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Galapagos Islands Circumnavigation

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Corals
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Circumnavigate the Galapagos islands on this 15-day voyage. Take in the best the archipelago has to offer, visiting Santa Cruz, Bartolome, Isabela, Fernandina, Santiago, North Seymour, Santa Fe, South Plaza, San Cristobal, Española, and Floreana Islands. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound as you traverse the islands, snorkel in the crystal clear waters, or take a relaxing swim off the pristine shores. This is an excellent excursion for gaining a true understanding of the history of these islands and the rare and incredible creatures that make their homes here.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Baltra | Embark | Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, Santa Cruz
Day 2 : Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz | Bartolome
Day 3 : Rabida | Buccaneers Cove | Espumilla Beach, Santiago
Day 4 : Black Turtle Cove | Highlands Tortoise Reserve, Santa Cruz
Day 5 : Vicente Roca Point, Isabela | Espinosa Point, Fernandina
Day 6 : Urbina Bay | Tagus Cove, Isabela
Day 7 : Egas Port | Sullivan Bay, Santiago
Day 8 : Bachas Beach | Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, Santa Cruz
Day 9 : Mosquera Islet | North Seymour
Day 10 : Santa Fe | South Plaza
Day 11 : Kicker Rock Circumnavigation & Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve | Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill, San Cristobal
Day 12 : Cerro Brujo | Pitt Point & Pitt Islet, San Cristobal
Day 13 : Suarez Point | Gardner Bay, Osborn or Gardner Islets, Española
Day 14 : Champion Islet | Devil´s Crown | Cormorant Point | Post Office, Floreana
Day 15 : Pit Craters, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra

Highlights

  • Learn about Charles Darwin Station's efforts to preserve the environment
  • Snorkel and swim with sea turtles and white-tipped reef sharks at Bartolome
  • Visit a sea lion colony and observe herons in Mosquera Islet
  • Hike across Española, the oldest & most isolated island in the Archipelago

Ship

Corals

Places Visited

  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos
  • South America
  • Bachas Beach
  • Baltra
  • Bartolome
  • Black Turtle Cove
  • Buccaneer Cove
  • Cerro Colorado
  • Champion Inlet
  • Charles Darwin Center
  • Devil's Crown
  • Dragon Hill
  • Espanola
  • Espinosa Point
  • Espumilla Beach
  • Fernandina
  • Floreana
  • Gardner Bay
  • Highlands
  • Isabela
  • Mosquera
  • North Seymour
  • Post Office Bay
  • Puerto Egas
  • Punta Pitt
  • Punta Suarez
  • Rabida
  • San Cristobal
  • Santa Cruz
  • Santa Fe
  • Santiago
  • South Plaza Island
  • Sullivan Bay
  • Tagus Cove
  • Tijeretas Hill (Frigatebird Hill)
  • Urbina Bay
  • Vicente Roca Point
  • Witch Hill

Activities

Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level

Relaxed

Trip Snapshots

Snorkeling girl Getting close to sea lions in the Galapagos Cruise the Galapagos on the Corals The late Lonesome George in the Galapagos Hike in Bartolome

Day 1 Baltra | Embark | Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, Santa Cruz

Arrive to the Galapagos and transfer to your ship, the Corals. On the afternoon cruise to Santa Cruz Island and visit the station where the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding program takes place as part of efforts to preserve the fragile Galapagos environment and where the famous Lonesome George (the last surviving specimen of his species) lived for decades. The center is conducted by the Galapagos National Park staff with the collaboration of scientists from the Charles Darwin Station. In addition, the Darwin Station works in several scientific projects, botanical research, providing environmental education to communities, schools within the Islands and tourists. Admire a prickly-pear cactus forest and a variety of Darwin finches and other land birds. If there is enough time visit the town and shop for souvenirs.

Day 2 Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz | Bartolome

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Walk by a brackish lagoon where feeding flamingoes can be occasionally found. The trail leads across typical dry zone vegetation up to Dragon Hill, an important nesting ground for endemic land iguanas, offering lovely views of the anchorage and neighboring islands. The forest is home to mockingbirds, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, and Galapagos doves.

Land in Bartolome Island and discover a fascinating moonscape formed by different volcanic parasitic cones —lava bombs, spatter, cinder cones —and hike to the summit for impressive views of the surrounding islands, including the eroded tuff cone Pinnacle Rock. Encounter marine iguanas, lava lizards, and blue-footed boobies. Enjoy the beach and snorkel and see (perhaps swim with) Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and white-tipped reef sharks among a great variety of colorful fish. For many visitors, this may turn out to be the best snorkeling experience. Crystal clear water is the perfect spot to appreciate the incredible marine life it has to offer. Due to its geographical location, the lack of vegetation is immediately noticeable however, there are pioneer plants including the endemic Tiquilia nesiotica and Chamaesyce (known as sand mat or spurge in English), lava cactus, and Scalesia bushes.

Day 3 Rabida | Buccaneers Cove | Espumilla Beach, Santiago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Land in Rabida Island and walk through its dark-red sand unique beaches. Rábida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting brown pelicans are found from July through September as are nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches. Take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast where marine life is particularly active.

In the afternoon visit Buccaneers Cove an amazing location featuring the remains of an eroded shoreline that is home to seabirds, fur seals and the playful sea lions. Its different shapes have been made throughout a process caused by erosion of the waves and the wind. Afterwards, stop at Espumilla Beach, a white-sandy beach in James Bay and a popular place among visitors. There are mangroves and a small palo santo forest that lead to salty-water lagoons that are home to wading birds like flamingos. In the upper dunes you can observe a nesting site for sea turtles. This is an ideal place to snorkel with see rays.

Day 4 Black Turtle Cove | Highlands Tortoise Reserve, Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Discover the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea where four species of mangrove crowd from the shore out into the lagoon, turtles enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface, while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat. Sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. This cove has been declared as a “Turtle Sanctuary”.

In the afternoon visit the Highlands Tortoise Reserve. In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kinds of birds, such as tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually standing on the tortoises’ shell). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, Galapagos Giant Tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is a birdwatchers’ haven since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.

Day 5 Vicente Roca Point, Isabela | Espinosa Point, Fernandina

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning, visit Vicente Roca Point, a high peak of land created out of remains of a tuff cone, with two protected turquoise coves on both sides. One of them, the Bolivar Channel is one of the richest marine ecosystems on Earth. This place is only accessible by water, with great opportunities for deep-water snorkeling. In this part of the Galapagos, the upwelling of cold water currents from the west, offer an abundant plankton supply for marine species like red-lipped batfish, seahorses, frogfish, nudibranchs, octopus, and the mola-mola or sunfish. It is common to observe dolphin pods, sea lions rafts, and tuna banks. The dinghy ride along the coast allows observing a great diversity of seabirds like noddies, brown pelicans, Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, Nazca and blue-footed boobies are often seen feeding all at once during the cold season (May – December). Whale watching is also common while navigating.

In the afternoon visit Espinosa Point, on Fernandina Island, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. Here, the largest, most primitive-looking marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and Sally lightfoot crabs. Fernandina displays a wonderful opportunity to encounter flightless cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos penguins and the “King” of predators on the islands, the Galapagos hawk. Pa-hoe-hoe and AA lava formations cover the majority of Fernandina terrain. Vegetation is scarce inland, with few brachycereus cacti and in the shore mangrove can be found.

Day 6 Urbina Bay | Tagus Cove, Isabela

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today visit Isabela Island, stopping at Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove. In the morning explore the volcanic black sand beach of Urbina Bay, in search of giant tortoises, land iguanas, and the unusual flightless cormorant. After a short walk inland it´s snorkeling time, a chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions, and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plants with the different range of colors in flowers, attracting different insects, birds, and reptiles. One of the highlights of the island is the uplifted coral reef that resulted from the 1954 seismic activity; here the views of Alcedo Volcano are remarkable. When navigating from Urbina to Tagus Cove whale watching is usual in May – December.

This afternoon, make your way over to Tagus Cove and learn about the volcanoes that formed Isabela Island. Follow a trail that leads to Darwin’s salt-water crater lake for excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. Return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where you can admire a variety of seabirds, such as blue-footed booby, brown noddy, terns, flightless cormorant and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos penguins which are only 35 cm tall; the only penguin species in the world to live in the tropics. Afterwards, have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water.

Day 7 Egas Port | Sullivan Bay, Santiago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the morning travel to Santiago Island, stopping of at Egas Port, a black volcanic sand beach, visited by Darwin in 1835. The first section of the trail is formed of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half is an uneven terrain of volcanic basaltic rock. The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago shore is home to a variety of animals including the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron and marine wildlife including lobster, starfish and marine iguanas grazing on algae beds alongside Sally light-foot crabs. It is easy to see colonies of endemic fur seals swimming in cool water volcanic rock pools.

In the afternoon visit Sullivan Bay, a site located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island of important geologic interest. It features extensive relative young pa-hoe-hoe lava flows formed during the last quarter of the 19th century. In the middle of the lava flow, older reddish-yellow-colored tuff cones appear. Mollugo plants with their yellow-to-orange whorled leaves usually grow out of the fissures. Walking on the solidified lava gives the impression of been in another planet. Tree molds are found, indicating that in that position large size plants grew in small crevices, until the lava flow of past eruptions burned down the flora of the island.

Day 8 Bachas Beach | Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, Santa Cruz

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning cruise to Bachas Beach, home to two small flamingo ponds were iguanas sunbathe, see coastal birds, Darwin finches, mockingbirds, and gulls, as well as interesting native vegetation like red and black mangrove, salt bushes. This beach is one of the main sea turtles nesting sites in the Galapagos. At this paradisiacal site, you can also find the remains of barges that sank a long time ago, when the United States Navy operated a base during World War II on Baltra Island. Local people modified the word barges to “Bachas”.

In the afternoon visit the Charles Darwin Research Station & Fausto Llerena Breeding Center for a second time, or if you prefer join an optional activity based on weather and sea conditions.

Day 9 Mosquera Islet | North Seymour

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Land in Mosquera Islet, located between North Seymour and Baltra Island. This flat, sandy island has a large colony of sea lions. It is also an excellent site to observe shorebirds such as herons and lava gulls. There is no trail on Mosquera Island, so any visitor can enjoy the open area. Most of the islet is covered with sand and barren lava rock. Very little Sesuvium portulacastrum grows on the sand.

In the afternoon visit North Seymour, an island formed by a series of underwater volcanic lava which was deposited in layers on the ocean floor. Take an approximately two-hour walk amidst large nesting colonies of blue-footed boobies, magnificent and great frigate birds, and swallow-tailed gulls for an in-depth encounter with sea bird breeding cycles. Encounter sea lions, land Iguanas, and on a lucky day, you might even come across a Galapagos snake.

Day 10 Santa Fe | South Plaza

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning enjoy Santa Fe´s white sand beach and find yourself surrounded by a sea lion colony. Continue walking through an endemic cactus forest and search for the endemic Santa Fe land iguana (the largest in the islands). This island is home to a number of endemic species including Galapagos hawk, Galapagos snake, rice rats, a variety of finches, and one of the four mockingbird species of the Galapagos.

In the afternoon walk through an impressive cactus forest surrounded by the colorful yellow and red land iguanas and marine iguanas and keep a look out for tropicbirds and one of the largest sea lion colonies. Encounter the one and only Galapagos hybrid iguana and stumble upon a bright red landscape which is a characteristic of the island during the dry season.

Day 11 Kicker Rock Circumnavigation & Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve | Interpretation Center & Tijeretas Hill, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning sail through the northeast of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to observe the ancient and eroded volcanic tuff lava named Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock it is formed by two rocks approximately 148 m, named for its resemblance of a sleeping lion. It serves as home to many of the typical Galapagos sea animals, such as birds, sea lions, blue and Nazca boobies and frigate. With rare sightings of swallow turtle gulls, tropic birds, and pelicans.
 
Afterwards, land at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and visit the San Cristobal Giant Tortoise Breeding Center to learn about the National Park’s conservation programs. Enjoy a beautiful landscape on the way to the Reserve. You also have the opportunity to visit the village’s port, have a drink or shop for arts and crafts and other souvenirs. 

In the afternoon visit the interpretation center, which is an excellent place to learn about the nature and history of the islands, displaying information of Galapagos volcanic origins, their remoteness from the continent, ocean currents, climate, arrival of the original species, among other points of interest. The human interaction is also showcased, chronologically narrating the most significant events about the colonization of the islands. Afterwards, stop at Tijeretas Hill and join a high-intensity walk amidst beautiful landscapes and a magnificent view at the foot of a frigate bird nesting colony. If there is enough time, plan a town visit. 

Day 12 Cerro Brujo | Pitt Point & Pitt Islet, San Cristobal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Visit Cerro Brujo, an eroding tuff cone that is composed, in several locations, by lava formations, and a beautiful white sand beach which is great for snorkeling and sunbathing. Discover a lagoon where migratory bird species can be seen: black-necked stilts, ruddy turnstones, whimbrels, other sandpiper species, and white-cheeked pintails. Cerro Brujo offers beautiful views of Kicker Rock, the southern part of San Cristobal, and the adjacent coast.

In the afternoon, take a high-intensity hike on rocky terrain. The trail goes through several magnificent viewpoints including an olivine beach of 90 meters long and a path that climbs to the top of a volcanic tuff. This is probably the only site where the three booby species of the Galapagos can be seen together: Nazca, blue-footed, and red-footed, as well as the two species of frigate birds and a sea lion colony. It is also excellent for dinghy rides and snorkeling, where a good range of sea birds can be observed.

Day 13 Suarez Point | Gardner Bay, Osborn or Gardner Islets, Española

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning visit Española, an island of geological interest. Being one of the oldest in the Galapagos, it has a high percentage of endemism because it is also one of the most isolated in the archipelago. This, and the great variety of wildlife found here makes this site one of the most attractive in the Galapagos. Explore volcanic formations and riveting wildlife: large colonies of sea lion and seabirds including Española mockingbird, Nazca boobies, and the spectacular red-billed tropic bird. You can also encounter singular marine iguanas that have a turquoise color with red in the breeding season, lava lizards, and the colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs.

Hike among Nazca and blue-footed boobies, right up to nesting grounds that sometimes overlap the trail. Other birding favorites include Galapagos dove, Galapagos hawk, swallow-tailed gulls, and the world’s largest colony of waved albatross, an unequivocal highlight during mating season (April-December). Admire the island’s dramatic backdrop, featuring the famous “Soplador”, a seaward blowhole that shoots water at some 23 m (75 ft.) in the air.

In the afternoon land in Gardner Bay, a beautiful white coral sand beach guarded by a colony of sea lions. There are no trails, so you must stay along the shore where you can spot Galapagos hawk, American oystercatcher, Galapagos dove, hood mockingbird, yellow warbler, lava lizards, marine iguanas, and three species of Darwin finches. Swim and snorkel surrounded by a great variety of Galapagos marine wildlife.

Day 14 Champion Islet | Devil´s Crown | Cormorant Point | Post Office, Floreana

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning stop at Champion Islet and Devil's Crown where you can enjoy a hike from the black mangrove beds to a brackish lagoon, which usually holds one of the largest flamingo populations in the Galapagos. This island features some endemic plants such as Scalesia villosa, white and black mangrove, and holy stick. The trail continues to a beautiful white sandy beach, one of the most important nesting sites of green Pacific sea turtles. It is important to avoid walking in the water due to the sting rays that may be hiding in the sand, which can be dangerous if accidentally stepped on. From the beach, one can spot sea turtles, blue-footed boobies plunging into the water, and small reef sharks floating along the shoreline in the search for food. This coral-sand beach marks the end of your trail, and you must head back to the olivine beach you landed on, to swim or snorkel amongst sea turtles, reef fish, sea lions and, on a good day, white-tipped reef sharks. A small colony of penguins resides on Floreana and can sometimes be observed as well.

In the afternoon land on the north side of Floreana, and walk to the bay of Post Office, named like this because, in 1793, Captain James Colnett installed a wooden barrel which served as an informal post office for sailors passing through who would take letters with them to their destinations. Place unstamped postcards inside the barrel that should reach their destinations for free. It can take weeks, months, even years, not arrive at all, or even arrive before you! Encounter Darwin finches, yellow warbler, and lava lizards. Snorkel with green pacific sea turtles and on the main beach among playful sea lions.

Day 15 Pit Craters, Santa Cruz | Disembark | Baltra

  • 1 Breakfast
This morning visit Pit Craters, which geologically speaking were not directly formed by volcanic action. They were created as a result of the collapse or sinking of surface materials into cracks or manholes. It’s a great place to spot vermilion fly catchers as you walk inside an endemic Scalesia forest. Here enjoy a great opportunity to observe giant tortoises.

In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador.

Corals

Per person starting at
$6,668
A standard cabin aboard the Corals
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Standard Cabin
Two on Coral I and one on Coral II. Portholes, located on the Sea Deck. Average area of 75 sq ft.
A Standard Plus cabin aboard the corals
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Standard Plus Cabins
Eight on Coral I and four on Coral II. Portholes, located on the Sea Deck. Average size 128 sq ft.
A spacious Junior Cabin
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Junior Cabins
Eight on Coral I and seven on Coral II. Three triple cabins available. Picture windows, located on Earth & Sky Decks. Average size 129 sq ft.

Child Discount

Children under 12 years old receive 50% discount, or 25% on holiday season sharing cabin with two full-fare paying guests.

Children under 12 receive a discount of $135 off adult flight rates, and discounted Galapagos Entrance Fee of $50

Included

  • Accommodations on board Corals based on double occupancy
  • Meals while in the Galapagos
  • Bilingual Naturalist Guide
  • Shore Excursions
  • Swimming and Snorkeling
  • Adventure Life Pre-departure Services and In-Country Assistance (Quito Representative)
  • Transfers and Baggage Handling in the Galapagos
  • Snorkeling Equipment

Excluded

  • Airfare (see Galapagos Flights)
  • Quito/Guayaquil Hotel and Transfers
  • Fuel Surcharge
  • $100 Galapagos Park Fee
  • $80 Galapagos Transit Card and Airport Assistance
  • $45 International Departure Tax
  • Wetsuits available - $25 for 4-day and 5-day tours, $50 for 8-day, 11-day and 12 day tours, and $75 for 15-day tours
  • Kayak available for $30/use
  • Gratuities and drinks aboard the ship
  • Travel Insurance

Galapagos Flights

  • Quito - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $530 - $595
  • Guayaquil - Galapagos Roundtrip
    • $475 - $540

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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