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


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Barking sea lions. Crystal swimming pools tucked between volcanic cliffs. Large tortoises. Recent, 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 dwelling to lots of the Galapagos’ greatest sights, actions, and academic alternatives. It’s a must-visit whether or not you’re planning a land-based Galapagos journey or stopping by on a cruise – like, actually you may’t miss it: you’ll both fly right here or cease right here on a cruise.

Years in the past, we revealed the story of our go to to Santa Cruz, Galapagos. It’s a fantastic publish and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog vogue, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this publish: a definitely-very-useful journey information that can show you how to plan your go to to Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

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

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

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

Methods to Get to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

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

Santa Cruz’s airport is named Baltra, and also you’ll be capable 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 trip from the Baltra docks. From the docks on the Santa Cruz facet it’s a few 45 minute drive into Puerto Ayora.

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

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

If you happen to’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 a minimum of a day upfront as their seats are restricted – you may e book your ticket on-line on Bookaway. The trip is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you allow to go off seasickness!

Ideas for Visiting Santa Cruz, Galapagos

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

The principle city in Santa Cruz is the coastal port city of Puerto Ayora, the place you’ll discover loads of motels, eating places, and all the comforts you’d anticipate from a small island city (don’t get too fancy, although. The web will be spotty. Some nights, we couldn’t even watch Netflix! I do know, stunning). Santa Cruz can be dwelling 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 perfect eating places, motels, 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 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! Top off 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. Ensure to carry reef-safe sunscreen for whenever you’ll be within the water, to guard the coral reef and different marine wildlife that reside within the Galapagos!
  • There’s a big grocery retailer proper by the principle dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. It’s also possible to pop to the highest flooring for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However understand that most motels received’t have a kitchen.
  • We suggest 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 likelihood you received’t be capable to do each tour you’d like as there’s a restricted variety of areas obtainable and excursions are topic to strict rules. Plus, it’s simply type of anxious to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We discovered this from expertise.) If you happen to do wait to e book in individual, simply discover any tour operator – their workplaces are throughout city – or go to the kiosk close to the docks. Bear in mind that you just’ll have to pay to your day excursions upfront with money.

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

Listed here are a couple of unbelievable 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 perfect excursions on every. At simply round $1,500 per individual, it’s not far more than what we paid and a unbelievable worth for every week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: If you happen to’re brief 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 perfect 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 guess! You’ll go to all 3 inhabited islands and do the perfect excursions in every.

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Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Issues to Do

Puerto Ayora is the primary hub for the Galapagos Islands, and dwelling base to do the Galapagos with no 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 total story of our go to to Santa Cruz Island – errors, mishaps, and all – head over to this publish.

Go to the Fish Market

The Puerto Ayora fish market is a must-see and completely captures the magic of the Galapagos Islands. Sure, it’s the perfect 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 an everyday on the Puerto Ayora fish market. She positions herself behind the counter straight beneath the slicing board, the place she is aware of she’ll get fed scraps and pores and skin from the contemporary fish fillets all day lengthy! She’s like a pet canine that’s additionally an lovable sea lion. We wish one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and typically napping sea lions as nicely. Ensure 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 perfect 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 good looking 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 brilliant, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the way in which to the underside of the deep pool, making for unbelievable images and views. You possibly can leap off the dock into the water for those who like, and climb up the cliffs to leap from the rocks for those who dare! Las Grietas is the perfect snorkeling on Santa Cruz Island by far. 

To get to Las Grietas from Puerto Ayora, take a water taxi from the docks and ask for Punta Estrada or simply say you’re going to Las Grietas – they’ll know what you imply. It’s a ridiculously brief 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 facet of Puerto Ayora). Stroll alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely possibility so that you can stroll on, so that you received’t get misplaced). The boardwalk will take you previous Punta Estrada, a small cove the place you may swim, with a seaside throughout low tide.

The boardwalk to Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
The boardwalk to Las Grietas, the perfect 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 register and wait to your flip to enter with a information (chances are you’ll wait 15-10 minutes to go together with an even bigger group). tl;dr observe the one path till it ends. Straightforward 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 may climb by means of to the opposite ones. Swim all the way in which to the top of the primary pool, climb (fastidiously!) over the rocks, and swim by means of the second pool to entry the hidden third pool. To get to it you’ll both need to 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 means of 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 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 proscribed to 90 minutes, however when you’ve completed, you may stroll again and cease at Playa de los Alemanes and spend the remainder of the afternoon and sundown there, so pack loads of water and snacks.
  • Snorkeling at Playa de los Alemanes, which you’ll stroll previous in your method to Las Grietas, could be a combined bag, however if you’re 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 contemporary and scrumptious, it’s nicely price the additional work to choose all of the deliciousness off the bones!

Go to the Kiosks

The Kiosks/Los Kioskos are the perfect 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, pleased vacationers, and locals mingling among the many numerous kiosks, all of whom are promoting a variation of the identical objects, loudly proffered by servers thrusting menus and complete uncooked fish underneath 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 night time lengthy.

Every 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 means of the alley is a little bit like carrying 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 actually, you may’t go improper: choose wherever, and order no matter they suggest. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? The most effective meals in Puerto Ayora can be essentially the most price range pleasant! An entire brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, one among our favourite kiosks in seafood alley. Their grilled and fried complete fish, grilled octopus, seafood cazuela, sopa de queso (scrumptious cheese soup) and numerous batidos (fruit milkshakes) are all glorious.

The kioscos are positioned at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s straightforward to stroll from wherever on the town. It’s also possible to all the time take an inexpensive pickup truck taxi. If it’s worthwhile 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 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 sights are all exterior.

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

And sure – you may see lovable child turtles right here!

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

Sadly, lack of expertise 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 previous tortoise.

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

Fortunately, advances in tortoise breeding have made it attainable to resurrect this species from extinction: by breeding tortoises containing a excessive share of the genes of Lonesome George’s species, after a couple of generations a totally genetically an identical tortoise will probably be born!

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

Together with tortoises, you may spy land and marine iguanas basking close to the middle. There are additionally some trails winding by means of the vegetation to the seaside. However that’s about it – mood your expectations! It is a scientific analysis and conservation heart, not a zoo.

  • You’ll discover the Charles Darwin Analysis Station on the finish of the principle avenue in Puerto Ayora, Charles Darwin Avenue. From the docks, stroll for about 20 minutes in the other way. Straightforward!
  • You’ll want to indicate 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 a neighborhood information will accompany you.
Puerto Ayora, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Puerto Ayora within the Galapagos Islands is an lovable 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 perfect place to cease for a meal, a drink, or a nightcap! Listed here are a couple of of the perfect locations to eat and drink in Puerto Ayora:

  • Attempt a typical native breakfast at Tropic Chook Cafe: dealing with the ocean proper subsequent to the fish market, this $5 breakfast and lunch spot is definitely highly regarded 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 will be discovered at 1835 Espresso Lab, a roastery serving regionally grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Pleased Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the principle road in Puerto Ayora. Stroll by means of round sundown to benefit from the perfect 2-for-1 drink affords!
  • The most effective ice cream after a protracted 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 possibly can ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so strive creamy chocolate with a neighborhood fruit, resembling 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 Resort, essentially the most luxurious lodge on the island. Dine a-la-carte or go for an outstanding 7-course tasting menu – for underneath $100, it’s a splurge however nonetheless an superb worth. Take pleasure in an unbelievable culinary expertise in a shocking 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 seaside by Tortuga Bay. Don’t be like us: carry 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, 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 searching for rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see a couple of tiny fish.

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

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

Nevertheless, we predict the greatest method 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 purple cobblestone road with a motorcycle 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 top of the road, after about 10 minutes.

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

From the kiosk is a easy cobblestone path – stroller pleasant, we noticed a couple of households – that you just’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 seaside 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 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 may see nesting marine iguanas and watch turtles swim within the open ocean. If you happen to come throughout low tide, there’s a secluded little seaside with shade from the place you may see the mile-long Tortuga Bay in its entirety.

To the proper you’ll discover Tortuga Bay – search for folks swimming and sunbathing on the shore of a giant horseshoe-shaped bay!

Swimmers and kayakers in the clear blue waters of Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz, Galapagos
Swimmers and a kayakers within the heat waters of Tortuga Bay

Stroll to the top of Tortuga Bay and observe the trail to the proper to get to Playa Mansa, the calm, lagoon-like a part of the seaside the place you may lastly discover shade and – if you’re 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 every little thing you’ll need 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!), numerous water (keep in mind you’ve gotten a protracted sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, bathroom paper (there isn’t a rest room, however you’ll find a spot for those who want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is comfy 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, nevertheless it positively 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’ll’t see something.
  • We rented kayaks for $20 an hour from the lone vendor on the seaside. We tried to snorkel in several spots within the bay that have been too far to swim to, however that didn’t pan out. If you take pleasure in kayaking only for the sake of it, lease a kayak. In any other case, you may skip the kayak rental. If you’re fairly assured in your swimming talents, swim out a little bit 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. It’s also possible to discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seaside to the little lookout fabricated from lava stones the place you may see them swimming within the water.

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tortise ranch in Las Grietas ecuador
Be careful for tortoises, they’re 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?

When you could spot them on the facet of the highway or go to a breeding heart, you may see them in all their glory (and gigantic dimension!) at a tortoise reserve – additionally 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 ft of elevation greater than the coast. The air up right here is cooler, which makes it the right habitat for tortoises!

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

There are two primary ranches to select from, each price $5 (which features a information to indicate 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 contains lava tunnels) on-line, which is the best method to go to as your transportation will all be taken care of.

Or, for those who choose the cheaper DIY route, to get to the tortoise ranches you’ll take a bus from Puerto Ayora to Santa Rosa ($1-1.5) after which stroll (plan 90 minutes) following the one path within the village and switch left on the signal to the ranches. Observe the highway and on the finish, flip left for Primicias (farther away) and proper for El Chato. When you get in Santa Rosa, you can too hope to discover a taxi to take you the remainder of the way in which. 

It’s also possible to lease a motorcycle and cycle to Santa Rosa (you higher be in excellent form and cycle recurrently) or pop the bike on the bike rack on the bus to Santa Rose, then bike the remainder of the way in which there.

Alternatively, you may take a taxi ($40 spherical journey) which is able to watch for 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 method as much as the longer, darker ones (in case you get claustrophobic!). Primicias has one, nearly a mile-long tunnel with no method of exiting earlier or turning round.
  • Don’t put on your greatest garments — you’ll be strolling by means of 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 may 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 provides you with rainboots.

Swings at Highland Views

Highland Views is a farm inland – within the greater elevation, cooler a part of Santa Cruz island generally known as the Highlands – that’s open to vacationers ($5). Right here you may 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 illustration of how they make sugarcane juice. However the true draw are what Instagrammable desires are created from: swings! 

How loopy you wish to go on the swing is as much as you: there aren’t any guidelines – and no security belts. Rise up or just sit; both method, the primary second you swing your ft ahead and overlook all the island and see all the way in which to Santa Fe is exhilarating.

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

Oh, and don’t overlook to sit back within the hammock and pet the canine earlier than you allow!

  • To get to Highland Views, you may take a taxi for $15. Or for the cheaper and extra adventurous route, catch a bus from the nook of Baltra Avenue and Isla Duncan to El Cascajo for $1 – there’s one within the morning and one after lunch. From Cascajo, stroll again down the hill you got here up with and also you’ll discover the trail as much as Highland Views.
Garrapatero Beach on puerto ayora in ecuador
Garrapatero Seaside is a good place to lounge. (Photograph Credit score: Claire Herbaux)

Garrapatero Seaside

Garrapatero Seaside is a hidden gem within the Galapagos – a shocking quiet seaside (besides on weekends) the place you may swim and kayak within the crystal clear water, chill out on the comfortable white sand, or stroll alongside the seaside 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 carry with you (we suggest a pulled pork sandwich from Island Deli). There’s a lavatory and altering space obtainable right here, so you may bathe earlier than you head again.

  • To get to Garrapatero Seaside, you may take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (about $20 every method) – remember to allow them to know you’ll want a return trip. So as to add a scenic vista, negotiate to your taxi to drive you again by way of the highlands. It prices a little bit extra, the views are price it as you come back dwelling. You’ll additionally get an opportunity to breathe within the cool, high-altitude, air for some time – a refreshing change after a protracted day on the seaside!
  • It’s also possible to lease bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, a little bit underneath 5 miles (put together for hills). You’ll cease a minimum of twice to benefit from the view and snap pics, or simply as a result of there’s a tortoise on the highway. For the way in which again, e book a taxi upfront ($20) as there isn’t any sign and the way in which again is STEEP!
Lia and Jeremy Garcia in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
We swam with sea lions!! Additionally, behold: the tannest we’ve ever been in our lives.

Santa Fe Island Day Journey 

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

First, we spent over an hour stress-free on a seaside. Not one of the group knew we have been going to be parked at a seaside for over an hour, so no person had introduced something to do, blankets, sun shades, and many others – we have been all ready to only hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was numerous grumbling and tedium. I spent an hour constructing a sand citadel. There are worse methods to waste time, however I do want we’d had some advance discover.

Subsequent we went to a rocky cliff face to snorkel. The present was extremely robust; that is not your common stress-free snorkeling and swimming was tough! We did see some fairly fish – the water was deeper than many of the different excursions we went on.

After snorkeling, we went to a different space, a brilliant 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 supplied 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 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 consistently having to maintain up with a bunch or all trailing the identical animals. Additionally, there are 3 separate places, 2 of which have distinctive snorkeling alternatives, so it wasn’t repetitive or boring in any respect.

Listed here are some ideas for the Santa Fe tour:

  • If you happen to 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 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 embody wetsuits, however the water is frigid. Hire wetsuits at any company on the town for the day.
  • The supplied 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 another excuse why we suggest 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 take a seat on.
A blue footed booby and his babies on the Los Tuneles tour from Isabela Island in the Galapagos!
A blue-footed booby dad and his awkward, fur-covered infants. Boobies are doofy AF and we love them.

Seymour Island Day Journey

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

If you happen to’re not visiting Isla Isabela, this may be your solely likelihood to see blue-footed boobies – and people foolish little birds are nicely well worth the tour. In any other case, you would possibly wish to wait till you may 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.

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

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Resorts: The place to Keep

There are many motels on Santa Cruz Island positioned in Puerto Ayora, starting from cheap to extra luxurious. Count on decently sized non-public rooms with non-public bogs, scorching water, towels, drinkable water, and the works for round $50-70 an evening, or a bit greater for those who decide to incorporate breakfast.

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

  • Mid-Vary Resort: Sueno Silvestres is positioned near the Charles Darwin analysis heart and some blocks away from the seaside & primary road of Puerto Ayora in a pleasant quiet and personal space. Our room was massive, scorching water was plentiful, there have been free towels and drinkable water supplied, and the proprietor Carlos was pleasant and welcoming. Breakfast is on the market for an additional price.
  • Trip Rental: This spacious fashionable loft has ocean views EVERYWHERE – from the lounge, the non-public balcony. This sunny little condominium nestled within the treetops is only a 5-minute stroll away from the principle city stretch – AND it’s underneath $100/night time!
  • 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/night time. 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 motels 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 motels are positioned on the Punta Estrada Waterfront close to the quiet Alemanes Seaside. It’s a brief water taxi trip 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 Resort is arms down the nicest lodge in Santa Cruz.  Assume luxurious every little thing. There’s even a non-public dock with a non-public yacht for friends. Facilities embody free Wi-Fi, A/C, a beautiful swimming pool and restaurant, and a pier with yachts to go to the islands. Breakfast with bacon, sausages, pancakes, contemporary fruits and eggs is served each day.
  • Resort Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque lodge fabricated 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!

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

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