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

Please double verify 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; in case you make a purchase order via them, we might obtain a small fee for free of charge to you.

Barking sea lions. Crystal swimming pools tucked between volcanic cliffs. Big tortoises. Contemporary, scorching seafood. Santa Cruz Island is among 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 most 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 may’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 excellent submit and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog trend, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this submit: a definitely-very-useful journey information that may allow you 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:


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. Enroll under 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 really appears like that.

Learn 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 named 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 few 45 minute drive into Puerto Ayora.

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

The less expensive possibility is to take a bus, additionally positioned dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so count on to attend a short while for the bus to refill 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.

For those who’re coming from the opposite primary 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 may book your ticket online on Bookaway. The experience is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you permit to go off seasickness!

Ideas for Visiting Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island is among the 3 inhabited islands within the Galapagos – however despite the fact that it’s a populated island, it’s nonetheless filled with wildlife – the magic of the Galapagos!

The principle 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 count on from a small island city (don’t get too fancy, although. The web could 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 a great 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, 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 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! Replenish on money right here, as a result of a few of the different islands like Isla Isabela have NO ATM’s in any respect.
  • Convey sunscreen with you from the mainland. It’s insanely costly right here, and also you’ll want it for the additional robust rays because of the proximity to the Equator. Be certain that to convey reef-safe sunscreen for if you’ll be within the water, to guard the coral reef and different marine wildlife that stay within the Galapagos!
  • There’s a enormous 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 needless to say most resorts received’t have a kitchen.
  • We suggest reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line upfront. You’ll be able to e book 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 a great likelihood you received’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 laws. Plus, it’s simply type of hectic 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 just’ll have to pay on your day excursions upfront with money.

One possibility I want we’d identified throughout our journey is that you’ll 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 just a few 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 rather more than what we paid and a unbelievable worth for every week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: For those who’re quick 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 record, 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 primary hub for the Galapagos Islands, and a great dwelling 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 complete 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 (in case you’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 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 typically napping sea lions as properly. Be certain that to cease by throughout 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 identify, which suggests “The Crevices.” Throughout noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a vivid, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the way in which to the underside of the deep pool, making for unimaginable photographs and views. You’ll be able to bounce off the dock into the water in case you like, and climb up the cliffs to leap from the rocks in case you 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 underneath $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 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 may 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 fascinating 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 check in and wait on your flip to enter with a information (chances are you’ll wait 15-10 minutes to go along with an even bigger group). tl;dr comply with the one path till it ends. Straightforward sufficient, proper?

Listed below are just a few 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 may climb via to the opposite ones. Swim all the way in which to the top of the primary pool, climb (rigorously!) over the rocks, and swim via the second pool to entry the hidden third pool. To get to it you’ll both must rigorously 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 folks 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 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 out by 5pm.
  • Your go to is proscribed to 90 minutes, however when you’ve completed, you may 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 method to Las Grietas, could be a combined bag, however in case you are eager to attempt, then intention 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 properly 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 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, completely satisfied 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 underneath 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 evening lengthy.

All the pieces from contemporary complete 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 via the alley is just a little like carrying a bulls-eye in your brow: each step you are 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 truthfully, you may’t go incorrect: decide wherever, and order no matter they suggest. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? The most effective meals in Puerto Ayora can also be probably the most funds pleasant! A complete brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, one among 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 straightforward to stroll from wherever on the town. You too can at all times take an inexpensive pickup truck taxi. If that you must, 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 Research Station in Santa Cruz is much less of a station and extra of a fancy: the primary constructing is crammed with data and some small reveals, however the primary sights are all exterior.

Turtles are bred in a piece of the middle right here, referred to as the Fausto Llerena Breeding Heart. Every large island within the Galapagos has its personal land turtle breeding heart, 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 heart.

And sure – you may see lovely 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 heart tried its finest to supply offspring that might 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 12 months outdated man??

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

He died just a few years in the past, taking his total 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 just a few generations a completely genetically an identical tortoise will likely be born!

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

Together with tortoises, you may 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! It is a scientific analysis and conservation heart, 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 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 lovely city with loads of locations to eat, drink, store, hop on boats, and see critters.

Eat & Drink in Puerto Ayora

The principle stretch of Puerto Ayora is one of the best place to cease for a meal, a drink, or a nightcap! Listed below are just a few of one of the best locations to eat and drink in Puerto Ayora:

  • Strive 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 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 could be discovered at 1835 Coffee Lab, a roastery serving regionally grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Blissful Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the primary avenue in Puerto Ayora. Stroll via round sundown to make the most of one of the best 2-for-1 drink presents!
  • The most effective ice cream after an extended day on the seashore is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however now we have a tip for you: You’ll be able to ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so attempt creamy chocolate with an area fruit, similar 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 Hotel, probably the most luxurious lodge on the island. Dine a-la-carte or go for an outstanding 7-course tasting menu – for underneath $100, it’s a splurge however nonetheless an wonderful worth. Take pleasure in an unimaginable culinary expertise in a surprising 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: convey your individual snorkeling gear and an honest, 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 in search of rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see just a few tiny fish.

It was, nevertheless, an excellent seashore day, which was well worth the journey even when the snorkeling wasn’t! We suggest spending a day enjoyable on the seashore, swimming, and kayaking in Tortuga Bay.

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

Nevertheless, we expect the finest method 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 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 top 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 check in to enter the park.

From the kiosk is a easy cobblestone path – stroller pleasant, we noticed just a few 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 seashore and be rewarded with an extremely stunning view. The water right here is just too harmful for swimming, so there’s normally no person right here. Flip proper and stroll down the seashore for a surprising 15 or so minutes till you attain the top of the seashore.

To your left are some rocks the place you may 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 may see the mile-long Tortuga Bay in its entirety.

To the appropriate you’ll discover Tortuga Bay – search for folks 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 top 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 may 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 suggestions for visiting Tortuga Bay:

  • Pack in every little thing you’ll need for the day as there’s 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!), lots of water (bear in mind you’ve an extended sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, toilet paper (there isn’t a toilet, however you’ll find a spot in case you 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, however it undoubtedly wasn’t value it – this isn’t a great snorkel spot. There are imagined to be reef sharks, rays, and turtles within the water, however 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 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 may skip the kayak rental. In case you are fairly assured in your swimming talents, swim out just a little farther from the seashore and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You’ll be able to 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 product of lava stones the place you may 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?

Whilst you might spot them on the facet of the highway or go to a breeding heart, you may 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 ft of elevation increased than the coast. The air up right here is cooler, which makes it the right habitat for tortoises!

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

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

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

Or, in case you 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 can even hope to discover a taxi to take you the remainder of the way in which. 

You too can 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 may take a taxi ($40 spherical journey) which is able to anticipate you there.

Listed below 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 approach as much as the longer, darker ones (in case you get claustrophobic!). Primicias has one, virtually a mile-long tunnel with no approach 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!
  • Convey a sweater and/or raincoat; even when it’s sunny on the coast, it might 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 often known as the Highlands – that’s open to vacationers ($5). Right here you may 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 cattle, and see an illustration of how they make sugarcane juice. However the actual draw are what Instagrammable goals are created 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. Rise up or just sit; both approach, the primary second you swing your ft ahead and overlook the whole island and see all the way in which 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 relax within the hammock and pet the canine earlier than you permit!

  • To get to Highland Views, you may 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’s 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 surprising quiet seashore (besides on weekends) the place you may swim and kayak within the crystal clear water, calm down on the smooth 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 lodge, however the panorama is beautiful. Spend all day sitting within the shade, watching the pelicans on the water and leaping within the waves. And maintain an eye fixed out for flamingos!

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

  • To get to Garrapatero Seaside, you may take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (about $20 every approach) – make sure you allow them to know you’ll want a return experience. So as to add a scenic vista, negotiate on your taxi to drive you again by way of the highlands. It prices just a little extra, the views are value 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 an extended day on the seashore!
  • You too can lease bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, just a little underneath 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, e book a taxi upfront ($20) as there isn’t 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 enjoyable 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 person 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 lots of grumbling and tedium. I spent an hour constructing a sand citadel. 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 robust; that is not your common enjoyable snorkeling and swimming was tough! 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 vivid blue lagoon, the place we lastly had been capable of swim with sea lions alongside the rocks the place they lay enjoyable. Then a supplied 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 most effective a part of this tour was that it wasn’t rushed; we weren’t consistently having to maintain up with a bunch 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 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 in case you’ve already been snorkeling lots.
  • You’ll be able to 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. Hire wetsuits at any company on the town for the day.
  • The supplied 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 suggest bringing your individual snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing List.
  • Convey one thing to do throughout 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 sit down 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 may 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 – in case you’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 supplied.

For those who’re not visiting Isla Isabela, this is likely to be your solely likelihood to see blue-footed boobies – and people foolish little birds are properly well worth the tour. In any other case, you may wish to wait till you may 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 excellent room at Sueno Silvestres lodge 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 resorts on Santa Cruz Island positioned in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Count on decently sized personal rooms with personal loos, scorching water, towels, drinkable water, and the works for round $50-70 an evening, or a bit increased in case you decide to incorporate breakfast.

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

  • Mid-Vary Lodge: Sueno Silvestres is positioned near the Charles Darwin analysis heart and some blocks away from the seashore & primary 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 supplied, and the proprietor Carlos was pleasant and welcoming. Breakfast is accessible for an additional charge.
  • 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 underneath $100/evening!
  • Funds-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 an incredible 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 positioned inside a 10-minute stroll from the docks, kiosks, and grocery shops in Puerto Ayora. However just a few pricier, extra luxurious resorts are positioned on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Seaside. It’s a brief water taxi experience again to the primary 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 fingers down the nicest lodge in Santa Cruz.  Suppose luxurious every little thing. There’s even a non-public dock with a non-public yacht for friends. 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 each day.
  • Hotel Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque lodge product of lava stones and driftwood. Large 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 will help you plan:

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