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Coral I & II: 5-Day Cruise to the Western Islands

Galapagos – Superior

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.

Note:

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 Coral Cruise

Day 1: WEDNESDAY

AM: Baltra Airport Departure

Arriving in Galapagos, passengers are picked up at the airport by our natural guides and taken (ten minute bus drive) to the pier to board the M/Y Coral I or M/Y Coral II.

PM: Santa Cruz Island, Eden Islet or Ballena Bay, Snorkeling

Off the western coast of Santa Cruz, Eden Islet offers opportunities to see Nazca and blue-footed boobies, reef sharks, and banks of endemic salemas, either from the dinghy or while snorkeling. Wet landing in “Bahia Ballena” (Whale Bay), a beautiful greenish sand cove at the base of Dragon Hill on the west coast of Santa Cruz Island. The beach contains a large amount of volcanic olivine crystals, formed when the magma was still underground. Its content is magnesium, iron, and silica. A small tortoise population from Pinzon Island lives in the area, probably left by whalers or previous inhabitants. There is the opportunity to see marine iguanas and sea birds, followed by snorkeling.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 1 hour walk / 1 hour snorkeling / beach time
 

Galapagos snorkeling

Day 2: THURSDAY
AM: Isabela Island, Vicente Roca Point, Snorkeling

Vicente Roca point is a promontory created form the remains of a tuff cone, with two protected turquoise coves on either side, one of them, the Bolivar Channel (one of the richest marine ecosystems on Earth). This place is only accessible by water, with great opportunities for deep-water snorkeling. In this part of the Galapagos, the upwelling of cold water currents from the West, offer an abundant plankton supply for marine species like: red-lipped batfish, seahorses, frogfish, nudibranchs, octopus, and the mola mola or sunfish. It is common to observe dolphin pods, sea lions rafts, and tuna banks feeding. The sheer cliffs provides the perfect setting for dinghy rides along the coast, observing a great diversity of sea birds, like: noddies, brown pelicans, Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, Nazca and Blue-footed boobies are often seen feeding all at once in these waters. During the cold season (May – December). Whale watching is common while navigating.
Difficulty level: Moderate / High
Type of terrain: None
Duration: 1 hour snorkeling / 1 hour dinghy ride

 

PM: Fernandina Island, Espinosa Point, Snorkeling– Dry landing

From Espinosa Point, it is possible to admire a wide view of Isabela Island across the Bolivar Channel, an area that boasts some of the highest diversity of endemic sea fauna in the Galapagos. Here the largest, most primitive-looking marine iguanas are found mingling with sea lions and sally Lightfoot Crabs. Fernandina displays 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 Fernandina terrain. Vegetation is scarce inland, with few brachycereus cacti. In the shore mangrove can be found.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Rocky
Duration: 2 hours walk / 1 hour snorkeling

Giant Galapagos tortoises

DAY 3: FRIDAY
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

Day 4: SATURDAY

AM: Santiago Island, Salt Mines, Egas Port, Snorkeling – Wet landing

On a black volcanic sand beach, the remains of salt mines still can be seen. This is a historically important site; on 1683 the British buccaneer William Ambrose Cowley named the bay as James. Since then this location became an anchor base to recollect water, tortoises, and salt from the salt-lake that locates in a closer crater. Charles Darwin visited this place in 1835. The first part of the trail is comprised of volcanic ash (eroded tuff) and the other half is comprised of volcanic basaltic rock on the shoreline, creating the best tidal pool area in the Galapagos. Here the fur seal and sally lightfoot crabs populations is big. The unique, truly striking layered terrain of Santiago’s shores is home to a variety of resident and migrant birds, including the Galapagos hawk and the bizarre yellow-crowned night heron. Snorkeling in this place is a highlight; is frequent to see lobsters, starfish, octopus, squids, and marine iguanas on algae beds. Santiago is one of the few places where fur seals “actually a kind of sea lion” and Galapagos sea Lions can be found.
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Type of terrain: Flat / Rocky ground
Duration: 1:30 hours walk / 1 hour snorkeling / beach time


PM - Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay– Wet landing

This site located at the Southeastern portion of Santiago Island is of important geologic interest, it features extensive relative young pahoehoe lava flows formed during the last quarter of the 19th century. In the middle of the lava flow, older reddish-yellow-colored tuff cones appear. Mollugo plants with their yellow-to-orange whorled leaves usually grow out of the fissures. Walking on the solidified lava gives the impression of been in another planet. Tree molds are found, indicating that in that position large size plants grew in small crevices, until the lava flow of past eruptions burned down the flora of the island. Difficulty level: Demanding
Type of terrain: Flat volcanic lava
Duration: 1:30 hours walk / 1 hour snorkeling / beach time

Santa Cruz Island

Day 5: SUNDAY

AM: Santa Cruz Island, Highlands – Dry landing

On the Santa Cruz Island highlands it is possible to visit private farms- tortoise reserves “El Chato” and “Primicias”, where giant tortoises wander freely, passing from the National Park. In the mountains of Galapagos is possible to admire different kind of birds, such as: tree and ground finches, vermillion flycatchers, paint-billed crakes, yellow warblers, and cattle egrets (usually on the shell of tortoises). The journey to the reserve offers great opportunities to see the contrasts that the island offers in reference to the variety of ecosystems. The road goes from the coast through the agricultural zone and straight up to the dense humid forests. Often, tortoises are also seen on the way, wandering through pastures in the paddocks. This spot is relevant for birdwatchers, since almost every land bird present on the island lives or migrates here.
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. 

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