Discover Galapagos - A travel guide to Galapagos cruises, tours, boats and yacht charters

Galapagos Islands tours - fun for the whole family!

A travel guide to Galapagos tours, boats, cruises & yacht charters

"Last night standing watch in the full moon dolphins came right up alongside the boat diving out of the water up towards the moon and Venus. The Southern Cross and the Big Dipper added perspective to the magnetic compass glowing and turning dizzily before my eyes. I could make out Jupiter and Mars as I steered my craft on towards the waves of diamond sparkling phosphorescent dolphins... becoming like giant glittering forms into the full moon light. Heading north to Tower..." - My journal

The voyage to Tower (or Genovesa) may take up to 8 hours depending on the maximum speed of your boat. If you are susceptible to motion sickness this can be the ultimate test of whatever prevention you are trying during your Galapagos cruise.


As we get closer to Tower we begin to see more frigate birds, red-footed boobies and Galapagos petrels flying over and alongside the boat as they feed. Petrels are named after St. Peter for the fact that they appear to walk on water. A red-footed booby lands on our mast.

Walking on water...
Jeff Waugh
Galapagos Petrels

As we approach Tower it is easy to understand why the Galapagos are often referred to as Las Islas Encantadas or the Enchanted Islands. Tower is a very low lying island and difficult to see until you are very close. At times the sea mist may completely obscure any view of the island and, unless your boat is equipped with radar, make it extremely difficult to find.

Map of Tower or Genovesa Island, Galapagos

Our boat cruises through the entrance of Darwin Bay into the flooded caldera of this extinct volcano to anchor in a naturally protected harbour. Immediately you are struck by the abundance of bird life!

The Magnificent and Great Frigate Birds, Red-footed and Masked Boobies, Wedge-rumped (or Galapagos) Storm Petrels, Swallow-tailed Gulls, Lava Gulls, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Large Ground Finches, Sharp-beaked Ground Finches, Cactus Finches, Warbler Finches, Yellow Warblers, Galapagos Mockingbirds, Galapagos Doves, and Yellow-crowned Night Herons are all found on Tower.


There are two visitor sites within Darwin Bay and we visit both. After our breakfast, we board our panga and slowly motor along the cliffs towards Prince Phillips Steps. We see a few Galapagos Fur Seals in the shade of some caves and get a good view of Red-billed Tropicbirds as they come and go from their cliffside nests. We disembark at Prince Phillips Steps and climb up through a somewhat steep fissure in the rock to the top of the caldera rim ten meters above sea level.
Red-billed Tropicbirds, Tower Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Red-billed Tropicbirds
At once we are met with the squawking and hissing of Masked Boobies defending their rudimentary ground nests of a few sticks and feathers. Red-footed Boobies and Great Frigate Birds are perched in the Palo Santo trees overhead. Palo Santo means holy stick as the aromatic twigs are used for incense in some religious ceremonies in Ecuador. A wonderful aroma from the trees hangs in the breeze.

Red-footed Booby on Tower Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Red-footed Booby

The Red-footed Boobies are the only members of the Gannet and Booby family (Sulidae) to nest in trees. The nests are fairly solid structures of twigs, feathers and guano. Red-footed Boobies lay a single egg and both sexes incubate and fend for the young.

Red-footed Booby, Tower Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Red-footed Booby

The trail leads us through a Palo Santo "forest", through a small fissure and out onto the south side of the island where a relatively cool sea breeze is blowing. In the breeze are many of the over 200,000 pairs of Galapagos Petrels that have their nests throughout the cracks and fissures in the old lava flow.

We spend a leisurely amount of time observing the petrels and other seabirds before returning along the same trail to Prince Phillips Steps. We snorkel from the steps along the cliffside back to our boat. Here we swim with the Galapagos Fur Seal. Some of us see Moorish Idols, White-banded Angel Fish, Sergeant Majors, Parrot Fish, Wrasse, Galapagos Sharks, and even a Moray Eel.

Back at the boat we refresh ourselves with cold drinks, food and an afternoon siesta. Once refreshed, we board the panga and head to the coral beach at the head of Darwin Bay.

We are greeted by Swallow-tailed Gulls, Great Frigate Birds, Lava Gulls, Galapagos Mockingbirds, and a few Marine Iguanas regulating their temperatures with the sun and wind while basking on the lava rocks near the beach. The trail from the beach leads through a grove of Red Mangroves where you see more Red-footed Boobies and Great Frigate Birds. Swallow-tailed Gull, Tower or Genovesa Island, Galapagos
Jeff Waugh
Swallow-tailed Gull


Jeff Waugh Frigates on the beach at Tower


The most impressive sight here is the large number of male Great Frigates dislaying from March to June. Their courtship display is something else, even for the bird world. These guys inflate their gular sack with air pumped in from their lungs, blow it up to look like a huge red balloon that they shudder and shake at the females passing overhead, all the while emitting a very peculiar "woo woo woo woo woo". Sound familiar? I hope not!

The trail continues up along the cliff and into a Palo Santo forest. This is a good area to observe Galapagos Doves and Mockingbirds. We return by the same trail to the beach and have time there to observe more wildlife or to snorkel or swim from the beach before returning to our boat. Another exciting day of Galapagos travel begins as daylight fades.

We set sail at sunset for a long journey... To James Bay


"We set sail with almost no wind to James Bay in the full moon, stars and dolphin phosphorescence in the quiet nights reflected sunlight. The dolphins exhale and suck air through their blowhole. Dolphins all around and those crazy sea lions coming out so many miles in search of fish finding us drifting nomads sails flapping for the wind. I hear the dolphins emitting high frequency sounds off the bow of the boat and as I lean over they turn sideways looking up at me looking down through the surface reflections into the depths. Dolphins with scrapes and scratches suggesting untold tales of wild encounters. I would love to exchange stories, travelers tales with these wild voyageurs of the ocean." - My journal Dolphins on the bow!
Jeff Waugh
A self-portrait

Galapagos Cruises and Tours
SCUBA Diving Cruises



Frequently Asked Questions
Galapagos Map
A Brief Introduction
What to Bring
Travel Insurance

Hotels in Quito & Guayaquil


The Galapagos Archipelago
Baltra (Arrival)
Santa Cruz - Caleta Tortuga Negra
San Salvador - Sullivan Bay
San Salvador - James Bay
Fernandina - Punta Espinoza
Isabela - Tagus Cove
Isabela - Urvina Bay
Isabela - Elizabeth Bay
Santa Cruz - CDRS and Highlands
Hood Island - Punta Saurez
Hood Island - Gardner Bay
Santa Fe
Baltra (Departure)


Family Travel Planner
Adventures of Little Miss Chievous
Evan's Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia 2000
Evan's Ecuador 1998

Follow this link to Evan's Ecuador...
Evan with Galapagos Tortoise




Hotels, Haciendas, & Jungle Lodges

Photo Journal

Follow the iguana to Hood Island...
Marine Iguana


 Discover Galapagos
Inti Travel and Tours, Inc
Box 1586 Banff, AB., Canada T1L 1C1

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