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Galapagos Legend: 5-Day Cruise to the Western Islands

Galapagos – Luxury

5-Day Galapagos Cruise to the Western Islands

This 5-day Galapagos cruise itinerary takes you on a trip to the western islands of the archipelago on and around Isabela Island.

There are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with endemic wildlife during daily morning and afternoon excursions that will leave you tired yet wanting more by nightfall.


Please note that the itinerary below is dependent on the Galapagos National Park regulations, weather and sea conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary. All times indicated are approximate, and are also subject to change.

Galapagos Legend vessel

AM: Santa Cruz Island, Embarkation

Passengers are picked up at the Baltra airport by our naturalist guides and taken on a ten minute bus drive to the pier to board the M/V Galapagos Legend. 

PM: Santa Cruz Island, Black Turtle Cove

On the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, accessible only by sea, is where four species of mangrove grow from the shore out into the lagoon. Turtles enjoy swimming in the calm waters, peaking their heads above the surface while fish, rays and small sharks circle below. White-tipped reef sharks can be seen beneath the boat, sea birds, including pelicans, herons and egrets, all feed in the cove. This cove has been declared a “Turtle Sanctuary”.
Difficulty level: Easy
Duration: 1 hour

Galapagos hiking

AM: Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay, Snorkeling – Wet landing

This visitor site is located at the southeastern portion of Santiago Island, and of important geologic interest, features extensive lava flows believed to have been formed during the last quarter of the 19th century.
Difficulty level: Difficult, 1.5 km path.
Type of terrain: Flat volcanic lava
Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling/swimming

PM: Rabida Island, Snorkeling– Wet landing

Dark-red sand covers these unique beaches with incredible landscape; Rabida is considered the epicenter of the Galapagos Islands due to the diversity of its volcanic geology. Nesting Brown Pelicans are found from July through September and nine species of the famous Darwin’s finches can be seen. We will also take a dinghy ride along cliffs to observe nesting seabirds, and snorkel off the coast, where marine life is particularly active.
Difficulty level: Easy
Type of terrain: Sandy
Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling / 1 hour dinghy ride

Giant Galapagos tortoises

AM: Isabela Island, Urbina Bay, Snorkeling– Wet landing

Wet landing on a volcanic “black” beach. Depending on the season, we may find giant tortoises, land iguanas and the unusual Flightless Cormorant. After a short walk inland, snorkeling time is allotted, giving you yet another chance to swim with sea turtles, sea lions and countless tropical fish. Urbina Bay features a wide variety of plant life that changes depending on the season. We can observe the beautiful colors of plants that attract different insects, birds and reptiles. We will explore the uplifted coral reef that resulted from 1954 volcanic activity, with a spectacular view of Alcedo Volcano.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Flat
Duration: 1h30 walk / 1 hour snorkeling


PM: Isabela Island, Tagus Cove, Snorkeling – Dry landing

Dry landing on the Galapagos’ largest island where we will learn about the eruption of the five volcanoes that form it. The trail leads to Darwin’s salt-water crater Lake and excellent views of lava fields and volcanic formations. We will return by the same path for a dinghy ride along a shoreline full of marine wildlife, where we will admire a variety of seabirds, such as Blue-footed Booby, Brown Noddy, terns, Flightless Cormorant and depending on the season, a large number of Galapagos Penguins which are only 35 cm tall; the only penguin species in the world to extend its range into the northern hemisphere along the equator. They are monogamous and lay their eggs in small cracks of lava, on the lower parts of the island near the shoreline not reached by the ocean waves. The population of penguins on the islands is about 2,000 individuals, most of which live on this western portion of Isabela; others are scattered further south on the island. We will have an opportunity to snorkel in deep water. Graffiti believed to have been left by 19th-century pirates is a curious reminder of an intriguing past.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Steep
Duration: 2 hour walk / 40 minutes dinghy ride / deep water snorkeling 1 hour


Galapagos birdwatching


AM: Fernandina Island, Espinosa Point – Dry landing

Espinosa Point is the only spot that we visit on Fernandina, and from it we can see the island of Isabela across the Bolívar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. The largest, most primitive-looking race of marine iguanas* are found mingling with sea lions and Sally Lightfoot Crabs; a wonderful opportunity to encounter Flightless Cormorants at their nesting sites, Galapagos Penguins and the “King” of predators on the Islands, the Galapagos Hawk. “Pa-hoe-hoe” and “AA” lava formations* cover the majority of the terrain. Vegetation is thus scarce inland, but we encounter Brachycereus cacti and extensive mangrove beds lining the shores.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 2 hours walk / 1hour snorkeling

PM: Isabela Island, Vincente Roca Point, Snorkeling

Great deep-water snorkeling at one of the richest marine havens on Earth (Bolívar Channel). We take a dinghy ride along the coast to observe a great diversity of sea and coastal birds; Nazca and blue-footed boobies, noddies, brown pelicans, penguins, flightless cormorants. The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos gives rise to an abundance of marine life.
Duration: 1 hour snorkeling / 1 hour dinghy ride

galapagos Legend Itinerary


AM: Santa Cruz Island, Highlands – Dry landing

A 45-minute bus ride will take us to the Santa Cruz highlands, located to the northwest of Puerto Ayora, where we will find a natural reserve with giant tortoises. These enormous and slow-moving reptiles are responsible for the island’s name and therefore approaching them in their humid and forested abode is always an inspiring adventure. They can weigh between 250 and 300 kg and can live up to 150- 200 years.
Difficulty level: Easy
Type of terrain: Flat & muddy sometimes (depending on season)
Duration: 45 minutes drive / 1h30 walk

After the visit passengers will be transferred to Baltra airport for return flight to Guayaquil or Quito.

  • Please note that all cruise itineraries are subject to change due to seasonal weather conditions (and resultant variations in ocean cruising conditions) affecting accessibility to locations. Thus navigation routes, times and excursions may need to be modified at the cruise captain’s discretion.
  • Passengers should also be aware that animal sightings cannot be guaranteed due to the unpredictability of wildlife behavior. 

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises and tours, providing you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Panama. As South American travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.


Geri Daniel loved her vacation with Rainforest Cruises.
We had an absolutely fabulous time on the cruise. Thank you again for the trip of a lifetime.
— Geri Daniel, Austin, TX
The Johannson family encounter a sloth on their rainforest cruise.
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