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Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Southeast Galápagos Cruise

4 Days Galápagos cruise on board the Aida Maria

Length

4 Days

Ship category

Budget

Ship type

Small Yacht

Capacity

16 Passengers

Southeast Galápagos Cruise

4 Reviews

Trip highlights

Incredible snorkeling at Devil's Crown

Gardner Bay: Pristine, white sand beaches

Giant Tortoises in the wild on Santa Cruz

Cormorant Point: Pink flamingos

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: 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 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 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.

Punta Moreno walk - Nemo i galapagos cruise - gal0087

3 Days

Day Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

Enjoy a 3-day cruise extension from Puerto Ayora, including a full-day land excursion to an exquisite uninhabited island in the Galápagos. Observe the remarkable biodiversity up close and snorkel in the tropical waters in the afternoon.

From

USD 680

Galapagos Green Turtle

3 Days

Diving Trip + 2 Hotel Nights

This Mid-range 3-day cruise extension will take you from Puerto Ayora on a full-day diving trip to one of the most spectacular sites in the Galápagos Islands. Get up close to the amazing life, swim amongst sea turtles, sea lions and an endless array of colorful fish!

From

USD 490

Baltra Arrival at Baltra airport+transfer to ship
Baltra: Arrival at Baltra airportBaltra: Arrival at Baltra airport + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104 + transfer to ship - la pinta yacht galapagos cruise - gal0104

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.

Baltra Island, where your arrival airport is, was used as an important Air Force base in the Second World War. This is the primary airport for the Galápagos Islands and you'll be rubbing shoulders with fellow tourists, international naturalists and conservationists, researchers and academics, and Galápagos residents alike. The airport has been built as a "green" airport, and as well as using recycled materials in its construction, it's special design keeps the buildings relatively cool without the need for any air conditioning.

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 plan to spend a few days prior to the cruise in Puerto Ayora and want to do the cruise later this is no problem at all. The transfer from Puerto Ayora to Baltra is very easy.

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!

Floreana Post Office Bay
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.

You will also have the opportunity to take a Panga through some of the nearby coves and mangroves from which you could see sharks, rays, and sea lions swimming around you.

Floreana Cormorant Point
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
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.

Española Suarez Point
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.

Española Gardner Bay
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.

San Cristóbal Lobos Island
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.

San Cristóbal Transfer to San Cristóbal airport
Transfer from ship to San Cristóbal airport (organized)

It's sadly time to make the very short trip to the airport for your flight back to the Ecuador mainland. Your Galapatours guide, who will have been with you throughout your adventure, will accompany you back to the departures area, giving you one final chance to tap into their excellent local knowledge and unrivalled experience.

Note: If want to spend some time in Galápagos after your cruise, please let us know. This is no problem at all and the transfer from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to the airport and back couldn't be easier.

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

Dates & Prices

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Preferred date unavailable? Contact us

Info

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.

What's included

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

Reviews

client

Ilona Erika L

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

November 2023

Our 4 day trip on the ship Aida Maria was amazing. The crew was very friendly, the food simple but very varied and there was always enough. The crew also always tried to keep everything clean. I would especially like to mention our tour guide Ivan Valencia. He made everything possible so that we could visit places where there weren't so many tourists before and we were able to see even more animals. As a biologist, his knowledge of the entire animal and plant world was extremely informative. We would book this tour including Ivan again at any time.

client

Brian S

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

Our week on the Aida Maria was fantastic, exceeding expectations. The crew and guide were fantastic, and the meals were really good - again, better than expected. The highlight was, of course, all of the animals we got to see up close and personal, on land and in the water.

Claire Deluney

Aida Maria Galapagos Cruise

Budget

Very beautiful cruise with everything you can wish for Just came back from a fantastic five week trip to South America. We (sister and myself, early 20s) completed a fantastic eight day / seven night cruise of the Galapagos Islands with Aida Maria. When researching our trip to the Galápagos, there were not many recent reviews of boats. Our criteria for the trip was based on dates, cost and itinerary. The Aida Maria met those criteria, so we hoped for the best and booked our 8 day/7 night cruise over Christmas. The boat was well maintained and our cabin was clean, but a little small. There was little room for luggage, so pack lightly! We were fortunate in that we had a main deck room and could open a window. I believe the rooms lower deck were noisier and smelt of fuel due to their location near the engine. We used the common outdoor areas when navigating between islands, but there were also seats indoors to use during free time. Food was plentiful and tasty, though simple. Had seafood at least one meal everyday, with lots of fruit, rice and salads on the side. Breakfast was generally eggs, cereal, toast and fruit. They made a special effort Christmas Eve with a whole Turkey for dinner. Impressive when you saw the size of the kitchen! We covered the northern, central and southern islands of Galápagos in our cruise. We saw lots of birds and most land animals. Snorkelling was a little disappointing due to poor clarity and not a lot of fish, but as Australians we have been fortunate with some excellent snorkelling experiences in the Great Barrier Reef. Most days we did two land based trips and two snorkelling trips. The boat had two pangas so all 16 passengers on board could get to the island in one trip. Land based trips generally didn't consist of long walks, but rather short meanders on the beach, with our guide stopping to tell us about the animals, history, or plants. The boats itineraries were all well organised so landing sights / walks / snorkelling sights were not overrun with tourists. Due to the large distances between islands, we were often navigating at night. The boat was reasonably small and rocked a lot when moving. If you suffer from sea sickness, ensure you pack medication. The crew didn't speak much English, but they were very attentive. Our guide was informative and helpful. Overall we had a fantastic trip. We both felt that 8 days was just the right length - any shorter and you feel as if you have missed seeing lots, but any more than 8 days in a boat would have been a little too long for us! We also both felt that a boat trip was the way to see the Galapagos islands. The distances between islands is large and by cruising, you maximise the time available on islands to see the flora and fauna. Source: goo.gl/yzaW6J

FAQs

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!

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.

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.

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

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.

Arrival at Quito Airport: SICGAL Luggage Check and TCC Card for your flight to Galápagos
SIGAL Luggage Check at Quito Airport

Galapagos boasts two airports on Baltra and San Cristóbal Islands, offering daily flights from Quito and Guayaquil. Departing in the early morning, the journey from Quito to Galapagos takes approximately 2.5 hours, often including a brief stopover in Guayaquil. The direct flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos clocks in at around 1.5 hours. Three airlines currently serve Galapagos - Avianca, TAME and LATAM.

To mitigate any potential issues arising from flight delays or cancellations on your international leg, it is advisable to arrive in Quito or Guayaquil the night before your Galapagos departure. Ask us for advice on Ecuador hotels when you book your cruise with us.

Galapagos Flights
Southeast Galápagos Cruise

4.8

(4)

Budget

From

USD 1,500



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