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

Please double test 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 hold our weblog free so that you can get pleasure from. We additionally use affiliate hyperlinks; should you make a purchase order by them, we could obtain a small fee for gratis to you.

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

Santa Cruz is residence to most 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 submit and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog vogue, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this submit: a definitely-very-useful journey information that can make it easier 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:


Go to The Galapagos Islands With out 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 principle city on Santa Cruz, Galapagos! Sure, the water truly seems to be like that.

Get to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

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

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

When you arrive, everybody will board the shuttle to the docks. Santa Cruz Island is a free 5-minute ferry 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’ll be able to 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 positioned dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so count on to attend a short time for the bus to refill absolutely earlier than it leaves. The bus will take you to the market on the middle of city, about half a mile from the ocean and most inns/hostels.

When you’re coming from the opposite predominant 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 no less than a day upfront as their seats are restricted – you’ll be able to e book your ticket on-line on Bookaway. The experience is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you allow to move off seasickness!

Suggestions for Visiting Santa Cruz, Galapagos

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

  • Most locations in Ecuador don’t settle for bank cards, or cost additional to take action. The Galapagos Islands are not 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! Top off on money right here, as a result of a number 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. Ensure 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 large grocery retailer proper by the principle dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. You too can pop to the highest ground for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However remember the fact that most inns gained’t have a kitchen.
  • We advocate reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line upfront. You possibly can e book your Puerto Ayora excursions as quickly as you arrive on the island and also you’ll avoid wasting cash this manner, however there’s additionally probability you gained’t have the ability to do each tour you’d like as there’s a restricted variety of areas obtainable and excursions are topic to strict laws. Plus, it’s simply sort of traumatic to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We realized this from expertise.) When you do wait to e book in individual, simply discover any tour operator – their places of work are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Bear in mind that you simply’ll have to pay on your day excursions upfront with money.

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

Listed here are a couple of implausible choices:

  • 7-day Galapagos on a Price range Expertise: This itinerary intently mirrors our journey. You’ll go to each Santa Cruz and Isabela Island and take what we’d contemplate to be the very best excursions on every. At simply round $1,500 per individual, it’s not far more than what we paid and a implausible worth for per week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: When you’re quick 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 very best Isabela tour.
  • 8-Day Galapagos Island Tour: If San Cristobal and snorkelling at Kicker Rock are in your bucket listing, this 8-day tour is your greatest wager! 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 predominant hub for the Galapagos Islands, and residence 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 submit.

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 (should you’re fortunate sufficient to have a kitchen to play with, that is very thrilling!), but it surely’s additionally simply, like, a vibe. For one factor, there’s Lupe.

Lupe the Sea Lion is an everyday on the Puerto Ayora fish market. She positions herself behind the counter straight 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 lovely sea lion. We would like one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and generally napping sea lions as properly. Ensure that to cease by through the week when it’s open!

Self guided visit to Las Grietas, near Punta Estrada, in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. Read our complete guide to the Galapagos without a cruise!
Las Grietas is the very best snorkeling close to Puerto Ayora! Beautiful 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 a wonderful clear pool between two sheer volcanic cliff faces – therefore the identify, which implies “The Crevices.” Throughout noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a vibrant, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the best way to the underside of the deep pool, making for unbelievable images and views. You possibly can bounce off the dock into the water should you like, and climb up the cliffs to leap from the rocks should you 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 experience and the water taxi is below $1.

When you’re dropped off, you’ll stroll previous a flowery resort and a few high-end bars and eating places (that is the costly facet of Puerto Ayora). Stroll alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely choice so that you can stroll on, so that you gained’t get misplaced). The boardwalk will take you previous Punta Estrada, a small cove the place you’ll be able to swim, with a seaside 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!

Preserve strolling down the boardwalk previous some attention-grabbing pink-tinged salt flats. After about quarter-hour you’ll attain Las Grietas! Preserve 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 along with an even bigger group). tl;dr comply with the one path till it ends. Simple sufficient, proper?

Listed here are a couple of ideas for visiting Las Grietas:

  • There are literally 3 swimming pools in Las Grietas and two entrances. Your information decides which entrance you’ll go to, and that’s the place you enter, however you’ll be able to climb by to the opposite ones. Swim all the best way to the tip of the primary pool, climb (fastidiously!) over the rocks, and swim by 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 lower his foot right here) or take a deep breath, dive down, and swim by the underwater cave. When there are not any individuals within the pool, there are lots of of fish swimming on this part undisturbed, and it’s completely unbelievable.
  • Head to Las Grietas round midday to beat the cruise crowds and catch 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 out 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 technique to Las Grietas, could be a combined bag, however in case you are eager to strive, then intention for the mangroves in your proper to see sharks at excessive tide, or swim proper out to the furthest rocks to search out sea snakes at low tide.


11 Thoughts-Blowing Issues to Do in Baños, Ecuador (on a funds)

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 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 contemporary, regionally caught seafood bought from the fish market earlier within the day.

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

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

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

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

Strolling by the alley is a bit of like sporting a bulls-eye in your brow: each step you’re taking, somebody fingers you a menu or a fish or lists a number of gadgets and their costs at you, all in rapid-fire Spanish. However actually, you’ll be able to’t go fallacious: choose 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! A complete brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, certainly one of our favourite kiosks in seafood alley. Their grilled and fried complete fish, grilled octopus, seafood cazuela, sopa de queso (scrumptious cheese soup) and varied batidos (fruit milkshakes) are all wonderful.

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

Beach path on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
We ventured down a seaside pathway close to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station and located this secluded seaside full of 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 fancy: the principle constructing is full of data and some small reveals, however the principle points of interest are all exterior.

Turtles are bred in a bit of the middle right here, known as the Fausto Llerena Breeding Heart. Every large island within the Galapagos has its personal land turtle breeding middle, we realized. Whereas the turtles are raised in captivity, they’re launched again into the wild as adults. Probably the most profitable conservation packages 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 large outdated tortoises munch on turtle snacks and slowly chase one another round, we realized that for years, the tortoise breeding middle tried its greatest to provide offspring that may proceed the survival of a tortoise species with just one current member: Lonesome George.

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

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

Fortunately, advances in tortoise breeding have made it potential to resurrect this species from extinction: by breeding tortoises containing a excessive share of the genes of Lonesome George’s species, after a couple of generations a totally genetically an identical 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 by the vegetation to the seaside. However that’s about it – mood your expectations! This can be a scientific analysis and conservation middle, not a zoo.

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

Eat & Drink in Puerto Ayora

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

  • Attempt 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 talked-about with the locals. Attempt 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 may be discovered at 1835 Espresso 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 principle road in Puerto Ayora. Stroll by round sundown to make the most of the very best 2-for-1 drink gives!
  • The most effective ice cream after an extended day on the seaside is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however now we have a tip for you: You possibly can ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so strive creamy chocolate with an area fruit, equivalent to Mora, the regionally grown blackberry.
  • For a small and low cost dinner, stroll as much as the market (nook of Avenida Baltra and Islas Duncan) from 6pm onwards for empanadas. Two stalls serve savory and candy (Nutella and banana – suuuuuper heavy however so yummy) empanadas for $1.5-2.5, with salads juice or the standard colada morada, a thick drink from cornflour, pineapple juice and berries ($1).
  • If you wish to splurge on a flowery foodie meal, the fanciest restaurant on the town is the Finch Bay Restaurant on the Finch Bay Lodge, essentially the most luxurious resort on the island. Dine a-la-carte or go for an outstanding 7-course tasting menu – for below $100, it’s a splurge however nonetheless an wonderful worth. Get pleasure from an unbelievable culinary expertise in a surprising setting, searching over the sundown as waves lap the shore.


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

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is called as probably the most lovely seashores in Ecuador, but it surely’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 couple of tiny fish.

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

To get to Tortuga Bay, you’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 possibly can catch one on the predominant docks in Puerto Ayora. Test timetables although or you might miss the final one and find yourself strolling.

Nonetheless, we expect the greatest technique to get to Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora is by strolling. From the Puerto Ayora pier, cross the principle street and attain Baltra Avenue. It’s a pink cobblestone road with a motorcycle lane. Stroll 2 blocks and also you’ll attain Charles Binford Road. Flip proper. Comply with 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 couple of households – that you simply’ll stroll down for about 45 minutes. It’s not the prettiest stroll except you get pleasure from seeing the identical cactus and stubbly tree surroundings for 45 minutes.

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

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

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. When you come throughout low tide, there’s a secluded little seaside 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 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 suitable to get to Playa Mansa, the calm, lagoon-like a part of the seaside 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 here are a couple of ideas for visiting Tortuga Bay:

  • Pack in all the pieces you will have for the day as there may be nowhere to purchase something on the seaside. We advise bringing tons of sunscreen and solar safety (the solar is far stronger right here on the equator!), plenty of water (keep in mind you could have an extended sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, bathroom paper (there isn’t a toilet, however yow will discover a spot should you 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, but it surely undoubtedly wasn’t price it – this isn’t snorkel spot. There are imagined to be reef sharks, rays, and turtles within the water, but it surely’s deep and murky and you may’t see something.
  • We rented kayaks for $20 an hour from the lone vendor on the seaside. We tried to snorkel in numerous spots within the bay that have been too far to swim to, however that didn’t pan out. If you get pleasure from kayaking only for the sake of it, lease 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 seaside and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You possibly can see iguanas throughout low tide on the principle stretch of the seaside in addition to sunbathing on the very finish of the seaside earlier than attending to Playa Mansa. You too can discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seaside to the little lookout manufactured 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! (Photograph 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 facet 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 known as a tortoise ranch, although not in the identical sense we imply it within the States – within the Highlands, the inland a part of Santa Cruz Island that sits at about 2,000 toes of elevation increased than the coast. The air up right here is cooler, which makes it the proper habitat for tortoises!

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

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

You possibly can e book a day journey to a tortoise reserve (which additionally consists of lava tunnels) on-line, which is the best technique to go to as your transportation will all be taken care of.

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

You too can lease a motorcycle 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 best way there.

Alternatively, you’ll be able to take a taxi ($40 spherical journey) which is able to anticipate you there.

Listed here 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 greatest garments — you’ll be strolling by 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 produce socks! It helps keep away from ant bites within the tall grass. Plus if it’s muddy, the ranches gives you rainboots.

Swings at Highland Views

Highland Views is a farm inland – within the increased elevation, cooler a part of Santa Cruz island generally known as the Highlands – that’s open to vacationers ($5). Right here you’ll be able to stroll across the farm and take un beautiful views that stretch all the best way 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 made out 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 the complete island and see all the best way to Santa Fe is exhilarating.

Tip: You’ll get the very best 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’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
Garrapatero Beach on puerto ayora in ecuador
Garrapatero Seaside is a good place to lounge. (Photograph Credit score: Claire Herbaux)

Garrapatero Seaside

Garrapatero Seaside is a hidden gem within the Galapagos – a surprising quiet seaside (besides on weekends) the place you’ll be able to swim and kayak within the crystal clear water, calm down on the smooth white sand, or stroll alongside the seaside laced with volcanic lava rock.

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

Plan for an all-day tour and pack a lunch to convey with you (we advocate a pulled pork sandwich from Island Deli). There’s a toilet and altering space obtainable 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) – you should definitely 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 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 seaside!
  • You too can lease bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, a bit of below 5 miles (put together for hills). You’ll cease no less than twice to benefit from the view and snap pics, or simply as a result of there’s a tortoise on the street. For the best way again, e book a taxi upfront ($20) as there isn’t any sign and the best way again is STEEP!
Lia and Jeremy Garcia in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
We swam with sea lions!! Additionally, behold: the tannest we’ve ever been in our lives.

Santa Fe Island Day Journey 

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

First, we spent over an hour stress-free on a seaside. Not one of the group knew we have been going to be parked at a seaside for over an hour, so no one had introduced something to do, blankets, sun shades, and so forth – we have been all ready to only hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was plenty of grumbling and tedium. I spent an hour constructing a sand fort. 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 stress-free 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 vibrant blue lagoon, the place we lastly have been in a position to swim with sea lions alongside the rocks the place they lay stress-free. Then a offered lunch, then one other optionally available hour for swimming, after which an odd half-hour of o
ur 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 here are some ideas for the Santa Fe tour:

  • When you do that tour, do it earlier in your journey as you’re unlikely to see a lot that’s new and thrilling should you’ve already been snorkeling lots.
  • You possibly can e book the Santa Fe tour on-line upfront, 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 have been poorly made – two of the air tubes, together with mine, fell off within the ocean. We have been then requested to pay for the misplaced tubes (I politely refused). But one more reason why we advocate bringing your personal snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing Listing.
  • Convey one thing to do through the hour you’ll spend on the seaside, 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 possibly can spot flamingos and sharks, too!

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

You’ll head to an space to hike and stroll round, in addition to go to a blue-footed boobies nest – should 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 resort.

Lunch, snorkel gear, and a wetsuit are offered.

When 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 properly well worth the tour. In any other case, you would possibly wish to wait till you’ll be able to take the Los Tuneles tour on Isabela Island, which is similiar.

You possibly can e book this tour on-line upfront, 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 resort for an inexpensive mid-range value proper within the coronary heart of Puerto Ayora!

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Lodges: The place to Keep

There are many inns on Santa Cruz Island positioned in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Anticipate decently sized non-public rooms with non-public loos, scorching water, towels, drinkable water, and the works for round $50-70 an evening, or a bit increased should you choose to incorporate breakfast.

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

  • Mid-Vary Lodge: Sueno Silvestres is positioned near the Charles Darwin analysis middle and some blocks away from the seaside & predominant road of Puerto Ayora in a pleasant quiet and personal space. Our room was giant, scorching water was plentiful, there have been free towels and drinkable water offered, and the proprietor Carlos was pleasant and welcoming. Breakfast is out there for an additional charge.
  • Trip Rental: This spacious fashionable loft has ocean views EVERYWHERE – from the lounge, the non-public balcony. This sunny little condo nestled within the treetops is only a 5-minute stroll away from the principle city stretch – AND it’s below $100/evening!
  • Price range-Pleasant Hostel: Hostal Vista al Mar has dorm rooms (together with all-female rooms) and a visitor kitchen and a backyard for $15-20/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 resort in Punta Estrada seen from a water taxi

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

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

  • Finch Bay Lodge is fingers down the nicest resort in Santa Cruz.  Assume luxurious all the pieces. There’s even a non-public dock with a non-public yacht for company. 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, contemporary fruits and eggs is served day by day.
  • Lodge Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque resort 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 hearth.  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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Barking sea lions. Tortoise ranches. Fresh, sizzling seafood. Here's everything you need to know to plan your visit to Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

Our High Journey Suggestions & Sources

Listed here are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, take a look at our journey ideas useful resource web page or our information to planning a visit.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Cash-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a funds airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique inns or non-public rooms in hostels. We use Reserving.com to e book inns (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and wonderful critiques). For trip leases, we want to e book utilizing VRBO as a result of they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical monitor document. You too can e book trip leases on Expedia and Lodges.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our residence and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We all the time, all the time, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY recommend it – go to our Journey Insurance coverage Information to search out out why. We advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have wonderful month-to-month insurance policies which can be excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Journey Credit score Card: We e book all of our journeys on our favourite journey bank card. Not solely can we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card gives implausible journey perks like journey insurance coverage, journey delay and cancellation protection, misplaced baggage reimbursement, and rental automotive protection, which helps defend us on our travels. Be taught extra right here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC web site to analysis really helpful drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time advocate getting each vaccine really helpful by the CDC! You will get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We e book our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine how one can get from place to put, and e book native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. Once we e book a rental automotive, we use DiscoverCars to match rental firms and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Each time we’re trying out early or making the most of an extended layover, we use LuggageHero to so
    undly retailer our baggage whereas we’re working round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital data (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and so forth) protected, even if you’re related to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it allows you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO if you enroll!
  • What to Pack: Listed here are the journey necessities that we convey on each journey. We even have packing lists for scorching climate, chilly climate, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!