About This Trip
- See the Galápagos’ most iconic species including tortoises, penguins, iguanas, sea lions, sea turtles, boobies, finches, and many more.
- Daily activities include nature walks, snorkeling, and kayaking. Family-friendly for families with children ages 12 and up.
- Benefit from Pete Oxford & Reneé Bish’s decades of experience in Galápagos.
- Enjoy sailing aboard one of the best boats in Galápagos, the S/S Mary Anne.
- Our small group size (16) offers an intimate experience.
The Galápagos archipelago, on everyone’s bucket list, is one of the planet’s last wild and incredible places. For this expedition we have chartered the S/S Mary Anne, one of the best boats operating in the national park. Our itinerary offers the chance to walk on bare lava, come face to face with boobies and watch displaying frigatebirds, wander the highlands in search of giant tortoises, and be amazed by hundreds of unique marine iguanas basking at our feet. We will swim with penguins and sharks, interact with curious sea lions, snorkel alongside green turtles, and be surrounded by yellow-tailed surgeonfish. Each day we will enjoy a range of activities that give you maximum exposure to this spectacular environment. Trips are family-friendly for ages 12+.
The Galápagos Experience with Pete Oxford Expeditions
The Galápagos Islands are one of the greatest natural history destinations on Earth and have been a staple of our expedition offerings for more than 40 years. This remote archipelago 600 miles off of Ecuador’s coast provided the seeds for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Its uniquely adapted flora and fauna continue to provide visitors with a living classroom of evolution and natural history. The Galápagos offers intimate encounters with wildlife and unparalleled photographic opportunities. On our trips, you can snorkel with penguins, sea lions, marine iguanas, and sea turtles, and walk amid giant tortoises, iguanas, boobies, albatross, and many other species found nowhere else. Since 2019, we have been partnering with Pete Oxford Expeditions to offer specialized Galápagos cruises on select dates. Pete Oxford is an award-winning conservation photographer and former Galápagos naturalist guide who has been leading trips in the Galápagos since 1987. Pete and his wife Reneé Bish, also an experienced tour leader, have written four books on the Galápagos. Pete and Reneé have partnered with Oceanic Society to charter their favorite Galapagos ship, the S/S Mary Anne, and they are excited to be able to share with you the islands that are so dear to them!
Notes on Trip Costs
Trip prices do not include international airfare to/from Guayaquil or between Guayaquil and the Galápagos (however these will be made by Oceanic Society / Pete Oxford Expeditions as part of a group block). Limited single supplements are available for a fee of $500; please confirm availability prior to booking. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions. If these dates do not work for you, check out our Classic Galápagos Islands Cruises, available year-round.
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Founded in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. As pioneers of “eco travel,” our expeditions have been designed to directly support our mission. They not only positively impact our travelers, but also the people, places, and wildlife we go to see. Your expedition costs include fees that support conservation and promote sustainable livelihoods in the communities we visit, and Oceanic Society's earnings are invested back into our global research and conservation programs. In 2019, we also established our Expedition Impact Fund (EIF) as a way to grow our impact. The fund is seeded annually with money earned from our expeditions, and supplemented by donations from Oceanic Society travelers. Through the EIF, we award grants to our partners for their on-the-ground efforts to protect ocean habitats and the wildlife and human communities that depend on them.
Dates & Prices
Note: this itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of the Galapagos National Park Service.
Day 1: Guayaquil
After arriving at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil we will transfer to the hotel for the night (hotel this night is included in the trip cost). Dinner is on your own.
Day 2: Baltra Island, Santa Cruz Island Highlands & Charles Darwin Research Station
After breakfast in our hotel we fly to Baltra Island: the gateway to the Galapagos. On arrival, we immediately transfer to the dock to board the S/S Mary Anne to settle in and for our introductory briefing. Our first activity begins after lunch as we travel across the island of Santa Cruz towards Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Station. We will be making a stop along the way to find wild tortoises where we will come face to face with these 600lb (270kg) prehistoric giants in the lush highlands, a remarkable first encounter! Tonight until the morning of day 8 we eat and overnight aboard our vessel the S/S Mary Anne. From the archipelago’s largest town of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, we visit the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station to learn more about the history and science of the islands. Finches are easily photographed in this area as we explore the station. Returning through town we have a chance to shop for souvenirs or continue photographing the juxtaposition of the abundant wildlife in the urban environment.
Day 3: Floreana Island: Punta Cormorant, Devil's Crown, and Post Office Bay
At Punta Cormorant, on Floreana Island, we land on a beach where the sand has a greenish tinge caused by large amounts of a volcanic mineral called olivine. Here sea lions, wading birds and Darwin’s Finches all greet us on arrival. We walk through mangroves and unique vegetation, some of which grows nowhere else in the world but this island, to arrive at a saltwater lagoon where startlingly pink Greater Flamingos nest and feed. A short repositioning of the S/S Mary Anne and some exhilarating snorkeling off the Devil’s Crown, a sunken cinder cone, is our next highlight. The coral reef in the center is perfect for attracting large schools of fish. Turtles, rays and, with luck, even some hammerhead sharks could be swimming below us on the outside of the crater. In the afternoon, at the historic Post Office Barrel we can send a few postcards home and, in so doing, maintain a centuries old tradition. In 1793, British navigators placed a large wooden barrel here, to leave messages and mail to be carried by homebound colleagues. The tradition has continued until the present day, with the barrels being replaced when necessary over time. Visiting yachts have added their calling cards too.
Day 4: Floreana Island: Black Beach - Navigation & Whale Watching
Landing at Black Beach on Floreana we learn about the most renowned human history to come out of the islands: the story of Margaret Witmer, the Baroness, the Ritters, lover affairs and murder. Floreana was the first island in the Archipelago to be inhabited, as it has one of the very few fresh water sources. We visit the highland areas of this inhabited island looking for the Floreana-endemic medium tree finch. In the afternoon we will navigate into the rich waters of the western islands. On the way we have a very high chance of spotting whales and dolphins. With plenty of deck space on the back of our yacht, we can spend the entire time outside birding and looking for marine mammals in comfort.
Day 5: Isabela Island: Punta Moreno & Elizabeth Bay
We now venture into the ‘wilder’ side of the Galapagos for three days, where Galápagos Penguins, cormorants, and marine iguanas flourish! Against an austere backdrop we will explore the region in all its majesty. After anchoring at Punta Morena off Isabela Island we will hike on superb pahoehoe lava flows in search of endemic plants and a brackish lagoon which is home to flamingos and Pintail Ducks, all the while with the backdrop of basaltic volcanoes. Following the coast of western Isabela Island we will depart the S/S Mary Anne in our pangas (inflatable motor boats) to explore the more hidden regions of a mangrove labyrinth. We will see Galapagos Shearwaters, Brown Noddy Terns, Blue-footed Boobies, Galapagos Penguins and the more uncommon Flightless Cormorants. The quiet waters in the bay are a refuge for young sea lions, turtles and baby sharks. This is also one of the best places to see and photograph golden rays.
Day 6: Isabela Island: Urbina Bay - Fernandina Island: Punta Espinosa
We will begin today with a wet landing onto a black volcanic sand beach of this geologically uplifted area. On a relatively short hike we can usually observe another species of giant tortoise. We will also search for large, yellow, land iguanas and more of the finch species that inspired Charles Darwin. After our walk, we will go for a snorkel in the hopes of being accompanied by a few Galapagos Penguins. On Fernandina, the world’s largest, most pristine island, we land directly into the heart of Darwin’s "Imps of Darkness," the marine iguana ‘capital’ of the world. As we sit or walk the shoreline, the world’s only truly marine lizard will be strewn at our feet in dense congregations. We will watch the endemic Flightless Cormorants in hopes of observing their courtship ritual all the while being entertained by jovial sea lions. Turning inland, we face a dramatic, and inhospitable vista of lava and pioneer vegetation of the archipelago’s youngest island. This is our favorite snorkeling area, as we will swim with turtles, a myriad of fish species and look for Galapagos Penguins, Flightless Cormorants and marine iguanas feeding underwater.
Day 7: Isabela Island: Tagus Cove & Punta Vicente Roca
At Tagus Cove, a hike leads us to an overview of a flooded crater, Darwin’s Lake, and onward through a stunning volcanic landscape for a true understanding of how the hot lava of the Earth’s core has molded the Galapagos Islands – geologist heaven! Tagus Cove is also an historic hideaway from which pirates would ransack the whaling fleets hunting in the area. Even today graffiti dating back as far as 1836, one year after Darwin’s visit, can be found carved in the rock face. One of our top snorkeling sites, we take to the deep water in search of penguins, rays, turtles, Flightless Cormorants and a host of fish species, some only found in the western isles. A panga ride along the dramatic cliffs of Ecuador Volcano, straddling the equator, gives us the opportunity to photograph Blue-footed Boobies, Brown Noddy Terns and amazing geological features.
Day 8: Santiago Island: Espumilla Beach, Buccaneer Cove, & Puerto Egas
To the land of pirates and buccaneers! We head first to the golden sands of a turtle nesting beach and on a forested trail into the hinterland where pirates once hunted goats for food. The long, golden sandy beach has a mangrove backdrop and there are several species of Darwin’s Finches at this landing site. Cruising Buccaneer Cove we see where ships were careened (hauled out and cleaned) back in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of the largest specimens of palo santo trees we will see are home to friendly Galapagos Flycatchers, Yellow Warblers and Darwin’s Finches. In Puerto Egas, also on Santiago Island, after a wet landing onto another dark sand volcanic beach we will hike to submerged lava grottos where we will commune with endemic fur seals that consider the grottos home. Along the shoreline, we can watch Sally-lightfoot crabs, herons, oystercatchers, and waders. At low tide, this is an excellent site for tide pooling. After a good long walk we’ll cool off with another great snorkel.
Day 9: North Seymour Island & Baltra Airport - Guayaquil
Following another fantastic snorkel we land on North Seymour Island. Here we will enter the habitat of another kind of pirate: the frigatebird. These birds are known for stealing the meals of smaller birds and frequently even shake boobies in mid-air to force them to regurgitate their prize. We will watch their display as the males show off their bright red pouches to attract the females. On this island we will walk through nesting Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, and frigatebirds all the while encountering more land iguanas and sea lions. After our visit on North Seymour we head back to the island of Baltra and the airport to fly back to mainland Ecuador for our onward flights home.
Our expedition takes place aboard the 16-passenger S/S Mary Anne, a romantic square-rigged sailing ship with over 1000m2 of sail. The S/S Mary Anne is the only ship in Galápagos capable of traveling under sail alone, a unique experience that is ecologically-friendly and allows you to take in the views without the sounds of an engine; we will raise her sails as much as possible but may also travel under motor power to reach the next stop on our itinerary. The Mary Anne boasts 10 double cabins with private bathrooms and air conditioning, as well as a sun deck with an open air dining table, and a spacious lounge with dining areas, a bar, and a library. She carries on-board kayaks and snorkel gear available for loan (included in the trip cost).
Your expedition will be led by one or more of the following expert naturalist guides: