What to Do, The place to Eat, & The place to Keep on Santa Cruz


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Barking sea lions. Crystal swimming pools tucked between volcanic cliffs. Big tortoises. Contemporary, scorching seafood. Santa Cruz Island is without doubt 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 dwelling 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 journey 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 printed the story of our go to to Santa Cruz, Galapagos. It’s an awesome publish and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog style, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this publish: a definitely-very-useful journey information that may provide help to plan your go to to Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

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


Methods to Go to The Galapagos Islands And not using a Cruise: A Full Information

We’ve additionally created an in depth 20-page downloadable information to visiting the Galapagos Islands. Enroll 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 like that.

Methods 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 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 journey 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 worth is about, 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 situated 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 heart of city, about half a mile from the ocean and most resorts/hostels.

Should you’re coming from the opposite major 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 ebook your ticket on-line on Bookaway. The journey 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 without doubt 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 resorts, eating places, and all the comforts you’d anticipate from a small island city (don’t get too fancy, although. The web will be spotty. Some nights, we couldn’t even watch Netflix! I do know, stunning). Santa Cruz can also be dwelling to one of many two airports within the Galapagos Islands, so there’s probability 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 the most effective eating places, resorts, 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 are not any exception: money is king. Fortunately, there are ATMs galore on Puerto Ayora and a great deal of outlets, eating places and bars to spend your money in! Replenish 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 as a result of proximity to the Equator. Make certain to carry 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 large grocery retailer proper by the principle dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. You may as well pop to the highest flooring for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However needless to say most resorts gained’t have a kitchen.
  • We advocate reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line upfront. You possibly can ebook 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 probability you gained’t be capable of do each tour you’d like as there’s a restricted variety of areas out there and excursions are topic to strict laws. Plus, it’s simply sort of aggravating to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We realized this from expertise.) Should you do wait to ebook in particular person, simply discover any tour operator – their places of work are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Remember that you simply’ll have to pay on your day excursions upfront with money.

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

Listed below are just a few implausible choices:

  • 7-day Galapagos on a Finances Expertise: 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 the most effective excursions on every. At simply round $1,500 per particular person, it’s not rather more than what we paid and a implausible worth for per week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: Should you’re brief on time or cash, this 5-day choice 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, the most effective 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 the most effective excursions in every.


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Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Issues to Do

Puerto Ayora is the major hub for the Galapagos Islands, and dwelling base to do the Galapagos with no cruise. There are loads 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 publish.

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 the most effective place on the island to buy freshly caught seafood (for those who’re fortunate sufficient to have a kitchen to play with, that is very thrilling!), however 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 instantly beneath the chopping 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 cute sea lion. We wish one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and typically napping sea lions as nicely. 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 the most effective snorkeling close to Puerto Ayora! Gorgeous Las Grietas is prettiest and most empty at noon. The pure channel is obvious and really, very deep!

Snorkel in Las Grietas

Las Grietas is an exquisite clear pool between two sheer volcanic cliff faces – therefore the title, which suggests “The Crevices.” Throughout noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a vibrant, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the way in which to the underside of the deep pool, making for unbelievable pictures and views. You possibly can leap off the dock into the water for those who like, and climb up the cliffs to leap from the rocks for those who dare! Las Grietas is the most effective 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 flowery lodge 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 seashore throughout low tide.

The boardwalk to Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
The boardwalk to Las Grietas, the most effective 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 sign up and wait on your flip to enter with a information (you might 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 just a few 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 way in which 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 should 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 are not any individuals within the pool, there are a whole lot 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 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 restricted 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 solution to Las Grietas, is usually a combined bag, however in case you are eager to attempt, then purpose for the mangroves in your proper to see sharks at excessive tide, or swim proper out to the furthest rocks to seek 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 select all of the deliciousness off the bones!

Go to the Kiosks

The Kiosks/Los Kioskos are the most effective 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, comfortable vacationers, and locals mingling among the many varied kiosks, all of whom are promoting a variation of the identical objects, loudly proffered by servers thrusting menus and entire 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 sizzling all evening lengthy.

All the pieces from contemporary 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 sizzling buttered ears of corn, are all smoked and roasted on that very same grill. And it’s freaking scrumptious.

Strolling via the alley is just a little like carrying a bulls-eye in your brow: each step you are taking, somebody palms you a menu or a fish or lists a number of objects and their costs at you, all in rapid-fire Spanish. However actually, you possibly can’t go incorrect: decide anyplace, and order no matter they advocate. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? The most effective meals in Puerto Ayora can also be essentially the most funds pleasant! An entire brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, one among 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 wonderful.

The kioscos are situated at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s straightforward to stroll from anyplace on the town. You may as well 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 seashore pathway close to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station and located this secluded seashore crammed with surfers and sea turtles!

Go to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station

The Charles Darwin Analysis 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 bit of the middle right here, referred to as the Fausto Llerena Breeding Middle. Every massive island within the Galapagos has its personal land turtle breeding heart, we realized. Whereas the turtles are raised in captivity, they’re launched again into the wild as adults. One of the vital profitable conservation applications on the planet, greater than 7,000 tortoises have been launched again into the wild from this heart.

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

As we watched big outdated tortoises munch on turtle snacks and slowly chase one another round, we realized that for years, the tortoise breeding heart tried its finest to supply offspring that will proceed the survival of a tortoise species with just one current 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 seem like an 80 12 months outdated man??

Sadly, lack of awareness 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 outdated tortoise.

He died just a few 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 proportion of the genes of Lonesome George’s species, after just a few 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 via the vegetation to the seashore. However that’s about it – mood your expectations! This can be a scientific analysis and conservation heart, 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 particular person on the entrance and an area information will accompany you.
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Puerto Ayora within the Galapagos Islands is an cute 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 the most effective place to cease for a meal, a drink, or a nightcap! Listed below are just a few of the most effective locations to eat and drink in Puerto Ayora:

  • Strive a typical native breakfast at Tropic Hen Cafe: dealing with the ocean proper subsequent to the fish market, this $5 breakfast and lunch spot is definitely very fashionable with the locals. Strive an encebollado with chifle, fish soup with a facet of fried plantain chips to crush up within the soup.
  • The most effective espresso in Puerto Ayora will be discovered at 1835 Espresso Lab, a roastery serving regionally grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Glad Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the principle avenue in Puerto Ayora. Stroll via round sundown to reap the benefits of the most effective 2-for-1 drink provides!
  • The most effective ice cream after a protracted day on the seashore is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however we’ve got a tip for you: You possibly can ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so attempt creamy chocolate with an area fruit, comparable 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 normal colada morada, a thick drink from cornflour, pineapple juice and berries ($1).
  • If you wish to splurge on a flowery foodie meal, the fanciest restaurant on the town is the Finch Bay Restaurant on the Finch Bay Resort, essentially the most luxurious lodge 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 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 seashore by Tortuga Bay. Don’t be like us: carry your individual snorkeling gear and a good, normal-sized day bag!

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is called as one of the vital stunning seashores in Ecuador, however 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 just a few tiny fish.

It was, nonetheless, an awesome seashore day, which was well worth the journey even when the snorkeling wasn’t! We advocate 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 manner) that goes across the perimeter of the island to and from Puerto Ayora. You possibly can catch one on the major docks in Puerto Ayora. Test timetables although or you might miss the final one and find yourself strolling.

Nevertheless, we expect the finest solution to get to Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora is by strolling. From the Puerto Ayora pier, cross the principle highway and attain Baltra Avenue. It’s a pink cobblestone avenue with a motorbike lane. Stroll 2 blocks and also you’ll attain Charles Binford Avenue. Flip proper. Observe Charles Binford Avenue 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 prime of the hill is just a little kiosk the place you’ll sign up to enter the park.

From the kiosk is a clean cobblestone path – stroller pleasant, we noticed just a few 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 stunning view. The water right here is simply too harmful for swimming, so there’s normally no one 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. Should you 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 comply with 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 below are just a few ideas for visiting Tortuga Bay:

  • Pack in every part you will want 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 way stronger right here on the equator!), loads of water (keep in mind you’ve got a protracted sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, bathroom paper (there isn’t a toilet, however you will discover a spot for those who want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is snug for swimming with no wetsuit and is fairly shallow throughout low tide.
  • We rented snorkel gear for $14 and schlepped it together with us on the stroll, however it positively wasn’t price it – this isn’t snorkel spot. There are presupposed to be reef sharks, rays, and turtles within the water, however it’s deep and murky and you may’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 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 just a little farther from the seashore and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You possibly can see iguanas throughout low tide on the principle stretch of the seashore in addition to sunbathing on the very finish of the seashore earlier than attending to Playa Mansa. You may as well discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seashore to the little lookout manufactured 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 highway or go to a breeding heart, you possibly can see them in all their glory (and gigantic dimension!) 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 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 may even crawl via them.

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

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

Or, for those who 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 highway and on the finish, flip left for Primicias (farther away) and proper for El Chato. When you get in Santa Rosa, you may also hope to discover a taxi to take you the remainder of the way in which. 

You may as well lease 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 way in which 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 manner as much as the longer, darker ones (in case you get claustrophobic!). Primicias has one, virtually a mile-long tunnel with no manner 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 will 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 often known 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 way in which throughout the island to the ocean, befriend and feed livestock, and see an illustration of how they make sugarcane juice. However the true draw are what Instagrammable desires are constituted of: swings! 

How loopy you wish to go on the swing is as much as you: there are not any guidelines – and no security belts. Get up or just sit; both manner, the primary second you swing your toes ahead and overlook all the island and see all the way in which to Santa Fe is exhilarating.

Tip: You’ll get the most effective image in case your photographer stands on the facet of the massive posts holding the swing.

Oh, and don’t overlook to relax within the hammock and pet the canines 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 superb place to lounge. (Picture Credit score: Claire Herbaux)

Garrapatero Seaside

Garrapatero Seaside 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, loosen up on the delicate white sand, or stroll alongside the seashore laced with volcanic lava rock.

There’s not a lot to see within the water, so go away your snorkel gear at your lodge, 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 advocate a pulled pork sandwich from Island Deli). There’s a toilet and altering space out there 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 manner) – make sure you 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 just a little extra, the views are price it as you come dwelling. You’ll additionally get an opportunity to breathe within the cool, high-altitude, air for some time – a refreshing change after a protracted day on the seashore!
  • You may as well lease bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, just a little 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 highway. For the way in which again, ebook a taxi upfront ($20) as there is no such thing as a sign and the way in which 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 had been going to be parked at a seashore for over an hour, so no one had introduced something to do, blankets, sun shades, and so on – we had been all ready to only hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was loads 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 tough! 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 vibrant 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 non-compulsory 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 most effective a part of this tour was that it wasn’t rushed; we weren’t continually having to maintain up with a bunch or all trailing the identical animals. Additionally, there are 3 separate areas, 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 for those who’ve already been snorkeling quite a bit.
  • You possibly can ebook the Santa Fe tour on-line upfront, or ebook on the docks when you arrive.
  • Our tour didn’t embrace wetsuits, however the water is frigid. Hire 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 another excuse why we advocate bringing your individual snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing Listing.
  • Carry one thing to do in the course of the hour you’ll spend on the seashore, like a ebook 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 prone 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 could possibly 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 – for those who’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 lodge.

Lunch, snorkel gear, and a wetsuit are offered.

Should you’re not visiting Isla Isabela, this is likely to be your solely probability to see blue-footed boobies – and people foolish little birds are nicely well worth the tour. In any other case, you may wish to wait till you possibly can take the Los Tuneles tour on Isabela Island, which is similiar.

You possibly can ebook this tour on-line upfront, 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 lodge 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 resorts on Santa Cruz Island situated in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Count on decently sized non-public rooms with non-public bogs, sizzling water, towels, drinkable water, and the works for round $50-70 an evening, or a bit increased for those who choose to incorporate breakfast.

Listed below are our picks near the principle stretch of Puerto Ayora:

  • Mid-Vary Resort: Sueno Silvestres is situated near the Charles Darwin analysis heart and some blocks away from the seashore & major avenue of Puerto Ayora in a pleasant quiet and personal space. Our room was giant, sizzling water was plentiful, there have been free towels and drinkable water offered, and the proprietor Carlos was pleasant and welcoming. Breakfast is on the market for an additional payment.
  • Trip Rental: This spacious fashionable loft has ocean views EVERYWHERE – from the lounge, the non-public balcony. This sunny little residence nestled within the treetops is only a 5-minute stroll away from the principle city stretch – AND it’s below $100/evening!
  • 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/evening. 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 lodge in Punta Estrada seen from a water taxi

Most resorts in Santa Cruz are situated inside a 10-minute stroll from the docks, kiosks, and grocery shops in Puerto Ayora. However just a few pricier, extra luxurious resorts are situated on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Seaside. It’s a brief water taxi journey 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 Resort is palms down the nicest lodge in Santa Cruz.  Assume luxurious every part. There’s even a non-public dock with a non-public yacht for company. Facilities embrace 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 day by day.
  • Resort Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque lodge manufactured 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!


The Final Information to Visiting the San Blas Islands, Panama (Guna Yala)

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

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

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