North & Central Galápagos
5 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Estrella del Mar
North & Central Galápagos
Incredible snorkeling at Devil's Crown
Gardner Bay: Pristine, white sand beaches
Seymour: A Blue-footed booby's paradise
Cormorant Point: Pink flamingos
The Galapatours experience
Super comfortable cabins
Great value option
English-speaking guide for all activities
Lectures in the evening
Get to know the highlights of Galápagos with this Naturalist cruise on board the beautiful Estrella del Mar! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: On Española, the oldest and arguably the greenest of the Galápagos Islands, incredible hikes await. You will get to see many endemic species, including the Española Mocking Bird, the Española Lava Lizard, and, hopefully, the famous Waved Albatross. During our visit to Floreana, you will have the opportunity for some great dinghy rides, extensive snorkeling, and learning more about the fascinating human history of the Galápagos. On North Seymour, an incredible hike and snorkeling session awaits you. This island is the archipelago condensed into very little space, and you'll be able to see almost all the iconic Galápagos species in just a few hours. On San Cristóbal, you will be able to snorkel in crystal clear waters, relax with sea lions on pristine white sand beaches and learn more about the evolution of giant tortoises.
We compensate all 1.3 tons of CO2 that this trip will cause.
Your ship: Estrella del Mar
- Great value option;
- Comfortable accommodation;
- Great reviews for the chef;
- Wide range of itineraries.
Estrella Del Mar offers an excellent option for those who want to cruise the Galápagos in comfort, but are prepared to sacrifice some top end luxury for excellent value. Built in 1990, Estrella uses her space cleverly, so that she never feels crowded. Limited to a maximum of 16 guests, you’ll have a great experience as you cruise between stunning sites of interest around the Galápagos.
Comfortable Cabins Estrella Del Mar has eight cabins, four on the lower deck, and four on t … Read more about Estrella del Mar
Transfers to and from ship
Snorkel gear (free of charge)
Flights to and from Galapagos
100% CO2 carbon footprint offset
Air conditioning & private bathroom
Single travellers can share cabin
Water, Coffee, Tea & fresh juices
Food & Drinks
The food on our Galapágos Cruises is among the very best you will find in South America. Most of the on-board chefs are internationally trained and have prior experience working in the best hotels and restaurants in Ecuador and indeed around the world.
You can expect a first-class selection of food, including a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, locally sourced poultry and fish/seafood, rice and pasta dishes. Most boats will always include some typical Ecuadorian dishes on the menu during your cruise. If you have specific dietary requirements then these can usually be accommodated by the chef providing you have given advance notice. Please make sure you tell us about any allergies or dietary requirements you have at the time you book with us. If you leave it until you arrive at the dockside, then it may well be impossible to accommodate your needs.
Most boats serve a range of options at meal times in a relaxed buffet-style. At the first class and luxury end of the market, some boats have more formal dining where you will be served at your seat. However the atmosphere is always relaxed on board our cruises, and never stuffy or formal.
Your itinerary below may vary, depending on the weather, wildlife breeding, and local conditions.
Arrival at San Cristóbal airport+transfer to ship
San Cristóbal • Arrival at San Cristóbal airport+transfer to ship
Welcome to Galápagos! Once your flight has landed and you went through the immigration process, you'll be met in the Arrivals lounge by our English-speaking guide who will take you to your transfer vehicle for the short journey to your waiting ship.
San Cristobal is home to the official capital city of the Galápagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and one of the archipelago's 2 airports. We don't know of any other airport where jet airliners land that is within walking distance of the town it serves, as is the case here on San Cristobal - you can stroll to the centre of town from the terminal in 15 minutes!
Once on board your ship, you will be introduced to the crew and given a welcome briefing as well as an important safety drill. After this you'll be shown to your cabin. While you're served a well-deserved and delicious lunch, the captain will cast off and your adventure truly starts.
Note: If you are already in San Cristóbal before the cruise and want to meet the group there, please let us know. This is no problem at all and the transfer from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and back couldn't be easier.
San Cristóbal • Lobos Island
Lobos Island is named after the colony of Galápagos Sea Lions that live here, but they aren't the only native Galápagos species that calls this narrow island home. You can see Galápagos Fur Seals basking here, and there is a nesting colony of Blue-Footed Boobies that come to Lobos each year to raise their chicks.
There are one or two short hiking trails that lead into the center of the island, and this is always a peaceful place to visit. Galapatours visitors tell us it's one of their favorite visitor sites to just sit and soak up the Galápagos atmosphere.
Back on the beach, the swimming and snorkeling is wonderful, and thanks to the island's position close to the main shore of San Cristobal, the channel between them is sheltered and the turquoise water is crystal clear. This is a Galapatours favorite spot, so speak to one of our Galápagos specialists if you want help choosing an itinerary that includes a visit to this special place.
Witch Hill & Kicker Rock
San Cristóbal • Witch Hill
The brilliant white coral sand beach at Witch Hill ("Brujo Hill") is, in our opinion, one of the very best in the Galápagos. The hill itself is the remains of a volcanic "tuff cone" - one made up of compacted volcanic ash and debris. This was one of the first sites where Charles Darwin made landfall on his famous journey here on HMS Beagle.
This is a wonderful place to see many Galápagos species, both in the sea and on the land and in the air. Among the creatures you are likely to see on a visit to Brujo Hill are Galápagos Sea Lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, and Galápagos Blue-Footed Boobies. It's possible to walk right along the beach at a leisurely pace, taking in everything around you.
We really recommend you snorkel here, and if you do you'll be rewarded with likely sightings of Galápagos rays, green sea turtles, sponge coral and a wide range of beautiful fish. If you aren't a swimmer, then a panga ride will still let you see plenty of wildlife thanks to the crystal clear waters off this stunning beach.
San Cristóbal • Kicker Rock
Kicker Rock (or Leon Dormido, "sleeping lion", locally) is an iconic feature of Galápagos geology, and is one of the most popular photograph opportunities in the archipelago.
Kicker Rock is the remains of a volcanic "tuff cone". Tuff cones are formed when hot magma meets cold seawater, and the resulting explosion forms the rocky structure seen today. Over countless years erosion has caused a split, opening a narrow channel that small boats can sail completely through, and offering an amazing view as you sail around this 490ft tall monolith!
San Cristóbal • Pitt Point
Pitt Point, or Punta Pitt, is at the far eastern edge of San Cristobal. Following a wet landing directly onto the beach you'll be welcomed by the friendly and noisy barking of the local colony of Galápagos Sea Lions! This is actually a bachelor colony of males who haven't held a breeding territory, and they can sometimes be the worse for wear if they have been fighting on one of the breeding beaches elsewhere.
After the noise of the beach, a quieter path takes us up the cliffs to a breeding site used by all 3 resident species of booby - the Blue-Footed, Red-Footed and Nazca Boobies. Nowhere else in the Galápagos do all three species nest side-by-side like this.
As well as this unique booby colony you can also see Galápagos Frigatebirds and petrels. In addition to the wonderful bird life, the view down to the beach and across the island from this high vantage point make the climb worth it.
The hiking trail lets you get a close look at the Saltbush and other tough shrubs that manage to survive in this sometimes eerie volcanic landscape. Your Galapatours guide will be able to explain in detail how hardy plants such as these colonise the lava fields all over the Galápagos.
Española • Gardner Bay
Gardner Bay is a wonderfully sheltered area on the eastern shore of Espanola Island. It boasts one of the best beaches in the Galápagos, with superb white sand. There is nowhere better on the archipelago to simply sit back, relax, and take in the marvels of the wildlife around you.
The beach here is home to a large colony of Galápagos Sea Lions, who seem to love sunbathing on the beach as much as we humans do! As well as the fun-loving Sea Lions you can also find Galápagos Mockingbirds here. These birds are full of curiosity, and have been known to come and investigate bootlaces, camera straps and other equipment!
The wonderful Galápagos Green Sea Turtle can also often be seen in the shallows here, and along with a large variety of colorful reef fish, this makes Gardner Bay a great place to swim and snorkel.
Española • Suarez Point
Suarez Point is on the western tip of Espanola and is one of the most wildlife-packed of all the visitor sites in the Galápagos. After a wet landing on a beach that's frequented by Galápagos Sea Lions you can enjoy a 2 mile hike along a trail that will take you up around the cliffs.
The range of wildlife on show here is simply stunning. This is a great place to view the remarkable Galápagos Blue-Footed Booby as well as their cousins the Nazca Booby. You can also see the rare Waved Albatross at Suarez Point, where they use the cliff tops to launch themselves into the air over the ocean.
Another famous natural feature here is the blowhole. This geological formation funnels the incoming waves into a chamber where it gets compressed and then the air and seawater are forced out at great speed, making a spectacular plume of water shoot high into the air.
Post Office Bay & Cormorant Point
Floreana • Post Office Bay
Floreana, like several of the Galápagos Islands, has a history of whaling. During voyages of many months, whaling ships would call here to replenish stocks of food and water, and the sailors were often keen to send news to loved ones that they were still safe. A tradition grew up here where sailors would leave a letter addressed home, hopeful that a ship heading back to port would pick it up and deliver it for them. This tradition of leaving letters and cards, and picking up others addressed to your home port meant that the location of this letter drop became known as "Post Office Bay".
Decades later, the unofficial Floreana post office is still very active - why not leave a card of your own, or see if you could take one back to your home town for someone else?! As well as this charming tradition, Post Office Bay boasts a pleasant beach, and there is a short hiking trail down to a cave, which is actually a lava tube that runs down to the sea.
Floreana • Cormorant Point
Cormorant Point is on the northern tip of Floreana, and you'll land on a beach that sits between two volcanic cones. The sand on one of the beaches here has a noticeably olive-green color. This is due to a much higher than usual concentration of olivine crystals in the sand. Another beach is made up mainly of coral sand and is almost a brilliant white in comparison.
This Galápagos site has a large lagoon which is favored by flamingos, their pink coloring contrasting with the green sand. There is some good snorkeling here, and you can often spot rays in the shallows. There is a one mile hike available that takes you to higher ground and provides great views over the lagoon, and to both beaches on either side of the Point.
Floreana • Devil's Crown
Once a volcanic crater, the Devil's Crown is now what remains of the eroded crater. The wind and waves have breached the east and west walls, leaving just the northern and southern crater edges showing above the water. Over thousands of years a coral reef has grown in the submerged center, creating one of the best snorkeling sites on the entire Galápagos.
Exposed to currents, snorkeling in the Devil's Crown isn't a sedentary experience, and the surges can be quite thrilling! The marine life you will see is unparalleled, with colorful reef fish, sharks, rays and more. If your itinerary includes a stop here, you really must get into the water as it's an experience not to be missed.
North Seymour & Transfer to Baltra airport
North Seymour • North Seymour
The island is named after an English nobleman, Lord Hugh Seymour and has an area of 1.9 square kilometers and a maximum altitude of 28 meters. This island is home to a large population of blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls and hosts one of the largest populations of frigatebirds. North Seymour has a visitor trail approximately 1.2 mi in length crossing the inland of the island and exploring the rocky coast.
North Seymour was formed at the same time as neighboring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. This small, flat island has hiking trails throughout, allowing you to explore the arid landscape and to meet the seabirds that call North Seymour home.
North Seymour was the site of one of the earliest conservation experiments in the Galápagos. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved there by Captain Hanckock. They have since thrivedthrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island and more than 3,000 on the neighbouring Baltra island.
The biggest attraction of North Seymour is its large colony of Blue-Footed Boobies and its Frigatebirds. These popular Galápagos species are often found together because the Frigatebirds rely on the Boobies’ fishing prowess. The Frigatebirds actively steal the Boobies catch to feed themselves!
Baltra • Transfer to Baltra airport
Your Galápagos adventure ends with the arrival of your ship back at Baltra Island. After what many guests describe as an emotional goodbye to your ship and its crew, you'll board the transfer vehicle that will take you on the short journey to the airport in plenty of time for your flight back to the mainland.
Baltra airport serves both Guayaquil or Quito, and we can arrange flights that fit best with your onward plans - particularly if you are continuing a South America tour. Speak to one of our travel experts as we are often able to beat even internet pricing on flights to and from Galápagos.
Note: If you plan to spend a few days in Galápagos after your cruise this is no problem at all. Just let us know and we will arrange for the logistics. The transfer from Baltra to Puerto Ayora, for example, is very easy.
Single Cabin Supplement
When booking online, you can choose the option to "Upgrade to single occupancy". This will guarantee you the whole cabin to yourself, for an additional fee. If you don't select this option, then another traveler of the same sex might be placed into the same cabin with you.
All meals onboard (International and Ecuadorian Cuisine). Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for with advance notice - please ask us about your needs.
Snorkeling sessions - whenever possible and allowed by the National Park.
Extensive Zodiac Rides to explore the shorelines and mangrove forests from close up.
All transport to and from the ship: Pick-up by your guide directly from the airport (if you arrive at the first day) and drop-off by your guide directly to the airport (if you leave on the last day).
English-speaking naturalist guides with you at all times during the excursions.
Briefings in the evening, during which your guide will explain what you can expect from your next day.
Lectures in the evenings about a variety of topics, including Geology, Marine Biology, Natural History, Human History, and more.
Entry costs to museums, research stations, breeding stations, etc.
We offset 100% of all CO2 emissions caused by your trip, including all transport, your cruise and your flights (should you choose to book them through us). Carbon offset is achieved through a Gold Standard Climate Protection Project. Learn more
What's not included
Galápagos National Park Fee: 100USD, payable in cash upon arrival at the airport in Galápagos (please see our FAQ)
INGALA Luggage Check Fee at the airport on the mainland: 20USD (please see our FAQ)
Alcoholic beverages onboard (please see our FAQ)
Bottled soft drinks onboard (Coke, Sprite etc.)
Tips & Gratuities for your Guide and Crew (please see our FAQ)
Travel Health Insurance
Are their any customs restrictions for travel to Galapagos?
Under Ecuadorian law, if you are only temporarily visiting the Galápagos then you are exempted from the requirement to pay any customs charges on items that you are bringing in to the country. This includes new or used portable electronics such as cameras, laptops, music players, etc.
You MUST NOT bring any agricultural or plant materials or any unprocessed food products to the islands. To avoid problems at customs and bag check we suggest only traveling to Galápagos with pre-wrapped snack products such as chocolate bars, etc. Food is plentiful and freshly cooked on your Galapatours cruise, with a wide range of choice on offer to suit all tastes - you really don't need to bring anything with you!
Do I need a visa to go to Galapagos?
US, Canadian and Australian citizens do not need a visa for tourist stays of less than 90 days in Ecuador. Upon entry, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months. To enter Galapagos, the first official requirement is a valid Ecuadorian tourist visa stamp in your passport - this should have been issued to you upon arrival to mainland Ecuador.
What are the entry requirements for Galápagos?
This is a multi-layered question, that we have tried to answer in various articles. Please click on the corresponding links to learn more about the different topics. To recap: Tourists visiting the Galapagos Islands must have a valid passport and, in most cases, can obtain a visa upon arrival in Ecuador. When leaving Ecuador's main land, tourists' luggage will be checked for restricted items by the Tourist Control and Certification (TCC) to ensure the preservation of the islands' unique environment and wildlife. This check costs 20USD and is done at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, before checking in for your flight to Galapagos. A Galapagos National Park entrance fee of $100 must be paid upon arriving in Galapagos. Travel insurance that covers emergency evacuation and medical expenses is also recommended. Visitors are advised to respect the park's rules, such as restrictions on hiking and camping and removal of natural objects. At the following link you can find out more about vaccinations for a Galápagos trip.
What is INGALA fee? What is the TCC? What is the TCT?
These are all the same thing! In short, this is a small fee that is paid to receive a "transit card" that authorises you to visit the Galapagos Islands, and ensures that you return again at the end of your trip.
Introduced in 2012 by INGALA, the Ecuadorian government department that administers the Galapagos, the Galapagos TCT is designed to help control unauthorised immigration to the islands, whose fragile ecosystems are already at risk from human activity.
You must go to the INGALA booth at the airport in Ecuador (Quito or Guayaquil) with your valid plane ticket to Galapagos. After paying the 20 USD administration fee you will receive your TCC ("Transit Control Card"), also known in Spanish as TCT Galapagos ("tarjeta de control de transito"). You then turn in your card at the end of the trip. The system tracks all non-resident movements into and out of Galapagos. In most of the cases it is possible to prebook this service if you have booked the national flights together with your Galapagos cruise. If you have prebooked this card, a ship representative will meet you at the airport and give you the Transit Control Card.
Please note the INGALA booth at the airport only accepts CASH payments and most importantly, please keep the Galapagos Transit Control Card safe for your flight back.
What is the Galápagos National Park Entrance Fee?
The Galápagos National Park Entrance fee is levied on all visitors to the islands. The Galápagos entry fee is currently 100 USD per person (reduced to 50 USD for children under 12 years old). This fee must be paid, in cash, at the airport of arrival. If you do not pay, you will not be allowed to leave the terminal - so please make sure you have the means to pay the Galápagos entrance fee! If you are a citizen of a country in South America you might pay less, check here for more information. Therefore, the payment of this entrance fee is indispensable to take part in a Galapagos cruise.
Some people have expressed surprise about paying a Galápagos park "entry fee" simply to set foot on the islands, but the proceeds of this entrance fee go directly into the ongoing conservation, protection and management of the islands. The proceeds are split between several important institutions as follows:
- 40% Galapagos National Park
- 20% Galapagos Municipalities
- 10% National Insitute
- 10% Galapagos province local government
- 5% National Navy
- 5% Ministry of Environment
- 5% Quarantine and pest control
- 5% Galapagos Marine Reserve
What is the SICGAL baggage check?
To protect the vulnerable and unique Galapagos habitats and wildlife, no non-native plant or animal species must be allowed to arrive on the archipelago. SICGAL is the government department responsible for ensuring the islands are protected in this way.
After you have received your TCT/TCC card at the airport in Ecuador, you should proceed to the SICGAL booth. There you will be asked to fill out a form and may have your luggage examined.
To make sure you don't have any trouble here, please do not attempt to travel with any foods other than small quantities of pre-wrapped snack items like chocolate bars or similar, and certainly don't have any plants or plant materials in your bags. Once checked, you will receive an approval label to attach to your bags, and you can then make your way to your airline check in.
North & Central Galápagos