Santa Cruz - Isabela - San Cristobal

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Trip Overview

Highlights & Details

We wanted to travel the Galapagos on our world trip budget! And we did it!

We booked a flight to reach the main island of Santa Cruz and we stayed on the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal. And we loved our time on these islands! An important reason for that was our very friendly travel agent Andrea who we met on Santa Cruz and who organized everything for our wonderful 12-day-stay on the islands!

Don’t hesitate and contact Andrea from Viajeros en Galapagos (WhatApp: +59 3981068976)!

Hotel Nights


for 2 persons, 12 nights
costs in November 2018

Sir Francis, Santa Cruz

A small hostal close the the fish market street where you can enjoy simple but very delicious seafood dinner. Right at the main street of Santa Cruz and next to a lot of tour operators and 5min from the Harbor.

$45 per night

> Explore this Hostal

Coral Blanco, Isabela

Direct at the beach road and close to the small restaurants, this little bungalows are very good located! A comfortable bed and a nice breakfast is included!

$73 per night

> Explore this Hotel

Gosén, San Cristobal

Small and cozy, this hostel is a located on the hill but good reachable by foot! The small garden and the commune kitchen is definitely a plus as the restaurants on San Cristobal are more expensive.

$40 per night

> Explore this Hostel



for 2 persons
costs in November 2018

Quito – Santa Cruz

Direct Flight
2h 15min
10.40 – 11.55 Quito – Santa Cruz
$ 815 (roundtrip)
$ 40 (Tourist Control at the airport)
$ 200 (Entrance to the islands)

Important: You have to be early at the aiport as you need to get through a luggage check before you even go to the Check-in, otherwise you stand in line twice!

Airport – Santa Cruz

5min Bus
5min Ferry
45min Bus to Puerto Ayora


Small Boats to get to the Boats

Santa Cruz – Isabela

$ 120 (roundtrip)

Santa Cruz – San Cristobal

$ 120 (roundtrip)

Santa Cruz – Airport

45min Bus to Puerto Ayora
5min Ferry
5min Bus



for 2 persons
costs in November 2018

Darwin Research Center

First stop: we wanted to learn more about the Galapagos, their wildlife and especially the giant tortoises! The Darwin Research Center is a perfect starting point to enhance your knowledge before you start the adventures!
$0 (free)

Tortuga Bay

A well built path leads you to the most beautiful beach we’ve ever seen – Tortuga Bay. And not only the beach is wonderful but as soon as you arrive you meet Marine Iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs on the rocks! It’s amazing! Go a little further around the corner and find an even more stunning beach. We just sit there and watched the waves and the wildlife. But you can also rent paddle boards and look for the sea turtles!
$0 (free)

El Chato Tortoise Ranch

Already on the way we met one of this gigantic turtles on the street. In the El Chato Ranch they leaf in freedom with a lot of space and get looked after as well! On the same ground you also walk through the lava tunnels which got formed when the outer lava cooled down and the center still floated through.
$40 for a taxi roundtrip
$5 for the Entrance

Daphne Snorkeling

A day trip we’ll never forget! What a perfect day snorkeling with seals, observing the birds on Daphne Mayor and having the best fresh sushi ever!
$240 for the daytrip

Playa del Amor

On this beach its said that you find shells with heart forms! We didn’t identify the form but met a lot of Marine Iguanas sunning on the rocks and on the way back Flamingos and a lot of surfers! Did you know that the Galapagos are also a Surfers Paradise?
$0 (free)

Pearl Shell

A pear full of seals and they just don’t care that you want to have a sunbath as well ;) It’s amazing how trusting the animals are on these islands. In this small lagoon we snorkeled with Marine Iguanas, Seals and Seaturtles!
$0 (free)

Los Tuneles Snorkeling

Our first close encounter with blue-footed boobies was on these volcanic landscape! Stunning to see how lava formed these tunnels and built a paradise for aquatic animals – due to the shallow pools they are secured from big hunters like sharks!
$260 for the daytrip

Diving Isla Tortuga

Unfortunately we couldn’t dive this islands due to the weather conditions but we heard from other divers, that they saw Manta Rays and colorful fishes – so when we return, we definitely try it again! Talkin about returning we def do that in Jan – March, as the visibility must be so much better!
$380 for 2-tank-dives

Sierra Negra Volcano

A half-day hike to this active volcano was so worth is! In the morning it was cloudy and we almost missed the view over this massive crater – actually the second largest in the world. The most recent eruption was in summer 2018 and a bigger one in 2005. You feel like walking on the moon!
$100 for a guided hike

Diving Gordon’s Rock

Wow! These two dives were just overwhelming! And we didn’t even had a good visibility, so imagine a dive here when the visibility is about 30 to 40 meters from Jan to March?! We met the hammerhead sharks we so wished for and we even had the encounter we never expected to really have one day – we saw a Mola Mola!
$340 for 2-tank-dives

Punta Carola & Baquetizo

San Cristobal is the island of the seals! They are just everywhere – on the benches, streets and beaches! We hiked by ourself to the Playa Punta Carola, the Mirador and further to Playa Baquetizo. It’s a wonderful hike over lava stones and rocks with views over the island and their lagoons! You need good walking shoes!
$0 (free)

360° Snorkeling

Our daytrip around San Cristobal island led us to a pink beach with more blue-footed boobies, the Punta Pitt with hunting red-footed boobies and finally to snorkel at the famous Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock! We didn’t met hammerheads there but we heard normally there must be and our guide was looking for them hardly ;)
$300 for the daytrip

Travel the Galapagos on a Budget


Santa Cruz

Day 1-4: Santa Cruz
As Santa Cruz hosts the largest airport of the Galapagos it is the starting point for most travelers. It has so much to offer that a bit of orientation is helpful:

1. Charles Darwin Research Center: Here you can find more than 200 scientists and volunteers and Galapagos Turtles that are more than 100 years old.
2. Tortuga Bay: This perfectly white, Caribbean like beach is full of Marine Iguanas.
3. El Chato Ranch: Perfect to spot wild Galapagos Turtles and to explore lava tunnels.
4. Laguna de las Ninfas: A relaxing place to watch jumping fishes and a playful seal
5. Las Grietas: A great spot to snorkel in the crystal clear water of the canyon.
6. Daphne Island: An amazing tour with a chance to see Blue Footed Boobies, Frigate Bird with their big shiny red chest, white and black tip reef sharks, sea turtles and playful seals.



Day 5-8: Isabela
A 2h-speedboat ride from Santa Cruz sits the beautiful island of Isabella. All of the Galapagos islands are volcanic in origin but on this one you can see it in particular. And here are our highlights:

1. Pearl Shell lagoon: Great place to snorkel with Marine Iguanas, Sea Turtles and Seals
2. Playa del Amor: Hundreds of Marine Iguanas and Sally lightfoot crabs at a beautiful beach.
3. Tuneles: On this tour you can meet the only penguin in the northern hemisphere, get close with Blue footed boobies, snorkel with white tip reef sharks, green sea turtles, seahorses and a tiger eel.
4. Sierra Negra: Climb the second biggest crater in the world and get amazed by its colors.
5. Posada De Flamengos: As the name indicates you can actually find flamingos at this place.


Diving the Gordon Rocks

Day 9: Santa Cruz
Gordon Rocks is the best place to dive with Hammerhead sharks on the Galapagos. It is an absolute surreal experience to get close with those elegant creatures with their characteristic T-shaped heads. And when you are really lucky you will also see a Mola Mola.


San Cristobal

Day 10-12: San Cristobal
The smallest of the three big islands can be circled on a day trip. And this trip is also the absolut highlight of this island. But there are also some other places worth visiting:

1. Playa Mann, Playa Punta Carola, Cerro Tijeretas and Playa Baquerizo: Observe the cutest baby seals, blue footed boobies, Sally lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas and snorkel with sea turtles.
2. 360-Tour with Leon Dormido: Snorkel in a shark tank, observe all sorts of rays, find the red footed booby and get close with a humpback whale.

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