What to Do, Where to Eat, & Where to Stay on Santa Cruz

What to Do, Where to Eat, & Where to Stay on Santa Cruz

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

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Barking sea lions. Crystal swimming pools tucked between volcanic cliffs. Tortoise ranches. Fresh, scorching seafood. Santa Cruz Island is without doubt one of the Galapagos’ most populated islands, and the central city of Puerto Ayora is as shut to bustling as you’ll discover within the Galapagos: docks ship ferries to and from different islands, eating places and scorching kiosks tucked into hidden alleys promote grilled and fried fish, and tortoises roam the cooler inland air of the elevated Highlands.

Santa Cruz is residence to lots of the Galapagos’ finest sights, actions, and academic alternatives. It’s a must-visit whether or not you’re planning a land-based Galapagos trip or stopping by on a cruise – like, actually you’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 revealed the story of our visit to Santa Cruz, Galapagos. It’s an amazing submit and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog trend, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this submit: a definitely-very-useful journey information that may provide help to plan your go to to Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

Psst: Planning a visit to the Galapagos Islands? Take a have a look at these different posts to provide help to plan:

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How to Visit The Galapagos Islands Without a Cruise: A Complete Guide

We’ve additionally created an in depth 15-page downloadable information to visiting the Galapagos Islands. Sign up 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! Yes, the water truly appears to be like like that.

How to Get to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

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

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

Once 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 couple of 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 ready, however everybody goes the identical route, so don’t be afraid to break up a taxi with one other traveler!

The less expensive choice is to take a bus, additionally positioned dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so anticipate to wait a short while for the bus to replenish absolutely earlier than it leaves. The bus will take you to the market on the middle of city, about half a mile from the ocean and most accommodations/hostels.

If 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 finest to buy your tickets no less than a day upfront as their seats are restricted – you’ll be able to book your ticket online on Bookaway. The trip is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you allow to head off seasickness!

Tips for Visiting Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Santa Cruz Island is without doubt one of the 3 inhabited islands within the Galapagos – however though it’s a populated island, it’s nonetheless stuffed with wildlife – the magic of the Galapagos!

The predominant city in Santa Cruz is the coastal port city of Puerto Ayora, the place you’ll discover loads of accommodations, eating places, and all the comforts you’d anticipate 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, 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.

Around 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, accommodations, and day excursions in Puerto Ayora.

  • Most locations in Ecuador don’t settle for bank cards, or cost additional to achieve this. The Galapagos Islands aren’t any exception: money is king. Luckily, there are ATMs galore on Puerto Ayora and a great deal of outlets, eating places and bars to spend your money in! Stock up on money right here, as a result of a number of the different islands like Isla Isabela have NO ATM’s in any respect.
  • Bring sunscreen with you from the mainland. It’s insanely costly right here, and also you’ll want it for the additional robust rays due to the proximity to the Equator. Make positive to deliver reef-safe sunscreen for if you’ll be within the water, to defend the coral reef and different marine wildlife that dwell within the Galapagos!
  • There is a big grocery retailer proper by the principle dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. You may pop to the highest ground for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. But take into account that most accommodations received’t have a kitchen.
  • We advocate reserving excursions and lodging on-line upfront should you can. You can guide your Puerto Ayora day excursions as quickly as you arrive on the island and also you’ll avoid wasting cash this manner, however there’s additionally probability you received’t give you the option to 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 nerve-racking to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We discovered this from expertise.) To guide a day journey or tour, simply discover any tour operator – their places of work are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Be conscious that you’ll want to pay in your day excursions upfront with money.

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Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Things to Do

Puerto Ayora is the predominant hub for the Galapagos Islands, and residence 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.

Visit the Fish Market

The Puerto Ayora fish market is a must-see and completely captures the magic of the Galapagos Islands. Yes, it’s one of the 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 immediately beneath the reducing board, the place she is aware of she’ll get fed scraps and pores and skin from the contemporary fish fillets all day lengthy! She’s like a pet canine that’s additionally an cute sea lion. We need one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and generally napping sea lions as properly. Make positive 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 one of the best snorkeling close to Puerto Ayora! Stunning 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 gorgeous clear pool between two sheer volcanic cliff faces – therefore the title, which implies “The Crevices.” During noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a vibrant, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the way in which to the underside of the deep pool, making for unbelievable pictures and views. You can leap 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 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 trip and the water taxi is beneath $1.

Once you’re dropped off, you’ll stroll previous a flowery resort and a few high-end bars and eating places (that is the costly aspect of Puerto Ayora). Walk alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely choice for you to stroll on, so that you received’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, one of the best place to go snorkelling in Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

Keep strolling down the boardwalk previous some fascinating pink-tinged salt flats. After about quarter-hour you’ll attain Las Grietas! Keep 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 (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. Easy sufficient, proper?

Here are just a few ideas for visiting Las Grietas:

  • There are literally 3 swimming pools in Las Grietas and two entrances. Your information decides which entrance you’ll go to, and that’s the place you enter, however you’ll be able to climb via to the opposite ones. Swim all the way in which to the top 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 have to fastidiously climb over extra rocks (seriously, watch out. Jeremy slipped and minimize his foot right here) or take a deep breath, dive down, and swim via the underwater cave. When there aren’t any individuals within the pool, there are a whole bunch of fish swimming on this part undisturbed, and it’s completely unbelievable.
  • Your go to is proscribed 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 generally is a blended bag, however in case you are eager to attempt, then intention for the mangroves on your proper to see sharks at excessive tide, or swim proper out to the furthest rocks to discover sea snakes at low tide.

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Don’t let the entire fish factor intimidate you: when it’s this contemporary and scrumptious, it’s properly price the additional work to decide all of the deliciousness off the bones!

Visit the Kiosks

The Kiosks/Los Kioskos are one of the 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, 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.

Once you arrive, you’ll discover the road stuffed with tables, blissful 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 entire uncooked fish beneath your nostril, all accompanied by the sizzle and tantalizing odor of charcoal-grilled fish.

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

Everything from contemporary entire fish rubbed with spices and nestled in tin foil, to octopus laid immediately 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.

Walking via the alley is somewhat like carrying a bulls-eye on your brow: each step you’re taking, somebody palms you a menu or a fish or lists a number of gadgets and their costs at you, all in rapid-fire Spanish. But truthfully, you’ll be able to’t go unsuitable: decide anyplace, and order no matter they advocate. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? The finest meals in Puerto Ayora can also be probably the most funds pleasant! An entire 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 positioned at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s simple to stroll from anyplace on the town. You may at all times take an affordable pickup truck taxi. If you want to, ask any native for assist discovering los kioskos – they’ll all know. 

Beach path on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
We ventured down a seaside pathway close to the Charles Darwin Research Station and located this secluded seaside stuffed with surfers and sea turtles!

Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station

The Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz is much less of a station and extra of a posh: the principle constructing is stuffed with data and some small reveals, however the principle sights are all exterior.

Turtles are bred in a piece of the middle – every huge island within the Galapagos has its personal land turtle breeding middle, we discovered.

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 finest to produce offspring that may 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 mind your own beeswax!” Is it simply me or does each land tortoise appear to be an 80 12 months outdated man??

Unfortunately, lack of knowledge of tortoise lineage lead to a deadly flaw: the females being mated with Lonesome George have been hybrid species, that means that they may not efficiently mate with the outdated tortoise.

He died just a few years in the past, taking his total species with him.

Happily, advances in tortoise breeding have made it attainable to resurrect this species from extinction: by breeding tortoises containing a excessive proportion of the genes of Lonesome George’s species, after just a few generations a totally genetically equivalent tortoise can be born!

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

Along with tortoises, you’ll be able to spy land and marine iguanas basking close to the middle.

Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Puerto Ayora within the Galapagos Islands is an cute city with loads of locations to eat, drink, store, hop on boats, and see critters.

Eat & Drink in Puerto Ayora

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

  • For a small and low cost dinner, stroll up to 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).
  • The finest espresso in Puerto Ayora could be discovered at 1835 Coffee Lab, a roastery serving domestically grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Happy Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the principle road in Puerto Ayora. Stroll via round sundown to reap the benefits of one of the best 2-for-1 drink provides!
  • Your finest ice cream after an extended day on the seaside is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however we have now a tip for you: You can ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so attempt creamy chocolate with an area fruit, corresponding to Mora, the domestically grown blackberry.
  • Try 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 extremely popular with the locals. Try an encebollado with chifle, fish soup with a aspect of fried plantain chips to crush up within the soup.

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

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is called as one of the crucial lovely seashores in Ecuador, but it surely’s due to its pristine white sand, not as a result of it’s teeming with turtles. Also, the visibility within the water was terrible for snorkeling. We kayaked across the bay on the lookout for rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see just a few tiny fish.

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

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

However, we predict the finest means to get to Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora is by strolling. From the Puerto Ayora pier, cross the principle highway and attain Baltra Avenue. It’s a pink cobblestone road with a motorcycle lane. Walk 2 blocks and also you’ll attain Charles Binford Street. Turn proper. Follow Charles Binford Street out of city till you attain the top of the road, after about 10 minutes.

At the top of the road is a staircase up a brief hill. At the highest of the hill is somewhat kiosk the place you’ll sign up 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 seaside and be rewarded with an extremely lovely view. The water right here is just too harmful for swimming, so there’s normally no one right here. Turn proper and stroll down the seaside for a shocking 15 or so minutes till you attain the top 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. If 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 precise 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

Walk to the top of Tortuga Bay and comply with the trail to the precise 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.

Here are just a few ideas for visiting Tortuga Bay:

  • Pack in every thing you have to for the day as there’s nowhere to purchase something on the seaside. We advise bringing tons of sunscreen and solar safety (the solar is way stronger right here on the equator!), a variety of water (keep in mind you’ve gotten an extended sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, toilet paper (there isn’t a toilet, however you will discover a spot should you want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is snug 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, but it surely positively wasn’t price it – this isn’t snorkel spot. There are supposed 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, hire a kayak. Otherwise, you’ll be able to skip the kayak rental. If you’re fairly assured in your swimming skills, swim out somewhat farther from the seaside and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You 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 getting to Playa Mansa. You may discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seaside to the little lookout product of 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
Watch out for tortoises, they’re at all times crossing! (Photo Credit: Claire Herbaux)

Visit a Tortoise Ranch

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

While chances are you’ll spot them on the aspect of the highway or go to a breeding middle, you’ll be able to see them in all their glory (and gigantic dimension!) at a ranch within the Highlands, the inland a part of Santa Cruz Island that sits at about 2,000 ft of elevation larger than the coast. The air up right here is cooler, which makes it the proper habitat for tortoises!

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

 To get to the tortoise ranches, 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. Follow the highway and on the finish, flip left for Primicias (farther away) and proper for El Chato. Once you get in Santa Rosa, you can too hope to discover a taxi to take you the remainder of the way in which. 

You may hire a motorcycle and cycle to Santa Rosa (you higher be in superb form and cycle commonly) 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 watch for you there.

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 means up to the longer, darker ones (in case you get claustrophobic!). Primicias has one, virtually a mile-long tunnel with no means of exiting earlier or turning round.
  • Don’t put on your finest garments — you’ll be strolling via excessive grass, crawling into an empty tortoise shell, and strolling round muddy fields, so be ready!
  • Bring a sweater and/or raincoat; even when it’s sunny on the coast, it may well get very moist up within the higher-elevation highlands. And deliver socks! It helps keep away from ant bites within the tall grass. Plus if it’s muddy, the ranches provides you with rainboots.

Swings at Highland Views

Highland Views is a farm inland – within the larger elevation, cooler a part of Santa Cruz island often known as the Highlands – that’s open to vacationers ($5). Here you’ll be able to 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 indication of how they make sugarcane juice. But the true draw are what Instagrammable goals are made out of: swings! 

How loopy you need to go on the swing is up to you: there aren’t any guidelines – and no security belts. Stand up or just sit; both means, 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 aspect of the large posts holding the swing.

Oh, and don’t neglect to chill 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’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 up to Highland Views.
Garrapatero Beach on puerto ayora in ecuador
Garrapatero Beach is a good place to lounge. (Photo Credit: Claire Herbaux)

Garrapatero Beach

Garrapatero Beach is a hidden gem within the Galapagos – a shocking quiet seaside (besides on weekends) the place you’ll be able to swim and kayak within the crystal clear water, loosen up 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 preserve an eye fixed out for flamingos!

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

  • To get to Garrapatero Beach, you’ll be able to take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (about $20 every means) – make certain to allow them to know you’ll want a return trip. To add a scenic vista, negotiate in your taxi to drive you again through the highlands. It prices somewhat extra, the views are price it as you come residence. You’ll additionally get an opportunity to breathe within the cool, high-altitude, air for some time – a refreshing change after an extended day on the seaside!
  • You may hire bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, somewhat beneath 5 miles (put together for hills). You will 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, guide a taxi upfront ($20) as there isn’t any sign and the way in which again is STEEP!
Lia and Jeremy Garcia in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
We swam with sea lions!! Also, behold: the tannest we’ve ever been in our lives.

Santa Fe Island Day Trip 

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. None 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 many others – we have been all ready to simply hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was a variety of grumbling and tedium. I spent an hour constructing a sand fortress. There are worse methods to waste time, however I do want we’d had some advance discover.

Next 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 one other space, a vibrant blue lagoon, the place we lastly have been ready to swim with sea lions alongside the rocks the place they lay stress-free. Then a offered lunch, then one other elective hour for swimming, after which an odd half-hour of our boat making an attempt to catch fish for the subsequent day’s lunch; then lastly we returned.

The finest a part of this tour was that it wasn’t rushed; we weren’t consistently having to sustain with a gaggle or all trailing the identical animals. Also, there are 3 separate places, 2 of which have distinctive snorkeling alternatives, so it wasn’t repetitive or boring in any respect.

Here are some ideas for the Santa Fe tour:

  • If 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 loads.
  • You can book the Santa Fe tour online in advance, or guide on the docks when you arrive.
  • Our tour didn’t embrace wetsuits, however the water is frigid. Rent 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). Yet one more reason why we advocate bringing your personal snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing List.
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 Trip

 On this all-day tour you’re doubtless 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!

This is an all-day, 8 hour day journey that leaves at 8 am. Once 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 Beach for snorkelling and swimming earlier than heading again to your resort.

Lunch, snorkel gear, and a wetsuit are offered.

If you’re not visiting Isla Isabela, this is perhaps your solely probability to see blue-footed boobies – and people foolish little birds are properly definitely worth the tour. Otherwise, you may want to wait till you’ll be able to take the Los Tuneles tour on Isabela Island, which is similiar.

You can book this tour online in advance, or when you arrive in Puerto Ayora at any native tour operator or on the kiosk by the docks.

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

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Hotels: Where to Stay

There are loads of accommodations on Santa Cruz Island positioned in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Expect 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 should you decide to embrace breakfast.

Here are our picks shut to the principle stretch of Puerto Ayora:

  • Mid-Range Hotel: Sueno Silvestres is positioned shut to 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 massive, 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 charge.
  • Vacation Rental: This spacious modern loft has ocean views EVERYWHERE – from the lounge, the non-public balcony. This sunny little apartment nestled within the treetops is only a 5-minute stroll away from the principle city stretch – AND it’s beneath $100/evening!
  • Budget-Friendly 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 accommodations in Santa Cruz are positioned inside a 10-minute stroll from the docks, kiosks, and grocery shops in Puerto Ayora. But just a few accommodations are positioned on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Beach. It’s a brief water taxi trip again to the principle stretch in Puerto Ayora. (And very shut to Las Grietas!)

Here are our picks for the place to keep in Punta Estrada:

  • Finch Bay is palms down the nicest resort in Santa Cruz.  Think luxurious every thing. There’s even a non-public dock with a non-public yacht for company. Amenities embrace free Wi-Fi, A/C, a beautiful swimming pool and restaurant, and a pier with yachts to go to the islands. Breakfast with bacon, sausages, pancakes, contemporary fruits and eggs is served every day.
  • Hotel Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque resort product of lava stones and driftwood. Huge home windows overlook the ocean as you dine on your included breakfast or get pleasure from a cocktail by the hearth.  Sunbathe, chill, or snorkel on the non-public waterfront!

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Psst: Planning a visit to the Galapagos Islands? Take a have a look at these different posts to provide help to plan:

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