Galapagos Islands Cruise – Northern & Western

Trip Length 8 Days
Group Size up to 20
Activity level
Starting from $4,850

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Spend eight days exploring one of the places that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Ecuador's remote Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, are a uniquely fascinating paradise. Because of their isolation, the islands are considered one of the world's foremost destinations to view wildlife. Photographers and wildlife lovers rejoice; the animals here are known to pay humans no mind, meaning we get close to remarkable creatures like giant tortoise, flamingo, colorful iguana and penguins.

After boarding a 20-passenger luxury yacht, we make stops at Genovesa, Fernandina, Isabela and several other islands in the northern and western regions of the archipelago. Each day brings us to a new island adventure, where we explore this otherworldly ecosystem by foot and snorkel. Our expert naturalist guides accompany us on every outing, teaching us about the amazing array of diversity that makes these islands so incredible. Witnessing the Galapagos’ dramatic showcase of nature, it’s easy to see why these islands hold such a special honor to biologists and adventurers alike.

Also see our Central and Southern Galapagos Islands itinerary for even more options.

Special Pricing: We may have discounts available for selected departure dates. Contact us to check on any available promotional dates and rates.

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Trip Highlights

  • Explore the Galapagos Islands, home to a vast array of exotic wildlife
  • Visit Genovesa, Santa Cruz, Fernandina, Isabela and more
  • Hike, snorkel, and kayak through the islands for an up-close view
  • Stay aboard a first-class 20-passenger yacht with naturalist guides
  • See giant tortoises, flamingos, iguanas, penguins and much more


This trip is rated Easy Active [2]. This trip will be enjoyed by anyone who is in good health and leads an active life. Daily excursions from the boat to the islands will be made in Zodiacs. Trip members will hike from the landing point to specific areas for wildlife observation. Hiking time for most landings will be a couple of hours round trip with lots of time to stop to study, photograph and enjoy the flora and fauna. Some landings are dry but many are "wet", requiring cautious footing on slippery rocks. The boat staff will be on hand to assist. Snorkeling activities will either be from the beach or from Zodiac in deep water.

  • Cruising
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Walking
  • Snorkeling

What's Included

Cabin accommodation, all meals and snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, purified water, Captain's welcome and farewell cocktail, local beer with dinner, guided shore excursions twice daily with two expert naturalist guides (one for every ten guests), exploration of the coast line by Zodiac, evening briefings and enrichment lectures, use of wet suits, snorkeling equipment, stand up paddle boards and sea kayaks, transfers in the Islands between the airport and dock.


Comfortable 2-berth cabins with private bathroom and shower

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

All aboard and set sail for the enchanting Galapagos Islands today.

Board your early flight to the Galapagos either from Quito (via Guayaquil) or Guayaquil. Upon arrival to San Cristobal Island, travelers pass through the entrance formalities and proceed to the baggage area where the boat crew is waiting to escort passengers by bus and then Zodiac to our anchored yacht. After the welcome briefing, safety drill and a delicious buffet lunch we travel by bus into the interior of San Cristobal to visit a breeding program for the giant land tortoises. We’ll learn about their origin, evolution and threats they face. Along the trail, we find the San Cristobal mockingbird and Calandrinia plant, both endemic to this island. Tonight our first briefing is followed by the Captain’s welcome cocktail party and dinner prepared by our accomplished chefs as we set sail for Genovesa Island. All meals included when aboard ship.

Day 2

Genovesa Island is one of the most spectacular for bird watching.

We spend the entire day on Genovesa Island, a remarkable place for bird species. At Prince Philip’s Steps our guides will point out red-footed boobies nesting in palo santo trees, Nazca boobies nesting near the trail, and storm petrels gathering in large numbers in an open lava field. After lunch on the yacht and a demonstration on how to make Ecuadorian ceviche, we’ll have the option to explore the cliffs up close, either by kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or on a deep-water snorkeling excursion from the by Zodiac. Later in the afternoon, we’ll land at Darwin Bay, a gorgeous coral sand beach. Here, we’ll see both swallow-tailed gulls and lava gulls gathered near the tide pools. A forest of Optuntia cactus and mangroves provide shelter for Great frigate birds. Round out the afternoon by relaxing on the beach, or choose to swim with friendly, playful sea lions in these warmer northern waters.

Walk: Prince Philip’s Steps, 1 mile, rock steps at the beginning and end, then mainly flat with some uneven lava rock areas.

Day 3

Spot pink flamingos, reef sharks, land iguanas, and many more.

This morning we’ll visit Las Bachas Beach with its long stretch of a soft white sand beach and interior lagoons where dozens of pink flamingos feed. We’ll have time to snorkel from the beach. Bring an underwater camera to take photos of colorful tropical fish and sea stars, along with sea turtles and maybe even sharks along the ocean floor. This afternoon, step ashore on Dragon Hill for a majestic view of the bay and the island landscape. The trail offers excellent opportunities to see Darwin finches, Galapagos flycatchers, yellow warblers, shearwaters and the endemic land iguanas. In the salt-water lagoon, pink flamingos, stilts, pintail ducks and sandpipers. Tonight, our guides will offer an enrichment lecture—informative and entertaining, the topic is on marine currents, climate and geology of the Islands.

Walk: Dragon Hill, 1 mile, rocky trail with moderate landing and climbing.

Day 4

Snorkel among penguins, sea turtles and marine iguanas.

This morning Punta Vicente Roca. We’ll Zodiac through the wave-sculpted caves and the tuff walls covered in colorful Sally light-foot crabs. Here a chance to snorkel with penguins diving playfully in the water or grooming themselves on rock formations. Look for sea turtles poking their heads above water before swimming gracefully beneath the surface. After lunch, we sail through the dramatic scenery of Bolivar Chanel. We might see whales riding the bow wave or dolphins jumping in graceful arcs. In the afternoon, we’ll disembark at Urbina Bay with its diverse collection of animal species which includes land iguanas, marine iguanas, Darwin’s finches and flightless cormorants. When we’re finished exploring, we’ll return to the vessel for our nightly briefing and dinner. After dessert we celebrate crossing the Equator and we may get a visit from King Neptune himself! Guests of all ages will enjoy this fun-filled evening and maritime ritual.

Day 5

Kayak or paddle board looking for blue-footed boobies and penguins.

Punta Espinoza on Fernandina is our first stop, the youngest and most pristine Island in Galapagos. Sea lion harems lie on the beach and hundreds of marine iguanas warm themselves along the rugged shoreline. There are flightless cormorants that stay close to shore since they lost their ability to fly. We’ll have an opportunity to snorkel here, in the company of large sea turtles that frequent the area. After a BBQ lunch served on the sundeck, we’ll get to see some of the human history of the Galapagos when we go ashore on Tagus Cove. This was a favorite stopping point for pirates and whalers and the rocky cliffs are covered in graffiti from as far back as the 1800s. An uphill hike brings us to a salt-water lagoon, a scenic overlook, lava fields and volcanic formations. Options to explore the shoreline by kayak or paddleboard with many animals to see, including Galapagos penguins, boobies and pelicans.

Walk: Dragon Hill, 1 mile, rocky trail with moderate landing and climbing.

Day 6

Chance to snorkel with sea lions and rays.

For our morning excursion we disembark on Rabida’s dark red beach and stroll along the trail looking for marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and Darwin finches. The trail leads to a salt water lagoon where we may find flamingos. After the walk, there is a not-to-be-missed snorkeling option with tropical fish, sea lions and rays. Our second adventure today will depend on our vessel. Theory and Letty guests will visit Puerto Egas to look for octopus, starfish and other sea life caught in the tide pools. The walk ends at the grottos where we encounter fur sea lions once on the verge of extinction. There will be a chance to snorkel from the beach. The Origin visits Black Turtle Cove where guests will take a Zodiac ride through a series of coves and inlets surrounded by mangroves. We’ll be on the lookout for pairs of mating sea turtles (September to February), whitetip reef sharks and golden cow-nosed rays.

Day 7

Visit a tortoise reserve and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

This morning we find our yacht anchored in the lively harbor of Puerto Ayora. We’ll visit the Charles Darwin Research Station with its tortoise corals and breeding center. Here we’ll see hatchlings and miniature tortoises that will be repatriated when grown. Afterwards, we’ll learn about the history of the settlers of this Island on a tour through the back streets of Puerto Ayora. After lunch on the yacht we’ll travel by bus to the highlands to investigate the volcanic processes that shaped this island with a visit to a lava tube and a pair of large craters known as "Los Gemelos." Next stop is at a privately owned hacienda, where giant tortoises roam freely in their natural habitat, feeding or resting in shallow pools. This evening, return to the yacht for dinner or remain ashore on your own. Zodiac shuttles from the yachts to the main dock will be offered throughout the evening for your convenience.

Day 8

Complete your exploration of the Galapagos Islands.

On our last morning in the Galapagos we disembark after breakfast and travel by bus to Frigatebird Hill, where we’ll find nesting colonies of both species of frigate birds, great and magnificent, along with lava lizards, finches and San Cristobal mockingbirds. We follow the trail to Punta Carola for a spectacular view. Guests on the Letty guests will have an early morning visit to Isla Lobos. Before our flight back to the mainland, we’ll have time for any last-minute photos or shopping. A short bus ride will get us to the airport with plenty of time for check in for our flight back to the mainland departing noon time. Arrive in Guayaquil around 3:30pm and Quito by 5pm.

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Try to bring only what is necessary—this necessary–this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

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Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.