GALAPAGOS

Dates: 2-9 May 2025 (1 female share place left)  |  16-23 May 2025 (1 female share place left)

Price: £4,995pp

"The Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous wildlife-watching destination in the world. And no wonder - it's almost impossible to exaggerate the sheer spectacle of the place" Mark Carwardine

A Sea Lion sunbathing on Espanola Island

Please note - as this is such an unusual destination, we have included as many details as possible in our package to ensure your experience is straight forward and stress free. 
This new and incredibly exciting SwimQuest tour has been designed carefully to allow us to travel to, and swim in the very best swim spots in The Galapagos and with a fantastic range of animals. This unique world heritage site is heavily regulated by the Galapagos National Park authorities, and as such we have worked very closely with our local partners to ensure we are bringing you the very best wildlife opportunities. The trip consists of two nights in a hotel on San Cristóbal, followed by four nights on board the Motor Yacht Estrella del Mar V.G. We cap capacity at 14 swimmers. Motor Yacht Estrella del Mar was upgraded and modernized in 2023 and has 8 twin cabins, all with windows, air-conditioning  and a private bathroom. Click on the ‘accommodation’ tab for more information and pictures.

ABOUT THE GALAPAGOS

The Galapagos Islands are uniquely located on both sides of the equator in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The islands are situated at a point in the Pacific Ocean where three ocean currents collide, creating a unique area in the sea where warm and varying degrees of cold water meet, and an incredible array of marine life can be seen.

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

  • Duration: 8 days / 7 nights (1 night in the 5* Sheraton Quito in Ecuador, 2 nights in a Hotel on Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristobal, Galapagos) and 4 nights onboard the M/Y Estrella del Mar V.G in twin share cabins)
  • Sea temperature: approx. 22-24oC
  • Daily swimming distance: our swims are often governed by time rather than distance in The Galapagos, as swimmers tend to want to spend time looking at wildlife as well as head down swimming! Distances are approximately 3km-5km / day split between two swims - depending on what we see, and the group requirements.
  • Swimming ability: confident swimming in deep open water
  • Are non-swimmers welcome? Yes, non-swimming guests can enjoy relaxing and soaking up this incredible part of the world too - our itinerary includes seeing some of the fabulous land animals on some of the islands as well as magnificent marine life. Please note non swimmers are charged at the same rate as swimmers for this trip and are welcome to snorkel.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

  • 1 * night in the 5* Hotel Sheraton, Quito (Ecuador)
  • 2 * nights in Hotel Opuntia in Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristobal, Galapagos)
  • 4 * nights onboard the M/Y Estrella del Mar V.G in twin share cabins
  • Your flights from Quito – San Cristobal and back from Baltra - Quito
  • A selection of meals (breakfast on days 2, 3 and 8 and breakfast, lunch and dinner on days 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  • Local swim and marine specialist (English Speaking)
  • 2 SwimQuest Guides
  • Full boat crew
  • Water safety
  • All visits and excursions according to the itinerary
  • Unlimited purified water, coffee and tea on board Estrella del Mar
  • Galapagos National Park Entrance fee (usually USD 100 p/p)
  • Galapagos INGALA card (a mandatory transit control card usually USD 20,00 p/p)
  • Snorkelling equipment should you wish to use it
  • A SwimQuest cap and poncho
  • ABTOT Financial Protection
  • VAT

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?

  • International Flights to Quito
  • Wetsuits
  • Tips for local guides and drivers
  • Any additional extras / purchases (e.g. massages, services, ice creams etc)
  • Local Taxes
  • Travel Insurance (mandatory)
  • Meals and services not mentioned
  • Purchase of any drinks outside of those provided with dinners
  • Sole use supplements (see "accommodation" tab)

ACCOMMODATION

This tour has been designed with a mixture of land based and  live-aboard accommodation to give us the best possible access to some of the Galapagos most amazing wildlife and swimming opportunities. Accommodation is as follows:

the SHERATON, QUITO

The Sheraton Quito is conveniently located, and an ideal comfortable first night in Equador. Your Swim Guides will meet you here on the first night so you can meet your group and catch up on some sleep before we head to The Galapagos in the morning.

Hotel on Puerto Baquerizo (San Cristobal, Galapagos)

Hotel Opuntia is ideally situated on the oceanfront boardwalk, just a few meters from the golden Playa de Oro beach - a great base for our first two days of swimming. You will spend your first two nights in The Galapagos here. The hotel is friendly and welcoming, with a lovely garden restaurant overlooking the bay - and clean, comfortable rooms.

M/Y Estrella del Mar V.G

From San Cristobal, we will board the Motor Yacht Estrella del Mar for your final four nights. This vessel will be our ‘hotel’ for the next few days. Estrella is a 23m newly refurbished liveaboard. All rooms are twin share (as per below image), are equipped with en suite bathrooms and aircon and there is wifi on board.

sole use supplements

We have limited sole use rooms available for this trip - please contact the office (alice@swimquest.uk.com) if you would like to book your own private room.
N.B. Please realise that what we have detailed below is only a rough guide to the week and that we will adapt the week carefully for each individual and the weather conditions. All swim activities are planned with safety as the paramount concern. Open water swimming is always governed by tides and weather; so planned swims may need to be changed, depending on the conditions at the time. Swim guides will advise you each day on what is best for you, but in all cases guides will encourage you to achieve your personal goals in safe conditions. Given this unique location, we have factored in opportunities to walk / visit wildlife on land as well as wildlife in the water - some is too spectacular to miss having travelled all this way!

DAY 1

LANDING IN QUITO (TRIP STARTS AT 6PM)

Quito, located on the equator in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano is the largest, best preserved colonial city of America - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Tonight you will stay at the Sheraton Quito, and depending on your arrival time, you can spend your day exploring the old town of Quito and the surrounding area before meeting your SwimQuest hosts at 6pm for a welcome drink and dinner. (Let us know if you would like to organise a day trip - we can help).

DAY 2

MORNING: TRAVEL TO SAN CRISTOBAL

We will board a morning flight from Quito to the island of San Cristóbal in The Galapagos. On arrival, we have a transfer to the hotel in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and a briefing before the adventure begins.

AFTERNOON: LA LOBERIA (SWIM 1.5 - 2.5 KM)

In the afternoon we will head to "La Loberia" to swim with large Galapagos sea lions. They are very curious and will be happy to swim next to you underwater! We also get to see yellow warbler birds, frigate birds, and several species of Darwin’s finches along the beach. In between the rocks we may find marine iguanas, which you can only see in Galapagos.

DAY 3

MORNING: PUNTA SUAREZ (1.5 - 2KM COASTAL SWIM)

This morning we will travel on a boat for approximately two hours to reach Española Island, stopping at Punta Suarez for our first coastal swim. After which, there will be opportunity to walk on the island, passing through a colony of albatross (present between March and December), and blue-footed and Nazca boobies, before seeing the marine iguanas.

AFTERNOON: ESPANOLA NORTH COASTLINE (2.5KM SWIM) > zayapas, sea turtles

After this visit, we will return to the vessel to enjoy lunch and navigate to our second swim of the day along the north coastline, with the possibility of spotting blue sharks, zayapas, sea turtles, and tropical fish among other species.

DAY 4

MORNING: TRANSFER TO LIVEABOARD

Once on board your ship, you will be introduced to the crew and given a welcome briefing. After this you'll be shown to your cabins, followed by a delicious lunch on board.

AFTERNOON: LOBOS ISLAND LOBOS CHANNEL SWIM 2-3KM > SEA LIONS, FUR SEALS, BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES

This afternoon, we will visit Lobos Island for our first swim along the channel between Lobos Island and San Cristóbal. Waters are turquoise, sheltered and crystal clear. Lobos Island is named after the colony of Galápagos Sea Lions that live here. You can also see Galápagos Fur Seals basking here, and there is a nesting colony of Blue-Footed Boobies that come each year to raise their chicks.

DAY 5

MORNING: PITT POINT WITCH HILL SWIM 3-3.5KM > RAYS & GREEN SEA TURTLES, GALÁPAGOS SEA LIONS, MARINE IGUANAS, PELICANS, AND GALÁPAGOS BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES

Stephens Bay with Witch Hill in the background, San Cristobal Island

This morning we travel to Pitt Point, or Punta Pitt, at the far eastern edge of San Cristobal. Following a wet landing directly onto the beach you'll be welcomed by the friendly and noisy barking of the local colony of Galápagos Sea Lions. There is so much to see here, both on land and sea, and as such - before we start our swim we will take a quiet path up the cliffs to a breeding site used by all 3 resident species of booby - the Blue-Footed, Red-Footed and Nazca Boobies. Nowhere else in the Galápagos do all three species nest side-by-side like this. As well as this unique booby colony you can also see Galápagos Frigatebirds and petrels. In addition to the wonderful bird life, the view down to the beach and across the island from this high vantage point make the climb worth it. After our walk, you'll be itching to get in for a swim and we will do so this morning at the brilliant white coral sand beach at Witch Hill ("Brujo Hill") - arguably one of the very best in the Galápagos. This was one of the first sites where Charles Darwin made landfall on his famous journey here on HMS Beagle. During your swim, look out for likely sightings of Galápagos rays, green sea turtles, sponge coral and a wide range of beautiful fish. If you are booked as a non-swimmer, then a kayak ride or snorkel will still let you see plenty of wildlife thanks to the crystal clear waters off this stunning beach.

AFTERNOON: KICKER ROCK CIRCUMNAVIGATION 1.5KM – 2KM > hammerheads, TURTLES

This afternoon provides an incredible opportunity to swim around Kicker Rock, a 490ft tall monolith. Kicker Rock (or Leon Dormido, "sleeping lion", locally) is an iconic feature of Galápagos geology, and is one of the most popular photograph opportunities in the archipelago. Marine life here is plentiful, and you may spot hammerhead sharks, green turtles and a whole variety of tropical fish. Once back on board, look out for Galápagos Blue-Footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, and Frigatebirds as they launch themselves from their roosts in the cliffs high above.

DAY 6

MORNING: GARDNER BAY SWIM 1.5KM > SEA LIONS, MOCKINGBIRDS, GREEN SEA TURTLE

Today we head to Gardner Bay a wonderfully sheltered area on the eastern shore of Espanola Island and a great place for swimming and snorkelling. The beach here is home to a large colony of Galápagos Sea Lions, and Galápagos Mockingbirds. These birds are full of curiosity, and have been known to come and investigate bootlaces, camera straps and in our case - goggles! The Galápagos Green Sea Turtle can also often be seen in the shallows here, and along with a large variety of colourful reef fish, this makes Gardner Bay a wonderful place to swim. 

AFTERNOON SUAREZ POINT 3.5 - 4KM COASTAL SWIM > SEA LIONS, BLUE-FOOTED BOOBY, NAZCA BOOBY, WAVED ALBATROSS

This afternoon we head to Suarez Point on the western tip of Espanola - one of the most wildlife-packed of all the visitor sites in the Galápagos. After a stunning swim along this dramatic volcanic coastline, we swim into a beach frequented by Galápagos Sea Lions – and if you have any energy left – you can enjoy a two mile hike along a trail that will take you up around the cliffs.

The range of wildlife on show here is simply stunning. This is a great place to view the remarkable Galápagos Blue-Footed Booby as well as their cousins the Nazca Booby. You can also see the rare Waved Albatross at Suarez Point, where they use the cliff tops to launch themselves into the air over the ocean.

Another famous natural feature here is the blowhole. This geological formation funnels the incoming waves into a chamber where it gets compressed and then the air and seawater are forced out at great speed, making a spectacular plume of water shooting high into the air.

DAY 7

MORNING: FLOREANA 3-4KM BAY TO BAY SWIM > REEF SHARKS, RAYS, SEA LIONS

This morning we head to Floreana for some bay to bay swimming, finishing at the famous ‘Post Office Bay’. Since the 19th century, whalers kept a barrel at Post Office Bay, so that mail could be picked up and delivered to their destination by ships on their way home. Cards and letters are still placed in the barrel without any postage. Visitors sift through the letters and cards in order to deliver them by hand! Look out for reef sharks, rays, and sea lions swimming around you along this coastline.

AFTERNOON - CORMORANT POINT 1.5M SWIM / SNORKEL > FLAMINGOS, RAYS

This afternoon we will head to Cormorant Point - on the northern tip of Floreana, landing on a beach that sits between two volcanic cones. The sand on one of the beaches here has a noticeably olive-green colour, due to a much higher than usual concentration of olivine crystals in the sand.  The adjacent beach is mainly coral sand, and is almost a brilliant white in comparison. Here we will take you to a large lagoon frequented by flamingos, their pink colouring a sharp contrast to the green sand. We will swim (or snorkel) here - look out for beautiful rays in the shallows.

DAY 8

MORNING: SEYMOUR PART CIRCUMNAVIGATION 4.5KM SWIM > LAND IGUANAS, RAYS, REEF SHARKS

Today we sail to Seymour - an island formed at the same time as neighbouring Baltra Island, and by the same process - an uplifting of undersea lava. In 1934 a group of Galápagos Land Iguanas were moved here by Captain Hancock. They have since thrived, and there are now well over 2,500 of them on the island. This morning we will swim around the island's coastline - there is plenty of marine life to see - including rays and reef sharks.

AFTERNOON: BACK TO BALTRA ISLAND

Your Galápagos adventure ends with the arrival of your ship back at Baltra Island (also known as South Seymour). After saying goodbye to your ship and crew, you'll board the transfer vehicle which will take you on the short journey to the airport in plenty of time for your flight back to Quito.

Please let us know if you have onward plans and we can put you in touch with our local travel partners.

 

GETTING THERE

Guest are advised to fly to Quito International airport. You may wish to check flight prices and timings via www.skyscanner.net before booking.

TRANSFERS TO THE GALAPAGOS

Included in your trip price are your transfers from Quito to The Galapagos, going out and back. We recommend booking an extra night in Quito after the tour finishes to ensure you leave plenty of time for onward international flights. We can help with this if needed.  

READY TO BOOK?

SwimQuest ABTOT MembersWe’re excited about meeting you on this once in a lifetime tour. To book your swimming holiday, simply fill in the booking form below. Once you have submitted the form, Sarah (our bookings co-ordinator) will be in touch to request payment and to help you with any additional requirements. A deposit of 30% is required to secure your place, and the final payment is due 12 weeks prior to departure.

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Payments can be made by debit / credit card, or by bank transfer.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

In booking with us, you accept our terms and conditions, which can be found here.

FURTHER QUESTIONS OR NEED HELP BOOKING?

If at any point you have any questions, feel free to contact us

TRAVEL INSURANCE

As a SwimQuest guest, you are required to have in place travel insurance that covers you for all activities you will be taking part in during your trip. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are fully covered for these activities. Whatever travel policy you decide on, you will need to bring a copy of your current Certificate of Insurance to the safety briefing at the start of your SwimQuest holiday. Your swim Guides will need to take a note of your insurer, policy number and the number to call in case of an emergency claim. Please note, if you are a UK resident and eligible for free health cover via the NHS, you do not need to take our a travel insurance policy for our UK based trips. You may still wish to take out insurance to cover you for events such as trip cancellation, luggage and personal liability.

WORLD NOMADS TRAVEL INSURANCE

World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travellers for travellers, with coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.  World Nomads do not offer cover over 65s, however if you are over 65 and looking for insurance, you may wish to browse some of the below price comparison sites. Please note - we are unable to advise on the suitability of any particular insurance policy.

UNITED KINGDOM

If you are travelling from the US or another country, we suggest you use a travel insurance comparison site based in your own country in order to decide on a suitable policy.