Discovering North Seymour Island : Day Tour From Santa Cruz

Created by Colleen Sims * 26 February 2024

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We decided to travel independently to the Galapagos and hop between the three main islands; we also planned day trips to some of the uninhabited islands.

North Seymour Island was high on our list. It’s close to Santa Cruz making it easily accessible as a day tour and is home to Magnificent Frigates (they really are called that) and Blue Footed Boobies.

Magnificent Frigate birds with their red chest, seen on our Seymour Island day tour from Santa Cruz in the Galapagos.

Independent Galapagos : North Seymour Island Day Tour

The day tours to North Seymour Island from Santa Cruz are a great way to explore the diverse wildlife and natural beauty of Galapagos. The island itself is small, but it packs a punch with unique flora and fauna, making the trip a worthwhile addition to your Galapagos island-hopping adventure.

Most tours start with pick-ups or meeting points in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. From there you’ll be driven up through the Highlands of Santa Cruz to the Itabaca Channel where you’ll meet your boat.

★★★★★

WE LOVED THIS NORTH SEYMOUR DAY TOUR

  • Hotel pickup
  • Excellent guide
  • Great boat with wonderful lunch
  • lots and lots of wildlife spotted

How Do You Reach North Seymour Island?

North Seymour Island is protected. You can only visit North Seymour by boat; either as part of a multi-day cruise or a day tour.

Visits and landing passes to all of the uninhabited Galapagos Islands are strictly controlled. Whilst you may find many companies selling tours, in reality there are perhaps only a dozen boats that make the journey to North Seymour.

The higher priced tours are often better boats and smaller group sizes. All will offer a combination of other activities. Ask about and compare these factors before booking your North Seymour tour.

Many multi-day cruises also visit North Seymour but as it is so easy to reach on a day trip, we’d thoroughly recommend arranging the tour yourself.

Top Tip : When planning your own itinerary do bear in mind that not all islands are visited every day. This is a really important factor when choosing your island day tours.

Mother Blue Footed Boobie with her young, on North Seymour Island

How Long Are Day Trips To North Seymour Island?

North Seymour tours are full day tours. Our tour started at 7:45am and we returned just before 5:00pm to our hotel. This is fairly typical for this day tour.

The cruise to the island can take up to an hour but drinks are served onboard and guides provide a considerable amount of information as you sail. We really enjoyed our time onboard, spotting birds and the occasional curious sea-turtle.

Once on the island you can expect around 1.5 hours of hiking. The terrain is flat although rustic in places, so comfortable walking shoes are a must. I understand the path is only about 2 kilometres in length, it felt a little longer but we stopped a great deal and the walk never felt rushed.

Most trips return to the boats for lunch and in the afternoon visit either Bachas Beach or the Mosquera Islet; our tour took us to Bachas Beach.

What To Expect on North Seymour Island?

North Seymour was formed by the uplift of submarine lava and not volcanic activity, resulting in a flat land profile. It’s a small island and a maximum elevation of 28 metres; so pretty flat.

North Seymour Island is a haven for wildlife and home to many unique species. Upon arrival at the island, visitors follow designated trails with their guides. These trails have been strategically placed to ensure minimal disturbance to the island’s ecosystem.

Many of the Galapagos landings are wet landings. At North Seymour we landed on a rock-like jetty and watched a school of Rays swim by. Later for the additional excursions you transfer to a Zodiac from your boat and land on the beach, often ankle deep in water.

During your tour, you will always be accompanied by an expert guide; one of the things we loved about our tours are the guides. They are official Galapagos guides, in addition to the boat crew. We had experts in geology, ornithology, volcanoes, marine biologists and all were Galapagos natives. You will learn a great deal from these fabulous professional guides!

  • Expect to hike for around 90 minutes.
  • Expect that there to be no shade and hot sun so take a hat, water, sunscreen and appropriate footwear and clothing
  • Expect horseflies. We encountered this loathsome little biter often. Ensure that you have used bug spray in advance.

The hike itself is relatively easy and unlike Bartolome Island there’s very little elevation and is suitable for most abilities, although the terrain can be a little rugged in places. As you hike, you’ll come across different habitats such as shorelines, sandy beaches, and rocky stepping-stone like trails.

We immediately spotted marine and land iguanas, frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies and of course plenty of sea lions lounging around.

The animals on Galapagos have no fear of humans; they ignore you. You are allowed to get within two metres of the animals and quietly observe but never interfere, never use a flash and leave zero trace.

North Seymour was the first of our tours and it felt very surreal to be walking along the beach watching wildlife that we had only ever seen in David Attenborough documentaries; it really was the stuff of dreams.

North Seymour Island landscape with Daphne Major Island in the background across the sea

What Wildlife Will You See on North Seymour?

North Seymour is home to a diverse range of wildlife. The island is home to abundant populations of blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, Swallow-tailed gulls with their distinctive forked tails, common noddies, land and marine iguanas and sea lions and many others.

For us we wanted to see a Frigate Bird puff out it’s red chest and of course we wanted to see those blue feet; we saw both in abundance!

Blue-footed boobies : can be spotted preforming their elaborate courtship dances.  The open nesting grounds offer fantastic opportunities to observe their behaviour and their chicks.

Frigate birds : The island is home to the largest colony of Magnificent and Great frigatebirds with their impressive wingspans and beautiful bright red throat pouch.  The pouch is a mating tool, used to attract the ladies.

Land iguanas : These are not native but were introduced from Baltra Island in the 1930s in an effort to protect them from introduced goats.  They have thrived on North Seymour.  Land Iguanas play an important role in seed dispersal across the islands.

Marine iguanas : These can also be found in North Seymour.  At times in the past, marine iguanas on North Seymour have been observed eating land vegetation, a very unusual behaviour for this species.

Important fishing site for marine birds:  The seas around North Seymour are one of the most important fishing sites for marine birds due to its abundance of fish

Marine life: Sea lions, sharks, rays, sea turtles and various fish species can be spotted near the shores.  We spotted a large school of rays near the shore waiting for our boat to collect us.

Snakes: Lucky visitors might encounter the Galapagos racer, the only snake native to the islands but very rarely seen

Vegetation:  The island receives little rainfall, leading to sparse vegetation dominated by low-growing bushes and cacti, adapted to the dry climate.

Conservation Issues : Strict regulations are in place to protect the island’s unique ecosystem and wildlife.  In particular the island is currently rat-free, rats have become a problem on other islands.

Sally Lightfoot crabs on the beach at Bachas Beach in the Galapagos

Will You Have A Guide On A Day Tour?

All tours to the uninhabited islands are with an official guide. You cannot visit these islands without an official guide. As we mentioned earlier the guides are experts in their fields and we didn’t meet one guide who wasn’t passionate about their work on the Galapagos Islands.

We opted to pay for the more expensive tours with smaller groups and we felt this was a good choice. The guides had more time to spend answering individual questions and the tours all felt very relaxed and unrushed.

What’s Included In The North Seymour Island Tour?

The North Seymour Island tour includes transport to and from Puerto Ayora; some will collect you from or very near to your hotel and others have a meeting point in town.

  • All transport to and from the pick-up point will be included in your tour
  • Tours will include an official guide and crew members
  • Tour groups vary in size and this is often one of the reasons for cost difference
  • Drinks and lunch are included
  • Often bottled water, or the possibility to refill your own bottle with drinking water, is available on the boat
  • We snorkelled from the boat and at Bachas Beach; tours often include snorkelling equipment and some even include wetsuits
  • All tours to North Seymour offer an additional visit; our trip stopped at Bachas Beach but some stop at the Mosquera Islet

It is really important to check with your tour operator about what is included in your specific tour package and the group size. This will help you decide which tour is right for you and you can plan accordingly.

★★★★★

WE LOVED THIS NORTH SEYMOUR DAY TOUR

  • Hotel pickup
  • Excellent guide
  • Great boat with wonderful lunch
  • lots and lots of wildlife spotted
Our onboard chef preparing lunch on our boat during our North Seymour Island day tour

Bachas Beach

Bachas Beach is a stunning white sandy beach, home to many Sally Lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas as well as pink flamingos. It’s an excellent spot for snorkelling off the beach too!

Bachas Beach is actually located on the northern coast of Santa Cruz Island. From the beach you can spot various species of birds, sunbathing marine iguanas or sea turtles swimming close to the beach.

We first walked along the beach with the guide to the lagoon to spot the flamingo; sadly it was the wrong time of year so we only saw a few. But we did go snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters and spotted lots of colourful fish and marine life, including sea turtles. Gerry also enjoyed watching the marine iguana fight the waves to make it on to their black lava rocks.

Top Tip : The coral sand is quite rough underfoot and there are rather nasty horseflies so make sure you are covered and keep a look our for this annoying creature.

black marine iguana on black lava rocks beside the turquoise sea around Santa Cruz in the Galapagos

Mosquera Islet

Mosquera Islet is a tiny island located between North Seymour and Baltra Island, considered one of the smallest in the archipelago.

Covered in coral sand, it is home to a large population of sea lions; if you’re lucky they’ll come and swim with you from the beach.

You may also spot shorebirds, herons, lava gulls, and boobies. Divers and snorkellers have also spotted sharks, rays, and barracudas. We spotted rays off the coast of North Seymour too.

South Plaza Island

We originally wanted to visit North Seymour Island on a tour that also included a stop at South Plaza. Sadly only one boat offered that tour and it was in dry dock when we visited the Galapagos.

South Plaza is known for its cactus and a large population of land iguanas; the smallest on the archipelago. depending on the time of year the cactus changes colour and the island can be a sea of red.

What is the Cost of the North Seymour Island Tour?

The cost of the North Seymour Island tour does vary depending on the tour package that you choose and the size of the group. There are tours starting from 250€ per person on a standard boat and others costing up to 400€ on a 5* Yacht. For this tour we settled for something in the middle and it was a great choice.

If you have the budget the better boats are worth the extra, but equally, if budget is tight, once on the islands we all get see the same animals and all tours do have the excellent guides. It’s really important to research and compare different tour options to find the best value tour to fit your requirements and budget.

I also recommend that you book a tour in advance. We were told to wait until we reached the island as you can negotiate the price and this is true but the more popular tours sell out very quickly.

If your budget is not too tight then just book in advance and pay the full price; most folks only get the chance to visit Galapagos once in their lifetime so make sure you get the tours you that want.

Gerry at Bachas Beach during our day tour to North Seymour Island on Galapagos

What Level Of Fitness Do You Need?

The North Seymour Island tour does not require a high level of fitness, but visitors should be able to walk on uneven terrain for extended periods of time. The terrain can be rocky in some areas, so it is important to wear proper footwear. It’s not a difficult walk and this trip is suitable for most people.

It is also worth noting that the climate in Galapagos can be hot, which adds to the physical exertion. Make sure to stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothing to protect from the sun.

Do bear in mind that you will be expected to hop on and off of the zodiac boats onto the beach; although crew and guides will always be on hand to help.

Zodiac boat used for beach landings during our North Seymour Island day trip

What Will The Weather be Like on North Seymour Island?

The Galapagos islands are located right on the equator, so temperatures stay relatively consistent throughout the year; the annual temperature of Bachas Beach ranges from a low of 24c in August to a high of 30c in March; so very little variation over a year.

However, the two main seasons in Galapagos are

  • The warm/wet season runs from December to May and is characterized by hot and humid weather with occasional rain showers.
  • The cool/dry season runs from June to November and is characterized by cooler temperatures, stronger winds, and less rainfall. This is also the time when the ocean currents bring in nutrient-rich waters. The cool season also brings the choppiest sea conditions which might be important if you have have concerns about sea sickness.

We visited at the end of May and we did experience a few days of poor weather which did impact on the activities that we could undertake. For this reason we recommend allowing a few spare days just in case you have to reschedule a trip.

When is the Best Time to Visit North Seymour Island?

There is no best time to visit the Galapagos Islands. They are pretty magnificent year round and you will spot wildlife year round.

However, there are times of the year where you can expect to see certain animals. For example, we observed the waved albatross on Espagnola Island, but this is only possible between April and November.

Land Iguana on North Seymour Island

Is it Worth Visiting North Seymour Island?

Yes! North Seymour Island is the perfect must-see destination if you’re travelling independently and looking for day tours from Santa Cruz island. It’s close enough to Santa Cruz to make it one of the more affordable day tours and offers a wide range of unique and fabulous wildlife.

This was our first tour on Galapagos and we were so thrilled with the day; it far exceeded our expectations and was the perfect introduction to these incredible islands.

Whether you want to witness diverse wildlife, go snorkelling or diving, or simply enjoy the amazing landscapes, this island has something for everyone and is accessible to most visitors.

If you can only choose one tour then this is a great option!

Colleen and Gerry on the beach during our North Seymour Island Day Tour

Are You visiting the galapagos Islands?

I have a series of posts that may be of interest to you and help with your Galapagos Island planning :

★★★★★

Take a Look : Fabulous Multi-Day Tour

This tour is perfect for independent travellers. We visited both of these islands and this 3-day tour offers excellent value for money!

  • Includes Santa Cruz Hotel
  • Excellent guide
  • Visit both North Seymour and the Stunning Bartolome Island

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Whenever you travel overseas it’s imperative to travel with a good travel and medical insurance policy.  None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.

I’ve had the mis-fortune to end up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal and Ireland; every time my insurance took care of everything. I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.

Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.

TrueTraveller : We have this policy now for an extended global trip and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions

Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.

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