Enjoy your land based programme with Finch Bay Hotel and daily tours to Bartolome, Seymour, Plazas and Isabela Island.

The award-winning Finch Bay Eco Hotel in Galapagos Islands, lies just steps from the beach in a secluded location, across the bay from Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz. Guests cherish the hotel’s privacy, natural surroundings, swimming pool, fine dining and superb service.

The ecologically-orientated Finch Bay has 6 Ocean View Suites and 21 Garden View Rooms all with bathrooms and air conditioning. Its infrastructure and activities are entirely orientated to a concept of true ecotourism – it has won numerous awards for its conservation efforts..

Ocean View Suites:
The hotel’s Ocean View Suites are the newest additions to its architecture. They’re split into two sets, with four to the west of the property and two to the east. All of them are slightly elevated – although artfully mimetic with their walls lined with dark volcanic stones and discreet wooden handrails – giving them unparalleled views across the bay and the ocean. Their balconies are the ideal place to relax after a day of exploring, while the bedrooms and bathrooms are ample, at 32 m2 (344 sq ft). Four of the suites are interconnected, making them great choices for families or friends travelling together.

Garden View Rooms:
The hotel’s 21 Garden View Rooms are arrayed in a ring around the property, connected by an attractive wooden walkway through the hotel’s recently re-landscaped gardens. All of the rooms have balconies with hammocks, perfect for a read or a snooze after a day discovering the islands.

Room Services & Facilities: 

  • Air-conditioning
  • Private bathroom
  • Night table / Desk – Chair
  • In-room Safety Box
  • Hammocks
  • Reading lights
  • Hair dryer
  • Bathrobe
  • Courtesy bottled purified water
  • Extra bed available

Land Tours & Activities

Guests are welcome to join our guided tours of attractions on Santa Cruz Island. These can take half-a-day or a whole day, and all are accompanied by our highly-qualified and –experienced bilingual naturalist guides.

The most popular trips are:

Santa Cruz Highlands and Charles Darwin South Plaza IslandResearch Station

AM:This Depart the hotel towards the Highlands of Santa Cruz, around to the Village of Santa Rosa where guest can hike down through is the southern part of two small crescent-shaped islands t at lie just a few hundred met rs off the east coast of the Guayabillo forest to the Tortoise Reserve, though it is easier to view them on one of the farms where they share the fields with Santa Cruz. The northern island is used for scientific purposes only. South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands cattle, watch out for the only “TORTOISE CROSSING” signs in the world !. There are also many mosses, ferns and other epiphytes on in the archipelago. Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a titled tabletop quality. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, wherthe trees, watch out for the small and large tree Finches, from Los Gemelos the road descends in a straight line to Ithabaca channel e t islan tilts toward the water. which separates Santa Cruz from Baltra Island, almost immediately it turns into the transitional zone and then, in marked contrast.
The approach makes for a lavishly colorful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white to the south side, there is a very long dry-zone. sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright In the Highlands of Santa Cruz Island you will find Los Gemelos, they are a pair of collapse or pit craters, one on either side of the orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Further up the shore a carpet of scarlet sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a road in the Scalesia Zone, here you get an excellent opportunity to see Scalesia Pedunculata.grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath, waiting patiently for pears to drop.

PM:The The headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service and The Charles Darwin Research Station are located side by side on trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that ove ook the ocean to the s uth, where swallow-tailed the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. There is an interpretation centre open to the public and also one may view the tortoise rearing progulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-foo ed boobies ride the windy currents. The overlo k is a great place gram. Unfortunately, the number of tortoises is so reduced in the wild that this is the only place where many visitors to Galápagos for spotting large mari e life, including manta rays. Surf poun s an inlet at the western co ner of the island, where a have the chance to see tortoises. Return to the hotel.colony of sea lion bachelors make their home, accounting for the surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur.

Tortuga Bay Beach

Tortuga Bay is located to the southwest of Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. Its name means turtle, since it is the favorite place for sea turtles to lay their eggs. The beautiful white sand beach is considered by many the most beautiful in the Galápagos Archipelago. The beach is reached via a marked and cobbled two kilometer-path that starts at the west end of Charles Binford Street; at the beginning of the path guests must sign in and out at the National Park control point – it is open from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM daily. There is excellent bird-watching along the path, with plenty of Darwin’s Finches and other sea birds.

There are two beaches at Tortuga Bay: “Playa Brava”, aptly named for its persistent swells, ideal for surfing; and “Playa Mansa”, one kilometer further along the beach, a mellow cove, protected by a natural basalt barrier. Generally conditions here are suitable for snorkeling year-round. It’s also a good place for swimming and kayaking. Beware of limited natural shade and the glare of the sun on the white sand. Return to the hotel around midday.

Highlands of Santa Cruz and Garrapatero Beach

AM: We depart the hotel towards to the Highlands of Santa Cruz, where a bus will take us for a visit to the Giant Tortoises Reserve in their natural habitat, a once in a lifetime experience! Pass the Village of Santa Rosa going through the Guayabillo forest to the Tortoise Reserve, here it is easier to view them on one of the farms where they share the fields with cattle, watch out for the only “TORTOISE CROSSING” signs in the world !. There are also many mosses, ferns and other epiphytes on the trees, watch out for the small and large tree Finches. Our first stop is at Los Gemelos, the Twin Pit Craters, these are a pair of collapse or pit craters, one on either side of the road in the Scalesia Zone, great depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, here we get an excellent opportunity to see Scalesia Pedunculata, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. We then continue to the tortoise reserve, visit the reserve, lunch in the area, and afterwards continue to Garrapatero Beach.

PM: El Garrapatero Beach is a beautiful unspoiled beach with white sand and turquoise water, northeast of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island. It is reached by road driving to the highlands of Santa Cruz, past the small town of Bellavista (about 20 minutes), and then a 15-minute walk through a gorgeous trail beneath a canopy of mangroves. A short walk from the beach leads to a lagoon, surrounded by vegetation, where pink flamingos are found, and often ducks, herons, stilts, oystercatchers and resident and migratory shore birds and also bright sally-lightfoot crabs. The beach is great for both adults and children, as pools are formed, and the beach is very gradual going into the water. It’s great for swimming the snorkeling or basking in the sun amid a perfect combination of sun and natural beauty. Return to the hotel. Time table for reference only, please reconfirm information at front desk or with your local guide. For the excursion to the highlands of Santa Cruz and El Garrapatero Beach, departure from the hotel is at 9:00 and return at about 14:30 approx.

Daily Yacht Tours

Although we would recommend you explore the options we offer in our Packages, guests at the hotel can also join our highly-qualified, bilingual naturalist staff for day- trips to nearby islands.

It’s important to note that – apart from taking a cruise – these licensed day trips are the only way to reach some of the most spectacular islands in the Galápagos. Some visitor sites are reachable on the inhabited islands, but these are few-and-far between and arguably not as spectacular as the ones we can reach aboard our yacht.

We operate set departures aboard our yacht to different official park visitor sites. These include the wildlife-rich North Seymour, iconic Bartolomé, the wildly rugged South Plaza, and the beautiful Santa Fé. All of our trips include time to enjoy some snorkelling – one of the highlights of any Galápagos experience – whether at the same island, or at a nearby site. See below for what islands we visit when.

Monday - North Seymour Island

AM: North Seymour, Island was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit perched in ledges. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rain to bring them into bloom.

This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore displays white sand, and large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding frenzy, rendering a tableau for us from ages long past. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves un even rocky terrain. Dry landing.

PM: Las Bachas beach, a sandy white-coral beach that is a major egg-laying site for sea turtles. On the shore, there are many marine iguanas and in the lagoon, flamingos are commonly seen. This beach is also a good place for swimming and snorkeling. Best time for a walk along the beach or just relax and enjoy the magnificence Galapagos Islands. Wet landing

Tuesday & Friday - South Plaza Island

Today, we include two visitor sites: South Plaza and Punta Carrión, a perfect combination since aquatic activities are not allowed at South Plaza so we snorkel at Punta Carrión. On Tuesdays, we travel by land across Santa Cruz to the Itabaca Channel and snorkel at Punta Carrión in the morning, returning to Puerto Ayora and the hotel’s dock in the afternoon. On Fridays, we embark the yacht directly from the hotel’s dock in Puerto Ayora, but return by bus over Santa Cruz Island from the Itabaca Channel in the afternoon.

Punta Carrión, at the north-eastern tip of Santa Cruz Island, boasts both shallow reefs, mangroves, and exposure to rich upwellings to the east. As a result, it’s an ideal snorkelling site with plenty of reef fish as well as occasional sea lions and sharks.

South Plaza is a small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs: sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colours according to the season.

Our guides will seek out the best site along the cliffs for an enjoyable snorkel. Back on board, we continue sailing round the eastern coast of Santa Cruz until we reach a group of islets and rocks: South and North Plaza are twin, crescent-shaped islands. While the northern twin remains accessible only for scientists, South Plaza is one of Galápagos most impressive visiting sites.

Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a tilted table top aspect. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island slopes down toward the water. The approach makes for a lavishly colourful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Further up the shore, a carpet of scarlet Sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop.

The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies ride the gusty currents. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. Surf pounds an inlet at the western corner of the island, where a colony of bachelor sea lions make their home, accounting for the surprising surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur.

This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain, Dry landing, Snorkelling.

Wednesday & Thursday - Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava). To get there, the Sea Lion Yacht departs from Academy Bay in Puerto Ayora, yards from the Finch Bay hotel’s dock.

A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes.

The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in colour with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs.

An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkelling opportunity with diverse marine life.

This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. The yacht both sails from, and returns to, the hotel’s dock in Puerto Ayora.

Saturday - Bartolome Island

After an invigorating breakfast we leave the hotel, cross Academy Bay by boat, and board our bus in Puerto Ayora. In order to shorten travel distance and save considerable time (Bartolomé is the furthest island the hotel’s yacht visits), we will cross 42 km to the Itabaca Channel on the north shore, where the Sea Lion Yacht awaits us. This way, all that is left to sail is 21 Nautical miles (39Km/24miles) to Bartolomé Island.

Bartolomé is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the islands.

Galápagos penguins —the only species of penguin found north of the equator — waddle precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Just below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones. A perfectly- crescent-shaped, pink-and-white sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and can sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand to recover from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them over. We snorkel from this beach following a wet landing.

Penguins dot the nearby rocks of the other landing site, less than a kilometer along the eastern shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. A dry landing here leads to a 600-metre (2,000-foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolomé’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents a museum of volcanology: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and our beach, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle our yacht.

We return to the Itabaca Channel, board our bus, and travel over the island back to the hotel.

Sunday - North Seymour Island

North Seymourwas lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom.

This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, while large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding-frenzy, painting a tableau from ages long past for us. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter (6-foot) wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing.

In the afternoon, we visit Las Bachas beach. After WWII, US military barges were beached and abandoned here. Locals referred to the beach as the barges beach, a name that morphed to “bachas”. Today it is an important nesting area for the east Pacific green sea turtle. Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island, it is a glorious white beach, with several brackish lagoons only a few steps away from the sea. These lagoons are the feeding grounds of various wading birds, from stilts to flamingos. Fantastic snorkeling, swimming, or simply enjoying the white soft beach.

After the visits, the yacht sails to Itabaca channel, from where we cross by bus faster over Santa Cruz Island to reach the south shore (42 km by bus is shorter and faster, than 50 km by boat), where the Finch Bay Hotel is located.

GALAPAGOS HOTEL PACKAGES

The hotel offers the perfect combination of land and sea exploration, with a number of programmes, ranging from 4 to 8 days, including all accommodations, meals, transfers and excursions aboard its yacht. If you’d like to discover the islands the Finch Bay way, then let us take care of the logistics while you enjoy the wildlife!

Program Alpha (Fri - Mon) - 4 days / 3 nights

1) The order of yacht excursions and land activities, and the order of land activities themselves, can change according to various factors, including weather, tides, group sizes and physical abilities, languages, etc. The hotel expedition staff will confirm the order of the land activity schedules.

2) Schedules for yacht excursions are as follows, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 07:45 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• 16:30 Arrival back at Municipal dock

Schedules for days of land activities on Santa Cruz are more relaxed, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 09:00 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• Return with plenty of time to enjoy the hotel facilities or your own activities.

Day 1: Friday
Baltra- Tortoise Preserve Manzanillo
Upon arrival at the airport on Baltra Island, we travel across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island where a bus takes us to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Here we visit the Giant Tortoises Reserve in their natural habitat, a once in a lifetime experience! Make sure you wear outdoors clothing and sturdy footwear this day.

Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit.

After lunch and exploring the tortoise reserve, we continue our road south bound across Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Ayora, the Galápagos’ most populous town, where we board the hotel’s fiber glass boat (called a “panga”) for the short hop across to the “German Neighborhood”. This part of Puerto Ayora can only be reached by boat and there are no cars. A short walk along a path takes us to the hotel. Welcome to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel!
After checking in, guests are free to enjoy the hotel’s attractions: the pool and bar area, the white coral beach in front of the hotel, or swing in their hammock. In the evening, dinner includes the delicacies of local and international gastronomy, one of the main reasons people choose the Finch Bay Hotel.

Day 2: Saturday
Bartolome
After an invigorating breakfast we leave the hotel, cross Academy Bay by boat, and board our bus in Puerto Ayora. In order to shorten travel distance and save considerable time (Bartolomé is the furthest island the hotel’s yacht visits), we will cross 42 km to the Itabaca Channel on the north shore, where the Sea Lion Yacht awaits us. This way, all that is left to sail is 21 Nautical miles (39Km/24miles) to Bartolome Island.

Bartolome is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the islands.
Galápagos penguins —the only species of penguin found north of the equator — waddle precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Just below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones. A perfectly- crescent-shaped, pink-and-white sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and can sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand to recover from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them over. We snorkel from this beach following a wet landing.
Penguins dot the nearby rocks of the other landing site, less than a kilometer along the eastern shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. A dry landing here leads to a 600-metre (2,000-foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolome’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents a museum of volcanology: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and our beach, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle our yacht.

We return to the Itabaca Channel, board our bus, and travel over the island back to the hotel.

Day 3: Sunday
Tortuga Bay
Tortuga Bay is a combination of ecosystems, landscapes, wildlife, sports and a lot of fun! We start after a (surely) much appreciated relaxed morning’s breakfast at the hotel, and a stroll along the neighbouring brackish lagoons. Our “panga” launch will take us to Puerto Ayora and a short distance further we reach the starting point of the trail to Tortuga Bay. The walking distance is 2 km (1.3 miles) along a fairly flat and straight path, where we explore and understand the arid, deciduous forest and its inhabitants. This is a great birding trail, if you take a little time to wander about and listen to the chirps and songs. You don’t have to worry too much about your day-pack, as you only need to carry the very immediate essentials: hat, sunscreen (to add more if rubbed-off), binoculars, camera and your water bottle. Anything else you could need for the rest of the day, will be sent to the end of the trail by boat.
When you reach Tortuga Bay, you will understand why this is often referred to as Ecuador’s most beautiful beach. Over one kilometre of snow-white sand and turquoise waters with the never-ending sound of swells caressing the island. Some guests can opt for an unusual treat: surf instructors of the Santa Cruz Surf Club (CSSC) give surfing lessons here. If this something you have always wanted to try, this is your chance!

Other activities include exploring the shore birds of “Playa Brava”, Tortuga Bay’s first beach, the nesting grounds of the green Sea Turtles, foraging marine iguanas, and the impressive change in sand, water, coastal vegetation and landscape, when you reach “Playa Mansa”.
Protected by a natural lava barrier, this large, calm bay is surrounded by a gallery of mangroves. This habitat is the home of different species of marine and terrestrial birds, as well as young sharks and rays, who spend their youth in the protective, mildly brackish conditions. Kayaking in tandem sit-on top craft is a great way to experience nature up-close.

In “Playa Mansa” we meet our day-boat. Logistically, our day boat meets up with the rest of the group on Playa Mansa, with anyone who prefers not to walk the 3 Km, carries all day-bags not needed for the walk, as well as cold beverages, towels, has restroom facilities, and brings us our freshly packed box-lunch from the hotel (during breakfast, all guests can choose from a wide menu of options).
Generally, we end our Tortuga Bay experience with a soothing dip in the calm and clear waters of Playa Mansa, before the day-boat leaves the bay to bring all guests back to the hotel’s dock in Academy Bay. The ride takes less than half hour.

For the rest of the afternoon, guests can enjoy the hotel’s facilities (swimming pool, beach, sea kayaks, etc.) or continue exploring the island’s vast list of sites including the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Day 4: Monday
Departure
After breakfast, we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.

Program Beta (Fri - Mon) - 4 days / 3 nights

1) The order of yacht excursions and land activities, and the order of land activities themselves, can change according to various factors, including weather, tides, group sizes and physical abilities, languages, etc. The hotel expedition staff will confirm the order of the land activity schedules.

2) Schedules for yacht excursions are as follows, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 07:45 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• 16:30 Arrival back at Municipal dock

Schedules for days of land activities on Santa Cruz are more relaxed, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 09:00 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• Return with plenty of time to enjoy the hotel facilities or your own activities.

Day 1: Friday
Baltra- Tortoise Preserve Manzanillo
Upon arrival at the airport on Baltra Island, we travel across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island where a bus takes us to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Here we visit the Giant Tortoises Reserve in their natural habitat, a once in a lifetime experience! Make sure you wear outdoors clothing and sturdy footwear this day.

Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit.

After lunch and exploring the tortoise reserve, we continue our road south bound across Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Ayora, the Galápagos’ most populous town, where we board the hotel’s fiber glass boat (called a “panga”) for the short hop across to the “German Neighborhood”. This part of Puerto Ayora can only be reached by boat and there are no cars. A short walk along a path takes us to the hotel. Welcome to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel!

After checking in, guests are free to enjoy the hotel’s attractions: the pool and bar area, the white coral beach in front of the hotel, or swing in their hammock. In the evening, dinner includes the delicacies of local and international gastronomy, one of the main reasons people choose the Finch Bay hotel.

Day 2: Saturday
Cerro Mesa & Garrapatero Cove
After a restful night, enjoy a relaxed breakfast before the day’s adventures.
We leave the hotel, cross Academy Bay to meet our transport by the Docks. We climb by vehicle up into the highlands of Santa Cruz where a five-kilometer belt of sustainable farms, which precede the National Park’s creation in 1959, ring the peaks of the island. 97% of Galápagos land surface is protected, and these farms coexist with the surrounding protected land.

Our first stop is Cerro Mesa. Bordering the National Park, this private preserve is a great combination of native and endemic forest, a splendid birding area, a natural path of migrating giant tortoises (seasonally they move from areas with better foraging conditions) and impressive volcanic formations.

We explore the natural surroundings from a large Scoria mount, with a spectacular view over most of the Galápagos’ central islands and islets, and 1.4 km walk over gravel to Santa Cruz’s largest sinkhole. We encounter giant tortoises, herons, gallinules (in natural water holes) and some of the rarest Darwin finches (like the elusive Vegetarian-, Woodpecker- and tree finches.)

We stop for restrooms and snacks at a local shelter, before we continue our path down to the coast. From nearly 500 metres above sea level, we will experience five different vegetation zones- scalesia, miconia, transition, arid and littoral. This path totals 10 km and can be done aboard our bus, or if you prefer more action, on a mountain bike (helmets provided on-site, and a support vehicle tags along behind bikers at all times).

We walk the last hundred yards towards Garrapatero Cove and beach, regarded as having the finest sand in all Galápagos! We enjoy a soothing dip in the waters; take a small trip on a tandem, sit-on-top kayak; lie on the beach; or walk a short distance to a brackish lagoon, home of stilts, plovers, pintails and flamingoes.

Our staff from the hotel meet guests here. A previously-ordered box lunch is served under the shade of the halophyte trees.
After lunch, we embark on our launch back to Academy Bay, directly to the Finch Bay dock, a short walk from the hotel. Here, change clothes, shower, and prepare for the last portion of your visit: The Charles Darwin Research Station.

With your guide, stroll through the grounds of the Research Station and the Giant Tortoise breeding program installations, which include some tortoise celebrities such as Diego (the world’s most famous giant tortoise after Lonesome George, who died recently). Land iguanas are also a highlight, with the chance to learn about their conservation status in the wild.
After the visit, we can either return to the hotel or spend some time visiting the port.

Day 3: Sunday
North Seymour
After an invigorating breakfast, we leave the hotel, cross Academy Bay by boat, and board our bus in Puerto Ayora. In order to shorten travel distances and save considerable time, we cross 42 km to the Itabaca Channel on the island’s north shore, where the Sea Lion Yacht awaits us. This way, all that is left to sail is 6 Nautical miles (11Km/7miles) to North Seymour Island. We also return via this route.

North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom.

This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, while large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding-frenzy, painting a tableau from ages long past for us. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter (6-foot) wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing.

Day 4: Monday
Departure
After After breakfast, we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, we stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.

Program Alpha (Mon - Fri) - 5 days / 4 nights

1) The order of yacht excursions and land activities, and the order of land activities themselves, can change according to various factors, including weather, tides, group sizes and physical abilities, languages, etc. The hotel expedition staff will confirm the order of the land activity schedules.

2) Schedules for yacht excursions are as follows, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 07:45 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• 16:30 Arrival back at Municipal dock

Schedules for days of land activities on Santa Cruz are more relaxed, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 09:00 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• Return with plenty of time to enjoy the hotel facilities or your own activities.

Day 1: Monday
North Seymour
Upon arrival, guests are met by the hotel naturalist guides and accompanied directly to the yacht. Welcomed by captain and staff, guests are briefed about safety issues as well as the National Park regulations. Lunch is served on board, while the yacht sails to North Seymour Island.

North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom.

This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, while large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding-frenzy, painting a tableau from ages long past for us. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter (6-foot) wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks; sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing.

After the visit, the yacht sails to Itabaca channel, from where we cross by bus faster over Santa Cruz Island to reach the south shore (42 km by bus is shorter and faster, than 50 km by boat), where the Finch Bay Hotel is located.
Check-in and enjoy the glorious beachfront location and facilities.

Day 2: Tuesday
El Manzanillo and Highlands Santa Cruz
After a relaxed breakfast, our guests will leave Academy Bay by bus 15 km up to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there a short drive across the farming area will lead us to El Manzanillo, a site recently opened to visitors at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve.

Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit.

Lunch is served in the cooler highlands, with the stunning views of Santa Cruz Island.
After lunch, we visit a small farm, where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are grown, harvested and prepared – all organic and sustainable. We have the chance to taste the products while learning about the artisanal way to burn island spirits! We then return to the hotel to enjoy the its pool, beach, or ask for suggestions for activities.

Day 3: Wednesday
Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava).

A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes.

The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs.

An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkeling opportunity with diverse marine life.

Day 4: Thursday
Divine Bay
This is the magic of Galápagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife.

Every morning, hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, to return before sunset to perch amid the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eye of non-breeding blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs.

Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.

We can explore this lovely cove by boat while more adventurous guests could take the tandem, sit-on-top kayaks straight from the hotel’s beachfront. The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm, but active, sector of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices.
After this morning’s visit we return to the Finch Bay Hotel for lunch. Afternoon visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise breeding program, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities.

Day 5: Friday
Departure
After breakfast, we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.

Program Beta (Mon - Fri) - 5 days / 4 nights

1) The order of yacht excursions and land activities, and the order of land activities themselves, can change according to various factors, including weather, tides, group sizes and physical abilities, languages, etc. The hotel expedition staff will confirm the order of the land activity schedules.

2) Schedules for yacht excursions are as follows, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 07:45 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• 16:30 Arrival back at Municipal dock

Schedules for days of land activities on Santa Cruz are more relaxed, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 09:00 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• Return with plenty of time to enjoy the hotel facilities or your own activities.

Day 1: Monday
Baltra – Manzanillo Tortoise Reserve
Upon arrival, at the airport on Baltra Island, we travel across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island where a bus takes us to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island. Here we visit the Giant Tortoises Reserve in their natural habitat, a once in a lifetime experience! Make sure you wear outdoors clothing and sturdy footwear this day.

Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit.

After lunch and exploring the tortoise reserve, we continue our road south bound across Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Ayora, the Galápagos’ most populous town, where we board the hotel’s fiber glass boat (called a “panga”) for the short hop across to the “German Neighborhood”. This part of Puerto Ayora can only be reached by boat and there are no cars. A short walk along a path takes us to the hotel. Welcome to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel!

After checking in, guests are free to enjoy the hotel’s attractions: the pool and bar area, the white coral beach in front of the hotel, or swing in their hammock. In the evening, dinner includes the delicacies of local and international gastronomy, one of the main reasons people choose the Finch Bay Hotel.

Day 2: Tuesday
Carrión Point & South Plaza Island
Today we visit this small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs: sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colors according to the season.

We cross the island of Santa Cruz to meet the yacht at the Itabaca Channel (which separates Santa Cruz Island from Baltra – this road should be familiar to you). This way we maximize the distance and the time available to be able to visit two National Park sites and spend less time sailing on the yacht (it is shorter and faster to take a bus 42 km, rather than sailing on the yacht 50 km!).

At Itabaca, we embark on the Sea Lion Yacht, and immediately get acquainted with the safety procedures, as well as facilities of the vessel. The captain will soon set course to the first stop, Punta Carrión, at the north-eastern tip of Santa Cruz Island. Our guides will seek out the best site along the cliffs for an enjoyable snorkel. Back on board, we continue sailing round the eastern coast of Santa Cruz until we reach a group of islets and rocks: South and North Plaza are twin, crescent-shaped islands. While the northern twin remains accessible only for scientists, South Plaza is one of Galápagos most impressive visiting sites.

Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), it was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a tilted tabletop aspect. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island slopes down toward the water. The approach makes for a lavishly colorful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Further up the shore, a carpet of scarlet Sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-gray land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop.

The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, masked and blue-footed boobies ride the gusty currents. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. Surf pounds an inlet at the western corner of the island, where a colony of bachelor sea lions make their home, accounting for the surprising surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur.

Day 3: Wednesday
Divine Bay
This is the magic of Galápagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife.

Every morning, hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, to return before sunset to perch amid the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eye of non-breeding blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs.

Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.

We can explore this lovely cove by boat while more adventurous guests could take the tandem, sit-on-top kayaks straight from the hotel’s beachfront. The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm, but active, sector of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices.

After this morning’s visit we return to the Finch Bay Hotel for lunch. Afternoon visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise breeding program, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities.

Day 4: Thursday
Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava).

A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes.

The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs.

An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkeling opportunity with diverse marine life.
This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain.

Day 5: Friday
Departure
After breakfast we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.

Program (Mon - Mon) - 8 days / 7 nights

1) The Monday-Monday, 8D/7N, programme will always include:
• 4 days of yacht excursions aboard the hotel’s own Yacht Sea Lion to nearby islands.
• 3 full days for exploring Santa Cruz Island.
• 1 visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station.
• Divine Bay and Tortuga Bay´s optional activities, at no extra cost: kayaking, surfing.

2) The order of yacht excursions and land activities, and the order of land activities themselves, can change according to various factors, including weather, tides, group sizes and physical abilities, languages, etc. The hotel expedition staff will confirm the order of the land activity schedules.

3) Schedules for yacht excursions are as follows, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 07:45 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• 16:30 Arrival back at Municipal dock

Schedules for days of land activities on Santa Cruz are more relaxed, but guests should always check these with hotel staff:
• 06:30 Breakfast is ready
• 09:00 Departure from the Finch Bay Eco Hotel
• Return with plenty of time to enjoy the hotel facilities or your own activities.

Day 1: Monday
North Seymour
Upon arrival, guests are met by the hotel naturalist guides and accompanied directly to the yacht. Welcomed by captain and staff, guests are briefed about safety issues as well as the National Park regulations. Lunch is served on board, while the yacht sails to North Seymour Island.

North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom.

This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, while large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding-frenzy, painting a tableau from ages long past for us. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter (6-foot) wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing.

After the visit, the yacht sails to Itabaca channel, from where we cross by bus faster over Santa Cruz Island to reach the south shore (42 km by bus is shorter and faster, than 50 km by boat), where the Finch Bay Hotel is located.
Check-in and enjoy the glorious beach-front location and facilities.

Day 2: Tuesday
El Manzanillo and Highlands Santa Cruz
After a relaxed breakfast, our guests will leave Academy Bay by bus 18 km up to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there a short drive across the farming area will lead us to El Manzanillo, a site recently opened to visitors at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve.

Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red water ferns). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit.

Lunch is served in the cooler highlands, with the stunning views of Santa Cruz Island.
After lunch, we visit a small farm, where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are grown, harvested and prepared – all organic and sustainable. We have the chance to taste the products while learning about the artisanal way to burn island spirits! We then return to the hotel to enjoy its pool, beach, or ask for suggestions for activities.

Day 3: Wednesday
Santa Fe Island
Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava).

A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes.

The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs.
An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkeling opportunity with diverse marine life.

Day 4: Thursday
Divine Bay
This is the magic of Galápagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife.

Every morning, hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, to return before sunset to perch amid the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eye of non-breeding blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs.

Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.

We can explore this lovely cove by boat while more adventurous guests could take the tandem, sit-on-top kayaks straight from the hotel’s beachfront. The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm, but active, sector of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices.

After this morning’s visit we return to the Finch Bay Hotel for lunch. Afternoon visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Fausto Llerena Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities. (This day´s programme may be reversed by the expedition team, if high tide occurs in the afternoon, in order to maximise guests’ experience).

Day 5: Friday
Carrión Point & South Plaza Island
Today, we include two visitor sites: South Plaza and Punta Carrión. Together they are a perfect combination of stunning wildlife colonies (Plaza), and a site with excellent snorkelling (Carrión). Tuesdays, we visit Carrión then Plaza, and on Fridays we visit Plaza then Carrión. In both cases, we must complete the loop by bus (either driving up or down the 42 km to the Itabaca Channel. This will allow us to spend more time within the National Park area.

Punta Carrión, at the north-eastern tip of Santa Cruz Island, boasts both shallow reefs, mangroves, and exposure to rich upwellings to the east. As a result, it’s an ideal snorkelling site with plenty of reef fish as well as occasional sea lions and sharks.

South Plaza is a small island full of fascinating wildlife, both along its shore and along its dramatic, wind-swept cliffs: sea lions, land iguanas, swallow-tailed gulls, Opuntia cacti and vegetation that changes colours according to the season. The island is one of a pair of crescent-shaped islands. While the northern twin remains accessible only for scientists, South Plaza is one of the Galápagos’ most impressive visiting sites.

Only 130 meters wide (426 feet), the island was formed from uplifted seabed, giving it a tilted table top aspect. Our landing is in the channel between North and South Plaza, where the island slopes down toward the water. The approach makes for a lavishly colourful sight! The turquoise waters of the channel contrast brilliantly with the white sand and black lava of the shoreline. The rocks have grown thick with green seaweed in places, speckled with bright orange “Sally light foot” crabs. Further up the shore, a carpet of scarlet Sesuvium succulents serves as groundcover for a grove of luminescent green prickly-pear cactus. Yellow-grey land iguanas sit beneath these, waiting patiently for pears to drop.

The trail gradually follows the tilt of the island to the cliffs that overlook the ocean to the south, where swallow-tailed gulls nest. Red-billed tropic birds, Nazca and blue-footed boobies ride the gusty currents. The overlook is a great place for spotting large marine life, including manta rays. Surf pounds an inlet at the western corner of the island, where a colony of bachelor sea lions make their home, accounting for the surprising surface of the rocks, polished by the oils of their fur.

This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing. Snorkelling at Punta Carrión.

Day 6: Saturday
Bartolome
After an invigorating breakfast we leave the hotel, cross Academy Bay by boat, and board our bus in Puerto Ayora. In order to shorten travel distance and save considerable time (Bartolomé is the furthest island the hotel’s yacht visits), we will cross 42 km to the Itabaca Channel on the north shore, where the Sea Lion Yacht awaits us. This way, all that is left to sail is 21 Nautical miles (39Km/24miles) to Bartolomé Island.

Bartolomé is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering spearheaded obelisk that rises from the ocean’s edge and is the best known landmark in the islands.

Galápagos penguins —the only species of penguin found north of the equator — waddle precariously along narrow volcanic ledges at its base. Sea lions snooze on rocky platforms, ready to slide into the water to play with passing snorkelers. Just below the surface, shoals of tropical fish dodge in and out of the rocks past urchins, sea stars and anemones. A perfectly- crescent-shaped, pink-and-white sandy beach lies just to the east of the pinnacle. Sea turtles use the beach as a nesting site and can sometimes be found wading in the shallow water near the shore, or resting in the sand to recover from the arduous task of digging nests, laying eggs and covering them over. We snorkel from this beach following a wet landing.

Penguins dot the nearby rocks of the other landing site, less than a kilometer along the eastern shore. Here the submerged walls of a tiny volcanic crater give the impression of a fountain pool. A dry landing here leads to a 600-metre (2,000-foot) pathway complete with stairs and boardwalks leading to Bartolomé’s summit. The route is not difficult and presents a museum of volcanology: a site left untouched after its last eruption, where cones stand in various stages of erosion and lava tubes form bobsled-like runs from the summit. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Santiago Island and James Bay to the west, and far below, Pinnacle Rock and our beach, where the crystal blue waters of the bay cradle our yacht.

We return to the Itabaca Channel, board our bus, and travel over the island back to the hotel.

Day 7: Sunday
Santa Cruz Island: Tortuga Bay
Tortuga Bay is a combination of ecosystems, landscapes, wildlife, sports and a lot of fun! We start after a (surely) much appreciated relaxed morning’s breakfast at the hotel, and a stroll along the neighbouring brackish lagoons. Our “panga” launch will take us to Puerto Ayora and a short distance further we reach the starting point of the trail to Tortuga Bay. The walking distance is 2 km (1.3 miles) along a fairly flat and straight path, where we explore and understand the arid, deciduous forest and its inhabitants. This is a great birding trail, if you take a little time to wander about and listen to the chirps and songs. You don’t have to worry too much about your day-pack, as you only need to carry the very immediate essentials: hat, sunscreen (to add more if rubbed-off), binoculars, camera and your water bottle.

When you reach Tortuga Bay, you will understand why this is often referred to as Ecuador’s most beautiful beach. Over one kilometre of snow-white sand and turquoise waters with the never-ending sound of swells caressing the island. Some guests can opt for an unusual treat: surf instructors of the Santa Cruz Surf Club (CSSC) give surfing lessons here. If this something you have always wanted to try, this is your chance!

Other activities include exploring the shore birds of “Playa Brava”, Tortuga Bay’s first beach, the nesting grounds of the green Sea Turtles, foraging marine iguanas, and the impressive change in sand, water, coastal vegetation and landscape, when you reach “Playa Mansa”.

Protected by a natural lava barrier, this large, calm bay is surrounded by a gallery of mangroves. This habitat is the home of different species of marine and terrestrial birds, as well as young sharks and rays, who spend their youth in the protective, mildly brackish conditions. Kayaking in tandem sit-on top craft is a great way to experience nature up-close.

Generally we end our Tortuga Bay experience with a soothing dip in the calm and clear waters of Playa Mansa, before we return to the hotel for lunch.

For the rest of the afternoon, guests can enjoy the hotel’s facilities (swimming pool, beach, sea kayaks, etc.) or continue exploring the island’s vast list of sites. Enquire at the front desk for options that suit your interests.

Day 8: Monday
Departure
After breakfast we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.