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 comply with all native masks tips to maintain your self and others protected! Additionally, adverts are how we pay our payments and maintain our weblog free so that you can get pleasure from. We additionally use affiliate hyperlinks; if you happen to make a purchase order via them, we could obtain a small fee without charge to you.

Barking sea lions. Crystal swimming pools tucked between volcanic cliffs. Big tortoises. Recent, 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 residence 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 amazing submit and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog style, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this submit: a definitely-very-useful journey information that can assist you 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 15-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 principle city on Santa Cruz, Galapagos! Sure, the water truly appears to be like like that.

Tips on how 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 known as Baltra, and also you’ll be capable of 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 experience from the Baltra docks. From the docks on the Santa Cruz facet it’s a couple of 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 value is ready, however everybody goes the identical path, so don’t be afraid to separate a taxi with one other traveler!

The less expensive choice is to take a bus, additionally positioned dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so anticipate to attend a short time for the bus to replenish absolutely 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 motels/hostels.

Should you’re coming from the opposite foremost 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 no less than a day upfront as their seats are restricted – you possibly can book your ticket online on Bookaway. The experience is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you allow to move off seasickness!

Suggestions for Visiting Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island is likely one of the 3 inhabited islands within the Galapagos – however regardless that 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 motels, eating places, and all the comforts you’d anticipate from a small island city (don’t get too fancy, although. The web might be spotty. Some nights, we couldn’t even watch Netflix! I do know, stunning). Santa Cruz can also be residence 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, motels, and day excursions in Puerto Ayora.

  • Most locations in Ecuador don’t settle for bank cards, or cost additional 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.
  • Carry 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 sure that to deliver reef-safe sunscreen for whenever you’ll be within the water, to guard the coral reef and different marine wildlife that dwell within the Galapagos!
  • There’s a big grocery retailer proper by the principle dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. You may also pop to the highest ground for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However needless to say most motels gained’t have a kitchen.
  • We advocate reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line upfront. You’ll be able to guide your Puerto Ayora excursions as quickly as you arrive on the island and also you’ll avoid wasting cash this manner, however there’s additionally likelihood you gained’t be capable of do each tour you’d like as there’s a restricted variety of areas accessible and excursions are topic to strict rules. Plus, it’s simply sort of demanding to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We discovered this from expertise.) Should you do wait to guide in individual, simply discover any tour operator – their workplaces are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Bear in mind that you just’ll have to pay to your day excursions upfront with money.

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

Listed below are a couple of unbelievable choices:

  • 7-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: This itinerary intently mirrors our journey. You’ll go to each Santa Cruz and Isabela Island and take what we’d think about to be one of the best excursions on every. At simply round $1,500 per individual, it’s not rather more than what we paid and a unbelievable worth for per week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: Should you’re quick on time or cash, this 5-day choice for slightly 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 checklist, 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.


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Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Issues to Do

Puerto Ayora is the foremost hub for the Galapagos Islands, and residence base to do the Galapagos with out a cruise. There are lots 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 a daily on the Puerto Ayora fish market. She positions herself behind the counter straight beneath the slicing board, the place she is aware of she’ll get fed scraps and pores and skin from the contemporary fish fillets all day lengthy! She’s like a pet canine that’s additionally an lovely sea lion. We would like one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and generally napping sea lions as nicely. Make sure that to cease by through 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! Beautiful 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 good looking 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 unbelievable pictures and views. You’ll be able to leap 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 quick experience 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 facet of Puerto Ayora). Stroll alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely choice so that you can stroll on, so that you gained’t get misplaced). The boardwalk will take you previous Punta Estrada, a small cove the place you possibly can swim, with a seaside 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 to your flip to enter with a information (you could wait 15-10 minutes to go together with a much bigger group). tl;dr comply with the one path till it ends. Straightforward sufficient, proper?

Listed below are a couple of ideas 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 via to the opposite ones. Swim all the best way to the tip of the primary pool, climb (fastidiously!) over the rocks, and swim via the second pool to entry the hidden third pool. To get to it you’ll both must fastidiously climb over extra rocks (seriously, watch out. Jeremy slipped and minimize his foot right here) or take a deep breath, dive down, and swim via the underwater cave. When there aren’t any individuals within the pool, there are tons of of fish swimming on this part undisturbed, and it’s completely unbelievable.
  • Head to Las Grietas round midday to beat the cruise crowds and catch probably 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 technique to Las Grietas, generally is a blended bag, however in case you are eager to strive, then purpose 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 contemporary and scrumptious, it’s nicely price 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 avenue lined with small, locally-owned eating places all cooking variations of extremely contemporary, regionally caught seafood bought from the fish market earlier within the day.

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

When you arrive, you’ll discover the road crammed with tables, blissful vacationers, and locals mingling among the many numerous kiosks, all of whom are promoting a variation of the identical gadgets, loudly proffered by servers thrusting menus and complete uncooked fish below your nostril, all accompanied by the sizzle and tantalizing odor 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.

Every part from contemporary complete fish rubbed with spices and nestled in tin foil, to octopus laid straight 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 via the alley is a little bit like sporting a bulls-eye in your brow: each step you are taking, somebody palms you a menu or a fish or lists a number of gadgets and their costs at you, all in rapid-fire Spanish. However truthfully, you possibly can’t go flawed: choose wherever, and order no matter they advocate. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? The perfect meals in Puerto Ayora can also be probably the most finances pleasant! A complete brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, one in all our favourite kiosks in seafood alley. Their grilled and fried complete fish, grilled octopus, seafood cazuela, sopa de queso (scrumptious cheese soup) and numerous batidos (fruit milkshakes) are all wonderful.

The kioscos are positioned at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s simple to stroll from wherever on the town. You may also at all times 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 seaside pathway close to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station and located this secluded seaside crammed with 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 principle constructing is crammed with info and some small reveals, however the principle sights are all exterior.

Turtles are bred in a piece of the middle right here, referred to 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. Some of the 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 lovely child turtles right here!

As we watched big previous tortoises munch on turtle snacks and slowly chase one another round, we discovered that for years, the tortoise breeding middle tried its finest to supply offspring that will 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 personal beeswax!” Is it simply me or does each land tortoise seem like an 80 12 months previous man??

Sadly, lack of expertise of tortoise lineage result in a deadly flaw: the females being mated with Lonesome George had been hybrid species, which means that they may not efficiently mate with the previous tortoise.

He died a couple of years in the past, taking his complete species with him.

Fortunately, advances in tortoise breeding have made it attainable to resurrect this species from extinction: by breeding tortoises containing a excessive proportion of the genes of Lonesome George’s species, after a couple of generations a totally genetically similar tortoise will probably 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 via the vegetation to the seaside. 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 principle avenue in Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Avenue. From the docks, stroll for about 20 minutes in the other way. Straightforward!
  • You’ll want to point out your Nationwide Park entry ticket (given to you on the airport) for entry to the station.
  • You’ll have to pay $10 per individual on the entrance and an area information will accompany you.
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Puerto Ayora within the Galapagos Islands is an lovely 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 below are a couple of of one of the best locations to eat and drink in Puerto Ayora:

  • Attempt a typical native breakfast at Tropic Bird Cafe: dealing with the ocean proper subsequent to the fish market, this $5 breakfast and lunch spot is definitely highly regarded with the locals. Attempt an encebollado with chifle, fish soup with a facet of fried plantain chips to crush up within the soup.
  • The perfect espresso in Puerto Ayora might be discovered at 1835 Coffee Lab, a roastery serving regionally grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Completely happy Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the principle avenue in Puerto Ayora. Stroll via round sundown to benefit from one of the best 2-for-1 drink gives!
  • The perfect ice cream after an extended day on the seaside is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however we’ve got a tip for you: You’ll be able to ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so strive creamy chocolate with an area fruit, akin to Mora, the regionally 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, probably 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 wonderful worth. Take pleasure in an unbelievable culinary expertise in a shocking setting, searching 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 seaside by Tortuga Bay. Don’t be like us: deliver your personal snorkeling gear and a good, normal-sized day bag!

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is called as probably the most 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 on the lookout for rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see a couple of tiny fish.

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

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

Nonetheless, we expect the finest technique to get to Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora is by strolling. From the Puerto Ayora pier, cross the principle street and attain Baltra Avenue. It’s a pink cobblestone avenue 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 little bit kiosk the place you’ll register to enter the park.

From the kiosk is a easy cobblestone path – stroller pleasant, we noticed a couple of households – that you just’ll stroll down for about 45 minutes. It’s not the prettiest stroll until 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 seaside and be rewarded with an extremely lovely view. The water right here is just too harmful for swimming, so there’s often no person right here. Flip proper and stroll down the seaside for a shocking 15 or so minutes till you attain the tip of the seaside.

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

To the best you’ll discover Tortuga Bay – search for individuals swimming and sunbathing on the shore of a giant 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 comply with the trail to the best to get to Playa Mansa, the calm, lagoon-like a part of the seaside 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 below are a couple of ideas for visiting Tortuga Bay:

  • Pack in every part you will have for the day as there may be nowhere to purchase something on the seaside. We advise bringing tons of sunscreen and solar safety (the solar is far stronger right here on the equator!), a variety of water (keep in mind you have got an extended sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, toilet paper (there isn’t a toilet, however you could find a spot if you happen to want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is comfy for swimming with out 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 undoubtedly wasn’t price it – this isn’t snorkel spot. There are speculated 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 seaside. We tried to snorkel in numerous spots within the bay that had been too far to swim to, however that didn’t pan out. If you get pleasure from kayaking only for the sake of it, lease 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 little bit farther from the seaside and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You’ll be able to see iguanas throughout low tide on the principle stretch of the seaside in addition to sunbathing on the very finish of the seaside earlier than attending to Playa Mansa. You may also discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seaside to the little lookout made 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 at all times 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?

When you could spot them on the facet of the street or go to a breeding middle, you possibly can see them in all their glory (and gigantic measurement!) at a tortoise reserve – additionally referred to 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 ft 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 via them.

There are two foremost ranches to select from, each price $5 (which features a information to point out you round) and have a restaurant and café must you desire a snack or lunch overlooking tortoise.

You’ll be able to book a day trip to a tortoise reserve (which additionally contains lava tunnels) on-line, which is the best technique to go to as your transportation will all be taken care of.

Or, if you happen to choose 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 street and on the finish, flip left for Primicias (farther away) and proper for El Chato. When you get in Santa Rosa, you may as well hope to discover a taxi to take you the remainder of the best way. 

You may also lease a motorbike and cycle to Santa Rosa (you higher be in excellent form and cycle often) 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 look ahead to you there.

Listed below are some ideas for visiting tortoise ranches:

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

Swings at Highland Views

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

How loopy you wish to go on the swing is as much as you: there aren’t any guidelines – and no security belts. Arise or just sit; both means, the primary second you swing your ft ahead and overlook the complete 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 facet of the large posts holding the swing.

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

  • 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 Seaside is a good place to lounge. (Picture Credit score: Claire Herbaux)

Garrapatero Seaside

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

There’s not a lot to see within the water, so go away 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 maintain a watch out for flamingos!

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

  • To get to Garrapatero Seaside, you possibly can take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (about $20 every means) – be sure you allow them to know you’ll want a return experience. So as to add a scenic vista, negotiate to your taxi to drive you again by way of the highlands. It prices a little bit extra, the views are price it as you come residence. 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 seaside!
  • You may also lease bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, a little bit below 5 miles (put together for hills). You’ll cease no less than twice to benefit from the view and snap pics, or simply as a result of there’s a tortoise on the street. For the best way again, guide a taxi upfront ($20) as there is no such thing as a 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 seaside. Not one of the group knew we had been going to be parked at a seaside for over an hour, so no person had introduced something to do, blankets, sun shades, and so on – we had been all ready to simply hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was a variety 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 a lot of the different excursions we went on.

After snorkeling, we went to a different space, a brilliant blue lagoon, the place we lastly had 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 subsequent day’s lunch; then lastly we returned.

The perfect a part of this tour was that it wasn’t rushed; we weren’t continuously 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 below are some ideas for the Santa Fe tour:

  • Should you 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’ll be able to book the Santa Fe tour online in advance, or guide 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 had been poorly made – two of the air tubes, together with mine, fell off within the ocean. We had been then requested to pay for the misplaced tubes (I politely refused). But one more reason why we advocate bringing your personal snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing List.
  • Carry one thing to do through the hour you’ll spend on the seaside, like a guide 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 would 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 Seaside for snorkelling and swimming earlier than heading again to your resort.

Lunch, snorkel gear, and a wetsuit are offered.

Should you’re not visiting Isla Isabela, this is likely to be your solely likelihood to see blue-footed boobies – and people foolish little birds are nicely 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’ll be able to 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 amazing room at Sueno Silvestres resort for an affordable mid-range value proper within the coronary heart of Puerto Ayora!

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Resorts: The place to Keep

There are many motels on Santa Cruz Island positioned in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Anticipate decently sized non-public rooms with non-public 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 below are our picks near the principle stretch of Puerto Ayora:

  • Mid-Vary Lodge: Sueno Silvestres is positioned near the Charles Darwin analysis middle and some blocks away from the seaside & foremost avenue 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 obtainable for an additional price.
  • Trip Rental: This spacious modern loft has ocean views EVERYWHERE – from the lounge, the non-public balcony. This sunny little apartment nestled within the treetops is only a 5-minute stroll away from the principle city stretch – AND it’s below $100/night time!
  • Price range-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 motels in Santa Cruz are positioned inside a 10-minute stroll from the docks, kiosks, and grocery shops in Puerto Ayora. However a couple of pricier, extra luxurious motels are positioned on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Seaside. It’s a brief water taxi experience again to the principle stretch in Puerto Ayora. (And really near Las Grietas!)

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

  • Finch Bay Hotel is palms down the nicest resort in Santa Cruz.  Suppose luxurious every part. There’s even a personal dock with a personal yacht for company. Facilities embody free Wi-Fi, A/C, a beautiful swimming pool and restaurant, and a pier with yachts to go to the islands. Breakfast with bacon, sausages, pancakes, contemporary fruits and eggs is served every day.
  • Hotel Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque resort made 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 fireside.  Sunbathe, chill, or snorkel on the non-public 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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