Galapagos cruise Seastar Journey - North-West (10)

Tour from Baltra Island to San Cristóbal Island, Ecuador

About this activity

Cruise on the Seastar Journey through Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Santiago, Isabela, and Fernandina islands

Your Travel Experience with Galapagos PRO

Day 1

Transfer to the Seastar

After arrival at the airport, transfer to the harbour to board the Seastar

Cerro Dragón, Santa Cruz

You won't find a more apt place name than Cerro Dragón, "Dragon Hill", located behind a flamingo lagoon.

Dragon-like land iguanas roam across the sun-scorched, boulder-strewn island, grazing freely on the fruits and flowers of their favourite food, the Opuntia Cacti. Cerro Dragón is a great opportunity to get out your camera and capture some of what makes the Galapagos Islands so unique.

Day 2

Black Turtle Buch, Santa Cruz and Rábida Island

Black Turtle Cove is a red mangrove lagoon serving as a nursery for sharks and rays. Travellers often see large groups of resting white-tip reef sharks, schools of golden rays and the incredibly beautiful spotted eagle rays. Black Turtle Cove is a great location to observe mating sea turtles during nesting season. As the water is usually very calm, this area can be navigated using paddles instead of the loud panga engines, increasing your chances of wildlife encounters.

On arrival at Rábida Island's red sand beach you will be greeted by the resident sea lions, basking in the sun. The island's otherworldy red colouring is a result of the high level of iron and magnesium left behind from previous volcanic activity.

A stroll along the beach reveals marine iguanas, mockingbirds, yellow warblers and several species of Darwin’s finches. If you look carefully you may also spot the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs, who have found possibly the only place on earth where they can effectively camouflage themselves.

Chinese Hat Islet

Sombero Chino was named by locals for its shape, resembling the outline of a Chinese hat. Since the management of the National Park restricted the number of visitors, the repopulation of rare, endemic creatures means that the travellers who are lucky enough to get here are likely to have some very special encounters.

Sea lion colonies live on the white coral sand beach. Here you can also see the American oystercatcher and Galapagos penguins swimming along the shore, as well as the Sally Lightfoot crabs, whs bright red shell contrasts starkly with the black volcanic stones.

Day 3

Prince Phillip's Steps, Genovesa

Genovesa Island is secluded from the other main islands in the north of the archipelago and is well-known as the Bird Island.

Prince Philip's Steps are a staircase sunken into volcanic rock that leads to a plateau rich with vegetation and wildlife. True to the nickname of Bird Island, this area is home to nesting masked and blue-footed boobies, Bahama ducks, petrels and gulls amongst a host of other local species. The Galápagos horned owls bask on the warm volcanic rocks here, paying no attention the tourists around them.

Darwin Bay, Genovesa

Emerging from the narrow entrance, you'll reach Darwin Bay, surrounded by protective cliffs. Frigatebirds regularly patrol the skies here and petrels can be seen hunting coastal waters for smaller fish. The green water in the bay is evidence of a high plankton content which attracts fish and seabirds, making this wildlife-rich bay a wonderful site for snorkeling. With some luck, you may also encounter peaceful hammerheads and black spotted stingrays.

Day 4

Bartolomé

Bartolomé in the northern part of the archipelago was nominated for the World Travel Awards 2012 as the most beautiful beach of South America. Here, you will find a fascinating, lunar-like volcanic landscape. At its center, the famous landmark of Galapagos: Pinnacle Rock.

A climb to the highest point of the island offers a wonderful view of the landscape. Take a swim together with some of the penguins who play in the waters and on the shores of the bay here.

Sullivan Bay, Santiago

Although this beauiful beach deserves its place in the highlights list, the day will surprise you with another highlight: the special pahoehoe lava flows.

Almost 100 years ago, lava flowed across the island and left behind various forms of soil: braided and stringy lava fields alternate with sharp-edged jagged formations. Feel the warm stones of the black, unreal lava landscape under your hands and move back to the time of origin, when volcanoes raged here, ultimately creating a paradise.

Day 5

Highlands of Santa Cruz

As you venture into Santa Cruz's higher altitude areas, you will notice the changes in the vegetation as the climate becomes wetter and warmer. The earth in the upper altitudes is rich in minerals. Coffee plantations and fruit orchards line the streets and giant tortoises roam around at ease in their natural environment.

The Scalesia forests in this area offer the opportunity to discover endemic species of the Galapagos Islands, as well as giant cacti and a variety of deciduous trees and edible fruits.

Here you can also visit the twin 'craters' Los Gemelos. While they are not craters in the technical sense, these 70 meter vertical gullies with a carpet of lush vegetation are an impressive sight to behold.

Charles Darwin Station, Santa Cruz

At Charles Darwin Station, you will get a chance to learn more about the friendly giants that you met in the highlands this morning!

Here, scientists from around the world research the many special tortoise subspecies that are endemic to the Galapagos islands. The highlight of the research center is the breeding station, Fausto Llerena, where baby turtles take a training course over rocks, branches and sandy stairs in prepareation for their upcoming release in to the wilderness.

Visitors leave the station with a stronger understanding of the tortoises, iguanas and much of the flora native to the islands. You'll be impressed by the tiny tortoises, often only the size of your hand, who will grow over the next 100 years to become as large as the adults you'll also meet!

Day 6

Las Tintoreras

Prepare yourself for some wonderful encounters with the wildlife of Las Tintoreras, the small archipelago in front of the harbor of Puerto Villamil.

Take in the gorgeous scenery and unique wildlife on Las Tintoreras. Along the shores, the blue-footed boobie males show off their striking blue feet in an attempt to woo the females, the marine iguanas warm themselves up on the black lava rocks and the Galapagos penguins and Galápagos sea lions recover after their dives.

After circumnavigating the islands, put on your snorkeling equipment and explore the underwater world with your guide. In addition to sea turtles, you'll likely spot manta rays and other colorful fish - and if you're lucky, the white-tip reef sharks that migrate here.

Sierra Negra Volcano, Isabela

Spend the morning exploring the volcanic landscape of Isabela Island, created by five side by side shield volcanoes, whose lava flows have united to form a landmass.

Although Sierra Negra is not the highest volcano at 1,200 meters, it has the second largest volcanic cone on earth, with a diameter of about 9 kilometers. From the endge of the crater, visitors are treated to a magnificent view out over the island of Isabela.

Note: Please remember to bring high SPF sunscreen. The Sun's harmful rays can be very strong here.

Day 7

Punta Moreno, Isabela

Punta Moreno is a rugged young lava bay. At first it appears to be a lifeless landscape, however as you walk over the cooled lava, you'll see new green areas and lagoons hosting a wide variety of birds. Marine iguanas and lava lizards are usually found in the lagoons you'll often meet flamingos foraging here for their favourite meal. While the sharp rocks make this hike a little tricky, its path itself is easy enough to be enjoyed by everyone and provides an unforgettable landscape set against a backdrop of the volcanoes Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul.

We recommend bringing plenty of water during this visit, as the lava field reflects the sun making the temperature higher than average. Don't forget to apply sunscreen!

Elizabeth Bay, Isabela

The wide and sheltered Elizabeth Bay, on Isabela's east coast, hosts a bevy of the archipelago's unique wildlife. The mangrove-lined shore contrasts starkly against the surrounding lava fields. The myriad of small islets and rocky reefs make this is a particularly rich area for wildlife.

The waters here are particularly clear, and this makes Elizabeth Bay a great place to spot the rays, sharks, green sea turtles, Galapagos penguins, pelicans, and Galapagos sea lions known to gather here. Nearer to the shores and mangroves you'll see Galapagos flightless cormorants and the sunbathing marine iguanas.

Day 8

Punta Espinoza, Fernandina

Today you are heading towards Fernandina, the westernmost and with just about 700,000 years, the youngest island in the archipelago. Surrounded by hills amidst a lava landscape covered with cacti and mangroves is the visitor location Punta Espinoza. Meet sea lions and hundreds of marine iguanas basking on the black lava rocks and on the beach. While snorkeling you might come close to the resident penguins darting quickly through the water.

Urbina Bay, Isabela

Urbina Bay graces the southeast flank of the Alcedo Volcano. After volcanic activity in 1954 caused a significant uplift, the coast expanded almost a kilometer out. Marine life found a way to thrive in this newly fertile area and many species chose to stay. Today, this area is a great place for snorkeling. During your hike, you may see a large colony of land iguanas, Darwin's finches, giant tortoises (from June to September) and flightless cormorants.

Several species of whale have been spotted in the waters you'll be navigating through today.

Day 9

Espumilla Beach and Buccaneer Cove, Santiago

Espumilla Beach is known for its marine iguanas and red cliff crabs, also know as Sally Lightfoot crabs. The crabs attract hunting herons, who perform their hunter-prey dance. The richness of marine fauna, such as octopus, moray eels and various sharks lends a unique feel to snorkelling in the waters off Espumilla.

Buccaneer Cove is evidence of Santiago's long history as a haven for British buccaneers. These pirates were likely anchoring in this sheltered bay to make repairs and, among other things, to increase their supplies of turtle meat. The steep cliffs surrounding the bay, where hundreds of seabirds settle on the dark red sand beach, are an impressive sight to behold.

Puerto Egas, Santiago

After landing on the black sand beach of Puerto Egas, hike along a 2km long coastal area boasting sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks and lava herons. The rugged lava coast with natural pools, where sea lions bathe and herons play marks the end of your hike.

An excursion to Santiago Island is also one of the rare chances to see Galápagos fur seals in the wild, though not in large numbers.

Day 10

Isla Lobos

Isla Lobos is sometimes known as Sea Lion Island, for the huge colony of resident sea lions. Fire engine red Sally lightfoot crabs strike a strong contrast against the black volcanic rocks during your hike on Isla Lobos. Other curious creatures living on the otherwise uninhabited island include land iguanas and pelicans. Bring your snorkeling gear and treat yourself to a refreshing dip.

San Cristóbal Transfer

The cruise ends in the San Cristóbal port. From here you may take a return flight to the mainland of Ecuador or continue on with your planned route through the Galapagos.

Outdoor & Sports
Wildlife & Nature
Landscapes & Sceneries