There are four inhabited islands in the Galapagos: Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, and San Cristobal. Staying on one or more of these islands is a great way to start or end your trip in the Galapagos Islands. You can relax at the beach, snorkel in the local swimming hole, and watch fishermen bring in their daily catch. It’s an amazing way to experience life in the islands, and after a busy trip, it’s nice to have some time to yourself and explore on your own. More details on each island and the logistics of getting around below:

Santa Cruz Island
Isabela Island
San Cristobal Island
Floreana Island
Getting Around the Galapagos Islands

Deciding which island to spend time on can be a tough decision. It really depends on what you are doing for the rest of your trip in the Galapagos. Your travel adviser can help you decide where to go, and what to do in your free time. 

We highly recommend that you stay on one or more of the inhabited islands as a compliment to a longer, organized trip in the Galapagos. 97% of the islands are in the Galapagos National Park, and you can only explore in the park with a registered guide. It’s possible to go to the islands, and arrange day trips with a guide. However, in our expert opinion, having a longer cruise or multisport adventure is a better experience. You normally have the same guide throughout, the guides on longer trips are generally better and more experienced, and it’s a more comprehensive, in depth trip. 

When staying in the Galapagos, it is important to remember how remote these islands are. Everything from food to building materials has to be shipped in (not counting all the fresh caught seafood!) from mainland Ecuador. So food, lodging, and other services in the Islands can be more expensive compared to elsewhere in South America, and sometimes not as modern as what you may expect. That said, the Galapagos have infinite amounts unique charm and many of these hotels are run by Galapagueños families that have been on the islands for years and make up the human history and culture of the area. The hotels also pride themselves on sustainability and being environmentally conscious. So, while you are there enjoy the hospitality, the wildlife, the great food and don’t worry too much when the internet flickers on and off occasionally or the hot water doesn’t alway work!

Santa Cruz Island is the main jumping off point for most trips, and the main town of Puerto Ayora is the largest population center in the islands and the biggest travel hub. It’s a bustling town, with lots of shops, restaurants, and things to do. Puerto Ayora is a port town, and doesn’t have a nearby beach. The closest beaches are a 3 mile roundtrip walk (Tortuga Bay) or a 30 minute roundtrip drive (Garrapaterro Beach). We recommend staying on this island if you have a day or two before or after your main trip, and you want to explore a bit on your own or take a tour to an uninhabited island. If you have more than two nights to spend, then you may want to consider spending your free time on Isabela Island or San Cristobal Island.


Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

This historic hotel was built around the famous Angermeyer Cave, the former home of one of the earliest settlers of the Galapagos. Built with local lava rocks and driftwood to match the style of the Cave and idyllically located on Academy Bay, the Angermeyer Waterfront Inn features a waterfront restaurant and its own private deck and pier. The original Angermeyer Cave is still used as the Inn’s reception and lounge area, and two other buildings hold 16 unique rooms with a variety of layouts. The Inn is only accessible by boat – water taxis are a couple of dollars. 

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Standard Room (double or single): $463.00 per night
  • Standard Plus Room (double or single): $488.00 per night
  • Superior Room (double or single): $635.00 per night
  • Suite Room (double or single): $813.00 per night
  • Additional Bed (to make a Plus or Superior Room into a triple): +$138.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Transfers, holiday surcharge for stays from Dec 21 to Jan 2 (+$138.00 per room per night)

Hotel Villa Laguna

This hotel is located tucked away but very close to the town of Puerto Ayora, so it is quiet while also being close to all the shops and restaurants. It is comfortable and clean with a fresh-water pool and Restaurant El Manglar on site.

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Standard Room (single): $145.00 per night
  • Standard Room (double): $190.00 per night
  • Standard Room (triple): $235.00 per night
  • Superior Room (single): $175.00 per night
  • Superior Room (double): $219.00 per night
  • Superior Room (triple): $265.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Transfers

Enchanted Galapagos Lodge

This lovely and quiet lodge is located in the highlands of Santa Cruz, a mere 15 minutes away from Puerto Ayora and 15 minutes from the stunning Garrapatero beach. The lodge is secluded and tranquil, the perfect place to relax and enjoy the lush and extensive grounds. One can enjoy the beautiful large pool and jacuzzi, relax in the hammocks, take a walk or ride your bike along the country roads. This is a wonderful place for guests to unwind after a Galapagos cruise, or a great base for exploring the Galapagos while staying on land. This personal and cozy hotel can sleep a total of 20 people in 10 rooms. Breakfast is included, and dinner can be made on request.

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Standard Room (single): $205.00 per night
  • Standard Room (double): $245.00 per night
  • Superior Room (double): $264.00 per night
  • Triple Room: $297.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees, one transfer service lodge – town – lodge, one arrival transfer service from Itabaca Channel Dock – lodge
Not Included: Other transfers, other meals, bike rental


There is tons to do on Santa Cruz Island! There are a lot of things that you can do on your own, without a guide or joining a tour. But if you want to go explore an uninhabited island or go scuba diving, you will need to join a tour! 

  • Day Tour to an Uninhabited Island (guided tour only): From Santa Cruz Island, there are a few islands you can get to on a day tour. You can go to North Seymour, South Plazas, Santa Fe, or Bartolome. North Seymour is known for its huge colonies of blue footed boobies and frigate birds. South Plaza and Santa Fe are known for land iguanas. Bartolome Island is great seeing penguins. On all of these day tours, you leave Puerto Ayora early in the morning, and take a boat to one of these islands. There you walk around the island for one to two hours. Then you go snorkeling for about an hour. Lunch is on board the tour boat. Then you return to Puerto Ayora in the early to late afternoon. Tour prices range from $300 to $400 per person. 
  • Fishing Trip (tour only): Fishing in the Galapagos may see counterintuitive in such a protected area, but opening up fishing to tourists is one of the ways that the islands are protected from over-fishing. Local fishermen take travelers out for a day of fishing on the boat, and can usually earn more than they would after a day of commercial fishing, and fewer fish are caught. It’s a win for everyone! Going out fishing also allows you to go to areas around Santa Cruz that can’t be reached on any other tour, including naturalist cruises. You get a unique perspective of life in the Galapagos, and if you’re lucky enough to catch certain types of fish, you’ll also get a delicious, self-caught sea food meal at the end of the day. 
  • Walk to Tortuga Bay (on your own or with a tour): It’s about 45 minutes walking from town, most of the way on a wide pedestrian path. It’s not possible to drive there, so there’s no traffic. Tortuga Bay is a beautiful white sand beach. You can surf or boogie board in the breaks, but check with the locals first, as there is sometimes rip tides or undertow. You can also take snorkeling gear and snorkel in the calm part of the water. It’s not the most amazing snorkeling, but it’s always worth it to have your snorkel gear with you in the Galapagos. You’ll probably see lots of sea lions and marine iguanas. 
  • Giant Tortoises in the Wild in the Highlands (on your own or with a tour): You can take a taxi (or book a tour) and go to the highlands. Here there are a handful of local farms-turned reserves where you can walk around and see giant tortoises in the wild. There are also lava tunnels in the area that you can walk through. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get to the highlands.
  • Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station (on your own or with a tour): It’s about a 10-15 walk from town. Here you can see giant tortoises from all over the islands, and see the differences from one species to the next. You can also go to the breeding center, and see giant tortoises at all ages.
  • Fish Market (on your own): Go to the fish market in town in the later afternoon and evening. The fishermen bring in their catch, and hang out and chat. There are always lots of pelicans, frigate birds, and sea lions waiting around for scraps from the cleaning.
  • Go to the Puerto Ayora docks at night (on your own): Baby white-tipped reef sharks and hammerheads are attracted to the lights on the dock, and you easily see them from the docks.
  • Rent kayaks or SUPs (on your own or with a tour): Paddling around the Puerto Ayora bay is actually pretty cool, even though it doesn’t seem like it at first, with all the boats and cruises docked there. If you paddle around the shore line, you can see lots of birds nesting on the rocks, and see marine wildlife.
  • Swimming at Las Grietas (on your own or with a tour): You can take a water taxi to Angermeyer point, and then walk to Las Grientas. These are really tall cliffs that go straight down into brackish water. It’s a fun local swimming hole. It takes about 30 minutes to get here by taxi and walking.
  • Garrapaterro Beach (on your own or with a tour): You can take a taxi to Garrapaterro Beach, which is about 40 minutes away one-way. It’s a lovely white sand beach, with good snorkeling.
  • Scuba Diving (tour only): See our trip Galapagos Scuba Diving from Santa Cruz Island

Isabela Island is our favorite island to stay on in the Galapagos! Puerto Villamil is a lovely little town, right on the beach, with a very relaxed vibe. The main street through town is sand, and most locals don’t bother with shoes. There are incredible places to visit along the coast to see penguins, sea horses, sharks, and more, and you can hike to the highest point in the Galapagos, the active Sierra Negra Volcano. In your down time, the local swimming hole, Concha de Perla, has amazing snorkeling, or you can wander through the wetlands to see flamingos. 

Isabela Island takes some time and effort to get to. It’s a 2 1/2 hour public speedboat ride (each way) from Santa Cruz Island. Or you can get to San Cristobal or Santa Cruz Island on a shorter, but more expensive, inter-island flight. If you do decide to spend some time on Isabela Island, I recommend spending at least 3 nights on the Island, to make all the travel worth it. And trust me, once you’re there you won’t want to leave, so give yourself plenty of time! 


Casita de la Playa

Casita de la Playa (Little Beach House) is located right on the beach. It was formerly a guest house, so it is comfortable and cozy. Most rooms have ocean views. It’s also a short walk to the town square, or to the lagoons to watch the flamingos feeding. 

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Standard Room (single or double): $205.00 per night
  • Standard Room (triple): $305.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (single or double): $269.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (triple): $369.00 per night
  • Superior Room (single or double): $300.00 per night
  • Superior Room (triple): $400.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Other meals, transfers, holiday surcharge (only applicable around Christmas and New Years)

Volcano Hotel

Volcano Hotel is a half block from the beach, and right on the main street, an ideal location for exploring Isabela Island! The hotel has a bright, modern, three-story layout, providing good views of the ocean from many of the rooms. 

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Standard Room (single or double): $178.00 per night
  • Standard Room (triple): $272.00 per night
  • Superior Ocean View Room (single or double): $260.00 per night
  • Superior Ocean View Room (triple): $354.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Other meals, transfers, holiday surcharge (only applicable around Christmas and New Years)

Iguana Crossing

Iguana Crossing is one of the most luxurious hotels on Isabela Island. It is nestled between the pristine beach and the brackish lagoon where you can see flamingos feeding. The name comes from the many marine iguanas going between the shore and the lagoon. Soak in the sun on the rooftop terrace, enjoy the infinity pool, relax at our spa, and dine in elegance, as the chef prepares a gourmet Ecuadorian and international menu.

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Volcano Front Room (single or double): $344.00 per night
  • Volcano Front Room (triple): $494.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (single or double): $450.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (triple): $600.00 per night
  • Junior Suite (single or double): $525.00 per night
  • Junior Suite (triple): $675.00 per night
  • Master Suite (single or double): $673.00 per night
  • Master Suite (triple): $823.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Other meals, transfers, holiday surcharge (only applicable around Christmas and New Years)


On Isabela Island, there are a few things you can do on your own, and there are some amazing places that you can only get to on a guided naturalist tour. I highly recommend going on at least two out of three of the places you can only go on a tour: Tintoreras, Los Tuneles, and Sierra Negra Volcano. 

Note: For the tours to Tintoreras, Los Tuneles, and Sierra Negra, you can only do one a day. The tours don’t take all day long, but with the way the National Park has arranged everything, you can’t do two or more of these tours in one day.

  • Snorkeling at Concha de Perla (on your own): This is a great little swimming hole and snorkeling spot. It’s about a 15 minute walk from town, and you can usually see lots of wildlife like sea turtles, rays, marine iguanas, and sometimes even penguins. 
  • Renting kayaks & SUPs (on your own or with a tour): There is a lot of wildlife to be seen around the Puerto Villamil Bay! You can usually see blue-footed boobies, penguins, and sharks. 
  • Giant tortoise breeding center, flamingo lagoon, and the Wall of Tears (on your own or with a tour): I definitely recommend the walk to the wetlands to see the flamingos! The giant tortoise breeding center is within walking distance, and you can see the flamingos at the lagoon along the way. The Wall of Tears, a few miles beyond the breeding center, is a remnant from when Isabela Island was a penal colony, and they forced prisoners to build a giant wall that had no purpose. There are lots of pretty beaches and coves along the way, and you can usually see wild giant tortoises along the way as well. Definitely rent bikes or take a taxi to get to the Wall of Tears, as it’s a long and not very exciting walk.
  • Tintoreras (tour only): This is just outside of the bay near town, and has incredible snorkeling! I highly recommend it. You can snorkel in rock channels over breeding grounds for white tipped reef sharks. Part of the tour is also exploring one of the many islands on foot, and you can see tons of marine iguanas and reef sharks. 
  • Los Tuneles (tour only):  There are lava tunnels formed over a great snorkeling site. It’s the only place in the islands where you can see seahorses. You can also see loads of other wildlife like penguins, sea lions, sharks, sea turtles, and tropical fish.
  • Sierra Negra Volcano (tour only): Sierra Negra is the highest point in the Galapagos. This is normally about a 10 mile hike along the rim of a giant caldera, to Volcan Chico. But if there is volcanic activity at the time of your trip, you can only hike about half of the trail, to a viewpoint. The view is lovely, if you hike the full trail or not. You can see the whole massive caldera, the fresh lava flows, and you can see the surrounding island, the ocean, and even other islands off in the distance. It’s a great way to learn about the geology of the islands. On the hike, you can also see finches, warblers, owls, and other birds. The hike is easy to moderate in terms of elevation gain, but the length can be difficult for some people. 

San Cristobal is a beautiful island. It has long lengths of white sand beaches, vibrantly green highlands, and bright blue water. Next to Isabela Island, it’s our favorite place to spend a few days exploring. The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a little busier than the town on Isabela, but it’s charming, and seems to have as many sea lions as people living there! 

San Cristobal Island is the perfect place to start or end your trip in the Galapagos, because there is a small airport near town with daily flights to and from mainland Ecuador (both Quito and Guayaquil), and it makes the logistics very easy. 


Casa Opuntia

Located over the oceanfront boardwalk and only a few meters away from Playa de Oro beach, Casa Opuntia has amazing views and is one of the nicest mid-range hotel options on San Cristobal Island. In addition to a great location in town, Casa Opuntia features beautiful facilities, gourmet cuisine, and strong sustainability practices. Their restaurant is known for having some of San Cristobal’s best seafood, including their famous ceviche. The Casa Opuntia also does it’s part to conserve the incredible and fragile Galapagos environment with a very forward-thinking sustainability policy. They strive to produce zero plastic, paper, and cardboard waste, and are carbon neutral.

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Pool Front Room (single): $168.00 per night
  • Pool Front Room (double): $210.00 per night
  • Pool Front Room (triple): $250.00 per night
  • Pool Front Room (quadruple): $305.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (single): $223.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (double): $258.00 per night
  • Ocean Front Room (triple): $305.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Other meals, transfers, holiday surcharge (only applicable around Christmas and New Years)

Golden Bay Galapagos

Golden Bay Hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Galapagos. It’s located right on the beach, and you can see sea lions, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, and more right from from the patio. From the hotel, it’s a short walk to town, or to trails that take you to more beaches and a stunning lookout point. Enjoy the gourmet restaurant and bar, swimming pool, and panoramic terrance when you’re done exploring the island for the day. 

2020 & 2021 Rates

  • Deluxe Garden View Room (single or double): $520.00 per night
  • Balcony Room (single or double): $603.00 per night
  • Balcony Room Partial Ocean View (single or double): $643.00 per night
  • Deluxe Water Front View Room (single or double): $683.00 per night
  • Suite Partial Ocean View (single or double): $903.00 per night
  • Suite Waterfront (single or double): $948.00 per night
  • Suite Panoramic (single or double): $979.00 per night
  • Family Room Balcony (quadruple): $1,000.00 per night
  • Make any double room a triple: +$163.00 per night

Included: Breakfast, all taxes & fees
Not Included: Other meals, transfers, holiday surcharge (only applicable around Christmas and New Years)


San Cristobal Island is one of the best islands for beaches, and for exploring on your own from town. 

  • Kicker Rock (tour only): This is a tuft cone sticking up out of the ocean. It has amazing snorkeling! You can see sea lions, sea turtles, sharks, lots of fish, and if you’re lucky, hammerhead sharks and Galapagos sharks. If any of you dive, this is a great diving spot. A snorkeling trip at Kicker Rock is usually combined with a stop along the shore at Cerro Brujo, the remains of another tuft cone, and a stunning white sand beach. 
  • Española Island (tour only): Considered one of the oldest islands, Española Island is teeming with wildlife. You’ll enjoy a gorgeous white-sandy beach (one of the most beautiful in the Galapagos) strewn with sea lions basking in the sunlight, with brilliant turquoise water beckoning you for a swim. Swimming there is a great idea as it is a good place to snorkel with these frisky critters! Española is also the only island to see the waved Albatross, and they are worth the trip alone. They are on the island from April to late December, nesting on the ground. You’ll also spot blue footed boobies, nazca boobies, finches, Galapagos hawks, and colorful sally light-foot crabs.
  • Tour 360° of San Cristobal Island (tour only): This tour circumnavigates San Cristobal Island by boat, stopping to explore different sites, and it is an exceptional day. You go to places on the island that can’t be reached on any other trip, even on a naturalist cruise. You’ll explore a few different beaches and trails, go fishing (catch and release), snorkel, and see unique wildlife, include the red-footed booby, which can only be seen on San Cristobal Island and Genovesa Island. You can also expect to see manta rays, sharks, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, sea turtles, and so much more. The Tour 360° usually stops at Kicker Rock as well. 
  • Hike Cerro Las Tiejetas (Frigate Hill) (on your own or with a tour): The raised, paved trail starts at the interpretation center, and from there to the viewpoint at the top of the hill. From the viewpoint, you get beautiful views of the San Cristobal coast line, and can see frigatebirds swooping in the wind. But if you keep going past the view point, the trail drops down the other side of the hill, and it’s much less crowded. You can hike to a remote and lovely beach. It’s about 8 miles there and back. If you don’t want to do the long hike, you can just go to the view point and then go snorkeling at the cove below the view. It’s really calm and beautiful, and has lots of sea turtles. 
  • Snorkeling at La Loberia Beach (on your own or with a tour): I would rent bikes to get there. You can walk, but it’s long and on a road with cars. Biking is easy. There are tons of sea lions here, and they love to swim with snorkelers. You can also surf here. 
  • Playa Punta Carola (on your own or with a tour): It’s a short walk from town, the closest beach to town, and a local hang out. 
  • San Cristobal Highlights (on your own or with a tour): El Junco Lake is one of the few permanent fresh water lakes in the Galapagos. It’s a great place for birding watching, and has beautiful vistas of the island. At Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve you can observe giant tortoises living in a semi-natural habitat, and learn about their origin, evolution, breeding, and threats by introduced animals. There is a bike path that leads up to the highlands, but it’s a bit of a haul. You can also take a taxi. 
  • Playa Puerto Chino (on your own or with a tour): It’s on the other side of the island, so you would need to take a taxi. It’s possible to bike, but it would be a long bike ride with lots of elevation gain. It’s a beautiful white sand beach. 
  • Scuba Diving (tour only): San Cristobal has a few dive shops and a few dive sites, but not as many options as Santa Cruz Island. The best dive site is Kicker Rock, if you’re lucky you’ll see hammerhead sharks! 

Floreana Island has the least populated island out of all the ones in the Galapagos, with only about 100 people who live there. It was the first island to be settled in the Galapagos, and it has an incredible and wild human history. 

It’s not possible to go there on your own, without a tour, as there is no public transportation to the island. The only way to get there is by a private chartered speedboat, or on a multi-day trip in the Galapagos.

Very few land-based trips go to Floreana Island. Our personal favorite is the Ultimate Galapagos Adventure. This comprehensive trip explores all four of the inhabited islands extensively over 8 days (the trip also includes 2 days in Quito, so it’s a 10 day trip). 

Most naturalist cruises stop on Floreana Island. The island can be part of a 4, 5, or more day itinerary. 

There are two ways to get around the Galapagos Islands: by speedboat and by inter-island flights.

If you are on a multi-day tour, either on a cruise or on a multisport, all of the logistics of getting between islands is all arranged and included in your trip price, so you don’t have to worry about this. 

If you’re exploring on your own before or after a tour, we will help you with the logistics. 

Public Speedboats (or Ferries)

Public speedboats are the most common ways to get between islands, both for travelers and for locals. They are larger speedboats, with capacity for around 15 – 20 people. They travel as fast as possible, without much consideration for the waves, so it can be a very bumpy, sea-sickness inducing, and uncomfortable ride. Be sure to take dramamine or similar before boarding. They also pack in as many people as possible, so it can be crowded. But it is the most budget friendly way to get around, with tickets around $30-$40 per person one way. Each leg is about 2 1/2 hours. Times are subject to change.

  • Santa Cruz – Isabela: departing at 7am and 2pm daily
  • Santa Cruz – San Cristobal: departing at 6:30am and 1:30pm daily
  • Isabela – Santa Cruz: departing at 6am and 3pm daily
  • San Cristobal – Santa Cruz: departing at 7am and 3pm daily

Please note, there are no direct speedboat routes between Isabela and San Cristobal, you have to go to Santa Cruz to get between those two islands. There are no public speedboats to or from Floreana Island. 

Inter-Island Flights

Flights are on light-weight planes, with a maximum capacity of around 6 people, so there is limited availability. Flights take about 30 minutes from island to island. You are limited to 20 lbs (9 kg) of luggage per person on these flights. The flights cost around $175 per person one way, to get from one island to another. Flights are subject to change.

  • Santa Cruz (Baltra Airport) – San Cristobal: departing at 9:30am daily
  • Santa Cruz (Baltra Airport) – Isabela: departing at 12:30pm daily
  • San Cristobal – Santa Cruz (Baltra Airport): departing at 10:30am daily
  • San Cristobal – Isabela: departing at 7:30am daily
  • Isabela – Santa Cruz (Baltra): departing at 8:30am daily
  • Isabela – San Cristobal: departing at 1:30pm daily
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