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Saturday, January 21, 2023

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

Please double test what’s open earlier than your journey and comply with all native masks pointers to maintain your self and others protected! Additionally, advertisements are how we pay our payments and maintain our weblog free so that you can take pleasure in. We additionally use affiliate hyperlinks; for those who 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. Large 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 residence to lots of the Galapagos’ greatest points of interest, 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’ll be able to’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 amazing put up and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog style, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this put up: a definitely-very-useful journey information that can 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 one can 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 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 to be like like that.

How one can 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 trip from the Baltra docks. From the docks on the Santa Cruz aspect it’s a few 45 minute drive into Puerto Ayora.

To get to Puerto Ayora from the airport, you’ll be able to 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 possibility is to take a bus, additionally situated dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so anticipate to attend a short while for the bus to replenish totally earlier than it leaves. The bus will take you to the market on the middle of city, about half a mile from the ocean and most accommodations/hostels.

In the event you’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 greatest to buy your tickets at the least a day prematurely as their seats are restricted – you’ll be able to e book your ticket on-line on Bookaway. The trip 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 without doubt one of the 3 inhabited islands within the Galapagos – however although it’s a populated island, it’s nonetheless stuffed 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 accommodations, eating places, and the entire 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 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 the very best eating places, accommodations, 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! Refill on money right here, as a result of among 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 as a result of proximity to the Equator. Be certain that to deliver reef-safe sunscreen for once you’ll be within the water, to guard the coral reef and different marine wildlife that reside 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 flooring for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However remember the fact that most accommodations gained’t have a kitchen.
  • We suggest reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line prematurely. You may e book your Puerto Ayora excursions as quickly as you arrive on the island and also you’ll avoid wasting cash this fashion, however there’s additionally likelihood you 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 anxious to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We discovered this from expertise.) In the event you do wait to e book in particular person, simply discover any tour operator – their workplaces are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Bear in mind that you simply’ll must pay in your day excursions upfront with money.

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

Listed below are a number of incredible 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 take into account to be the very best excursions on every. At simply round $1,500 per particular person, it’s not far more than what we paid and a incredible worth for per week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: In the event you’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, the very 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 greatest guess! You’ll go to all 3 inhabited islands and do the very best excursions in every.


30 Issues 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 residence base to do the Galapagos and not using 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 complete story of our go to to Santa Cruz Island – errors, mishaps, and all – head over to this put up.

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 very best 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!), 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 instantly beneath the reducing board, the place she is aware of she’ll get fed scraps and pores and skin from the recent fish fillets all day lengthy! She’s like a pet canine that’s additionally an 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 effectively. Be certain that 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 very best snorkeling close to Puerto Ayora! Gorgeous Las Grietas is prettiest and most empty at noon. The pure channel is evident and really, very deep!

Snorkel in Las Grietas

Las Grietas is a stupendous clear pool between two sheer volcanic cliff faces – therefore the identify, which suggests “The Crevices.” Throughout noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a shiny, 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 may 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 very 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 trip 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 aspect of Puerto Ayora). Stroll alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely possibility 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’ll be able to swim, with a seashore throughout low tide.

The boardwalk to Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
The boardwalk to Las Grietas, the very 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 sign up and wait in your flip to enter with a information (it’s possible you’ll 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 number of suggestions for visiting Las Grietas:

  • There are literally 3 swimming pools in Las Grietas and two entrances. Your information decides which entrance you’ll go to, and that’s the place you enter, however you’ll be able to 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 must fastidiously climb over extra rocks (seriously, watch out. Jeremy slipped and reduce his foot right here) or take a deep breath, dive down, and swim via the underwater cave. When there aren’t any folks within the pool, there are a whole bunch 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 restricted to 90 minutes, however when you’ve completed, you’ll be able to stroll again and cease at Playa de los Alemanes and spend the remainder of the afternoon and sundown there, so pack loads of water and snacks.
  • Snorkeling at Playa de los Alemanes, which you’ll stroll previous in your approach to Las Grietas, generally is a combined bag, however in case you are eager to strive, then goal 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 recent and scrumptious, it’s effectively price the additional work to choose all of the deliciousness off the bones!

Go to the Kiosks

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

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

When you arrive, you’ll discover the road stuffed 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 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 sizzling all evening lengthy.

Every thing from recent entire fish rubbed with spices and nestled in tin foil, to octopus laid instantly on the grill for an ideal char and sear, to the effervescent seafood casserole in clay bowls, to 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 a bit of like sporting a bulls-eye in your brow: each step you are taking, somebody arms you a menu or a fish or lists a number of objects and their costs at you, all in rapid-fire Spanish. However truthfully, you’ll be able to’t go improper: choose anyplace, 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 price range pleasant! A complete brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, considered one of our favourite kiosks in seafood alley. Their grilled and fried entire fish, grilled octopus, seafood cazuela, sopa de queso (scrumptious cheese soup) and varied batidos (fruit milkshakes) are all wonderful.

The kioscos are situated at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s simple to stroll from anyplace on the town. You too can all the time take an inexpensive pickup truck taxi. If it’s good 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 stuffed 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 primary constructing is stuffed with data and some small reveals, however the primary points of interest are all exterior.

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

And sure – you’ll be able to see lovely child turtles right here!

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

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

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

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

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

Together with tortoises, you’ll be able to 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 middle, not a zoo.

  • You’ll discover the Charles Darwin Analysis Station on the finish of the primary avenue in Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Avenue. From the docks, stroll for about 20 minutes in the wrong way. Straightforward!
  • You’ll want to indicate your Nationwide Park entry ticket (given to you on the airport) for entry to the station.
  • You’ll must pay $10 per particular person on the entrance and 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 the very best place to cease for a meal, a drink, or a nightcap! Listed below are a number of of the very best locations to eat and drink in Puerto Ayora:

  • Strive a typical native breakfast at Tropic Chicken Cafe: dealing with the ocean proper subsequent to the fish market, this $5 breakfast and lunch spot is definitely highly regarded with the locals. Strive an encebollado with chifle, fish soup with a aspect 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 domestically grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Glad Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the primary road in Puerto Ayora. Stroll via round sundown to reap the benefits of the very best 2-for-1 drink gives!
  • 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 we have now a tip for you: You may ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so strive creamy chocolate with an area fruit, comparable to Mora, the domestically grown blackberry.
  • For a small and low-cost dinner, stroll as much as the market (nook of Avenida Baltra and Islas Duncan) from 6pm onwards for empanadas. Two stalls serve savory and candy (Nutella and banana – suuuuuper heavy however so yummy) empanadas for $1.5-2.5, with salads juice or the standard colada morada, a thick drink from cornflour, pineapple juice and berries ($1).
  • If you wish to splurge on a flowery foodie meal, the fanciest restaurant on the town is the Finch Bay Restaurant on the Finch Bay Resort, probably the most luxurious lodge on the island. Dine a-la-carte or go for an exceptional 7-course tasting menu – for underneath $100, it’s a splurge however nonetheless an superb worth. Take pleasure in an unbelievable 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: deliver your personal snorkeling gear and a good, normal-sized day bag!

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is called as one of the 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 in search of rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see a number of tiny fish.

It was, nonetheless, an amazing seashore day, which was definitely 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’ll be able to take a water taxi ($10 every manner) that goes across the perimeter of the island to and from Puerto Ayora. You may catch one on the primary docks in Puerto Ayora. Test timetables although or it’s possible you’ll miss the final one and find yourself strolling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the suitable 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 tip of Tortuga Bay and comply with the trail to the suitable to get to Playa Mansa, the calm, lagoon-like a part of the seashore the place you’ll be able to lastly discover shade and – in case you are fortunate on a quiet day – spot little sharks within the shallow water.

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

  • Pack in all the things you’ll need for the day as there may be nowhere to purchase something on the seashore. We advise bringing tons of sunscreen and solar safety (the solar is far stronger right here on the equator!), a number of water (keep in mind you will have an extended sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, bathroom paper (there isn’t a rest room, however you will discover a spot for those who want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is comfy for swimming and not using a wetsuit and is fairly shallow throughout low tide.
  • We rented snorkel gear for $14 and schlepped it together with us on the stroll, nevertheless it undoubtedly wasn’t price it – this isn’t snorkel spot. There are alleged to be reef sharks, rays, and turtles within the water, nevertheless 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 take pleasure in kayaking only for the sake of it, hire a kayak. In any other case, you’ll be able to skip the kayak rental. If you’re fairly assured in your swimming talents, swim out a bit of farther from the seashore and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You may 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 made from lava stones the place you’ll be able to see them swimming within the water.


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

Go to a Large Tortoise Reserve

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

Whilst you could spot them on the aspect of the street or go to a breeding middle, you’ll be able to 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 toes of elevation larger 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 may even crawl via them.

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

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

Or, for those who favor 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 way in which. 

You too can hire a motorbike and cycle to Santa Rosa (you higher be in excellent form and cycle usually) 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’ll be able to 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 manner as much as the longer, darker ones (in case you get claustrophobic!). Primicias has one, nearly a mile-long tunnel with no manner of exiting earlier or turning round.
  • Don’t put on your greatest 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 larger elevation, cooler a part of Santa Cruz island referred to as the Highlands – that’s open to vacationers ($5). Right here you’ll be able to stroll across the farm and take un gorgeous views that stretch all the way in which throughout the island to the ocean, befriend and feed cattle, and see an indication of how they make sugarcane juice. However the true draw are what Instagrammable goals are produced 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. Arise or just sit; both manner, the primary second you swing your toes ahead and overlook your complete island and see all the way in which to Santa Fe is exhilarating.

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

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

  • To get to Highland Views, you’ll be able to 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 surprising quiet seashore (besides on weekends) the place you’ll be able to swim and kayak within the crystal clear water, chill out on the tender 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 maintain an eye fixed out for flamingos!

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

  • To get to Garrapatero Seaside, you’ll be able to take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (about $20 every manner) – remember to allow them to know you’ll want a return trip. So as to add a scenic vista, negotiate in your taxi to drive you again through the highlands. It prices a bit of 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 seashore!
  • You too can hire bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, a bit of underneath 5 miles (put together for hills). You’ll cease at the least twice to benefit from the view and snap pics, or simply as a result of there’s a tortoise on the street. For the way in which again, e book a taxi prematurely ($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 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 forth – we had been all ready to only hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was a number 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 robust; that is not your common enjoyable 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 shiny blue lagoon, the place we lastly had been capable of swim with sea lions alongside the rocks the place they lay enjoyable. Then a offered lunch, then one other non-compulsory hour for swimming, after which an odd half-hour of our boat making an attempt 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 continuously having to maintain up with a gaggle 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 suggestions for the Santa Fe tour:

  • In the event 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 loads.
  • You may e book the Santa Fe tour on-line prematurely, or e book 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 one more reason why we suggest bringing your personal snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing Checklist.
  • Convey one thing to do in the course of the hour you’ll spend on the seashore, like a e book in a dry bag or some waterproof playing cards or a towel to take a seat on.
A blue footed booby and his babies on the Los Tuneles tour from Isabela Island in the Galapagos!
A blue-footed booby dad and his awkward, fur-covered infants. Boobies are doofy AF and we love them.

Seymour Island Day Journey

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

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

You may e book this tour on-line prematurely, or when you arrive in Puerto Ayora at any native tour operator or on the kiosk by the docks.


The ten Most Instagrammable Locations in Cartagena, Colombia

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

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Motels: The place to Keep

There are many accommodations on Santa Cruz Island situated in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Anticipate decently sized non-public rooms with non-public loos, sizzling water, towels, drinkable water, and the works for round $50-70 an evening, or a bit larger for those who choose to incorporate breakfast.

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

  • Mid-Vary Resort: Sueno Silvestres is situated near the Charles Darwin analysis middle and some blocks away from the seashore & primary road 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 obtainable 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 primary city stretch – AND it’s underneath $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 accommodations in Santa Cruz are situated inside a 10-minute stroll from the docks, kiosks, and grocery shops in Puerto Ayora. However a number of pricier, extra luxurious accommodations are situated on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Seaside. It’s a brief water taxi trip 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 Resort is arms down the nicest lodge in Santa Cruz.  Assume luxurious all the things. There’s even a personal dock with a personal yacht for visitors. Facilities embrace free Wi-Fi, A/C, a stunning swimming pool and restaurant, and a pier with yachts to go to the islands. Breakfast with bacon, sausages, pancakes, recent fruits and eggs is served every day.
  • Resort Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque lodge made from lava stones and driftwood. Large home windows overlook the ocean as you dine in your included breakfast or take pleasure in 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 under to get the information ship straight to your inbox! 

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