Santa Cruz Island Tour - Galapagos

From $1482 per person

Enjoy the wonders of the Galapagos Islands. This 4 day exclusive Galapagos land tour on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos includes visits to the Giant tortoises and Tortuga Bay. Also an optional kayak activity is on offer and a yacht tour to a nearby uninhabited island.

  • Activity Level: Easy
  • Duration: 4 days / 3 nights
  • Highlights: Giant tortoises, Lava Tunnels, Yacht tour to uninhabited island, Tortuga Bay, Kayaking, Snorkelling. Wildlife spots: Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Sea Lions, Galapagos Penguins (if visiting Bartolome), Blue Footed Boobies, Darwin’s Finches.
Galapagos Giant Tortoise sitting in green grass on Santa Cruz Island


Day 1 Arrive Santa Cruz & Highlands Tour (L)

On arrival at the airport in Galapagos you are on Baltra Island. In the airport you will need to pass through migration where you register your entry to the Galapagos and pay the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee. Adults US$100 per person, and children US$50 per person.

Coming out of the airport your guide will be waiting for you and will take you to the bus for the short journey to the Itabaca Channel. Here we have a 5-minute crossing on the local barge which takes us onto Santa Cruz Island, where we meet our private vehicle.

From here we begin to cross Santa Cruz Island and stop off in the highlands for our first great experience of the day, a visit to see the Galapagos Giant Tortoises in the wild, in their natural habitat.

We can also experience the geological formations of the Galapagos, with a visit to the lava tunnels found in this region, created by volcanic activity. Enjoy the exuberant endemic vegetation found in this humid zone of the highlands.

Lunch included in a local restaurant in the highlands.

Overnight in a local hotel with breakfast included.

Day 2 Full Day Yacht Tour to a Nearby Island (B,L)

This morning we will join a shared tour, navigating by yacht to one of the near-by uninhabited islands.

The island options which we can choose from (subject to availability) are Bartolome, North Seymour, Plazas or Santa Fe. Below we have a description of the highlights each island offers. For smaller children the best island tour options are North Seymour and Santa Fe.

Each of the tours includes a walk on the chosen island to enjoy the geological features and wildlife, along with a snorkeling activity to marvel at the marine life.

Lunch included on board the yacht.

Overnight in a local hotel with breakfast included.

Day 3 Tortuga Bay & Academy Bay Kayak or Charles Darwin Research Station (B,L)

This morning we have a private tour to Tortuga Bay. The trail to the beach is 2.5km long and takes around 40 minutes walking at a good speed. The trail brings us directly to Playa Brava, a beautifully long beach of over 1km in length with fine, white sands. A perfect spot for surfing, but not safe for swimming.

Tortuga Bay is divided into two beaches, at the end of Playa Brava there is a small peninsula. A trail crosses the peninsula, through a nesting area of marine iguanas, and brings you onto Playa Mansa. A beautiful bay perfect for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking (extra cost applies).

Here you can explore the marine fauna of the mangrove ecosystems. We return to Puerto Ayora in a local speed boat.

Lunch included in a local restaurant

In the afternoon we have the option of choosing a Kayak & Snorkel activity in Academy Bay or a guided visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Clients must choose one option.

Kayak in Academy Bay: Our private kayaking activity begins at the Playa de los Alemanes. We kayak along the coast, near mangroves, looking out for sting rays and turtles. We follow a route from this bay to Punta Estrada which takes us into little canals where we can observe sea birds like pelicans, blue footed boobies & lava gulls. We also have the chance to come aground onto a little beach where we can tie up the kayaks and snorkel with colourful fish, stingrays, white tip sharks, sea lions and sea turtles

Charles Darwin Research Station: This afternoon we visit the Charles Darwin Research Center. We reach the Center after a 15-minute walk. Along the trail there is a Galápagos National Park information booth where we need to register. While walking around the research center we will be able to observe different species of giant tortoises and land iguanas that live on the islands of Santa Cruz, Española, Santiago and Pinzón. The species were brought here to conduct a captive breeding program with the aim of repopulating areas that have been adversely affected in the past.

Overnight in a local hotel with breakfast included.

Day 4 Transfer out (B)

Private transfer out this morning from our hotel to Baltra airport to check in for our return flight to mainland Ecuador.

Descriptions of Yacht Tours to Nearby Uninhabited Islands.

Bartolomé Island, Full day.

Introduction A viewpoint some 350 feet above sea level offers breathtaking views to surrounding islands and Pinnacle Rock. The orange beach and coastline offers great swimming and snorkeling with the opportunity of seeing penguins, sea lions, rays, reef fish and white-tipped reef sharks.

Description This fantastic daylong tour offers spectacular volcanic landscapes and great snorkeling. The journey in the boat takes almost two hours but there is the chance of seeing dolphins and even whales during the crossing. And, the boat will stop at Daphne Island, a volcanic tuff cone formation to view the sea lions and various sea birds that inhabit it. Bartolome Island itself is famous for its ‘Pinnacle Rock’ - probably the most photographed volcanic formation in the islands. Climb up a long wooden staircase comprising 360+ steps to the viewpoint on the summit that offers uninterrupted views to nearly all the central islands in the archipelago. A short dinghy ride after the walk will allow you to photograph the Galapagos Penguins that live along the coastline. Lunch is served with one of the most amazing volcanic backdrops found anywhere in the archipelago. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.

Includes: transport, guide, lunch, water, snorkeling equipment. Wet suits are not provided.

North Seymour Island & Bachas Beach, Full day.

Introduction This picturesque island offers the opportunity of close up encounters with many marine birds, including the Dancing Blue Footed Booby and magnificent Frigate bird, as well as Land Iguanas and Lava Lizards.

Description Located slightly to the north of the island of Baltra, and a short boat ride from Santa Cruz Island, North Seymour is a low, flat island, formed as a result of the uplift caused by magma build up below. It is covered with low, bushy vegetation and contains the largest colony of magnificent Frigate birds in the Galapagos; Land Iguanas are common here too. There is also a population of Blue-Footed Boobies that perform an amusing courtship dance when nesting conditions are right, making this one of the highlights of the visit. On your return, the launch will make its way back towards Santa Cruz, where it will anchor in calm water on Bachas Beach so that you can enjoy your lunch. A walk along the beach after lunch promises Sea Turtle nests, shorebirds, diving Boobies and even Flamingos. Snorkeling and easy swimming from the beach follows the walk. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.

Includes: transport, guide, lunch, water, snorkeling equipment. Wet suits are not provided

South Plaza Island & Punta Carrión, Full day.

Introduction One of a very colorful pair of small uplifted islands a short distance from the east coast of Santa Cruz, South Plaza has a unique landscape of Sesuvium plants and Opuntia cacti and provides some of the most interesting wildlife observation spots in Galapagos.

Description Land iguanas are easily seen from the trail, normally lazing in the shade of the cacti. Swallow-tailed Gulls and Frigate birds use the rising air off the sea to glide effortlessly over the escarpment. Towards the far end of the island lives a ‘bachelor colony’ of male Sea Lions. Lunch is served anchored close to the rocky seashore inhabited by a large colony of playful Sea Lions. After lunch, a short boat ride to Punta Carrion offers the opportunity for easy snorkeling and swimming around a shallow and protected cove. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.

Includes: transport, guide, lunch, water, snorkeling equipment. Wet suits are not provided.

Santa Fe Island, Full day.

Introduction Santa Fe Island is located south of Santa Cruz. A walk around this dry and rugged island, offers the chance of spotting the Santa Fe Land Iguana that is only found here.

Description Anchored in the crystal clear waters of this beautiful protected bay, here you can snorkel with sea lions. Landing on the sandy beach you will be greeted by colonies of sea lions. A short circular trail takes you along the cliff edge where you can spot the Iguanas as well as many Lava Lizards and even the Galapagos Hawk. The trail brings you back round onto a second beach that is also inhabited by Sea Lions and Blue Footed Boobies who sit on the rocks. Snorkel in the bay with Sea Lions and admire the many species of tropical reef fish and occasionally Sea Turtle and Rays. Lunch is served on board whilst anchored in the bay. Please bring walking shoes, sun hat, sun block and beachwear.

Includes: transport, guide, lunch, water, snorkeling equipment. Wet suits are not provided.

3 Star: Hotel Fiesta
3 Star Superior: Hotel Ikala
4 Star: Angermeyer Waterfront Inn


3 Star Prices 2024

2 people
$2006 p/p
3 - 4 people
$1669 p/p
5 - 6 people
$1482 p/p

3 Star Superior Prices 2024

2 people
$2103 p/p
3 - 4 people
$1791 p/p
5 - 6 people
$1594 p/p

4 Star Prices 2024

2 people
$2401 p/p
3 - 4 people
$1996 p/p
5 - 6 people
$1836 p/p

Price includes:
Private airport transfers, top English-speaking guide, private tour to Highlands, Tortuga Bay & Academy Bay Snorkel, one shared yacht tour to near-by island, accommodation as specified, meals as specified (B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner), snorkel equipment & wetsuit for activities.

Not included:
International flights, Galapagos flights, Transit Control Cards ($20 per person), Galapagos National Park Entry fee (US$100 per person), personal travel insurance, meals not specified, alcoholic and soft drinks, extra activities not specified, tips and personal expenses

Prices are stated in US Dollars.
Prices are valid until 31st December 2024.
This tour begins and ends in Baltra airport, Galapagos.

Day 1: Photographing Giant Tortoises on Santa Cruz
Day 1: Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise
Day 2: Yacht tour to nearby uninhabited island
Day 2 Option: Pinnacle Rock, Bartolome Island
Day 2 Option: Galapagos Penguin, Bartolome Island
Day 3: Playa Brava, Tortuga Bay
Day 2: Marine Iguanas, Tortuga Bay
Day 3: Playa Mansa, Tortuga Bay
Day 2: Kayaking in Academy Bay
Day 4: Galapagos Sea Lion, Santa Cruz