs. or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need.

Aside from the Station headquarters, Santa Cruz Island is home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this portside town, you can buy souvenirs (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.) from the islands. Check out the unique Galapagos ceramic shop near the entrance of the Charles Darwin Station. After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), explore the highlands or “parte alta” of the island, which is a moisture-rich area with fertile volcanic soils. Learn about the vegetation and animal life of this zone, often strikingly different than that found at lower elevations, and the best opportunity to find the famous giant tortoises in their natural habitat. Darwin’s Finches, Yellow Warblers, and other land birds will fly in and out of the moss-covered trees. From this high vantage point, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the island.

In the late afternoon, return to town. For those who wish to check out the nightlife, this is your chance; the boat will be docked in port most of the night.

Day 2: Post office bay | Corona del Diablo | Cormorant Point, Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Start your day on Floreana, one of the greenest islands in the archipelago. Ask your guide to tell you about its mysterious history laden with rumors of murderous baronesses, blackmail, and dubious disappearances.

Your first stop is Post Office Bay, where the islands’ original post office (really only a wooden barrel) was established in 1793. The current system still functions as it did three centuries ago: Visitors drop off unstamped letters and postcards AND pick up whatever mail they can hand deliver themselves when they return home! (Try it, it actually works!). 

Back on the yacht and after lunch you’ll skirt the island’s coast until you arrive at La Corona del Diablo (the Devil’s Crown), an old volcanic crater that offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Galapagos. This is a great spot for seeing the wide array of tropical fish, many endemic to the islands, including purple sea stars and spiky sea urchins. The crater’s most thrilling undersea creatures, however, are the white-tipped sharks. As with most of the creatures in the Galapagos, they are unperturbed by your presence, so you can swim in their company freely and fearlessly. 

After returning to the boat you will visit Punta Cormorant, where you’ll follow a footpath to a lagoon inhabited by flaming-pink flamingos. You will also pass by a white sand beach, a Sea Turtle nesting area, and a great spot for watching sea birds and sea rays.

Day 3: Suarez Point | Gardner Bay, Española

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Espanola is one of the most magical of all the islands. It is a place where the animals reign supreme and we humans are merely guests. As your dingy brings you to shore you’ll see Sea Lion pups sunbathing with Marine Iguanas and Blue Footed Boobies nesting in between, and nearby may be a Galapagos Hawk. If it is Booby mating season watch the bonded pairs do the infamous Booby dance (if it’s not mating season, ask your guide to demonstrate - after all, it’s their job to teach you about the local fauna!).

As you follow the footpath around the island, you will pass hundreds of Blue Footed Booby nesting sites including one colony of masked boobies.
There is a good chance you’ll see the thief-like Frigate Bird (which has the habit of stealing other birds’ food), as well as the stunning Red-Billed Tropicbird and the nocturnal Swallow-Tailed Gull. If it is the right time of the year (mid-April to December) you’ll also encounter the giant Waved Albatross. Apart from a few pairs that breed on Isla de Plata, off the Ecuadorian mainland, all of the world’s 12,000 Waved Albatross breed on Espanola Island. At the end of the breeding season, the entire population leaves the island and heads out to sea, where they spend years without touching land; four or five years may pass before the fledglings return to Espanola.

As you make your way around the island you’ll pass by El Soplador, a giant blowhole that explodes to heights reaching 25 feet. In the nearby tide pools, you can often find lounging sea lions enjoying the blowhole’s misty spray. Following lunch on board the yacht, you’ll visit Garner Bay, a great place for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. Lionfish, Flycatchers, and Galapagos Hawks will keep you company as you relax under the rays of the evening sun. Dinner on the yacht completes your day.

Day 4: Lobos Island | Interpretation Center, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On your 4th day of visiting the Galapagos, arrive early in the morning to San Cristobal, the capital of the Galapagos. The first site is Isla Lobos, a very small islet made of volcanic rocks that gets its name from the colony of Sea Lions (Lobo de Mar in Spanish) that live there. Here you can observe the behavior and interaction of Sea Lions living in a small community. 

In the afternoon, visit to the Interpretation Center in Puerto Baquerizo, the local branch of the Galapagos National Park Service, where your guide explains the formation of the islands, how the flora and fauna arrived and were established in Galapagos, as well as visit the corrals where there are several species of giant tortoises under the care of the National Park Service. 

Return to the boat, dinner.

Day 5: Santa Fe | Plazas Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After breakfast on the yacht, continue to Santa Fe Island. Upon arrival on the island, you are treated to a noisy welcome from the local Sea Lion colony. Following your naturalist guide on the island paths you’ll reach Santa Fe's main attraction, a towering forest of giant cacti. Scattered around the cacti trees see a number of the island's indigenous sun-seekers: marine and land iguanas, the rainbow-streaked lava lizards, and if you’re lucky, land tortoises - the namesakes of the islands. After the walk, you’ll dive into the salty sea and snorkel in the company of Sea Lions, Lion Fish, and Sea Turtles. Finally, return to the yacht for lunch.

After lunch navigate to Plazas Island, where a large colony of Sea Lions lounge daily in the equatorial sun. Plaza also boasts excellent examples of typical Galapagos native flora such as the towering cacti "trees" that form the principal diet for both the Land Iguanas and the Cactus Finch. Other birds that may flutter by include Lava Gulls, Yellow Warblers, and Red-Billed Tropicbirds.

Day 6: Santa Cruz | Darwin Center | Disembark | Baltra

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, sail to Santa Cruz Island, and visit the world-famous Charles Darwin Station, a non-profit institution that dedicates itself to studying and protecting the flora and fauna of the Galapagos. This is one of the best places to see land tortoises, including the Lonesome George Museum.

Then you’ll visit the station’s Tortoise Rearing Center. Here you can find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs. or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need.

Disembark and transfer to Baltra Island to catch your plane back to the mainland.

Ship/Hotel

Aida Maria

Aida Maria
Enjoy local and international cuisine in the dining area
Bar on board

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$2,937 2-3 travelers
Aida Maria's Upper Deck Cabin.
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Standard
Standard cabins have upper and lower bunks.

Child Discount

20% discount for children under age 10 at time of Galapagos cruise. Child discounts are conditional and may not apply on certain departures. Please contact us for more information.

Children under 12 may receive discounts on Galapagos flight fares and entrance fees. Contact us for details.
Included
  • 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
  • 5 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide 
  • Adventure Life Pre-departure Services and In-Country Assistance (Quito Representative)
  • Shore Excursions, Swimming and Snorkeling 
  • Transfers and Baggage Handling in the Galapagos
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Galapagos Park Entrance Fee: $200 per adult, $100 per child under 12 (fees of $100 per adult and $50 per child valid on arrivals through Aug 1, 2024). Payable upon arrival to the Galapagos, only in cash dollars. Subject to increase by Galapagos Park Service.
  • Internal Flights: Mainland Ecuador - Galapagos - Mainland Ecuador: $475-675
  • Wetsuits are not included but are available to rent on board - $10/day per person.
  • Gear Rental: Snorkeling Gear - $5-$10/day per person.

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