Sally Lightfoot crabs on black volcanic rock by the sea in the Galapagos Islands.

Please double examine what’s open earlier than your journey and observe all native masks pointers to maintain your self and others protected! Additionally, advertisements are how we pay our payments and hold our weblog free so that you can get pleasure from. We additionally use affiliate hyperlinks; if you happen to make a purchase order by way of them, we might obtain a small fee for gratis to you.

Barking sea lions. Crystal swimming pools tucked between volcanic cliffs. Big tortoises. Contemporary, scorching seafood. Santa Cruz Island is likely one of the Galapagos’ most populated islands, and the central city of Puerto Ayora is as near bustling as you’ll discover within the Galapagos: docks ship ferries to and from different islands, eating places and scorching kiosks tucked into hidden alleys promote grilled and fried fish, and tortoises roam the cooler inland air of the elevated Highlands.

Santa Cruz is house to lots of the Galapagos’ finest sights, actions, and academic alternatives. It’s a must-visit whether or not you’re planning a land-based Galapagos trip or stopping by on a cruise – like, actually you possibly can’t miss it: you’ll both fly right here or cease right here on a cruise.

Years in the past, we revealed the story of our visit to Santa Cruz, Galapagos. It’s an awesome put up and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog trend, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this put up: a definitely-very-useful journey information that may assist you to plan your go to to Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

Psst: Planning a visit to the Galapagos Islands? Check out these different posts that can assist you plan:


How to Visit The Galapagos Islands Without a Cruise: A Complete Guide

We’ve additionally created an in depth 20-page downloadable information to visiting the Galapagos Islands. Join beneath to get the information ship straight to your inbox! 

The bright blue water and town of Puerto Ayora Bay on Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands Ecuador
Welcome to Puerto Ayora, the primary city on Santa Cruz, Galapagos! Sure, the water truly appears to be like like that.

The best way to Get to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

There are solely two methods to get to Santa Cruz, Galapagos: by air or by ferry.

Santa Cruz’s airport is named Baltra, and also you’ll have the ability to fly right here from Quito or Guayaquil.

When you arrive, everybody will board the shuttle to the docks. Santa Cruz Island is a free 5-minute ferry journey from the Baltra docks. From the docks on the Santa Cruz aspect it’s a few 45 minute drive into Puerto Ayora.

To get to Puerto Ayora from the airport, you possibly can take a white pick-up truck taxi – you’ll discover many ready dockside. The worth is about, however everybody goes the identical route, so don’t be afraid to separate a taxi with one other traveler!

The less expensive possibility is to take a bus, additionally situated dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so anticipate to attend a short while for the bus to replenish totally earlier than it leaves. The bus will take you to the market on the middle of city, about half a mile from the ocean and most inns/hostels.

For those who’re coming from the opposite most important island within the Galapagos, San Cristobal, you’ll take one of many twice-daily ferries to Puerto Ayora. It’s finest to buy your tickets not less than a day upfront as their seats are restricted – you possibly can book your ticket online on Bookaway. The journey is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you permit to move off seasickness!

Ideas for Visiting Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island is likely one of the 3 inhabited islands within the Galapagos – however though it’s a populated island, it’s nonetheless filled with wildlife – the magic of the Galapagos!

The primary city in Santa Cruz is the coastal port city of Puerto Ayora, the place you’ll discover loads of inns, eating places, and all the comforts you’d anticipate from a small island city (don’t get too fancy, although. The web may be spotty. Some nights, we couldn’t even watch Netflix! I do know, surprising). Santa Cruz can be house to one of many two airports within the Galapagos Islands, so there’s likelihood you’ll both by flying into or out of right here.

Round each nook is one other alternative to see brightly coloured crabs, snoozing sea lions, and cuddling marine iguanas. You’ll discover many of one of the best eating places, inns, and day excursions in Puerto Ayora.

  • Most locations in Ecuador don’t settle for bank cards, or cost further to take action. The Galapagos Islands aren’t any exception: money is king. Fortunately, there are ATMs galore on Puerto Ayora and a great deal of retailers, eating places and bars to spend your money in! Fill up on money right here, as a result of a number of the different islands like Isla Isabela have NO ATM’s in any respect.
  • Deliver sunscreen with you from the mainland. It’s insanely costly right here, and also you’ll want it for the additional sturdy rays because of the proximity to the Equator. Make certain to carry reef-safe sunscreen for once you’ll be within the water, to guard the coral reef and different marine wildlife that dwell within the Galapagos!
  • There’s a large grocery retailer proper by the primary dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. You too can pop to the highest ground for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However remember that most inns received’t have a kitchen.
  • We suggest reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line upfront. You possibly can e-book your Puerto Ayora excursions as quickly as you arrive on the island and also you’ll avoid wasting cash this fashion, however there’s additionally likelihood you received’t have the ability to do each tour you’d like as there’s a restricted variety of areas obtainable and excursions are topic to strict laws. Plus, it’s simply sort of traumatic to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We discovered this from expertise.) For those who do wait to e-book in particular person, simply discover any tour operator – their workplaces are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Bear in mind that you simply’ll must pay on your day excursions upfront with money.

One possibility I want we’d identified throughout our journey is that you will discover some nice multi-day land based mostly excursions with set itineraries, which takes an enormous quantity of planning off your shoulders! 

Listed here are a number of unbelievable choices:

  • 7-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: This itinerary carefully mirrors our journey. You’ll go to each Santa Cruz and Isabela Island and take what we’d contemplate to be one of the best excursions on every. At simply round $1,500 per particular person, it’s not way more than what we paid and a unbelievable worth for every week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: For those who’re brief on time or cash, this 5-day possibility for just below $1,000 is nice. You’ll keep on Santa Cruz however nonetheless get an opportunity to go to Isabela Island on a day journey and expertise Las Tintoreras, one of the best Isabela tour.
  • 8-Day Galapagos Island Tour: If San Cristobal and snorkelling at Kicker Rock are in your bucket listing, this 8-day tour is your finest guess! You’ll go to all 3 inhabited islands and do one of the best excursions in every.


30 Things No One Tells You About Backpacking in Ecuador

Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Issues to Do

Puerto Ayora is the most important hub for the Galapagos Islands, and house base to do the Galapagos and not using a cruise. There are a lot of actions you are able to do on the island itself, plus a great deal of day journeys and excursions.

For the total story of our go to to Santa Cruz Island – errors, mishaps, and all – head over to this post.

Go to the Fish Market

The Puerto Ayora fish market is a must-see and completely captures the magic of the Galapagos Islands. Sure, it’s one of the best place on the island to buy freshly caught seafood (if you happen to’re fortunate sufficient to have a kitchen to play with, that is very thrilling!), nevertheless it’s additionally simply, like, a vibe. For one factor, there’s Lupe.

Lupe the Sea Lion is an everyday on the Puerto Ayora fish market. She positions herself behind the counter instantly beneath the chopping board, the place she is aware of she’ll get fed scraps and pores and skin from the recent fish fillets all day lengthy! She’s like a pet canine that’s additionally an lovable sea lion. We would like one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and typically napping sea lions as effectively. Make certain to cease by in the course of the week when it’s open!

Self guided visit to Las Grietas, near Punta Estrada, in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Read our complete guide to the Galapagos without a cruise!
Las Grietas is one of the best snorkeling close to Puerto Ayora! Gorgeous Las Grietas is prettiest and most empty at noon. The pure channel is evident and really, very deep!

Snorkel in Las Grietas

Las Grietas is a stupendous clear pool between two sheer volcanic cliff faces – therefore the title, which implies “The Crevices.” Throughout noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a brilliant, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the best way to the underside of the deep pool, making for unimaginable photographs and views. You possibly can soar off the dock into the water if you happen to like, and climb up the cliffs to leap from the rocks if you happen to dare! Las Grietas is one of the best snorkeling on Santa Cruz Island by far. 

To get to Las Grietas from Puerto Ayora, take a water taxi from the docks and ask for Punta Estrada or simply say you’re going to Las Grietas – they’ll know what you imply. It’s a ridiculously brief journey and the water taxi is below $1.

When you’re dropped off, you’ll stroll previous a elaborate resort and a few high-end bars and eating places (that is the costly aspect of Puerto Ayora). Stroll alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely possibility so that you can stroll on, so that you received’t get misplaced). The boardwalk will take you previous Punta Estrada, a small cove the place you possibly can swim, with a seashore throughout low tide.

The boardwalk to Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
The boardwalk to Las Grietas, one of the best place to go snorkelling in Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

Hold strolling down the boardwalk previous some attention-grabbing pink-tinged salt flats. After about quarter-hour you’ll attain Las Grietas! Hold strolling down the boardwalk till you get to the doorway the place you register and wait on your flip to enter with a information (you could wait 15-10 minutes to go together with a much bigger group). tl;dr observe the one path till it ends. Simple sufficient, proper?

Listed here are a number of suggestions for visiting Las Grietas:

  • There are literally 3 swimming pools in Las Grietas and two entrances. Your information decides which entrance you’ll go to, and that’s the place you enter, however you possibly can climb by way of to the opposite ones. Swim all the best way to the tip of the primary pool, climb (fastidiously!) over the rocks, and swim by way of the second pool to entry the hidden third pool. To get to it you’ll both should fastidiously climb over extra rocks (seriously, watch out. Jeremy slipped and reduce his foot right here) or take a deep breath, dive down, and swim by way of the underwater cave. When there aren’t any individuals within the pool, there are a whole lot of fish swimming on this part undisturbed, and it’s completely unimaginable.
  • Head to Las Grietas round midday to beat the cruise crowds and catch essentially the most sparkly, sunny hours.  When the cruises present up they make tons of noise and scare away all of the fish. You’ll wish to filter by 5pm.
  • Your go to is proscribed to 90 minutes, however when you’ve completed, you possibly can stroll again and cease at Playa de los Alemanes and spend the remainder of the afternoon and sundown there, so pack loads of water and snacks.
  • Snorkeling at Playa de los Alemanes, which you’ll stroll previous in your approach to Las Grietas, is usually a combined bag, however in case you are eager to strive, then intention for the mangroves in your proper to see sharks at excessive tide, or swim proper out to the furthest rocks to search out sea snakes at low tide.


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Best places to eat in Cartagena
Don’t let the entire fish factor intimidate you: when it’s this recent and scrumptious, it’s effectively value the additional work to choose all of the deliciousness off the bones!

Go to the Kiosks

The Kiosks/Los Kioskos are one of the best place to eat in Puerto Ayora. The Kiosks are a seafood alley: a road lined with small, locally-owned eating places all cooking variations of extremely recent, domestically caught seafood bought from the fish market earlier within the day.

You’ll hear scorching from the charcoal parillas and scent smoky, grilled fish lengthy earlier than you stumble throughout this little alley.

When you arrive, you’ll discover the road full of tables, joyful vacationers, and locals mingling among the many varied kiosks, all of whom are promoting a variation of the identical gadgets, loudly proffered by servers thrusting menus and entire uncooked fish below your nostril, all accompanied by the sizzle and tantalizing scent of charcoal-grilled fish.

That is Puerto Ayora’s culinary specialty: an enormous smokey charcoal grill, the Picallada, constructed like a chimney and stoked with blow dryers to remain scorching all night time lengthy.

All the things from recent entire fish rubbed with spices and nestled in tin foil, to octopus laid instantly on the grill for an ideal char and sear, to the effervescent seafood casserole in clay bowls, to scorching buttered ears of corn, are all smoked and roasted on that very same grill. And it’s freaking scrumptious.

Strolling by way of the alley is a bit like sporting a bulls-eye in your brow: each step you’re taking, somebody fingers you a menu or a fish or lists a number of gadgets and their costs at you, all in rapid-fire Spanish. However actually, you possibly can’t go improper: choose wherever, and order no matter they suggest. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? The perfect meals in Puerto Ayora can be essentially the most price range pleasant! An entire brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, considered one of our favourite kiosks in seafood alley. Their grilled and fried entire fish, grilled octopus, seafood cazuela, sopa de queso (scrumptious cheese soup) and varied batidos (fruit milkshakes) are all glorious.

The kioscos are situated at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s straightforward to stroll from wherever on the town. You too can all the time take an affordable pickup truck taxi. If it’s essential to, ask any native for assist discovering los kioskos – they’ll all know. 

Beach path on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
We ventured down a seashore pathway close to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station and located this secluded seashore full of surfers and sea turtles!

Go to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station

The Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz is much less of a station and extra of a posh: the primary constructing is full of data and some small displays, however the primary sights are all outdoors.

Turtles are bred in a piece of the middle right here, known as the Fausto Llerena Breeding Middle. Every huge island within the Galapagos has its personal land turtle breeding middle, we discovered. Whereas the turtles are raised in captivity, they’re launched again into the wild as adults. Probably the most profitable conservation applications on the planet, greater than 7,000 tortoises have been launched again into the wild from this middle.

And sure – you possibly can see lovable child turtles right here!

As we watched large outdated tortoises munch on turtle snacks and slowly chase one another round, we discovered that for years, the tortoise breeding middle tried its finest to provide offspring that may proceed the survival of a tortoise species with just one present member: Lonesome George.

Land tortoises at the Charles Darwin Breeding Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
I think about this land tortoise is saying, “Shut up, Muriel! You thoughts your individual beeswax!” Is it simply me or does each land tortoise appear to be an 80 yr outdated man??

Sadly, lack of awareness of tortoise lineage result in a deadly flaw: the females being mated with Lonesome George have been hybrid species, that means that they might not efficiently mate with the outdated tortoise.

He died a number of years in the past, taking his whole species with him.

Fortunately, advances in tortoise breeding have made it attainable to resurrect this species from extinction: by breeding tortoises containing a excessive share of the genes of Lonesome George’s species, after a number of generations a totally genetically equivalent tortoise shall be born!

That’s some Jurassic Park sh**, proper there. Science is so cool.

Together with tortoises, you possibly can spy land and marine iguanas basking close to the middle. There are additionally some trails winding by way of the vegetation to the seashore. However that’s about it – mood your expectations! It is a scientific analysis and conservation middle, not a zoo.

  • You’ll discover the Charles Darwin Analysis Station on the finish of the primary avenue in Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Avenue. From the docks, stroll for about 20 minutes in the wrong way. Simple!
  • You’ll want to indicate your Nationwide Park entry ticket (given to you on the airport) for entry to the station.
  • You’ll must pay $10 per particular person on the entrance and a neighborhood information will accompany you.
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Puerto Ayora within the Galapagos Islands is an lovable city with loads of locations to eat, drink, store, hop on boats, and see critters.

Eat & Drink in Puerto Ayora

The primary stretch of Puerto Ayora is one of the best place to cease for a meal, a drink, or a nightcap! Listed here are a number of of one of the best locations to eat and drink in Puerto Ayora:

  • Strive a typical native breakfast at Tropic Bird Cafe: going through the ocean proper subsequent to the fish market, this $5 breakfast and lunch spot is definitely extremely popular with the locals. Strive an encebollado with chifle, fish soup with a aspect of fried plantain chips to crush up within the soup.
  • The perfect espresso in Puerto Ayora may be discovered at 1835 Coffee Lab, a roastery serving domestically grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Pleased Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the primary road in Puerto Ayora. Stroll by way of round sundown to make the most of one of the best 2-for-1 drink presents!
  • The perfect ice cream after an extended day on the seashore is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however we’ve a tip for you: You possibly can ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so strive creamy chocolate with a neighborhood fruit, equivalent to Mora, the domestically grown blackberry.
  • For a small and low cost dinner, stroll as much as the market (nook of Avenida Baltra and Islas Duncan) from 6pm onwards for empanadas. Two stalls serve savory and candy (Nutella and banana – suuuuuper heavy however so yummy) empanadas for $1.5-2.5, with salads juice or the standard colada morada, a thick drink from cornflour, pineapple juice and berries ($1).
  • If you wish to splurge on a elaborate foodie meal, the fanciest restaurant on the town is the Finch Bay Restaurant on the Finch Bay Hotel, essentially the most luxurious resort on the island. Dine a-la-carte or go for an exceptional 7-course tasting menu – for below $100, it’s a splurge however nonetheless an superb worth. Get pleasure from an unimaginable culinary expertise in a shocking setting, looking over the sundown as waves lap the shore.


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Tortuga Bay Beach, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
Poor Jeremy lugging round our rental snorkeling gear and our tiny, horrible day bag on the seashore by Tortuga Bay. Don’t be like us: carry your individual snorkeling gear and an honest, normal-sized day bag!

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is known as as one of the vital lovely seashores in Ecuador, nevertheless it’s due to its pristine white sand, not as a result of it’s teeming with turtles. Additionally, the visibility within the water was terrible for snorkeling. We kayaked across the bay searching for rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see a number of tiny fish.

It was, nevertheless, an awesome seashore day, which was definitely worth the journey even when the snorkeling wasn’t! We suggest spending a day stress-free on the seashore, swimming, and kayaking in Tortuga Bay.

To get to Tortuga Bay, you possibly can take a water taxi ($10 every method) that goes across the perimeter of the island to and from Puerto Ayora. You possibly can catch one on the most important docks in Puerto Ayora. Examine timetables although or you could miss the final one and find yourself strolling.

Nonetheless, we predict the finest approach to get to Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora is by strolling. From the Puerto Ayora pier, cross the primary highway and attain Baltra Avenue. It’s a purple cobblestone road with a motorbike lane. Stroll 2 blocks and also you’ll attain Charles Binford Road. Flip proper. Observe Charles Binford Road out of city till you attain the tip of the road, after about 10 minutes.

On the finish of the road is a staircase up a brief hill. On the high of the hill is a bit kiosk the place you’ll register to enter the park.

From the kiosk is a easy cobblestone path – stroller pleasant, we noticed a number of households – that you simply’ll stroll down for about 45 minutes. It’s not the prettiest stroll except you get pleasure from seeing the identical cactus and stubbly tree surroundings for 45 minutes.

The walking path to Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
Cacti and brush alongside the strolling path to Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

You’ll attain the seashore and be rewarded with an extremely lovely view. The water right here is simply too harmful for swimming, so there’s normally no person right here. Flip proper and stroll down the seashore for a shocking 15 or so minutes till you attain the tip of the seashore.

To your left are some rocks the place you possibly can see nesting marine iguanas and watch turtles swim within the open ocean. For those who come throughout low tide, there’s a secluded little seashore with shade from the place you possibly can see the mile-long Tortuga Bay in its entirety.

To the appropriate you’ll discover Tortuga Bay – search for individuals swimming and sunbathing on the shore of an enormous horseshoe-shaped bay!

Swimmers and kayakers in the clear blue waters of Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz, Galapagos
Swimmers and a kayakers within the heat waters of Tortuga Bay

Stroll to the tip of Tortuga Bay and observe the trail to the appropriate to get to Playa Mansa, the calm, lagoon-like a part of the seashore the place you possibly can lastly discover shade and – in case you are fortunate on a quiet day – spot little sharks within the shallow water.

Listed here are a number of suggestions for visiting Tortuga Bay:

  • Pack in every thing you will have for the day as there may be nowhere to purchase something on the seashore. We advise bringing tons of sunscreen and solar safety (the solar is far stronger right here on the equator!), a whole lot of water (keep in mind you could have an extended sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, toilet paper (there isn’t a toilet, however you will discover a spot if you happen to want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is comfy for swimming and not using a wetsuit and is fairly shallow throughout low tide.
  • We rented snorkel gear for $14 and schlepped it together with us on the stroll, nevertheless it positively wasn’t value it – this isn’t snorkel spot. There are imagined to be reef sharks, rays, and turtles within the water, nevertheless it’s deep and murky and you’ll’t see something.
  • We rented kayaks for $20 an hour from the lone vendor on the seashore. We tried to snorkel in several spots within the bay that have been too far to swim to, however that didn’t pan out. If you get pleasure from kayaking only for the sake of it, hire a kayak. In any other case, you possibly can skip the kayak rental. In case you are fairly assured in your swimming skills, swim out a bit farther from the seashore and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You possibly can see iguanas throughout low tide on the primary stretch of the seashore in addition to sunbathing on the very finish of the seashore earlier than attending to Playa Mansa. You too can discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seashore to the little lookout fabricated from lava stones the place you possibly can see them swimming within the water.


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tortise ranch in Las Grietas ecuador
Be careful for tortoises, they’re all the time crossing! (Picture Credit score: Claire Herbaux)

Go to a Big Tortoise Reserve

You’re not going to go to Galapagos with out seeing its most well-known inhabitant, proper?

Whilst you might spot them on the aspect of the highway or go to a breeding middle, you possibly can see them in all their glory (and gigantic measurement!) at a tortoise reserve – additionally known as a tortoise ranch, although not in the identical sense we imply it within the States – within the Highlands, the inland a part of Santa Cruz Island that sits at about 2,000 toes of elevation increased than the coast. The air up right here is cooler, which makes it the proper habitat for tortoises!

Plus, you’ll get an opportunity to see lava tunnels, too – and you’ll even crawl by way of them.

There are two most important ranches to select from, each value $5 (which features a information to indicate you round) and have a restaurant and café must you desire a snack or lunch overlooking tortoise.

You possibly can book a day trip to a tortoise reserve (which additionally contains lava tunnels) on-line, which is the simplest approach to go to as your transportation will all be taken care of.

Or, if you happen to want the cheaper DIY route, to get to the tortoise ranches you’ll take a bus from Puerto Ayora to Santa Rosa ($1-1.5) after which stroll (plan 90 minutes) following the one path within the village and switch left on the signal to the ranches. Observe the highway and on the finish, flip left for Primicias (farther away) and proper for El Chato. When you get in Santa Rosa, it’s also possible to hope to discover a taxi to take you the remainder of the best way. 

You too can hire a motorbike and cycle to Santa Rosa (you higher be in excellent form and cycle recurrently) or pop the bike on the bike rack on the bus to Santa Rose, then bike the remainder of the best way there.

Alternatively, you possibly can take a taxi ($40 spherical journey) which can await you there.

Listed here are some suggestions for visiting tortoise ranches:

  • El Chato has three small lava tunnels, so you can begin with a shorter one and work your method as much as the longer, darker ones (in case you get claustrophobic!). Primicias has one, virtually a mile-long tunnel with no method of exiting earlier or turning round.
  • Don’t put on your finest garments — you’ll be strolling by way of excessive grass, crawling into an empty tortoise shell, and strolling round muddy fields, so be ready!
  • Deliver a sweater and/or raincoat; even when it’s sunny on the coast, it may possibly get very moist up within the higher-elevation highlands. And produce socks! It helps keep away from ant bites within the tall grass. Plus if it’s muddy, the ranches will provide you with rainboots.

Swings at Highland Views

Highland Views is a farm inland – within the increased elevation, cooler a part of Santa Cruz island generally known as the Highlands – that’s open to vacationers ($5). Right here you possibly can stroll across the farm and take un gorgeous views that stretch all the best way throughout the island to the ocean, befriend and feed cattle, and see an indication of how they make sugarcane juice. However the true draw are what Instagrammable desires are constructed from: swings! 

How loopy you wish to go on the swing is as much as you: there aren’t any guidelines – and no security belts. Get up or just sit; both method, the primary second you swing your toes ahead and overlook your entire island and see all the best way to Santa Fe is exhilarating.

Tip: You’ll get one of the best image in case your photographer stands on the aspect of the large posts holding the swing.

Oh, and don’t overlook to sit back within the hammock and pet the canines earlier than you permit!

  • To get to Highland Views, you possibly can take a taxi for $15. Or for the cheaper and extra adventurous route, catch a bus from the nook of Baltra Avenue and Isla Duncan to El Cascajo for $1 – there may be one within the morning and one after lunch. From Cascajo, stroll again down the hill you got here up with and also you’ll discover the trail as much as Highland Views.
Garrapatero Beach on puerto ayora in ecuador
Garrapatero Seashore is a superb place to lounge. (Picture Credit score: Claire Herbaux)

Garrapatero Seashore

Garrapatero Beach is a hidden gem within the Galapagos – a shocking quiet seashore (besides on weekends) the place you possibly can swim and kayak within the crystal clear water, calm down on the comfortable white sand, or stroll alongside the seashore laced with volcanic lava rock.

There’s not a lot to see within the water, so depart your snorkel gear at your resort, however the panorama is attractive. Spend all day sitting within the shade, watching the pelicans on the water and leaping within the waves. And hold an eye fixed out for flamingos!

Plan for an all-day tour and pack a lunch to carry with you (we suggest a pulled pork sandwich from Island Deli). There’s a lavatory and altering space obtainable right here, so you possibly can bathe earlier than you head again.

  • To get to Garrapatero Seashore, you possibly can take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (about $20 every method) – make sure to allow them to know you’ll want a return journey. So as to add a scenic vista, negotiate on your taxi to drive you again through the highlands. It prices a bit extra, the views are value it as you come house. You’ll additionally get an opportunity to breathe within the cool, high-altitude, air for some time – a refreshing change after an extended day on the seashore!
  • You too can hire bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, a bit below 5 miles (put together for hills). You’ll cease not less than twice to benefit from the view and snap pics, or simply as a result of there’s a tortoise on the highway. For the best way again, e-book a taxi upfront ($20) as there isn’t any sign and the best way again is STEEP!
Lia and Jeremy Garcia in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
We swam with sea lions!! Additionally, behold: the tannest we’ve ever been in our lives.

Santa Fe Island Day Journey 

We took the Santa Fe Island day tour from Puerto Ayora. The tour was over 8 hours lengthy: we left at 8am and returned at 5pm.

First, we spent over an hour stress-free on a seashore. Not one of the group knew we have been going to be parked at a seashore for over an hour, so no person had introduced something to do, blankets, sun shades, and so forth – we have been all ready to simply hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was a whole lot of grumbling and tedium. I spent an hour constructing a sand fortress. There are worse methods to waste time, however I do want we’d had some advance discover.

Subsequent we went to a rocky cliff face to snorkel. The present was extremely sturdy; that is not your common stress-free snorkeling and swimming was troublesome! We did see some fairly fish – the water was deeper than many of the different excursions we went on.

After snorkeling, we went to a different space, a brilliant blue lagoon, the place we lastly have been capable of swim with sea lions alongside the rocks the place they lay stress-free. Then a offered lunch, then one other optionally available hour for swimming, after which an odd half-hour of our boat attempting to catch fish for the following day’s lunch; then lastly we returned.

The perfect a part of this tour was that it wasn’t rushed; we weren’t continually having to maintain up with a gaggle or all trailing the identical animals. Additionally, there are 3 separate places, 2 of which have distinctive snorkeling alternatives, so it wasn’t repetitive or boring in any respect.

Listed here are some suggestions for the Santa Fe tour:

  • For those who do that tour, do it earlier in your journey as you’re unlikely to see a lot that’s new and thrilling if you happen to’ve already been snorkeling rather a lot.
  • You possibly can book the Santa Fe tour online in advance, or e-book on the docks when you arrive.
  • Our tour didn’t embody wetsuits, however the water is frigid. Lease wetsuits at any company on the town for the day.
  • The offered masks have been poorly made – two of the air tubes, together with mine, fell off within the ocean. We have been then requested to pay for the misplaced tubes (I politely refused). But one more reason why we suggest bringing your individual snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing List.
  • Deliver one thing to do in the course of the hour you’ll spend on the seashore, like a e-book in a dry bag or some waterproof playing cards or a towel to take a seat on.
A blue footed booby and his babies on the Los Tuneles tour from Isabela Island in the Galapagos!
A blue-footed booby dad and his awkward, fur-covered infants. Boobies are doofy AF and we love them.

Seymour Island Day Journey

 On this all-day tour you’re more likely to see frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls as you hike across the island. Then, you’ll go swimming and snorkeling with sea lions. You possibly can spot flamingos and sharks, too!

That is an all-day, 8 hour day journey that leaves at 8 am. As soon as picked up, you’ll drive for about an hour to Itabaca Canal earlier than boarding your boat.

You’ll head to an space to hike and stroll round, in addition to go to a blue-footed boobies nest – if you happen to’re fortunate, you’ll see them doing awkward little courtship dances throughout mating season! You’ll go to Las Bachas Seashore for snorkelling and swimming earlier than heading again to your resort.

Lunch, snorkel gear, and a wetsuit are offered.

For those who’re not visiting Isla Isabela, this may be your solely likelihood to see blue-footed boobies – and people foolish little birds are effectively definitely worth the tour. In any other case, you would possibly wish to wait till you possibly can take the Los Tuneles tour on Isabela Island, which is similiar.

You possibly can book this tour online in advance, or when you arrive in Puerto Ayora at any native tour operator or on the kiosk by the docks.


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Suenos Silvestres hostal in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, in the Galapagos, Ecuador.
We discovered an awesome room at Sueno Silvestres resort for an affordable mid-range value proper within the coronary heart of Puerto Ayora!

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Inns: The place to Keep

There are many inns on Santa Cruz Island situated in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Anticipate decently sized personal rooms with personal bogs, scorching water, towels, drinkable water, and the works for round $50-70 an evening, or a bit increased if you happen to decide to incorporate breakfast.

Listed here are our picks near the primary stretch of Puerto Ayora:

  • Mid-Vary Lodge: Sueno Silvestres is situated near the Charles Darwin analysis middle and some blocks away from the seashore & most important road of Puerto Ayora in a pleasant quiet and personal space. Our room was giant, scorching water was plentiful, there have been free towels and drinkable water offered, and the proprietor Carlos was pleasant and welcoming. Breakfast is out there for an additional payment.
  • Trip Rental: This spacious modern loft has ocean views EVERYWHERE – from the lounge, the personal balcony. This sunny little apartment nestled within the treetops is only a 5-minute stroll away from the primary city stretch – AND it’s below $100/night time!
  • Finances-Pleasant Hostel: Hostal Vista al Mar has dorm rooms (together with all-female rooms) and a visitor kitchen and a backyard for $15-20/night time. That’s a tremendous worth for the Galapagos!
Finch Bay hotel in Punta Estrada seen from a water taxi in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands Ecuador
The luxurious Finch Bay resort in Punta Estrada seen from a water taxi

Most inns in Santa Cruz are situated inside a 10-minute stroll from the docks, kiosks, and grocery shops in Puerto Ayora. However a number of pricier, extra luxurious inns are situated on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Seashore. It’s a brief water taxi journey again to the primary stretch in Puerto Ayora. (And really near Las Grietas!)

Listed here are our picks for the place to remain in Punta Estrada:

  • Finch Bay Hotel is fingers down the nicest resort in Santa Cruz.  Assume luxurious every thing. There’s even a non-public dock with a non-public yacht for company. Facilities embody free Wi-Fi, A/C, a stunning swimming pool and restaurant, and a pier with yachts to go to the islands. Breakfast with bacon, sausages, pancakes, recent fruits and eggs is served every day.
  • Hotel Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque resort fabricated from lava stones and driftwood. Enormous home windows overlook the ocean as you dine in your included breakfast or get pleasure from a cocktail by the hearth.  Sunbathe, chill, or snorkel on the personal waterfront!


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Psst: Planning a visit to the Galapagos Islands? Check out these different posts that can assist you plan:

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