Galapagos Yacht Charter Itinerary

Galapagos itinerary map

The Galapagos Islands are a bucket-list destination for good reason: thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as playful sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close and personal. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets sprinkled 620 miles off Ecuador’s coast served as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Each island boasts its own unique landscape, ranging from barren black, volcanic rocks to swaths of white sand beaches melting into gemstone-blue waters.

Note: The governing body of the islands, the Parque Nacional Galápagos, sets a limit to the number of yachts able to cruise these waters annually; in addition, the Parque Nacional Galápagos also provides itineraries as to where yachts can cruise and where guests are able to explore.

Day 1 – Santa Cruz Island

Galapagos giant tortoise
Embark on your Galápagos yacht charter at Santa Cruz, having flown into Baltra. Before boarding, spend the day hiking in the arid zone and through the highlands to see the wild giant tortoises and explore the hardened lava sink holes. The Charles Darwin Research Station is a great place to get up to speed with an educational briefing on the local ecosystems.

Day 2 – Española Island

Galapagos sea lion
Gardner Bay’s beach is home to sea lions, marine turtles and Española mockingbirds. Don the yacht’s snorkel gear to swim with the colorful fish and small sharks that live in these waters. Cruise to Punta Suárez where birdwatchers will find utter delight. Here, you may be wooed by the elusive mating dance of the albatross; Española Island is the only place in the world you can witness this incredible sight.

Day 3 – San Cristóbal Island

San Cristobal lake
The easternmost island of the Galápagos Islands is San Cristóbal, which is home to the capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Take a hike through the San Cristóbal highlands, where you will find yourself among the open pastures, avocado groves and giant bamboo trees. Find yourself in the archipelago’s only freshwater lake, where bird spotters will be rewarded by seven species of Darwin’s finches. If there’s still some daylight to burn, head to Kicker Rock to snorkel with sea turtles, manta rays and sharks.

Day 4 – Santa Fé & South Plaza Island

boat in the Galapagos
Visit the land iguanas among the prickly pear cacti of Santa Fé, a small land mass made by hardened submarine lava from 4 million years ago. After lunch on board, head out to South Plazas island, where you will be met at the dock by an abundance of lazy male sea lions taking in the sun’s heat as a relief from the chilly waters. Inland you will find more land iguanas, red-billed tropic birds and swallow-tailed gulls.

Day 5 – Genovesa Island (Tower Island)

Galapagos birds
A day of birdwatching awaits at the protected anchorage of Darwin Bay on Genovesa, which is the remnant of a giant sunken volcano crater. The beach is home to red-footed boobies, frigate birds, yellow-crowned night herons and lava gulls.

After lunch, head into the water to snorkel along the base of the bay’s cliffs, or explore the area by kayak, and then lace your boots up for a climb of Prince Phillip’s Steps, a rock fall forming a natural staircase though the cliffs where many nesting birds live.

Day 6 – Santiago & Bartolomé Islands

Bartolome Island
Photography enthusiasts will be thrilled when they arrive at Santiago Island. Walk the lava flows to find intricate shapes and vibrant colors — picture-perfect photo material. Bartolomé Island’s northern bay is home to the most well- known landmark of the Galápagos Islands: Pinnacle Rock. Here, snorkel with Galápagos penguins and then hike to the island’s peak for a once-in-a-lifetime sunset.

Day 7 – Rábida & Sombrero Chino Islands

Galapagos - blue footed booby dancing
On the last day of your Galápagos yacht charter, discover the terracotta-red beach of Rábida. From here you can watch the young brown pelicans diving into the water for a fresh catch of fish, while blue footed boobies assemble on the rocks. The odd pink flamingo may make an appearance if you are lucky.

Day 8 – Santa Cruz

Galapagos water iguanas
Cruising back to Santa Cruz, make a quick stop at Sombrero Chino to see the lava tubes and flows and bid farewell to the penguins of the island before you return home with memories of a lifetime to share from your Galápagos yacht charter.