M/Y San Jose – Galapagos Islands

Written by Eva Stelzer. Posted in Ecuador, Ecuador, Women's Destinations, World Travel


  • Travel through the Galapagos Islands on one of the most luxurious of small 16-passenger boats.
  • Spot sea lions sharing the beach with marine iguanas, explore archaic volcanic tunnels, and, like Darwin before you, cross paths with giant tortoises.
  • Snorkel, scuba, or kayak in these pristine waters teaming with underwater life.
  • Guided hikes on uneven foot trails and paths help you see the islands’ animals and landscape of the Galapagos Islands.
  • Visit a turtle breeding farm.
  • Explore both land and marine fauna in the Galapagos archipelago
  • Galapagos Islands is an inimitable adventure.

Our standard routes

The M/Y Yolita is one of the most spacious of all the 16 passenger boats in the Galapagos Islands. There are 4 possible routes for clients to enjoy. Please note that during all these cruises, the first and last day of the itinerary, are partially occupied by traveling to Galapagos Islands or back to the continent. When booking an 7 nights B or longer cruise, you may experience a change of fellow passengers. In such a case you will have some free time to spend on your own on board, an ideal moment to relax, read a book from our library or maybe to select best photos you have taken. On these ‘passenger change days’ the morning excursion will normally be done with the passengers leaving the yacht and the afternoon excursion will be done with the passengers arriving to the yacht.


Route AB Galapagos

  • Route B4 (– north-east): Our shortest route gets the most out of just four days. It combines the exclusive bird-island of Genovesa (with red-footed boobies and the short-eared owl) with the popular highlights of South Plaza and Santa Fe (both with land iguanas and giant cactus trees).
  • Route B5 (– south): Our 4 nights southern itinerary gives a complete overview of the Galapagos Islands. This route combines two of the most popular snorkel sites of Galapagos: Champion Islet and Bartolome, where you might snorkel with fishing penguins.
  • Route B (–– east): Our 7 nights eastern route visits the most popular sites of Galapagos Islands and exclusive Genovesa. This varied route combines the overwhelming sea bird colonies of Genovesa and Española with highly appreciated South Plaza.
  • Route A (– west): Our 7 nights western route primarily explores the remote and exclusive western islands of Isabela and pristine Fernandina, the youngest islands. After rounding Isabela clockwise, return to the heart of the archipelago for several landings at Santiago and its satellite islets, before finishing on and around Santa Cruz and North Seymour. This cruise itinerary includes two nights of quiet rest at fairly calm anchorage-sites.


The Galapagos Islands make the perfect destination for wildlife and bird observation, for photography and filming. Our programs include a wide range of activities, such as guided hikes, dinghy-rides, visits to giant tortoise breeding projects, interpretive botanic trails and visitors centers. Additional activities such as snorkelling are part of the itineraries as well.  These activities are meant to experience the closest and most intimate encounters with wildlife, and to perceive the unique nature of Galapagos from different perspectives; and not to pump adrenaline through your body.

Wildlife observation

YOLITA 10-webThe encounters with unique and fearless animals at very short distances are absolutely one of the most fascinating and unforgettable aspects of your visit to the Galapagos Archipelago. It is like you find yourself in the middle of a bustling nature documentary! Even the young Charles Darwin continued to be astonished about the tameness and stoicism of lots of species, despite his experiments such as throwing stones to them, and shouting to or even riding aparently  ‘deaf’ giant tortoises; experiments which fortunately are forbidden nowadays. According to the National Park Visitor’s Rules the animals may touch you, but you may not touch the animals.

Bird watching

VOYAGER FOLLETOS (87)-webThe Galapagos Islands are a bird watcher’s dream: 29 of the 58 resident bird species are endemic (unique), such as the flightless cormorant, waved albatross, Galapagos penguin, lava and swallow-tailed gull, Galapagos hawk, four subspecies of mocking bird and of course the about 14 species of Darwin’s finches, among others.Although not exclusive to the Galapagos Islands, blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies remain very popular, as are frigatebirds with their impressive to balloon-size inflated red pouches during the breeding season. In every month of the year it is possible to witness seabirds, mating, breeding or nurturing their young. As elsewhere in the great outdoors we can never guarantee that you will observe certain species, but we can assure that you will observe numbers of sea-, shore-, wading-, aquatic-and song bird species, as well as raptors. The islands count with Galapagos hawks and two species of owl; barn owls nest in the lava tunnels and the short-eared owl hunts on foot on Genovesa. Favorite birding islands are Española, Genovesa, North Seymour and Santa Cruz.

Photography & Filming

ECU2012-1308-webFollow the footsteps of Sir David Attenborough, Tui de Roy and Pete Oxford. The Galapagos Islands are a paradise for image makers; probably every serious nature photographer or filmmaker – professional or amateur – aspires to visit Galapagos at least once in a lifetime. And even for those who just want to record a memory of their extraordinary trip, it will be difficult to select which shots will perk up their holiday picture album or home video.There is probably no easier place in the world to make wildlife portraits. The animals often pose as patient models or actors. You generally don’t even have to pursue, look or wait patiently for them! The warm season in the first half of the year generally has more sunshine and greener landscapes, while seabirds are more active in the overcast garúa-season (with generally sunny afternoons).In your cabin on board you will find facilities at hand to charge your batteries and make a first selection of your shoots; but your time on board will be limited to select your images. Take enough storage space! Polarizing filters are useful to eliminate reflections on the water surface (at white-tipped reef shark channel or during dinghy-rides in the mangles). You won’t regret to bring also an underwater camera, because the transparent waters of Galapagos are ideal for underwater photography. And leave your flash gun better at home; National Park-rules prohibit taking flash pictures from the wildlife (unless you also want to take interior or night pictures on the yacht or in the visitors centers).

Guided hikes

DSC08537-webGuided hikes during the island visits will give you amazing opportunities to get up close with nature. Moreover you can set foot on lunar like lava fields, climb volcanic cones, stare into craters that recently have erupted and even entering lava tunnels. Very contrasting to the hikes in the Coastal and Arid Zones are those in the highlands of Isabela and Santa Cruz, where you can visit the lush and moist cloud forests and meet Galapagos giant tortoises in the wild and colorful song birds.The island tours start and end generally with a transfer by inflatable dinghy (or Zodiac, or panga) from your yacht at the anchorage-site to the island. Sometimes there is sort of a jetty or a rocky shore, where you can make a so-called ‘dry landing’. Otherwise you will land on a beach where you have to put on shorts and sandals or water shoes, and step into shallow water (‘wet landing’). Dry landings however can be slippery or somewhat bumpy when the sea is rough; but the crew is trained and always attentive to help you in and out safely.During the hike your very knowledgeable, National Park-certified guide will denominate which species you see, and add intriguing stories about their behavior, or what makes them so special. You will also learn more about the interesting geologic formations of these islands.National Park rules forbid to leave the trail, and you have to stay with your guide and group as well. The walks are performed in a relaxed pace, and are generally no longer than 4 km (2.5 mi.), about 1-3 hours walk.
Most trails are easily accessible for all, mainly flat or gently ascending (especially trails in the more popular central and southeastern islands). Some of them include walk boards, stairs or lookouts. On other sites there are just wooden stick signs, trails can be steeper, or you have to scramble some rocks (especially on more remote islands) or walking muddy paths (especially in the highlands of Santa Cruz and Isabela). Please ask your guide for alternatives when you expect that a certain part of the program might be too tough for you.

Inflatable dinghy-rides

ECU2010-1836-webThe  Galapagos National Park offers a host of marine visitors sites, where you can snorkel, scuba dive, sea-kayak or to undertake dinghy-rides by inflatable dinghy (or Zodiac or ‘panga’).Obviously, the naturalist guide again comes into action to give these observation tours more significance. Generally you will not make a landing, but you can observe the wildlife from the waterside, observing the intertidal life, or for example Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants. You may also have the chance to navigate underneath towering cliffs full of nesting sea birds, or even entering a dark cave in which the thundering waves are echoing. The inflatable dinghy can also enter and explore the lush and bird-rich mangrove forests, a cradle for baby sharksrays and others fish, and the quiet mating-place for turtles. Paddling with switched-off engine and feeling nature is one more experience of the perfect outdoor life!

VOYAGER 27-webSnorkelling & Swimming

There are regular opportunities to immerse yourself into the amazing submarine world around the islands. Snorkel sites in rockier areas generally have clear waters with great underwater visibility. In the shallow bays you may be surrounded by colorful tropical reef fish such as yellow-tail surgeon fishes, king angelfishes and parrotfishes, among many others. It is an unforgettable experience to submerge yourself in a giant aquarium with coral formations, dharmless white-tip reef sharks resting on the bottom, green marine turtles and – when you have eye for detail – even star fish, octopuses and sea horses. Most emotional highlights are encounters with young playful sea lions or with hunting penguins. Snorkeling is also great fun for the kids!Shallow-water snorkeling spots, are often located near the beaches from which you walk yourself (backwards) into the water. On deep water snorkeling spots you plunge into the sea from the dinghy (or Zodiac, or panga), while the crew keeps a watchful eye on the people that are inside the water. The naturalist guide stays with the group in the water. Difficulty depends on the strength of possible currents and the water temperature.On board we provide you with or rent snorkelling equipment*, consisting of a mask, snorkel, and fins. Optional you can also hire wet-suits for being able to stay longer in the water and support flotation (please, reserve with anticipation). The need for a wet-suit is quite personally, and depends mainly on the water temperature, but generally it’s better feeling too warm than too cold. Sea water temperatures are determined by many factors, including the geographic location, depth of the water, the season and possible currents. Shallow sites are generally warm enough to snorkel without a wet-suit, but for example North and West of Isabela the Cromwell Current is considerably colder, as well as the Humboldt Current in the cooler season. See Galapagos Climate for a table with approximate water temperatures.* Please look at What is Included? what applies to your yacht.

Scuba Diving in the Galapagos Islands

Undersea-Mantaray-2-LR-webGalapagos Islands remains one of the top diving spots worldwide (especially the remote Darwin’s Arch and Gordon Rocks)! Besides terrestrial visitor’s sites of the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Marine Reserve offers a host of marine visitors sites where you can meet scalloped hammerhead and whale sharks, manta and eagle rays, Mola mola sun fishes, moray eels, sea lions, sea horses, lots of colorful reef fishes and much more!Although scuba diving is not a standard activity during our cruises, prior to your arrival you have the opportunity to book additionally diving* on certain days during your cruise **. We are pleased to arrange a specialized and fully-equipped diving-speedboat that will meet us when we anchor near an interesting diving location. We can also arrange a specialized day tour when our yacht is anchored all day in the ports of Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) or Puerto Villamil (Isabela). Unlike (expensive) diving cruises, in this way you won’t dive at the sites in the extreme north of the archipelago, but you get a much more complete impression of life above and below water. This is the optimal solution for you, when you are short on time and can’t afford waiting the required hours between your dive and your flights necessary to adjust your body to the pressure! Of course we also can help you to book an island extension before or after your cruise with scuba-day tours.Instead of the standard excursion of our program ** on every dive location you generally can make 2 dives of an hour under the direction of a professional dive master or instructor (min. 2 persons with diving license required ***; if you are single, you might consider a day tour from said ports). Our specialized agents will provide you with complete dive gear (except a dive computer); but we suggest you bring your own equipment when you plan several days of diving.

* See Itinerary A, Itinerary BItinerary B5 and Itinerary B4 on which days and which visitors sites we can offer optional scuba diving, and which experience level is required. Ask about the different possibilities with your travel agency!

** Please note that if you wish to book an additional diving tour, this is not included in your cruise and will be charged additionally. Please note that we can book this only prior to your arrival in the Galapagos and not at the time of your cruise. Please note as well that you will miss the scheduled excursions of the cruise when you decide to go for a day of diving. No refunds are given for missed cruise excursions.

*** Diving in Galapagos isn’t easy, and more suitable for experienced divers. But there are some great spots for novices as well, and we can even arrange courses to obtain your PADI Open Water Diver-certificate before or after your cruise. For our dive-excursions it is mandatory to hold and bring your diver’s certification (PADI, NAUI, CMAS, or other). Our agents generally accept certified beginner divers at all dive sites except Gordon Rocks for which they require a minimum of 30 logged dives or the previous dive evaluation of their dive guides, while diving at another site.

Visit of a Giant Tortoise Breeding Project, Visitors Center & Interpretative botanic trail of the Galapagos Islands

ODYSSEY 2009 (54)-webMost of our routes also contain a scheduled visit to one of the Galapagos giant tortoise breeding projects, an interpretive botanic trail or an interesting visitors center.

Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz) is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park Service. There is  a visitor’s centers and the famous Galapagos giant tortoise breeding project location.

In the Interpretation Center just outside Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal) you can learn what makes Galapagos so unique. Learn about the history and what conservation challenges exist.


Beaches of Galapagos Islands

Pristine beach walk. Galapagos

To make the most of your Galapagos trip, we offer an almost continuous well-filled daily program. Longer hikes are usually scheduled in the morning and snorkel and swim activities mostly in the afternoon, when the sea water is warmer. Relaxation in this remote and protected area is part of enchantment.

The San Jose has a comfortable deck equipped with deck chairs, loungers and cushions where you can sit in the sun or in a shaded area. There is a living room with a small library, and a bar that serves delicious cocktails and beverages.

During most longer itineraries one island excursions allow for some free time for relaxing on the beach (sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling from the beach or walk along the shoreline).

Anchoring in the harbors of Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal) and Puerto Villamil (Isabela) generally also gives some free time to stroll along the promenade of these settlements, visit souvenir shops or have an ice-cream, or a drink on a terrace.

Pricing for M/V San Jose

Standard Cabin:

5 days/4 nights USD $2,450

8 days/7 nights USD $3,850

Charter the entire boat (16 passengers maximum)

5 days/4 nights USD $39,200

8 days/7 nights USD $61,600

Included: All meals, water, coffee and (herbal) tea; All excursions as mentioned in the itinerary (itinerary subject to change) with bilingual speaking naturalist guide (English & Spanish), Assistance with the check-in procedure at Quito airport (if the flight has been booked together with the cruise); All transfers & ground transportation in Galapagos as mentioned in the itinerary (airport-yacht-airport transfers in Galapagos are only included if the flight has been booked together with the cruise); Snorkeling equipment; Bathroom and beach towels

Not Included: Return flight to the Galapagos Islands **. Your flight space to the Galapagos is automatically guaranteed for all bookings made one month prior to departure or earlier. For a cruise booked at shorter notice we will reserve the flights as well. Transit Control Card *** (US$ 20 pp; to be paid in cash at the departure airport); Airport transfers Galapagos Islands (if the flight has not been booked together with the cruise operator, an additional airport transfer will have to be booked; if a flight delay occurs, an additional speedboat may have to be hired at your own expense – in cash – to bring you to our yacht); Single Supplement fee for booking a guaranteed single cabin (Yolita II 50%, San Jose 80%, Nemo I 100%) **** , Personal expenses, Extras and Tips. Galapagos National Park entrance fee *** has to be paid in cash locally: Currently US$ 100 pp; Children 2-11 years US$ 50 pp; students at national educational institutions outside Ecuador US$ 25 pp;Optional wet-suit rental ***** (has to be paid in cash); Soft and alcoholic drinks (have to be paid in cash);Personal travel insurance

** The airfare is subject to change; we will provide you with the rate the moment you book.

*** Please note that the entrance fee for the Galapagos Islands National Park and Transit Card are subject to change.

**** Single passengers that are willing to share their cabin with another person of the same gender, NEVER PAY an additional single supplement fee in case no room-mate has booked.

***** To rent a wet suit, we need to know your size no later than 2 weeks before your travel to Galapagos (S/M/L/XL). We rent standard wet suits of 3 mm. Nemo I Yolita II, San Jose 4/5 days tour: $25; 8 days tour: $35; Galapagos Odyssey: US$ 6 per person per day (has to be paid in cash).

Tags: , , , ,