The islands offer a wide range of landing sites and trails to visit on a Galapagos cruise. Below are descriptions of some of the main islands that can be visited on your cruise. Please note that no cruise itinerary visits all of these islands. Go to our Galapagos Islands Cruises page to see where each ship goes.
Baltra’s (San Cristobal on some itineraries) jet airport is our connection with the mainland and is just a short bus ride from the harbor where most of our cruises begin. Other cruises depart from San Cristobal.
Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago, composed of six shield volcanoes that have merged into a single landmass. Trails offer spectacular views of Darwin Lake, a saltwater crater lake and the long narrow inlet that appears to connect with it. At the top of the trail, observe the different vegetation zones, and catch a glimpse of Darwin and Wolf Volcanoes. Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, pelicans and marine invertebrates are often seen.
Fernandina is the youngest island in the Galápagos; the most recent volcanic eruption occurred in 1995. Punta Espinosa is a narrow stretch of land where you can see snakes (non-poisonous), flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, and Galápagos hawks. Marine iguanas are everywhere. If you are snorkeling, this is one of the few places where you may see iguanas feeding underwater.
At James (Santiago) marine iguanas are scattered around feeding on exposed algae and tidepools are filled with Sally Lightfoot crabs that attract several species of herons. On the northeast side of the island, enjoy swimming and snorkeling with playful sea lions in Sullivan Bay.
Floreana’s Punta Cormorant sports a beach with green olivine sand. On a brackish lagoon skinny-legged flamingos wade through the water, sifting shrimp with their curved bills. Nearby is Devil’s Crown, a volcano crater that has been eroded by the waves, providing one of the best snorkeling sites in the Galápagos.
Genovesa is one of the outlying islands of the archipelago, and is a favorite for birdwatchers. Red footed boobies, masked boobies, wandering tattlers, lava gulls, yellow warblers, sharp beaked finches, and Galapagos doves are among the many birds found on this small and beautiful island.
San Cristobal is home to the Interpretation Center, built in cooperation with the Spanish Science Center. It gives a good introduction to the Galápagos Islands, its marine and land life, fauna and flora. It is located in the outskirts of the small city of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the capital of the Galápagos Province. On Cerro Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill) visitors are treated to a spectacular view of the white beaches on one side and the roofs of Puerto Baquerizo on the other. The hill is often visited by frigatebirds, giving it its name. Here it is possible to see magnificent frigatebirds and great frigatebirds in the same colony.
Bartolomé is home to the landmark of the Galápagos, Pinnacle Rock. On the rocks at its base are Galápagos penguins, the smallest species of penguin and the only one found in the Tropics. In addition, nesting sea turtles (in season) wade in the shallow water near the shore, exhausted after a long swim to these beaches to lay their eggs.
Plazas Island are two small islets that were uplifted a short distance from the East Coast of Santa Cruz. Despite its small size, some of the most interesting and outstanding species of the archipelago occur here. The principal attraction of Plazas are the land iguanas, the sea lions and the swallow–tailed gulls. Also we can see yellow-tailed mullets, Audubon’s shearwaters, red-billed tropicbirds, frigatebirds, and brown pelicans gliding past the cliffs.
Rábida is a small island with red volcanic rocks surrounding a beautiful red sand beach, where there is a colony of sea lions and a pelican nesting site. The trail leads to a salt water lagoon where shore birds can be seen.
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galápagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic center of the archipelago and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galápagos National Park offices. The world-famous research station is a tortoise breeding and rearing center, where tortoises of different subspecies are prepared for reintroduction to their natural habitats. The lush greenery of the Santa Cruz Highlands is a welcome contrast to the arid scenery of the smaller, lower islands.
Hood (Española) is the southern-most island of the archipelago and because it is so isolated, has a high proportion of endemic fauna. Here, along one of the islands loveliest beaches, extroverted mockingbirds sit on top of visitors hats, peck at their feet and investigate their belongings. At Punta Suárez the quantity and variety of wildlife is truly remarkable. Further inland you will see masked and blue-footed boobies, Galápagos doves, red- billed tropicbirds and American oystercatchers. Hood is also home to the only colony of waved albatross on the planet.