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Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

From East to West Galápagos

8 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Aida Maria

Length

8 Days

Ship category

Budget

Ship type

Small Yacht

Capacity

16 Passengers

From East to West Galápagos

5 Reviews

Trip highlights

The best snorkeling in Galapagos: Vicente Rock Point

Thousands of Marine Iguanas at Espinosa Point

Scientific insights at C. Darwin Research Station

Playful Sea Lions in South Plaza

The Galapatours experience

Built in Galápagos

Great itineraries

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 Aida Maria! On this Expedition Cruise, you will discover the incredible wildlife of the Galápagos Islands: Fernandina, the youngest island, will blow your mind with its rugged lava landscapes. The youngest island in the archipelago, it is still being formed by volcanic eruptions and makes for a wonderful, otherworldly contrast to the other islands. Isabela, the biggest of all islands in the Galápagos, offers you fantastic hikes, views and arguably some of the best snorkeling spots in the Archipelago. 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. During your time spent on Rábida, you will have the opportunity to watch wild Flamingos and walk on a blood-red sandy beach. 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. During your time on Santa Cruz, you will have the chance to observe the famous Galápagos Giant Tortoises in the wild and learn more about the preservation and scientific study of these amazing animals. Your visit to Santa Fe will involve a beautiful short hike, during which you can observe Galápagos Hawks, Darwin's Finches, Galápagos Mockingbirds. and Galápagos Sea Lions. On Santiago, an island formerly inhabited by pirates, you will be able to enjoy hikes and dinghy rides. A walk across South Plaza is one of the best visitor experiences in the Galápagos thanks to the large number of species living in such a small area.

Your ship: Aida Maria

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise
Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise
Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

What better way to experience the Galápagos Islands than on board a yacht that was designed and built right here in the islands from local materials and using local craftsmen? The Aida Maria was launched in 1997, and her owner's family have been a part of Galápagos life since the 1930s. A Galápagos cruise aboard Aida Maria gives you a unique perspective on these unique islands. We think Aida Maria gets the balance just right between affordable Galápagos cruising and having an enjoyable, comfortable and stylish experience. When you step on board, it's remarkable to think that the entire ship wa … Read more about Aida Maria

Cabins

Double Twin
Double Twin

Type:

Twins

Max. occupancy:

2

More about this cabin

Map

Itinerary

Your itinerary below may vary, depending on the weather, wildlife breeding, and local conditions.

Kicker Rock

3 Days

Snorkelling Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on a full-day land excursion to Kicker Rock or the legend of the sleeping lion. Explore this fascinating site of breathtaking beauty on land and at sea.

From

USD 410

ASAMOGAL Community Tour Galapagos Coffee Tour

1 Day

A day with locals: Coffee Tour (4h)

This is more than a typical day tour; it's a heartfelt invitation to immerse yourself in the local community and grasp the realities they face while residing in the enchanting Galapagos. In this 4-hour adventure through the highlands of San Cristóbal, you'll explore a coffee farm and a remarkable social project, a true beacon of hope and sustainability for the island. This experience offers more than just insights into coffee production; it's an odyssey beyond typical tourist paths. The tour sheds light on critical subjects like food sovereignty, female empowerment, youth employment, and community support through their impactful Solitaire Fund. Within this addon, you'll unravel the very essence of Galapagos living. Gain a deeper understanding of the islanders' challenges and witness ASAMOGAL's multifaceted economic efforts in action. From coffee cultivation to fruit pulp production predominantly driven by women, as well as engaging coffee tours and tasting experiences, you'll witness the seamless integration of agriculture and tourism, fundamental for a sustainable future. Seize this opportunity to invest a profound day alongside the locals, delving into their daily triumphs and tribulations. Peer beyond the idyllic postcard scenery and comprehend the unwavering resilience and determination ingrained in the daily life of this paradise. ASAMOGAL's inspiring journey epitomizes community unity and showcases their dedication to upholding the delicate harmony between humanity and nature in the Galapagos Islands.

From

USD 145

Ocean Spray Galapagos Cruise

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day extension of our cruise will take you from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on a full-day diving trip to one of the best diving spots in the Galápagos Islands and certainly around the world : Kicker Rock! Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 590

espanola - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

3 Days

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This comfort 3-day extension of our cruise will take you from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on a full-day land excursion to one of the most amazing and uninhabited islands of the Archipelago, either Pitt Point or Española island. In the afternoon, you’ll be invited to put on a mask and snorkel to explore the extraordinary world down there!

From

USD 630

San Cristóbal Arrival at San Cristóbal airport+transfer to ship
Arrival at San Cristóbal airport + transfer to ship (organized)

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 Interpretation Center Gianny Arismendi
Interpretation Center Gianny Arismendi

The Gianny Arismendi Galápagos Interpretation center in San Cristóbal, Galápagos, aims to provide a complete history of the Galápagos and give visitors a more holistic understanding of these islands' unique habitats and wildlife.

There are also interesting exhibits covering the Galápagos' human history, and the conservation efforts in place to preserve the archipelago, and undo some of damage human occupation has brought.

For those who are interested in the geology of the archipelago there is a complete exhibit on the volcanic birth of the Galápagos and how this impacted on the habitats present here.

Your Galapatours expert guide will be able to answer any further questions raised by your visit to the Center and can help you to link what you will learn here to what you will see as your Galápagos journey continues.

Where does the name Gianny Arismendi come from? The Directorate of the Galápagos National Park recognized park ranger Gianni Arismendi Guerrero, one of the park rangers of San Cristóbal, for his 27 years of work dedicated to environmental education.

Santa Fe A walk on Santa Fe
South Plaza - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

Santa Fe is a small, flat island right in the center of the Galápagos archipelago, and is thought to be one of the oldest volcanoes here. Dating of the rocks below the water estimates they were formed almost 4 million years ago.

Santa Fe had its own breed of Giant Tortoise that became extinct at some point in the 1800s due to being hunted for meat. There are two species that are unique to the island still present here - the Santa Fe Land Iguana, and the Santa Fe Rice Rat.

There is one visitor site on Santa Fe, and you will have a panga ride to a wet landing on the beach at Barrington Bay on the island's north coast. From here there are two hiking trails. One is a short loop close to the beach that takes you into an Opuntia forest filled with these massive cactus. This is the best opportunity to see the Santa Fe land iguanas and also other species such as Galápagos Hawks.

The second trail is a tougher proposition as it climbs quite steeply to the top of a cliff from where you will enjoy stunning views over the island's unspoilt interior.

Back on the beach you can join the Galápagos Sea Lions who often play in the waves and you can enjoy some wonderful snorkeling in the clear blue-green waters here.

South Plaza A walk on South Plaza
A walk on South Plaza

Whilst her twin, North Plaza, is closed to visitors, South Plaza is one of the best visitor sites in the Galápagos thanks to the large number of species present on her small area.

The Plazas were formed as the result of a geological uplift, and because this was uneven they both have cliffs on their south sides and low lying shores on their northern coasts.

The most noticeable (and noisiest) of South Plaza's residents are her Galápagos Sea Lions, who have a large colony here. Less obvious are her land iguanas (the smallest in the islands), many marine iguanas and large numbers and varieties of seabirds.

Inland is a mix of scrubby vegetation and giant opuntia cactus forest, providing food for the iguanas. As you follow the circular hiking trail you will come to the summit of the cliffs here where you'll be among countless nesting seabirds.

Santa Cruz Charles Darwin Research Station

The world famous Charles Darwin Research Center is just a 10 minute walk from downtown Puerto Ayora, and is the home of the non-profit Charles Darwin Foundation.

Inside, you'll find exhibits about the geography, geology and climate of the Galápagos, and the evolution of her unique species. There is also lots of information on the Foundation's current conservation and education programs.

As well as conducting it's own key research, the Charles Darwin Center also hosts international scientists, and supports the work of government agencies like the Galápagos National Park.

Next door is the site of the Galápagos' first giant tortoise breeding center, where pioneering work has been done since 1965 for the preservation of these species. Here you can see newly hatched babies, up to juveniles and full-grown adults ready to be released back into the wild.

Santa Cruz Santa Cruz Highlands
El Chato Giant Tortoise Reserve

Santa Cruz is the only island on the Galápagos that allows you to travel through every habitat type that exists in the archipelago. This makes the journey north from the coast up into the highlands a fantastic opportunity to experience the breadth of life that exists on these islands.

Your bus journey starts from Puerto Ayora on the coast and you slowly start to climb through the agricultural zone where open fields begin to give way to lush, green, mist-covered forests. This is a marked contrast to many of the islands which are at much lower elevation and much more arid. This rich verdant landscape is predominantly made up of dense Scalesia forest.

Your expert Galapatours guide will stop several times along the route to allow you to explore various different sites. Among the stops will be a Giant Tortoise reserve, and also a visit to the famous lava tubes. Over half a mile long, a walk through these natural volcanic features is eerie and unforgettable.

Also along the way you will stop for refreshments, and you'll be able to try locally-grown Galápagos coffee - we think it's among the best we've ever tasted!

Isabela Sierra Negra Volcano
Sierra Negra Volcano

Sierra Negra is renowned as the most impressive volcano in the Galápagos. The crater is over 6 miles across and is the second largest in the world.

However, to visit the volcano is quite a logistical effort. The only way to get there is to start with a 45 minute drive from Villamil to a trailhead from where you can follow another 2 hours of trails up to and along part of the rim.

There's also the option to walk on quite recent lava flows, as the so-called parasitic cone of Volcan Chico last erupted in 1979 leaving large flows to cool to rock.

The journey is well worth the effort, as the views from the rim of Sierra Negra are simply stunning. You can see across the other volcanoes on Isabela and across to Fernandina.

Your expert Galapatours guide will explain in detail about the geological processes that shaped not only this part of Isabela, but of the whole Galápagos.

Isabela The Wetlands
The Wetlands

The Wetlands is the name given to the area of lagoons and mangrove swamps just along the coast from Villamil on Isabela Island. This is a popular excursion as it is just a short walk from town on good paths and boardwalks.

This is an important habitat, and is one of the only places where you can see all 4 of the native Galápagos Mangrove species. These mangroves are hugely important, not only for the wildlife they contain, but also for their help in preserving the coastline and resisting the eroding action of waves.

There are a large number of bird species that make their home in the Wetlands, and if you are a birdwatcher this is an excursion you will want to make sure is on your schedule. Speak to one of our Galápagos experts to help select the best itinerary for a visit to the Isabela Wetlands.

Isabela Moreno Point
Moreno Point

Moreno Point (known locally as Punta Moreno) is a short journey from Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela Island. You will take a panga ride which will give you great views of the striking rocky shoreline before you make your landing.

Here you will see the eerie site of a huge lava field leading up to the distant Cero Azul volcano. Hiking through this alien landscape you will come across several tidal lagoons, pools and mangroves - all of which provide an oasis for a range of wildlife, particularly bird species.  In the larger tidal pools you may see green turtles or sharks, the clear waters giving you a unique opportunity to view them from on land!

On your journey back to the boats from your 1.2 mile hike you're likely to see Galápagos Penguins on the rocky shores as well a range of birds including herons and Galápagos Flamingos. This is a favorite excursion as it combines the opportunity to see coastal species with a hike through stunning landscapes.

Isabela Elizabeth Bay
Elizabeth Bay

On the eastern coast of Isabela, the wide and sheltered Elizabeth Bay is a haven for wildlife. With areas of mangrove on the shore that contrast with the surrounding lava fields, and a myriad of small islets and rocky reefs, this is a particularly rich area for wildlife.

Accessible only by panga (small motorised dinghy), exploring Elizabeth Bay will provide you with an opportunity to get up close and personal with many of Isabela's species. During your 2 hour boat ride around Elizabeth Bay you can see rays, sharks, green sea turtles, Galápagos penguins, pelicans, and plenty of Galápagos Sea Lions. Nearer to the shores and mangroves, you'll see Galápagos Flightless Cormorants and marine iguanas.

Galapatours guests regularly tell us that Elizabeth Bay is one of their favourite Galápagos excursions and visitor sites.

Fernandina Espinosa Point
Espinosa Point

Fernandina Island has never been colonised by any non-native species, and this makes it ones of the world's most pristine island ecosystems. Coupled with its young age (Fernandina was only formed a few hundred thousand years ago) this makes a visit to this Galápagos island very special indeed.

At Espinosa Point on the northeastern shore of Fernandina the vista is dominated by "La Cumbre", the volcano whose lava fields formed the island. A visit to Espinosa Point is high on many people's list thanks to the number of iconic unique Galápagos species you will see here. As well as the noisy and fun-loving Galápagos Sea Lions, Espinosa Point is a great place to see Marine Iguanas, the wonderful Galápagos Penguins and the unique and endangered Galápagos Flightless Cormorant. If you are very lucky and keep your eyes skyward you may also catch sight of a Galápagos Hawk circling overhead looking for its next meal.

Isabela Vicente Rock Point
Vicente Rock Point

Galapatours clients regularly rate Vicente Rock Point as one of the best snorkeling and SCUBA diving sites in Galápagos, or perhaps even in the world! There is no landing here, and snorkeling is done directly from the boats. The scenery around the Point is stunning - the remains of two ancient volcanoes made this formation, and the cliffs and caves around the bay provide an amazing backdrop.

The bay is well sheltered from ocean swells, making it ideal for snorkelers of any experience. The cold-water currents bring a rich stock of food to these waters, and the bay around Vicente Rock Point is often home to feeding frenzies, with groups of whales, dolphins, Galápagos Sea Lions, tuna, Blue-footed Boobies and other marine birds all feeding together, making for spectacular sights.

Many boats also take visitors on a panga ride along the shore, offering the chance to explore some of the caves and to encounter some of the other species such as Galápagos Flightless Cormorants and a small colony of Galápagos Fur Seals.

Santiago Egas Port
Santiago - Egas Port - nemo i galapagos cruise - gal00

Puerto Egas (Port Egas) is a sheltered landing site at the southern end of James Bay on the northwestern coast of Santiago. This landing site is the trailhead for two hiking paths.

The first trail runs along the coast to visit the so-called "Fur Seal Grottos". The Galápagos Fur Seals like to seek shade from the equatorial sun, and they prefer rocky shores with caves or other nooks and crannies in which they can keep cool. The grottos here are perfect for them, and the tidal pools are also popular with Galápagos Marine Iguanas who can be seen feeding in and around them.

The second trail from Egas Port heads inland to the "Salt Mine Volcano". This hike is just under 2 miles long and takes you to the rim of a salt mine crater. This "mine" is actually a small volcanic cone that is filled with a salt water lagoon that dries up in the dry season. At several points in the 20th century individuals or companies attempted to mine salt from it, but without commercial success. The name of your landing site is after the owner of the last company to try salt mining here, Hector Egas.

The lagoon is often home to Galápagos flamingos and other birds, and the wonderful Galápagos Hawk can often be seen circling above this area.

Rábida A walk on Rabida Island
A walk on Rabida Island

Rabida is a small, steeply-sloped island with red-sand shores, and was originally called Jervis. Despite its small size, Rabida has one of the highest concentrations of volcanic features in the Galápagos, and it's thanks to the iron-rich lava deposits that its sands and soils are so red.

After a wet landing on the northern coast you will often see Galápagos Sea Lions and marine iguanas around the beach, especially near the sheltered caves in hot weather. Just behind the beach is a nesting site for brown pelicans, who use the saltbush as cover. Rabida is one of the best spots in the archipelago to observe pelicans. Sometimes flamingos can also be seen in the lagoon here.

There is a short hiking trail that leads further inland through Opuntias where there are good opportunities to see land birds like Darwin's finches, Galápagos Doves and Galápagos Mockingbirds.

After your trip inland you can then have a relaxing swim and enjoy some snorkeling, which is very good in the clear waters off the beach. While you swim, you'll be able to see Blue-Footed Boobies taking off over your head from their cliff-top roosts.

North Seymour North Seymour
A walk on 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!

There is also a population of Marine Iguanas and Galápagos Sea Lions are frequently spotted. The snorkeling here is also very good, with plenty of marine life to see including rays and reef sharks.