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Sea Lions lounging in Buccaneer Cove

Western Islands

Example 5 Day Cruise aboard Nemo II
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This 5-day Western Islands Galapagos cruise on the Nemo II explores the wildlife-rich shores of Santa Cruz, Isabela, Santiago, Rabida, and more! Enjoy opportunities to hike, snorkel, kayak, or cruise on a panga boat while exploring volcanic landscapes, unique flora and fauna, research sites, and breathtaking underwater beauty on your incomparable adventure.
With our favorite tortoiseSea lions napping on a dock in the GalapagosIsabela: Urbina BayTagus CoveEspumilla BeachSea Lions lounging in Buccaneer Cove
Highlights
  • Ride a zodiac in Tagus Cove and see pirate graffiti
  • Explore the cliffs and coves of Isabela
  • Climb Prince Phillip's Steps and observe Nazca boobies
  • Take a trail to a flamingo lagoon and snorkel along the rocks
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: Embark in Baltra | Charles Darwin Station

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Take a morning flight from Quito or Guayaquil to Baltra Island. After passing through immigration and baggage claim, be transferred to the yacht and take some time to settle in your cabin before lunch and a welcome briefing. 

In the afternoon, a visit to Puerto Ayora is to Charles Darwin Station. An excellent way to begin learning about the islands, their origin, and formation. Learn about how the Galapagos turtles are raised and meet Jorge, the famous solitary turtle. The Scientific Station has its own beach that receives many visitors on weekends.
Afternoon activities: Visit Charles Darwin Scientific Station and Breeding Center. Dry landing.

Day 2: Elizabeth Bay | Urbina Bay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Elizabeth Bay is one of the few places in the Galapagos Archipelago in which landing is forbidden. This happens because there is not a single place to stay in, and also to preserve the natural species of plants and animals living there. However, you can swim and play some water sports as a gift. Animals will be happy to welcome you to this water paradise.
Morning activities: Dry landing, Visit to Elizabeth Bay, and Deep water snorkeling.

Lying at the foot of Alcedo Volcano, south of Tagus Cove, is Urbina Bay, one of the best and the most recent examples of geological uplift in the Galapagos. Uplifts occur when the molten materials beneath the surface shift. In 1954 the shoreline was uplifted by nearly 15 feet (4 meters). The coastline was driven 3/4 of a mile further out to sea, exposing giant coral heads and stranding marine organisms on what was now on shore.
A Disney film crew visited the site shortly afterward and discovered skeletons of sharks, sea turtles, and lobsters unable to find the ocean from the rapidly rising land. Schools of fish were found stranded in newly formed tide pools. Boulder-sized coral heads can be seen near the area that once was the beach. The uplifting of Urbina Bay was followed by an eruption of Alcedo a few weeks later. 
Seasonally Urbina Bay provides a nesting area for many of the Galapagos creatures. Female tortoises journey down from Alcedo to lay their eggs in the sand. Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, and brown pelicans nest in the area as well.

Begin with a wet landing on the white sand beach. The difficulty of the route varies by season. The trail ranges from stark and easily passable during the dry season to mildly challenging requiring wading to pass during the rainy season. Visitors cross the uplifted region learning about this geological wonder. Then reach the sandy area that was once the beach. Shorter visits return to the landing point on the same path, while longer visits continue past the coral heads and new beach.
Afternoon activities: Wet landing, Nature walk, and more wildlife watching and Shallow water snorkeling.

Day 3: Tagus Cove | Espinoza Point

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Tagus Cove (Isabela Island) is situated directly east of Fernandina Island on the west coast of Isabela Island. It is a beautiful, well-protected cove sheltered by the shoulders of two volcanic craters and has been used as an anchorage for over 300 years. A nature trail here ascends through the typical dry vegetation zone and offers spectacular views of Darwin Lake, a saltwater crater lake, and the long narrow inlet that appears to connect with it. At the top of the trail, it is possible to observe the different vegetation zones, catch a glimpse of Darwin and Wolf volcanoes, and observe Galapagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants, and Pelicans.
Morning activities: Dry landing, Nature walk, Panga boat ride, and Deep water snorkeling.

In the afternoon, visit Fernandina Island, the youngest and most active volcano in the Galapagos, with eruptions taking place every few years. The flat lava of Punta Espinosa offers a stark and barren landscape, but here flightless cormorants build their nests on the point, sea lions sprawl on the beach or play in the tide pools, and large numbers of marine iguanas dot the sand. You also will have the opportunity to compare the Aa and Pahoehoe lava types here.
Afternoon activities: Wet landing, Nature walk on Espinoza Point, and Deep water snorkeling.

Day 4: Espumilla Beach | Bucaneer Cove | Egas Port

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The excursion begins just a short distance beyond the tide pools and heads to the fur seal grotto. Fur seals and sea lions can be seen swimming in the rocky lava-ringed pools. This may be the only opportunity visitors have to see and swim with fur seals. Fur seals were once hunted to near extinction for their coats. The Galapagos Fur Seal is the smallest of the fur seals found in the southern hemisphere, now compared in numbers with the sea lions. During the day they hide from the hot equatorial sun in shelves or caves of the rocky lava cliffs. At night they feed on squid and fish avoiding the sharks, which are their natural predator. The crystal clear water, volcanic bridges, fur seals, and sea lions make this a magnificent place for swimming and snorkeling. Visitors who now come to Espumilla Beach mostly do so in search of birds rather than water. A short walk inland takes visitors through a mangrove forest normally inhabited by the common stilt. Sea turtles also visit these mangroves to nest. Beyond the mangroves is a brackish lagoon where flocks of pink flamingos and white-cheeked pintails can be seen. The trail makes a loop heading over a knob into a sparely forested area then back to the beach. Along the way, those with a watchful eye may spot a variety of Darwin finches or a vermilion flycatcher. Once back at the beach visitors may have the chance to swim or snorkel time permitting. 

Less than an hour north of Puerto Egas, Buccaneer Cove served as a safe haven for pirates, sailors, and whalers during the 18th and 19th centuries. Anchoring in the protected bay they were able to make much-needed repairs to their ships while other men went ashore to stock up on salt, tortoises, fresh water, and firewood. Several years ago ceramic jars were found at the bottom of the bay, the disregarded cargo of some mariner from years ago. Inside the jars were supplies of wine and marmalade.  Few boats stop at Buccaneer Cove today. Many cruise by at a slow speed giving visitors the opportunity to view the steep cliffs made of tuff formations and the dark reddish-purple sand beach. This dramatic landscape is made all the more impressive by the hundreds of seabirds perched atop the cliffs. Two of the more recognizable rock formations are known as the "monk" and "elephant rock". A large population of feral goats now frequents Buccaneer Cove and this portion of Santiago.  The National Park Service has fenced off part of the area to protect the native vegetation from the destructive eating habits of this introduced species. A wet landing on the large coffee-colored sand beach is just north of the prized fresh water supply that once attracted pirates and whalers.
Morning activities: Wet landing Espumilla Beach, Panga boat ride to Buccaneer Cove, and Deep water snorkeling.

In the afternoon, a visit to Puerto Egas begins with a wet landing on the dark sand beaches of James Bay. Taking a walk along the rocky coast offers visitors the opportunity to view some of the Galapagos Island's best tide pools. Sponges, snails, hermit crabs, barnacles, and fish including the endemic four-eyed blenny can be seen. The walk also presents visitors with a variety of shore birds, marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs, and sea lions.
Afternoon activities: Visit Puerto Egas, nature walk, salt mines and fur seal grotto, and Shallow water snorkeling.

Day 5: Black Turtle Cove | Disembark | Baltra

  • 1 Breakfast
In the morning, a panga boat rides to Caleta Tortuga, also known as Black Turtle Cove. There is no landing at this sight. It is located on the north side of Santa Cruz Island and the way to reach it is by a panga boat (motorized canoe). You will be able to see its mangrove swamp where marine turtles are nesting during certain seasons of the year, as well as sharks and rays.
Morning activity: Panga boat ride

Return to Baltra disembark the Nemo II and continue your independent travels.

Ship/Hotel

Nemo II

Nemo II
Nemo II
Nemo II Sundeck

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$2,900
Nemo II cabin 1
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Cabin 1 & 2
Matrimonial/double bed and private bathroom.
Nemo II cabin 4
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Cabin 3 & 4
Lower single bed, double upper bed, and private bathroom.
Nemo II cabin 5
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Cabin 5
Two single upper beds and private bathroom.
Nemo II cabin 6
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Cabin 6 & 7
Lower single bed, lower upper bed, and private bathroom.

Child Discount

25% discount for children under 12 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
  • 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
  • 4 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
  • Snorkeling and kayaking equipment is included in the cruise cost and available for your use on board.
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: $100 per adult, $50 per child under 12. 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 for rent on board - $5/day per person.

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney
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