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Petrel: 8-Day Cruise to Eastern & Central Islands

Galapagos – Luxury

8-Day Galapagos Cruise to Eastern & Central Islands

Start on at the far eastern reaches of the Galapagos at San Cristobal Island where you will make many new sea lion friends, then over 8 days of cruising, reach the Santa Cruz, the most accessible central island.

The Petrel’s first class naturalist guides will keep you busy every day as you go hiking in search of wildlife and carefully navigating into hard-to-reach nooks by panga.


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 night


AM: San Cristobal Island, Embarkation

Arrival in airport and transfer to the boat. Welcome drink & briefing onboard about the boat and the island.

PM: San Cristobal Island, Interpretation Center – dry landing

Activities: hiking

The Interpretation Center was opened in 1998 as a phase of the project “Interpretation and Environment Education Project.” Visitors enjoy expositions on natural history, human history, and conservation. The conservation efforts represent the movement to protect the wildlife and natural environment through means of population and tourist control. The Interpretation Center has an outdoor stadium, audio-visual equipment, and meeting rooms. Highlights include various interactive exhibits for all ages.

PM: San Cristobal Island, La Galapaguera – dry landing

Activities: hiking

A visitor site in the southeast part of San Cristobal Island that can be reached in roughly one hour by road from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. On the trees and shrubs surrounding the site, you may see land birds like warbler, finches and mockingbirds, and on the trails, giant tortoises. Highlights include giant tortoises in captivity and land birds.

Galapagos endemic creatures


AM: Española Island, Gardner Bay – dry landing

Activities: hiking, kayaking, panga exploration, snorkeling

Spend the rest of the day in fantastic Española, starting with Gardner Bay, an outstanding beach with sea lions, marine iguanas, and the intrepid Española Mockingbird.

AM: Española Island, Osborne Islet – wet landing

Activities: snorkeling, swimming

After landing, you can walk across a lovely white sand beach amongst a busy sea lion colony or dive into the water to swim with sea lion pups. This small island is a marine visit where you can enjoy fantastic snorkeling and swimming. Highlights include a white sandy beach, sea lions, and mockingbirds.

PM: Española Island, Suárez Point – dry landing

Activities: hiking

This area is great for spotting Blue-footed Boobies, albatrosses and Nazca Boobies. A beautiful site on the ocean front, the large Waved Albatrosses use the cliff as a launching pad. The famous attraction is the magnificent blowhole, spurting water high into the air. This site presents wonderful photograph opportunities. Highlights include Hood Mockingbird, Nazca Boobies, Waved Albatross, Red-billed tropicbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos Hawk, blue-footed boobies, blow hole, and amazing landscapes.

Petrel lounge


AM: Floreana Island, Cormorant Point – wet landing

Activities: hiking, panga exploration

This site hosts a large flamingo lagoon where other birds such as common stilts, White-cheeked Pintails can also be seen. The beaches on this island are distinct: The “Green Beach” named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the “Four Sand Beach” composed of white coral. Highlights include flamingoes and a green-colored beach.

AM: Floreana Island, Devil's Crown– no landing

Activities: snorkeling

One of the best snorkeling sites in the Galapagos, this volcanic crater has been eroded by the waves leaving the northern and southern sides poking out of the water. The coral reef in the middle is perfect for attracting marine life. Snorkelers enjoy the variety of marine life and exciting currents that rush through the crown, creating an exhilarating experience. Highlights include snorkeling with sharks, rays, rock formations, and lots of tropical fish.

PM: Floreana Island, Post Office Bay – wet landing

Activities: hiking

In the 18th century whalers passing through the islands placed a wooden barrel on Floreana Island for use as an unofficial mail box. The tradition continues today as visitors leave addressed postcards in the barrel and sort through left mail to deliver at home. Highlights include a nice sandy beach.

Petrel luxury cabins


AM: Santa Cruz Island, Charles Darwin Station – dry landing

Activities: hiking

The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to turtles ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long. Sub-species of turtles interact with one another and many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans, stretching out their heads for a pet. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own. Highlights include giant tortoises in captivity.

PM: Santa Cruz Island, Highlands – dry landing

Activities: hiking

Here at the Highlands, you can walk along a path, observing the hills, ferns, volcanoes, and rich wildlife. This area is home to giant tortoises, forest, mockingbirds, Bahama ducklings, White-cheeked Pintail ducklings, Darwin finches, and many other species. Highlights include wild turtles and the tortoises breeding center.

Petrel luxury beds


AM: Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay – dry landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling

Located southeast of Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay is of great geological interest. The area is covered by Pahoehoe lava flows combined with A’A lava.  It was very active 200 years ago. This flow is geologically very young. The magma formed is flat, but the movement of underground lava, the rapid cooling and other eruptions led to the break in many places. Pahoehoe lava flows, which have hardened in accordion like formation. Small glass-like bubbles of lava can be found, called "hornitos". Swimming with sea lions and other wildlife from the shore is a lovely way to finish off the tour.

AM: Bartholomew Island – dry landing

Activities: hiking, panga exploration, snorkeling

Home of the famous Pinnacle Rock, Bartholomew consists of an extinct volcano with a variety of red, orange, black and even green volcanic formations. A trail of stairs leads to the summit of the volcano, boasting one of the best views of the islands. The beach is perfect for snorkeling and possible sightings of the Galapagos Penguin. Highlights include panoramic views, moonlike landscape, penguins, pioneer plants, lava cactus; snorkeling: penguins, reef sharks, rays, and great colorful fish.

Petrel interior


AM: Genovesa Island, Darwin Bay – wet landing

Activities: hiking, kayaking, panga exploration, snorkeling

This white-sand coral beach heads a half mile trail (.75km) that winds through mangroves filled with land birds. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls can be spotted here. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully. At the end is a spectacular view off a cliff. Highlights include Nazca boobies, red- footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, mangroves, coral pebbles beach, snorkeling: rays, colorful reef fish and hammerhead sharks.

PM: Genovesa Island, Prince Phillip’s Steps – dry landing

Activities: hiking

Also known as El Barranco, Prince Phillip's Steps' steep, rocky paths leads up to a high cliff-face. A marvelous view can be appreciated from here. This site is also home to Palo Santo vegetation as well as red-footed boobies, short-eared Lava Owls, Galapagos swallows, and Galapagos doves.

Galapagos nature hikes


AM: Santiago Island, Puerto Egas – dry landing

Activities: hiking, snorkeling 

Also known as James Bay, Egas Port is home to the curious Galapagos hawks and quick-footed Galapagos Lava Lizards. The trail leads to a coastline with gorgeous tide pools and grottos full of fauna. Here the Galapagos Fur Sea Lions bathe in the sun. This is also a great snorkeling site. Highlights include fur sea lions, Galapagos sea lions, tidal pools and “grottos”, Galapagos Hawk, oyster catchers, marine iguanas, finches; snorkeling: reef sharks, turtles, rays, and nice underwater formations.

PM: Santiago Island, Espumilla Beach – dry landing

Activities: hiking

Espumilla Beach is a popular place for marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs. The crabs attract the hunting herons, performing the dance of predator and prey. With an abundance of marine life including octopi, moray eel, and shark, snorkeling is highly recommended. A highlight is snorkeling.

PM: Santiago Island, Buccaneer Cove – wet landing

Activities: panga exploration, snorkeling

Years ago Buccaneer Cove was a safe haven where pirates in the 1600 and 1700’s would stake out on the Northwestern side of Santiago Island.  Sea turtles now take the pirates place and dig their nests for their eggs near the Mangrove trees.  It is a great location for snorkeling and many marine birds and sea lions can be found here. Highlights include rock formations, tropical fish, turtles, and sting-rays while snorkeling.

Galapagos species


AM: Santa Cruz Island, Carrion Point – no landing

Activities: panga exploration, snorkeling

Carrion Point creates a sheltered lagoon with beautiful, turquoise water. During this visit you can snorkel and see a variety of fish, rays and perhaps the harmless white-tip reef sharks. The point is on the north coast of Santa Cruz Island at the entrance of Channel of Itabaca. Highlights include snorkeling with colorful fish, rays, and white-tip reef sharks.

AM: Baltra Island, Transfer to the Airport

Be assisted to Baltra airport for your flight to the Ecuador mainland.

  • 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.


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The Johannson family encounter a sloth on their rainforest cruise.
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