🐒 The Only 10 Day Galapagos Itinerary You’ll Need (2024)

10 day Galapagos itinerary blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying an image of a giant Galapagos tortoise walking on lush green grass during 10 days in Galapagos.

10 days in the Galapagos is enough time to stay on all three inhabited islands, experience the best day tours available, and still enjoy some downtime.

In April 2023, we (Sophie, Adam, and his mother) took a two-week, self-guided trip to the Galapagos islands. This itinerary was designed following our first-hand experience independently exploring the region.

In this guide, we will provide an organized daily schedule designed to be as time and cost-efficient as possible. You will also find travel tips, hard-learned lessons, and alternative recommendations for booking a pre-arranged 10-day tour or cruise instead.

πŸ™‚ Our 10+ Day Galapagos Experience in 2023

The We Dream of Travel team crouch behind a pair of blue footed boobies at Los Tuneles on Isabela Island in the Galapagos.
Mom, Adam, and Sophie watching a blue-footed booby mating dance in Galapagos.

As passionate photographers and wildlife lovers, the Galapagos islands had been at the top of our travel bucket list for as long as we could remember, but we thought you had to be a scientist or wealthy to visit.

Upon learning how affordable a trip to the Galapagos is and that ANYONE can visit, we (Sophie, Adam, and his mother) coordinated a self-guided trip in April 2023.

We spent two weeks exploring the Galapagos islands as much as we could. This included stays on all three major inhabited islands as well as day tours to several uninhabited islands.

Having experienced so much of the island first-hand, we realized how unfortunate the lack of clear information is for independent visits to this remarkable place. Accordingly, we decided to write the most up-to-date travel guides, such as this 10-day Galapagos itinerary, to help others enjoy the archipelago as we did.

The Galapagos islands are among the most unique and unforgettable destinations we have ever traveled to. We hope the information you find in this guide is helpful in planning a special holiday of your own!

🏝 10 Day Galapagos Itinerary Overview

Day 1β€’ Arrive on San Cristobal island.
β€’ Explore town & beaches.
β€’ Swim with sea lions.
β€’ Sunset at Playa Mann.
San Cristobal
Day 2

β€’ Hike Cerro Tijeretas & Snorkel Darwin’s Cove
β€’ Optional: Hike to Playa Baquerizo.
β€’ Sunset at Playa Punta Carola.
San Cristobal
Day 3β€’ Explore San Cristobal with 360Β° Tour.San Cristobal
Day 4β€’ Morning flight to Isabela.
β€’ Explore Puerto Villamil & Isabela Beach.
β€’ Bike to Wall of Tears.
Day 5β€’ Los Tuneles half-day tour.
β€’ Tortoise Breeding Center & Flamingo Lagoon.
Day 6β€’ Hike Sierra Negra
β€’ Kayak & snorkel Tintoreras
β€’ Snorkel Concha de Perla
Day 7β€’ Morning ferry to Santa Cruz.
β€’ Explore Puerto Ayora.
β€’ Fish Market.
β€’ Snorkel Las Grietas.
Santa Cruz
Day 8β€’ Snorkel Tortuga Bay.
β€’ Visit baby tortoises at Charles Darwin Research Station.
Santa Cruz
Day 9β€’ Day trip to your choice of uninhabited islands.
(Isla Bartolome is our top choice!)
Santa Cruz
Day 10β€’ Meet Galapagos tortoises & explore lava tunnels.
β€’ Depart Santa Cruz.

Things to know before you go

⚠️ There are a few things you need to be aware of before you dive into planning your 10-day Galapagos itinerary.

🏑 Only 4 of the approximately 20 islands within the Galapagos archipelago are inhabited: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana

✈️ Only San Cristobal and Santa Cruz have airports that service mainland Ecuador.

🏨 Each inhabited island has one town where you will find accommodation & services.

πŸ’΅ Bring cash! Cards are rarely accepted and ATMs are unreliable.

πŸ›« Be cautious booking flights from Ecuador to Galapagos as there are β€œresident-only” fares that are not indicated!

🎟 You will need to buy your INGALA tourist card at the airport prior to departing for Galapagos and have $100 cash ready upon arrival for entry.

⏱ The Galapagos Islands are in a different time zone to mainland Ecuador. The islands are one hour behind Ecuador.

πŸ—ΊοΈ Map of the Galapagos Islands

A color coded map of the Galapagos Islands showing inhabited islands and those accessible by day trip or cruise, plus ferry routes custom made by We Dream of Travel.

The map of the Galapagos Islands above shows the archipelago in its entirety.

It has been color-coded to indicate the islands that are inhabited and can be stayed on, those accessible by day tour, and those that are accessible via cruise ship only.

In addition, ferry services and airports are indicated by the appropriate symbols.


10 Day Galapagos Itinerary Map

An interactive Google map showing all the best places to visit with 10 days in the Galapagos, color coded by day.

The interactive map of Galapagos above shows all of the points of interest recommended in this 10-day itinerary, color-coded by day.

Click on the image above or here to open the map in a new tab.

🦭 The Perfect 10 Day Itinerary for Galapagos

Over / under photo of a sea lion swimming in the crystalline waters off the coast of Sardina Bay in the Galapagos islands.

With 10 days in the Galapagos islands, we recommend exploring all three of the major inhabited islands; Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela.

San Cristobal and Santa Cruz are the only islands that have airports to connect you to mainland Ecuador. Isabela also has an airport, but it is only available for inter-island flights.

Additionally, there is a ferry service that connects the islands but it is limited.

This 10-day itinerary has been organized to minimize precious time lost to commuting between the islands. You can reverse the order precisely, but any other modification will result in wasted time.

However, those of you who prefer a slower pace of travel can limit your 10 days in Galapagos to just two islands instead. In this case, simply decide which islands look most appealing and amend this itinerary to include only those.


✈️ Day 1: Arrive on San Cristobal

Sunset behind the "Welcome to San Cristobal Galapagos" sign on the main pier in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

You will likely be tired after your flight to the Galapagos so we recommend you take it easy on Day 1.

Enjoy a stroll through town to get your bearings, book all necessary tours and ferries, then hang out with some sea lions and take in a sunset on the beach!

Day 1 Breakdown

  • Fly into San Cristobal
  • Explore Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
  • Book the 360ΒΊ Tour & Santa Cruz ferry if not done already
  • Walk along the many beaches
  • Sunset at Playa Mann

Fly into San Cristobal

Aerial photo of San Cristobal island from an airplane window taken while flying into the Galapagos islands from mainland Ecuador.

We recommend booking the earliest possible flight to San Cristobal to make the most of your time on the islands. This will typically get you into San Cristobal at around 10am, giving you plenty of time to explore on your first day.

Upon arrival to the Galapagos, you will need to pay a $100 per person national park fee. Be sure to have this ready in cash to speed up the process.

From the airport, it is only a 5-minute drive or 10-20 minute walk to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the only major town on San Cristobal island.

If you need a lift, look for the white pickup trucks waiting outside the airport. These are the local taxis and a trip into town should cost $3-$4.

⭐️ Pro tip: Be sure to arrive at the airport with enough time before your flight to get your INGALA Transit Control Card ($20 cash only) and to have your bags scanned.


Explore Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

The famous Charles Darwin statue in the center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the Capital of the Galapagos islands.

Once you’ve checked in at your accommodation, it’s time to start exploring!

We recommend beginning with a walk through Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the only major town on San Cristobal and the capital of the Galapagos province.

Despite being the capital, the town is small and easily discovered on foot. The main street, MalecΓ³n Charles Darwin, runs along the waterfront and is where you’ll find the most restaurants, shops, day tour offices, and hotels that cater most to tourists.

Expect food prices to vary greatly, with local lunches available for $5 including soup, a main, and juice, while international fare can set you back upwards of $15-$25.

As you may expect, restaurants along the waterfront are pricier than those off the main strip.

⭐️ Pro tip: If you’ve not booked it in advance, stop by a tour office to organize your 360Β° Tour and ferry.


Book Your 360ΒΊ Tour & Isabela to Santa Cruz Ferry

A woman at the front of a 360Β° boat tour looks out toward the mountainous coastline of San Cristobal.

If you have not done so in advance, you will definitely want to book your seats for the 360ΒΊ Tour and for the ferry from Isabela to Santa Cruz.

Both the tour and the ferry fill up early and often. While you could choose to skip the tour if necessary, you absolutely want to have a seat on the ferry secured as there are only two that go out each day.

We recommend you book your ferry seats for 6am from Isabela to Santa Cruz to make the most of your time as soon as your dates are fixed; it is only $5 more to book online than it is in person. If ready, you can book ferry tickets here.

The 360ΒΊ Tour and reservations will be discussed in-depth in the Day 3 section.

Hit the Beach(es)

A lone child plays on the beach at Playa de Oro on San Cristobal island.

San Cristobal has a handful of sandy beaches easily accessible from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, all of which are typically teeming with sea lions!

We recommend starting from Playa de Los Marinos (the southernmost beach near town) and working your way north. This will allow you to end Day 1 with a magical sunset at Playa Mann.

Starting at Playa de los Marinos, you will likely find 10s to 100s of sea lions lounging on the beach and on docked boats.

From here you can follow MalecΓ³n Charles Darwin north past the main dock to Playa de Oro. This is a great spot to relax on the beach or snorkel with sea lions.

⭐️ Pro tip: National Park rules specify a minimum distance of 2m (6.5ft) from wildlife. As the animals don’t know the rules, they may head straight toward you if you’re in their way! Always give them space to pass and absolutely never touch wildlife.

Sunset at Playa Mann

Orange-sky sunset photography from Playa Mann with a handful of ships anchored on the horizon.

End your first day in the Galapagos islands at Playa Mann; a popular beach for both tourists and sea lions!

Playa Mann is the perfect place to grab a beer at one of the beachside huts and watch the sunset while sea lions frolic in the waters and lounge on the beach.

There are also local restaurants at the beach serving $6 lunches and dinners.

Alternatively, grab your mask and snorkel and join the sea lions in the water for a magical experience swimming with these playful creatures as golden light spills onto the beach.


πŸ¦… Day 2: Baquerizo Moreno Bay

Day 2 of your 10 day Galapagos itinerary will be spent on a self-guided adventure through the Baquerizo Moreno Bay (BahΓ­a Baquerizo Moreno) region just outside of town.

This region has some of the best things to do on San Cristobal that don’t require a guide, boat, or tour.

Just pack some water, snacks, sunscreen, and your snorkel gear and you’ll have everything you need!

Day 2 Breakdown

  • Hike Mirador Cerro Tijeretas (Frigate Bird Hill)
  • Optional: Hike to Playa Baquerizo
  • Snorkel at Darwin’s Cove
  • Visit Playa Punta Carola beach

Hike to Mirador Cerro Tijeretas (frigate Bird Hill)

A view out toward Kicker Rock with clear ocean water and lush greenery captured from the Frigate Bird Hill Viewpoint.

After breakfast, begin the day with a hike to Mirador Cerro Tijeretas (which translates to Frigate Bird Hill viewpoint).

This beautiful vista provides sweeping views back over Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, as well as out towards Kicker Rock.

As the name suggests, it is also a great place to spot frigate birds as they nest in the nearby cliffside and soar overhead.

The hike starts from the Charles Darwin Interpretation Center near Playa Mann. The trail is completely pathed, winding through a lava rock and cactus-filled landscape. However, there is little to no shade so bring plenty of water and sun protection.

The total hike time is only about 15-20 minutes. However, you’ll want to factor some time in to stop at the Interpretation Center and snap some photos of all the views!


Optional: Hike to Playa Baquerizo

A marine iguana surrounded by poison apples sits under a tree in the white sand of Playa Baquerizo beach.

For the more energetic and physically able, you can continue your hike from Cerro Tijeretas to Playa Baquerizo.

From the viewpoint, this secluded beach requires a 45-minute to 1-hour hike each way. While it is only 1 mile (1.8km) in length, much of the hike is exposed with uneven terrain and varying inclines.

Having seen the distance and being reasonably fit, we couldn’t understand how such a “short” hike could take so long… but we timed it, and it did!

Of course, if you don’t stop to appreciate the views along the way, you could probably manage it in half-hour, but it is not an easy walk.

We only recommend this for those that have good physical mobility and are well prepared as you will be isolated without access to any resources.

If you’re a confident swimmer, make sure also to take a mask and snorkel, as it is one of the best snorkel spots in the Galapagos. We spent over an hour swimming alongside five sea turtles!

Ensure you have good footwear and sun protection (long sleeves, a good sunhat, and an umbrella were much appreciated on our hike!). Bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a mini-first aid kit, just in case.

For those that do visit, you will be rewarded with a slice of paradise that you will likely only have to share with marine iguanas and perhaps a sea lion or turtle!

Snorkel at Darwin’s Cove (Muelle Tijeretas)

Top-down view of the crystal clears waters at Darwin's Cove, one of the most popular snorkel spots on a self-guided itinerary.

After viewing Darwin Bay from above, it’s time to explore its underwater world.

From Mirador Cerro Tijeretas, you will head back the way you came but keep right at the first fork to get to Darwin’s Cove.

Darwin’s Cove has the clearest and calmest water on San Cristobal for snorkeling. In its impossibly turquoise waters, you may encounter some of the most iconic Galapagos residents including sea lions, turtles, sharks, and an array of tropical colorful fish.

This is one of the best snorkeling spots on any of the Galapagos islands that can be discovered without a guide or boat tour!


Playa Punta Carola (Point Carola Beach)

The final stop on Day 2 of our 10 day Galapagos itinerary is here at Playa Punta Carola on San Cristobal.

After you have finished snorkeling and are leaving Darwin’s Cove, take the first sharp right you encounter to walk over the headland for about 10-15 minutes to Punta Carola Beach.

Along the way, you’ll pass by a statue of Charles Darwin and a World War II gun stationed at a lookout.

Playa Punta Carola offers a beautiful sandy beach for relaxing in the sun, spotting wildlife, and snorkeling.

It is worth noting that shade here is limited (and often already occupied by iguanas!) and there are no kiosks or supplies, so be sure you have ample water and snacks with you.

Sunset at Playa Punta Carola

Beautiful sunset photography from Playa Punta Carola showing the lava rock lined beach leading up to a lighthouse.

Day 2 of your 10-day Galapagos itinerary ends with a magical sunset from our favorite place to watch it on San Cristobal in Playa Punta Carola.

Your hike around Bahia Baquerizo Moreno will end here anyway, so if you have sufficient supplies you can choose to stay through sunset. Otherwise, Playa Mann is only 10 minutes away by foot and has all the services you may require.

Should you decide to go back to Playa Mann, you could instead take in another sunset from there as recommended to end Day 1 and save a bit of walking.

Playa Mann will be heaving with tourists, but there are restaurants, vendors, and restrooms available, all of which may be absolutely essential at this point in the day.

Playa Punta Carola will be far quieter and will provide a new experience, but you will be on your own regarding amenities.


🦈 Day 3: 360° Tour

At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any bookings made using the links below.

Of all the day tours in the Galapagos that we did, the 360Β° tour was our favorite!

As the name suggests, the tour takes you all the way around the entire island of San Cristobal. Along the way, guests will stop at multiple picturesque beaches, as well as at Kicker Rock for unbeatable snorkeling.

The 360Β° tour typically starts between 7:00-7:30am and returns around 4:00-5:00pm. Snacks, lunch, towels, and all snorkeling equipment are included.

The stops on the 360ΒΊ Tour will include:

  • Kicker Rock (snorkeling)
  • Cerro Brujo (photo opportunity)
  • BahΓ­a Sardina (Sardina Bay) (snorkeling)
  • Punta Pitt (photo opportunity)
  • Rosa Blanca (snorkeling)

Kicker Rock (known as LeΓ³n Dormido in Spanish) is known for being one of the best places to spot Galapagos hammerhead sharks.

Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to see hammerheads on our visit, but we did get to see turtles and sea lions in some of the clearest water we would swim in.

Arranging Your 360Β° Day Tour

A woman uses her phone to film a dolphin swimming up to the boat on a 360 degree tour of San Cristobal.

This is one of the most popular tours on the island and will often sell out!

With just a few days on San Cristobal, we would typically recommend booking your tour online in advance, particularly if you’re visiting during peak season.

However, this isn’t quite so simple in the Galapagos islands. Booking a tour online will cost you around $220-$260, compared to just $170-$180 at a local tour office on the island.

Additionally, most tour companies don’t have websites, and even the ones that do will not typically offer online bookings. Instead, you’ll be directed to a local WhatsApp number to arrange your tour or be redirected to book through Viator.

You will, therefore, need to decide on the best option for you:

  1. Arrange the tour once on the island for a cheaper rate, but risk the tour being sold out.
  2. Book online through Viator for an easy and guaranteed tour at a higher price.
  3. Reach out to tour operators directly, but navigate complicated systems and pay a slightly higher price.

🧐 Our personal experience
We traveled with a group of 3 in April 2023. We were unable to find a next-day tour with space for all 3 of us (though some operators had availability for 1-2 people).

After visiting seven or eight tour offices, we found a tour with space for 3 people for the day after tomorrow.

πŸ– Day 4: Fly to Isabela

Daytime photo of the Welcome to Isabela island sign on Playa Isabela.

Day 4 will begin with an early morning flight from San Cristobal to Isabela.

Be sure to have your camera ready on the plane as you will have breathtaking aerial views if the weather cooperates!

Upon arrival, we recommend starting your time on Isabela Island by getting acquainted with the main town of Puerto Villamil, followed by a stroll or some downtime on the impressive Playa Isabela beach.

In the afternoon, rent a bike and cycle out to the Wall of Tears – an important historical site and a beautiful ride.

Day 4 Breakdown

  • Morning flight to Isabela.
  • Book your Isabela tours.
  • Explore Puerto Villamil & Isabela Beach.
  • Bike to Wall of Tears.

Morning Flight to Isabela

A view of a cruise ship docked just off the coast of San Cristobal island in the Galapagos taken from a plane flying to Isabela Island.

We highly recommend booking a flight from San Cristobal to Isabela rather than taking the ferry. While a little more expensive, you save almost an entire day’s worth of travel.

The only ferry option requires going from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz at 7am, followed by another ferry from Santa Cruz to Isabela at 3pm. You will not arrive on Isabela until 5pm and will still need to deboard, check in to your accommodation, etc.

From the Isabela airport, it is a 5-minute drive or 25-minute walk (1.1 miles/1.9km) to the only major town of Puerto Villamil. Taxis are often waiting at the airport, but it is best to get in touch with your accommodation to help arrange pick-up from the airport.

Inter-island Airlines

There are currently only two airlines that offer inter-island flights; these are Emetebe and ESAV. Both airlines offer morning flights from San Cristobal to Isabela which fill up fast due to limited availability.

Emetebe has been in operation far longer and has an online booking platform on their website. Whereas ESAV only started operations in 2022 and they still don’t have an online booking platform available. However, you can reach out via their website to make a booking.

Prices and Times

Prices between the two are reasonably comparable, ranging from $140-$190.

Both airlines offer flights at 8:30am from San Cristobal to Isabela that you will want to prioritize.

The flight time from San Cristobal to Isabela is approximately 45 minutes.


It is worth noting that your luggage allowance for an inter-island flight will be significantly less than the flight from the mainland.

You will typically get a maximum allowance of 15-35lbs, depending on the fare you choose. Therefore, you will want to take this into consideration when packing for Galapagos.


Book Your Isabela Tours

A sea lion swimming amongst a group of kayakers on a tour of Tintoreras on Isabela island.

If you have not already booked them in advance, we recommend taking some time when you arrive on Isabela to book any tours you plan to take on the island.

The one that is an absolute must is the day tour to Los Tuneles. This was our favorite tour on the island, and is also the most popular.

We recommend booking this tour for Day 6 to follow this 10-day Galapagos itinerary, but you could easily swap it around with Day 5, depending on availability.

You should also arrange your Tintoreras snorkel tour and Sierra Negra hike if you plan to include these, as recommended in this itinerary.

We will cover all these tours in more detail on Days 5 & 6.

Explore Puerto Villamil & Isabela Beach

A photo of crystal clear aqua water leading up to the white sand beach of Playa Isabela at the entrance to Puerto Villamil.

After you’ve checked in and dropped your bags off at your accommodation, we recommend you explore the small town of Puerto Villamil.

You will find a few different tour operators in town where you can arrange your upcoming Isabela tours and bike rental if you’ve not done so already.

Once you’ve explored the town, take some time to relax or take a walk along Isabela Beach (Playa Isabela).

Isabela Beach, also referred to as Puerto Villamil Beach, is a 2.5-mile (4km) stretch of soft white sand that is directly parallel to town.

What makes Isabela Beach so special is that it is truly the most extensive, accessible beach in all of the Galapagos. The paradisiacal expanse of shoreline is teeming with marine iguanas and Sally lightfoot crabs, as well as the occasional blue-footed booby.

You’ll also find a few bars and small restaurants along the beachfront, making it an ideal spot to relax and enjoy lunch.


Bike to Wall of Tears

The Wall of Tears (El Muro de las Lágrimas) on Isabela Island Galapagos.

Though you can walk, we recommend renting a bike to cycle to the Wall of Tears (El Muro de las LΓ‘grimas). It is a 1-hour ride (or 2-hour walk) each way and is mostly flat, with some gentle inclines.

The site itself is just a wall of lava rock in the middle of nowhere. As far as Galapagos attractions go, it isn’t the most interesting. However, it is worth a visit if you’re physically able and interested in human history.

Additionally, the cycle itself is fun! Along the way, it is common to spot wild Galapagos tortoises and other wildlife, plus you will have some beautiful viewpoints over the coast.

To get there, you will want to rent a bike from a local agency or hotel for $2-$3 per hour. The ride is over rough sand and gravel along the coast to the west of Puerto Villamil. It is mostly exposed but you will find a few shaded areas to stop along the trail, as well as ocean lookouts.

There are no services along the way so be sure to pack plenty of sun protection, water, and other provisions.

Quick History of the Wall of Tears

The wall was built over 14 years in the 1940s and 1950s by prison inmates. Built entirely by hand in sweltering conditions, the construction of the Wall of Tears is said to have claimed the lives of thousands of prisoners.

Furthermore, the wall itself serves no purpose and was never completed. Rather its sole intention seemingly was to impose hard labor on the inmates.


🦩 Day 5: Los Tuneles, Baby Tortoises & Flamingos

Day 5 of your 10-day Galapagos itinerary will have you meeting a variety of the most iconic animals in the Galapagos.

In the morning, you will have the opportunity to snorkel with sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, sea horses, penguins, rays, and many more species of fish. You will also likely have a close encounter with blue-footed boobies!

In the afternoon, you will get to see both baby and adult Galapagos tortoises at the Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center, as well as the largest colony of Galapagos flamingos at a nearby lagoon.

Day 5 Breakdown

  • Morning Los Tuneles tour.
  • Tortoise Breeding Center & Flamingo Lagoon.

Los Tuneles Half-Day Tour

A day tour to Los Tuneles (also known as Cabo Rosa) is an absolute must while on Isabela.

This was our favorite tour on the island as we got up close to blue-footed boobies, watched fur seals lounging on the rocks, snorkeled with countless turtles, and spotted several sea horses.

During the cold season, it is also a common place to spot the endangered Galapagos penguin!

Most tour operators offer the Los Tuneles tour twice per day starting at 7am and 11am. It lasts about 5-6 hours.

Snacks, towels, and all snorkeling equipment are typically included, and some may also include lunch.

We recommend booking the earlier tour to allow time in the afternoon to visit the Tortoise Breeding Center and Flamingo Lagoon.

The stops on the Los Tuneles Tour will include:

  • Union Rock (Roca Union) (photo opportunity)
  • Los Tuneles (land exploration)
  • Los Tuneles (snorkeling)
  • El Finado (snorkeling)

What You’ll See

Los Tuneles, which translates to The Tunnels, is a series of lava tunnels, bridges, and collapsed platforms that have created a haven for nesting blue-footed boobies, as well as a myriad of marine life.

The tunnels provide an underwater wonderland that is home to sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos sharks, sea horses, penguins, rays, and many more species of fish.

Despite it being overcast with somewhat limited visibility when we went, we could still easily see why it is considered one of the best places to snorkel in the Galapagos.

In addition to the impressive underwater formations, we lost count of the number of sea turtles and sharks we saw! Plus we got to see several sea horses.

Arranging Your Los Tuneles Day Tour

Family photo from below a natural bridge taken on a tour of Los Tuneles.

We had our trip to Los Tuneles booked as part of our tour with Inspiring Ecuador. However, when we asked around, we found plenty of availability for this tour in the coming days.

That said, it is one of the most popular things to do on Isabela. If you’re visiting during peak season and don’t want to risk disappointment, we recommend booking online in advance, or at least when you get to San Cristobal.

However, expect to pay more online. Booking a tour online will cost anything from $150-$230, compared to $110-$120 when you get to Isabela.

Additionally, as with the 360Β° Tour, most tour companies don’t have websites, and even the ones that do will not typically offer online bookings. Instead, you’ll be directed to a local WhatsApp number to arrange your tour or be redirected to book through Viator.

Therefore, you will again need to decide on the best option for you:

  1. Arrange the tour once on the island for a cheaper rate, but risk the tour being sold out.
  2. Book online through Viator for an easy and guaranteed tour at a higher price.
  3. Reach out to tour operators directly, but navigate complicated systems and pay a slightly higher price.

Isabela Tortoise Breeding Center

The Arnaldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Center (Centro de Crianza Tortugas Gigantes Arnaldo Tupiza) on Isabela Island is home to the 5 different subspecies of giant Galapagos tortoise that are all native to Isabela.

Here, they are hatched and incubated as part of a breeding program to increase the population of wild tortoises that are threatened due to introduced species and volcanic activity.

Entrance costs $10 per person and you will get to see lots of baby tortoises as well as a few adults.

Although you will see both baby and adult Galapagos tortoises on Santa Cruz, by visiting both you will be able to observe the different looks of each sub-species. It is fascinating to see and reflect on how uniquely each species has evolved to thrive on each individual island in the Galapagos.

The breeding center is a 20-30 minute walk from Puerto Villamil along a boardwalk that takes you across the wetlands and Opuntia cactus fields. Along the way, you will pass by the Puerto Villamil Salt Flats (Pozas Salinas de Puerto Villamil) where you can spot flamingos and other native birds.

While we recommend the walk for those able, it is also possible to take a 5-minute taxi to the breeding center for just a few dollars.

Flamingo Lagoon

Three flamingos in the water of at Flamingo Lagoon on Isabela island in the Galapagos.

Just a few minutes walk beyond the tortoise breeding center is the Flamingo Lagoon (Posada de Flamengos), where, as the name suggests, you can spot flamingos.

The man-made, brackish lagoon is home to the largest Galapagos flamingo colony. Here you’ll typically find a large number of flamingos wading through the water, sifting for crustaceans.

It is also a popular spot for Galapagos duck species and other birds.

πŸŒ‹ Day 6: Sierra Negra, Tintoreras & Concha de Perla

Your final day on Isabela is a reasonably active one, but is easily manageable as each activity is fairly short.

While we have set up this day of the itinerary to start with a morning hike to Sierra Negra Volcano, we recommend checking the tide times.

Tintoreras is best snorkeled at low tide when there is a higher probability of seeing wildlife and better visibility. Therefore, if the low tide is in the morning, we suggest reversing this day to allow for a morning snorkel at Tintoreras.

Day 6 Breakdown:

  • Guided hike to Sierra Negra Volcano.
  • Snorkel and kayak tour at Tintoreras.
  • Self-guided snorkel at Concha de Perla.

Guided Hike to Sierra Negra Volcano

Looking out across the Sierra Negra crater from the viewpoint shows a huge black expanse of lava rock edged with lush green vegetation.

Begin Day 6 with a thrilling hike to the rim of Sierra Negra Volcano to marvel at the volcanic landscape of the island and one of the world’s largest volcanic craters.

Hiking Sierra Negra Volcano can only be done with a naturalist guide. Therefore, you must book a tour for this hike – it cannot be done alone!

Your adventure will start with a 45-minute drive into the highlands to the Galapagos National Park Control Point where you will find the trailhead. How far you hike will depend on which tour you choose.

Unless you are a particularly keen hiker, we suggest you book a tour that takes you just to the viewpoint at the edge of the caldera. This is approximately 45 minutes of hiking each way (2 miles/3.3km) and will allow enough time to snorkel later in the afternoon.

Be aware that some hiking tours will continue on to VolcΓ‘n Chico which is a total hike of 10 miles (16km) or more.

On our tour, we hiked just to the viewpoint, which was a fairly easy hike along a dirt path with approximately 350ft (110m) elevation gain.

You will want a good pair of running shoes or hiking shoes as the path can be muddy and slippery when wet and gritty when dry.

Along the way, you will hike through rich vegetation where you can observe several different species of Galapagos finch and other birds, such as the vermillion flycatcher.

Most hiking tours will start between 6am-8am and last 4-6 hours. Ensure that the tour you book will get you back in time for your afternoon Tintoreras tour.

A Sierra Negra hiking tour will cost around $35-$45 if booked on Isabela. If you decide to book online in advance, they typically start at around $65.

Finally, for those who prefer, there is also the option to book a horseback ride to Sierra Negra.

⭐️ Pro tip: You will be starting your hike at 3000ft (900m) above sea level. The weather can be very different from the beach so make sure you pack both sunscreen and rain gear!

Snorkel and Kayak Tour at Tintoreras

A group of kayakers head out to the lighthouse on a tour of Tintoreras.

There are a number of different tours that you can take to Tintoreras, so be sure to select the one that sounds best to you.

These can include kayaking only, snorkeling and kayaking, or a boat ride and snorkeling. Some even include landing on Tintoreras islet.

We highly recommend booking a tour that includes snorkeling and kayaking. Reaching Tintoreras by kayak is a much more fun way of getting there, but you will also want to get in the water as it’s harder to make out the marine life from your kayak.

Personally, we did just a kayak tour and were a little disappointed. We would’ve much preferred to be able to snorkel.

Underwater photo of two Galapagos penguins swimming in shallow water.

During the cold season, Tintoreras is a common spot to see Galapagos penguins. Year-round you have a good chance of seeing sea lions, turtles, white-tip reef sharks, and rays, as well as various birds.

Most tours only last 2-3 hours, making for an ideal afternoon activity. The tours cost around $50-$65 when booked on Isabela, with the price varying based on which activity(s) you choose.

While this is one of the more affordable to book online, advance bookings aren’t usually necessary unless you are visiting during peak times.

Those who prefer to have all their bookings taken care of in advance can explore Tintoreras tours using the button below.

Self-Guided Snorkel at Concha de Perla

Make sure to pack your own snorkel gear with you as you can go straight to Concha de Perla after you finish with your Tintoreras tour.

Concha de Perla is one of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos that you can visit without a guide. As with Tintoreras, snorkeling is best at low tide.

As you walk from the pier back towards town, you will see a boardwalk almost immediately on your right. The boardwalk is just 650ft (200m) in length and will bring you to a platform with steps to enter the water.

There are benches and posts here to leave your things. However, you may find yourself almost tripping over marina iguanas and crabs, so watch your step!

The area is sheltered with minimal currents so it is safe to swim, but there are no lifeguards present so use good sense.

The marine life here can be widely varied. When we visited there was a huge group (known as a “fever”) of eagle rays swimming in the center of the open area just 30-50ft (10-15m) from the steps. They remained there the entire time circling around.

We also spotted a turtle and several marine iguanas swimming, particularly around the mangrove areas on either side.

Other marine life often seen here include sea lions, penguins, manta rays, stingrays, and many reef fishes.

🐟 Day 7: Ferry to Santa Cruz, Explore Puerto Ayora & Snorkel Las Grietas

A night photo of the Welcome to Santa Cruz Galapagos sign lit up.

Today you will venture to the most touristy and populated Galapagos island; Santa Cruz.

From Isabela, it is a 2+ hour ferry ride to the main pier at Puerto Ayora, which is where your accommodation will almost certainly be. Be sure to take the morning ferry to allow time for all of the activities included on your first day in Santa Cruz.

Day 7 Breakdown

  • Morning ferry to Santa Cruz.
  • Explore Puerto Ayora.
  • Stop by the Fish Market.
  • Snorkel Las Grietas.
  • Relax at Playa de los Alemanes.
  • Spot sharks at the pier.

6am Ferry to Santa Cruz

A view of Santa Cruz island taken from the back of the Galapagos ferry.

As previously mentioned, you will want to have booked your ferry ticket well in advance. There are only two ferry times per day and they fill up quickly.

If you have not done so already, you can book your ferry tickets here (6am recommended).

You will want to arrive at the main pier by 5:30am to catch the ferry. The ferry to Santa Cruz takes around 2-2.5 hours.

We recommend asking your hotel for a packed breakfast or purchasing something to bring with you. Fortunately, despite the early start, you’ll have time to rest on the ride over.

You will take a small taxi boat from the pier to the ferry which will cost $1 per person, so keep some cash to hand.

⭐️ Pro tip: The ferry is more of a large speedboat and can be very bumpy, as well as warm and stuffy if you’re sat inside. If you’re prone to motion sickness, you may wish to take a motion sickness tablet or use acupressure bands.

Check-In and Explore Puerto Ayora

Upon arrival to Santa Cruz, you will need to take another water taxi from the ferry to the pier which will cost another $1 per person. Then, you must pay yet another $1 entry fee on the pier to enter Puerto Ayora. As always, keep some cash handy.

From Gus Angermeyer Pier (the main pier at Puerto Ayora), you can either walk or take a taxi to your hotel. A taxi shouldn’t cost more than $2-$3 and there will be plenty waiting nearby.

You’ll immediately notice a difference in the vibe and atmosphere of Santa Cruz compared to Isabela or San Cristobal. The main town of Puerto Ayora has almost double the population of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal and six times that in Puerto Villamil, Isabela.

In town, you’ll find an array of amenities catering to tourists from boutique shops, art galleries, and jewelers, to tour operators, dive shops, restaurants, and bars.

Take some time to wander around the town, grab some lunch, and enjoy the more energetic atmosphere of this new island.


Stop by the Fish Market

A sea lion poses for a photo at the front of the famous Santa Cruz Fish Market in Puerto Ayora.

Whilst exploring Puerto Ayora, be sure to stop by the Fish Market. This lively spot is right in the middle of town along the waterfront, just a 5-minute walk east of the main pier.

We found the market to be busiest in the late morning as fishermen returned with their catch and the local women prepared the fish for sale.

As well as being a bustling location for locals, it also attracts a fair amount of wildlife hoping for scraps! You are almost guaranteed to find sea lions lounging here, as well as pelicans, lava herons, great blue herons, and marine iguanas.

It is a unique place to see wildlife so seamlessly integrated with the local human population. On one visit we even saw a sea lion scoot its way up to the woman working here and plop its head down on her foot for a nap.

Snorkel at Las Grietas

Snorkelers prepare to jump in the water at Las Grietas.

After lunch, head to Las Grietas, one of the most popular swimming spots in Santa Cruz.

Just a short water taxi and walk from Puerto Ayora, it is famed for its unique geological formations and crystal clear waters for snorkeling.

Las Grietas is a large fissure measuring about 10m (33ft) deep, 7m (23ft) wide, and 100m (330ft) long. Towering dark volcanic rock runs along both sides of the fissure, with crystalline water at its base.

This impressive, dramatic landscape is the result of the volcanic activity that formed Santa Cruz and the other islands of the Galapagos archipelago. It is aptly named Las Grietas translating to β€œthe cracks” in English.

The high walls of Las Grietas provide protection to this area, resulting in reliably calm water that is devoid of any current. This still water makes it perfect for a relaxing swim and for practicing your snorkeling skills!

To get to Las Grietas from Puerto Ayora, you will need to take a short taxi boat ride across the bay (about 5 minutes) and then walk around 15 minutes further.

As a Galapagos National Park site, guides to Las Grietas are now mandatory and cost $10 (cash only). They depart from the entrance every hour at half past, from 7:30am to 4:30pm. 

It is not necessary to book your tour in advance; you can simply show up and pay. Just make sure to bring your snorkel gear as there is nowhere to rent any.


Playa de los Alemanes

Playa de los Alemanes beach on a quiet afternoon.

On the way to Las Grietas, you will pass by Playa de los Alemanes (German Beach). Along this golden sand beach, you may spot sea lions playing in the surf and marine iguanas lounging on the sand.

Being further from Puerto Ayora, this beach is typically fairly quiet. It is worth spending some time here to enjoy the beach and snorkel, time permitting.

While the water visibility isn’t always great, it is a common place to see marine iguanas and sea lions swimming.

Spot Sharks from the Pier

A night photo of small black tipped reef sharks swimming in the water near the main pier in Puerto Ayora.

In the evening, be sure to take a stroll along the main pier to spot small black-tip reef sharks, as well as occasional turtles and rays swimming in the waters below illuminated by lights from the pier.

This was one of our favorite evening activities and each night after dinner we would take a stroll along the pier.

Every night we spotted small black-tipped reef sharks, and we also were fortunate enough to spot a couple of turtles and a “fever” of golden rays.

πŸ„β€β™€οΈ Day 8: Tortuga Bay & Charles Darwin Research Station

Day 8 of your 10 day Galapagos itinerary will be fairly relaxed, but with a couple of activities to help you make the most of your time on Santa Cruz.

Again, we recommend you get a reasonably early start as you will begin with a walk to Tortuga Bay which is far more enjoyable earlier in the day when the weather is cooler.

If you prefer to sleep in a bit and don’t mind a warmer walk, you will have more flexibility of time on this day than most and can get a later start. You can also skip the walk altogether by taking a taxi boat.

Day 8 Breakdown

  • Walk to Tortuga Bay.
  • See baby tortoises at Charles Darwin Research Station.
  • Sunset at Playa Ratonera or Playa de La Estacion.

Tortuga Bay

A very busy day at Playa Mansa beach in Tortuga Bay with many families lining the shore.
Playa Mansa – Tortuga Bay

Depending on where your hotel is located, you may want to take a taxi to the start of the trail for Tortuga Bay. This should cost $1.50 and can save you up to half an hour of walking!

From the trailhead, the walk to Tortuga Bay is around 30-40 minutes over a paved path. It is an easy walk with nothing more than a few undulations along the way. However, it is mostly exposed so ensure you have ample water and sun protection.

For those who prefer not to walk, you can take a water taxi from the main pier in Puerto Ayora for $10 per person each way.

Tortuga Bay is comprised of two beaches; Playa Brava and Playa Mansa.

Playa Brava is the beach closest to the bay’s entrance and greets you with a sweeping expanse of white sand with turquoise waters lapping at its shores.

A view of the expansive Playa Brava beach, the most famous beach on Santa Cruz in the Galapagos islands.
Playa Brava – Tortuga Bay

However, while spectacular to look at, this beach has strong currents and often large waves. Swimming is not permitted at Playa Brava.

You will need to keep walking along the beach to reach Playa Mansa where you can swim and snorkel, often in the company of sea turtles.

You can also rent kayaks from Playa Mansa to explore the sheltered bay and mangroves.

Additionally, there is a small cove sheltered by lava rock and mangroves at the end of Playa Brava (before you reach Playa Mansa) that is a great place to snorkel with baby sharks and marine iguanas.

There are no facilities available so bring everything you need.

Visit Charles Darwin Research Station

A group of baby Galapagos tortoises scurry about at Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz.

In the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to witness tortoise conservation in action at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

While you can visit the museum and exhibitions for free, it is well worth paying the $10 entry fee to visit the breeding center (centro de crianza in Spanish) and see the baby tortoises. Here you can see the various Galapagos tortoise subspecies and morphotypes.

The breeding program has been highly successful and over 7,000 tortoises have been released into the wild. You can see baby tortoises up to 7 years old; the age at which they’re typically released.

There are also a few mature adults that are used in the breeding program.

You will find various educational exhibits about Galapagos conservation, as well as the natural history of the islands and their fauna and flora during a visit.

⭐️ Pro tip: Bring your passport to get a Charles Darwin Research Station stamp!

Sunset at Playa Ratonera or Playa de La Estacion

A sunset photo of Playa Ratonera showing one of the best beaches on Galapagos that you can walk to.
Playa Ratonera during golden hour.

There are two small beaches located directly adjacent to the Charles Darwin Research Station where you will be ending your day, both of which make for a lovely place to watch another magical Galapagos sunset.

Playa Ratonera is a bit closer to the station and is arguably prettier, but there is more lava rock along the shoreline making for a slightly less enjoyable experience in the water.

Playa de La Estacion is only a few hundred yards away at most and has more options for shade with a sandier shoreline.


🚀 Day 9: Day Tour to an Uninhabited Island

From Santa Cruz, you can take a number of different day tours to your choice of an uninhabited Galapagos island.

Each island offers unique opportunities for spotting wildlife, which will also vary depending on the time of year.

While we personally recommend Bartolome Island, the best day tour for you will depend on your interests, budget, and the season you’re visiting.

For example, North Seymour is one of the best islands for birdwatching, Pinzon provides some of the clearest water for snorkeling (see photo above), and Bartolome features the most spectacular landscape and is the best place to see the endangered Galapagos penguins.

You may want to consider booking your tour in advance if there is one you are specifically interested in doing. However, as with the 360ΒΊ Tour, this will typically be more expensive than waiting to book it in person on the island.

Whether you book online in advance or locally upon arrival, ensure you know what is included within your specific tour as this can vary!

Even tours that go to the same islands will vary in terms of landings, snorkel stops, and activities.


Popular Day Tours from Santa Cruz

Close up photo of a Galapagos Penguin taken underwater while snorkeling at Bartolome Island.
Swimming with penguins at Bartolome Island.

Below are some of the most popular islands to visit on a day tour from Santa Cruz.

  • Bartolome Island features the most iconic viewpoint in the Galapagos islands and a chance to swim with penguins. This is often fully booked as it is one of the most popular tours. We booked ours with GalaTrails and couldn’t have been more impressed with the service.
  • Pinzon Island offers some of the clearest waters for snorkeling and you’ll often encounter sea lions, turtles, rays, sharks, and many tropical fish. During the cold season, you may even get to see Galapagos penguins swimming.
  • North Seymour is the best island for birdwatching. Here, you’ll see many different nesting birds (depending on the season) including frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
  • Santa Fe has the largest variety of endemic wildlife species of any Galapagos island, including two species of land iguana. It also provides a blend of picturesque landscapes and turquoise waters, which offer some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos.


🐒 Day 10: Explore the Highlands of Santa Cruz & Depart

For your final day, we recommend booking the latest flight out of Santa Cruz (Baltra airport), which is typically around 3:30pm.

Be sure to get an early start to the day so you have enough time in the morning to visit the Santa Cruz Highlands and El Chato Ranch tortoise sanctuary on the way to the airport.

At El Chato, you will come face-to-face with the most iconic Galapagos resident; the giant tortoise!

Day 10 Breakdown

  • Meet giant tortoises and explore lava tunnels in the Santa Cruz highlands.
  • Depart Santa Cruz from Baltra airport.

Meet Giant Tortoises & Explore Lava Tunnels in the Highlands

A smaller Galapagos tortoise walking in front of a larger tortoise at El Chato Ranch in Santa Cruz.

There is no better way to end an incredible 10 days on the Galapagos islands than by having an encounter with the iconic giant Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat.

Rather than taking a taxi directly to the airport, we recommend you start very early and arrange for a driver to take you via one of the highlands tortoise reserves.

There are a few tortoise reserves in the highlands of Santa Cruz where you can meet wild Galapagos tortoises and explore lava tunnels, remnants of the island’s volcanic origin.

The best one is El Chato Ranch as it is privately owned and allows wild tortoises to roam freely.

The entrance costs $10 and includes a naturalist guide, rubber boots to avoid fire ant bites, and access to lava tunnels.

It is no longer possible to do a self-guided tour at El Chato, but you can visit without a tour and they will simply provide a naturalist guide upon arrival.

You can decide whether you want to just visit El Chato, or pair it with a visit to the popular Los Gemelos (Twin Craters).

A taxi to the highlands will cost you around $40-$50 and includes waiting time at the ranch and Los Gemelos. Expect to pay a little more than this to include an airport drop-off.

⭐️ Pro tip: Weather in the highlands can be unpredictable so bring a rain jacket along with sunscreen. Also, bring socks to wear with the rubber boots you’ll be given at El Chato!


Fly Out of Baltra Airport

A view of Itabaca Canal as our plane departs from the Baltra airport to fly back to mainland Ecuador from the Galapagos islands.

After your stop at the tortoise reserve, you will want to continue onward to the airport.

Note that the airport for Santa Cruz is actually on the neighboring island of Baltra!

This means you will need to continue by taxi to the Itabaca Canal, which is approximately a half-hour drive from El Chato Ranch.

From here, you will board a ferry to cross the channel which costs $1-$2 per person, depending on which ferry you are able to catch.

Once across the channel, you will board the airline direct bus to the airport terminal. The bus costs $5 per person and takes around 10 minutes.

⭐️ Pro tip: Keep an eye out for land iguanas at the airport and on your bus ride there. We saw several on the way and hanging around just outside the airport!

πŸ›³ Best 10 Day Galapagos Tours and Cruises

A Galapagos cruise ship sets out to see during a beautiful sunset off of Santa Cruz island.

For those of you that prefer to have the planning taken care of, you will find a variety of land-based tours or cruises with pre-arranged itineraries for the Galapagos.

Each of these tours and cruises will offer different experiences. They range in terms of the islands you visit and the activities available on each, as well as the type of accommodation and food provided.

While our 10-day Galapagos itinerary includes staying on all three main islands, as well as a visit to an uninhabited island, some itineraries will include more or less.

Additionally, most tours we found that are listed as 10-day Galapagos tours actually only include 8 days on the islands, with the other two being spent in Quito.

Top-Rated 10-Day Galapagos Tours

A large Galapagos cruise ship leaving Santa Cruz island.

Inspiring Ecuador

On our visit to the Galapagos islands, we were self-guided for the first week and with an Inspiring Ecuador group tour for the second week.

While we loved our independent time, we must admit that we would highly recommend a group tour with Inspiring Ecuador for inexperienced and non-Spanish-speaking travelers. The islands catered less to tourists than we expected and English was not widely spoken.

If a group tour sounds like a better option for you, consider Inspiring Ecuador. You can check out their incredible 5-star TripAdvisor reviews here.

Inspiring Ecuador doesn’t offer any 10-day tours, however, they do have two different 8 day tours:

We found that they were extremely flexible with amending itineraries to accommodate guests so we would recommend considering one of these tours with a couple of days of self-exploration at the beginning or end.

Other Tours

Below are some of the highest-rated Galapagos land-based tours available to book through Viator or TourRadar. Keep in mind that there are many more tour companies and options out there, but as with day tours, many websites don’t allow for direct booking.

Instead, you will need to reach out to them via email or WhatsApp to arrange your tours. This will typically be a bit cheaper than booking through Viator and allows you more options, but requires a bit more work and technical savvy.

10 Day Galapagos Multi Sport: 5/5 ⭐️
While this 10-day tour only includes 7 days on the Galapagos, it is jam-packed with fun activities on all three main islands to make the most of your time in the Galapagos.

11 Days Galapagos Full Experience: 5/5 ⭐️
This 11-day/10 night Galapagos land-based tour explores all three main islands, plus a day tour of your choice to either Florena, Santa Fe, or Pinzon.

Galapagos Multisport by G Adventures: 4.9/5 ⭐️
Spend two days in Quito and eight days on the Galapagos Islands with this 10-day tour filled with adventurous excursions.

10 Day Galapagos Cruises

A cruise ship docks off of Playa Dorada on a sunny day in Isla Bartolome.

The Galapagos islands are one of the few destinations in the world where taking a cruise is genuinely the best option for seeing as much as possible.

Cruise ships can reach islands that you are unable to get to via day tours and can travel at any time.

Additionally, they are typically all-inclusive, making your 10 days in the Galapagos as stress-free as possible and eliminating time lost with hotels and restaurants!

You can find a variety of Galapagos cruises available on Cruise Direct.

🏨 Where to Stay for 10 Days in Galapagos

A view of the pool from our room at Hotel Silberstein on the Galapagos Island of Santa Cruz.

If you follow this 10 day Galapagos itinerary, you will want to book three nights on each of the main islands; San Cristobal, Isabela, and Santa Cruz.

The main towns on each island are:

These towns are where you’ll find all accommodation options for a variety of budgets.


Recommendations for Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal

If you’re traveling Galapagos on a budget you will find ample basic hostels to mid-range hotels, which can start as low as $15-$20 per night. However, there are very few options for luxury accommodation and literally no 5-star hotels on San Cristobal.

The most high-end luxury available is the newly built Hotel Indigo Galapagos, an IHG Hotel. However, unless money is truly of no concern, we wouldn’t recommend this hotel as it is typically 2-3 times more expensive than any other hotel on the island.

Below are some of the top-rated hotels for a variety of budgets:

Recommendations for Puerto Villamil in Isabela

Similarly to San Cristobal, accommodation options are more limited and, therefore, a little pricier than on Santa Cruz. However, it is still very affordable.

There are not any 5-star luxury hotels on the island, but you will find a number of budget and mid-range options.

With that said, you will find plenty of excellent beach-front options, such as Cormorant Beach House or Sandy Feet Beach House, and some boutique accommodations such as Chez Manany Galapagos Eco Lodge, that will have a more luxurious feel.

Below are some of the top-rated hotels for different budgets:

Recommendations for Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has an even wider range of accommodations to choose from than San Cristobal, but similarly, you’ll find a greater selection of budget and mid-range hotels than luxury ones.

With that said there are a few luxury hotels on Santa Cruz, most notably Angermeyer Waterfront Inn and the Finch Bay Hotel. Both of these highly-rated hotels offer unique stays with their own private piers from which the hotel water taxis can take you to the main pier in minutes.

Below are some of the top-rated hotels for different budgets:

🧳 Packing for 10 Days in Galapagos

Disclosure: At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any purchases made using the links below.

Well Traveled compression packing cubes are a great packing hack and a must on any packing list

For the complete rundown, we have created the COMPLETE GUIDE TO PACKING FOR GALAPAGOS with downloadable and printable checklists, as well as 25 items you probably haven’t thought of (or didn’t know existed) to bring with you.

If you just want the essentials, here are some things that you will want to consider packing for your 10 days in Galapagos:

  • Camera: The Galapagos is a truly photogenic place and you’ll want to capture many memories. We use the Sony a7riii and love it. However, beginners may wish to consider an entry-level DSLR to start with.
  • Waterproof camera: With some of the world’s best snorkeling, you may find yourself taking more photos underwater than on the land! We highly recommend a GoPro, which is what we used for most of our underwater Galapagos photography.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: Galapagos is a wildlife sanctuary and regular sunscreen is extremely damaging to marine life. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reef-safe and most of their bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
  • Beach towel: You will want to take a towel with you for use at the beach. We always have a travel towel with us. Although Galapagos is really safe, we still love this one with a hidden zipper pocket.
  • Hiking shoes: Galapagos has some great hikes!  Hiking sandals are the ideal choice as they keep your feet cool, protect them from lava rock, and can also be worn in the water.
  • Reusable water bottle: We don’t travel anywhere without a reusable water bottle. Remain hydrated without wasting single-use plastic bottles! Most restaurants and hotels will refill bottles for you.
  • Snorkel gear: It will typically work out cheaper and easier to bring your own snorkel and mask and fins than renting them each day. You can also buy these items as a snorkel set which works out cheaper still.
  • Mini first aid kit: Whether out hiking or just on the beach, we always have a mini first aid kit in our bag, just in case.


πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ FAQs for 10 Days in the Galapagos

A small Galapagos sea lion pup basks in the sun at Playa De Los Marinos on San Cristobal island.

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions first-time visitors have when crafting their 10 day Galapagos itineraries.

Simply click the drop-down arrows to reveal answers.

Is 10 days enough for Galapagos Islands?

10 days in the Galapagos is the perfect trip length for staying on all three major islands, plus at least one day trip to an uninhabited island.

This allows you ample time to see at least 4 Galapagos islands in total with 10 days of exploring, with time for some relaxation on the beach.

As with most destinations, the more time you have the better!

How many days do you need to see the Galapagos?

7-10 days is the perfect amount of time to see the Galapagos Islands, with 5 days as the minimum you would want. With 10 days in the Galapagos you can easily explore 4-5 islands or more if you decide on an inter-island cruise.

How many Galapagos islands should I visit in 10 days?

With 10 days in the Galapagos, you should stay overnight on all three main islands (San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela) and take 1-2 day tours to the uninhabited islands nearby that interest you most. This will allow you to visit 4-5 Galapagos islands in 10 days.

πŸ“š More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

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Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions, now it’s time for the rest of your planning!

These guides will help you through the process step-by-step, providing insight on everything from finding flights to top activities and so much more.

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πŸ’¬ Final Thoughts

Stunning scenery from Playa Bahia Sardina beach with blue skies, white clouds, crystal clear water, and a lone girl strolling the shoreline.

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

We truly hope you have found this guide useful in planning the perfect 10-day Galapagos itinerary for your upcoming vacation.

Now we’d like to hear from YOU!

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Or perhaps this was the best, most helpful guide you found on the internet?!

Regardless of your thoughts, we’d like to know them! Help us to help future readers by sharing your feedback in the comments below.

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Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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