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. 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 lots of the Galapagos’ finest 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 publish and enjoyable to learn, however in typical 2016-travel-blog trend, it’s not terribly helpful. So we created this publish: a definitely-very-useful journey information that can assist you 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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How you can Go to The Galapagos Islands And not using a Cruise: A Full Information

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

How you can Get to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

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

Santa Cruz’s airport known as Baltra, and also you’ll 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 journey 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 value is ready, however everybody goes the identical route, so don’t be afraid to separate a taxi with one other traveler!

The less expensive choice is to take a bus, additionally situated dockside. There are restricted airline arrivals every day, so count on 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 middle of city, about half a mile from the ocean and most accommodations/hostels.

In case 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 not less than a day upfront as their seats are restricted – you’ll be able to e book your ticket on-line on Bookaway. The journey is about 2 hours. Pop a Dramamine earlier than you permit 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 despite the fact that it’s a populated island, it’s nonetheless stuffed with wildlife – the magic of the Galapagos!

The primary city in Santa Cruz is the coastal port city of Puerto Ayora, the place you’ll discover loads of accommodations, eating places, and the entire comforts you’d count on from a small island city (don’t get too fancy, although. The web might be spotty. Some nights, we couldn’t even watch Netflix! I do know, surprising). Santa Cruz can be residence to one of many two airports within the Galapagos Islands, so there’s a very good likelihood you’ll both by flying into or out of right here.

Round each nook is one other alternative to see brightly coloured crabs, snoozing sea lions, and cuddling marine iguanas. You’ll discover many of the very best eating places, accommodations, and day excursions in Puerto Ayora.

  • Most locations in Ecuador don’t settle for bank cards, or cost 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 outlets, 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 as a result of proximity to the Equator. Be certain that to carry reef-safe sunscreen for once you’ll be within the water, to guard the coral reef and different marine wildlife that reside within the Galapagos!
  • There’s a enormous grocery retailer proper by the principle dock on the town, the place we picked up groceries for snacks and breakfast. You can even pop to the highest flooring for an inexpensive espresso and pastry with a sea view. However understand that most accommodations received’t have a kitchen.
  • We suggest reserving accomodations and a few excursions on-line upfront. You’ll be able to e book your Puerto Ayora excursions as quickly as you arrive on the island and also you’ll avoid wasting cash this manner, however there’s additionally a very good likelihood you received’t have the ability to do each tour you’d like as there’s a restricted variety of areas out there and excursions are topic to strict rules. Plus, it’s simply form of disturbing to not know what you’ll be doing till you arrive! (We realized this from expertise.) In case 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. Remember that you simply’ll must pay in your day excursions upfront with money.

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

Listed below are a number of improbable choices:

  • 7-day Galapagos on a Funds Expertise: This itinerary carefully mirrors our journey. You’ll go to each Santa Cruz and Isabela Island and take what we’d think about 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 improbable worth for per week lengthy Galapagos journey.
  • 5 Day Galapagos Tour: In case 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 record, this 8-day tour is your finest guess! You’ll go to all 3 inhabited islands and do the very best excursions in every.

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Santa Cruz, Galapagos: Issues to Do

Puerto Ayora is the predominant hub for the Galapagos Islands, and a very good residence base to do the Galapagos with out 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 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 very best place on the island to buy freshly caught seafood (when you’re fortunate sufficient to have a kitchen to play with, that is very thrilling!), nevertheless it’s additionally simply, like, a vibe. For one factor, there’s Lupe.

Lupe the Sea Lion is a daily on the Puerto Ayora fish market. She positions herself behind the counter immediately beneath the slicing board, the place she is aware of she’ll get fed scraps and pores and skin from the contemporary fish fillets all day lengthy! She’s like a pet canine that’s additionally an lovely sea lion. We wish one!! 

You’ll additionally discover a small crowd of hovering pelicans and herons, and generally napping sea lions as effectively. Be certain 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 stupendous clear pool between two sheer volcanic cliff faces – therefore the title, which suggests “The Crevices.” Throughout noon when the solar is excessive, the pool is a vivid, clear blue, and the solar’s rays sparkle all the best way to the underside of the deep pool, making for unimaginable photographs and views. You’ll be able to bounce off the dock into the water when you like, and climb up the cliffs to leap from the rocks when 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 journey and the water taxi is underneath $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 aspect of Puerto Ayora). Stroll alongside the boardwalk (it’s the solely choice 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’ll be able to swim, with a seashore throughout low tide.

The boardwalk to Las Grietas in Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
The boardwalk to Las Grietas, the very best place to go snorkelling in Santa Cruz, Galapagos!

Maintain strolling down the boardwalk previous some attention-grabbing pink-tinged salt flats. After about quarter-hour you’ll attain Las Grietas! Maintain strolling down the boardwalk till you get to the doorway the place you check in and wait in 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 comply with the one path till it ends. Straightforward sufficient, proper?

Listed below are a number 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 means of to the opposite ones. Swim all the best way to the top of the primary pool, climb (rigorously!) over the rocks, and swim by means of the second pool to entry the hidden third pool. To get to it you’ll both must rigorously climb over extra rocks (seriously, watch out. Jeremy slipped and reduce 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 lots of of fish swimming on this part undisturbed, and it’s completely unimaginable.
  • Head to Las Grietas round midday to beat the cruise crowds and catch 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 by 5pm.
  • 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, which you’ll stroll previous in your technique to Las Grietas, is usually a blended bag, however if you’re eager to strive, then purpose 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.

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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 effectively price the additional work to choose all of the deliciousness off the bones!

Go to the Kiosks

The Kiosks/Los Kioskos are the very best place to eat in Puerto Ayora. The Kiosks are a seafood alley: a road lined with small, locally-owned eating places all cooking variations of extremely contemporary, domestically 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, completely satisfied 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 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 sizzling all evening lengthy.

All the pieces from contemporary complete 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.

Strolling by means of the alley is slightly like sporting a bulls-eye in 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. However truthfully, you’ll be able to’t go fallacious: decide anyplace, and order no matter they suggest. It’ll be nice.

Our favourite half about Los Kioskos? One of the best meals in Puerto Ayora can be essentially the most funds pleasant! A complete brujo fish to share is $15 at Sol y Mar, one in all 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 situated at Baltra & Charles Binford. It’s simple to stroll from anyplace on the town. You can even at all times take an affordable pickup truck taxi. If you have to, ask any native for assist discovering los kioskos – they’ll all know. 

Beach path on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
We ventured down a seashore pathway close to the Charles Darwin Analysis Station and located this secluded seashore 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 posh: the principle constructing is full of info and some small displays, however the principle points of interest are all outdoors.

Turtles are bred in a piece of the middle right here, referred to as the Fausto Llerena Breeding Heart. Every large island within the Galapagos has its personal land turtle breeding middle, we realized. Whereas the turtles are raised in captivity, they’re launched again into the wild as adults. Some of the 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 big previous tortoises munch on turtle snacks and slowly chase one another round, we realized that for years, the tortoise breeding middle tried its finest to provide offspring that might proceed the survival of a tortoise species with just one present member: Lonesome George.

Land tortoises at the Charles Darwin Breeding Center in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
I think about this land tortoise is saying, “Shut up, Muriel! You thoughts your individual beeswax!” Is it simply me or does each land tortoise appear to be an 80 12 months previous man??

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

He died a number of years in the past, taking his total 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 number 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’ll be able to spy land and marine iguanas basking close to the middle. There are additionally some trails winding by means of the vegetation to the seashore. 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 wrong way. Straightforward!
  • You’ll want to point out your Nationwide Park entry ticket (given to you on the airport) for entry to the station.
  • You’ll must 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 lovely city with loads of locations to eat, drink, store, hop on boats, and see critters.

Eat & Drink in Puerto Ayora

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

  • Strive a typical native breakfast at Tropic Hen Cafe: going through the ocean proper subsequent to the fish market, this $5 breakfast and lunch spot is definitely very talked-about with the locals. Strive an encebollado with chifle, fish soup with a aspect of fried plantain chips to crush up within the soup.
  • One of the best espresso in Puerto Ayora might be discovered at 1835 Espresso Lab, a roastery serving domestically grown Galapagos espresso. 
  • You’ll discover loads of locations to get drinks for Glad Hour alongside Charles Darwin avenue, the principle road in Puerto Ayora. Stroll by means of round sundown to make the most of the very best 2-for-1 drink gives!
  • One of the best ice cream after a protracted day on the seashore is Galapagos Deli. One scoop is biiiiig and two are an excessive amount of, however now we have a tip for you: You’ll be able to ask for 2 flavors in a single scoop, so strive creamy chocolate with a neighborhood fruit, reminiscent of Mora, the domestically grown blackberry.
  • For a small and low cost dinner, stroll as much as the market (nook of Avenida Baltra and Islas Duncan) from 6pm onwards for empanadas. Two stalls serve savory and candy (Nutella and banana – suuuuuper heavy however so yummy) empanadas for $1.5-2.5, with salads juice or the normal colada morada, a thick drink from cornflour, pineapple juice and berries ($1).
  • If you wish to splurge on a flowery foodie meal, the fanciest restaurant on the town is the Finch Bay Restaurant on the Finch Bay Lodge, essentially the most luxurious resort on the island. Dine a-la-carte or go for an exceptional 7-course tasting menu – for underneath $100, it’s a splurge however nonetheless an superb worth. Get pleasure from an unimaginable culinary expertise in a surprising setting, looking over the sundown as waves lap the shore.

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Tortuga Bay Beach, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
Poor Jeremy lugging round our rental snorkeling gear and our tiny, horrible day bag on the seashore by Tortuga Bay. Don’t be like us: carry your individual snorkeling gear and a good, normal-sized day bag!

Swim in Tortuga Bay

Tortuga Bay is known as as one of the vital lovely seashores in Ecuador, nevertheless it’s due to its pristine white sand, not as a result of it’s teeming with turtles. Additionally, the visibility within the water was terrible for snorkeling. We kayaked across the bay in search of rays, sharks, and turtles, and solely managed to see a number of tiny fish.

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

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

Nonetheless, we predict the finest 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 purple cobblestone road with a motorbike lane. Stroll 2 blocks and also you’ll attain Charles Binford Avenue. Flip proper. Observe Charles Binford Avenue out of city till you attain the top of the road, after about 10 minutes.

On the finish of the road is a staircase up a brief hill. On the high of the hill is slightly kiosk the place you’ll check in to enter the park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stroll to the top of Tortuga Bay and comply with the trail to the best to get to Playa Mansa, the calm, lagoon-like a part of the seashore the place you’ll be able to lastly discover shade and – if you’re fortunate on a quiet day – spot little sharks within the shallow water.

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

  • Pack in all the things you will want for the day as there may be nowhere to purchase something on the seashore. We advise bringing tons of sunscreen and solar safety (the solar is way stronger right here on the equator!), a variety of water (bear in mind you’ve got a protracted sunny hike to and from Tortuga Bay), a packed lunch and snacks, rest room paper (there isn’t a rest room, however you will discover a spot when you want one within the bushes), a towel, and naturally your swimsuit!
  • The water is snug for swimming with out a wetsuit and is fairly shallow throughout low tide.
  • We rented snorkel gear for $14 and schlepped it together with us on the stroll, nevertheless it positively wasn’t price it – this isn’t a very good snorkel spot. There are purported 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 seashore. We tried to snorkel in several spots within the bay that had been too far to swim to, however that didn’t pan out. If you take pleasure in kayaking only for the sake of it, lease a kayak. In any other case, you’ll be able to skip the kayak rental. If you’re fairly assured in your swimming skills, swim out slightly farther from the seashore and you’ll begin seeing turtles within the water.
  • You’ll be able to see iguanas throughout low tide on the principle stretch of the seashore in addition to sunbathing on the very finish of the seashore earlier than attending to Playa Mansa. You can even discover turtles by strolling left on the finish of the seashore to the little lookout made from lava stones the place you’ll be able to see them swimming within the water.

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tortise ranch in Las Grietas ecuador
Be careful for tortoises, they’re at all times 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 aspect of the street or go to a breeding middle, you’ll be able to see them in all their glory (and gigantic dimension!) at a tortoise reserve – additionally referred to as a tortoise ranch, although not in the identical sense we imply it within the States – within the Highlands, the inland a part of Santa Cruz Island that sits at about 2,000 ft of elevation larger than the coast. The air up right here is cooler, which makes it the right habitat for tortoises!

Plus, you’ll get an opportunity to see lava tunnels, too – and you’ll even crawl by means of 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 need a snack or lunch overlooking tortoise.

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

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

You can even lease a motorbike and cycle to Santa Rosa (you higher be in superb 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 watch for you there.

Listed below 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 finest 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 gives you rainboots.

Swings at Highland Views

Highland Views is a farm inland – within the larger elevation, cooler a part of Santa Cruz island often called 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 goals are constituted of: 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 manner, the primary second you swing your ft ahead and overlook the whole 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 aspect of the massive posts holding the swing.

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

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

Garrapatero Seaside

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

There’s not a lot to see within the water, so go away your snorkel gear at your 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 a watch 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 out there 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’ll want to allow them to know you’ll want a return journey. So as to add a scenic vista, negotiate in your taxi to drive you again by way of the highlands. It prices slightly extra, the views are price it as you come back residence. 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 seashore!
  • You can even lease bikes on the town ($10-15, ask for a lock) and bike there, slightly underneath 5 miles (put together for hills). You’ll cease not 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 seashore. Not one of the group knew we had been going to be parked at a seashore for over an hour, so no person had introduced something to do, blankets, sun shades, and so forth – we had been all ready to simply hop within the ocean and snorkel. There was a variety of grumbling and tedium. I spent an hour constructing a sand citadel. There are worse methods to waste time, however I do want we’d had some advance discover.

Subsequent we went to a rocky cliff face to snorkel. The present was extremely robust; that is not your common 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 vivid blue lagoon, the place we lastly had 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 optionally available 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.

One of the best a part of this tour was that it wasn’t rushed; we weren’t always 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 below are some ideas for the Santa Fe tour:

  • In case you do that tour, do it earlier in your journey as you’re unlikely to see a lot that’s new and thrilling when you’ve already been snorkeling lots.
  • You’ll be able to 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. Lease wetsuits at any company on the town for the day.
  • The supplied masks had been poorly made – two of the air tubes, together with mine, fell off within the ocean. We had been then requested to pay for the misplaced tubes (I politely refused). But another excuse why we suggest bringing your individual snorkeling gear as a part of our Galapagos Packing Checklist.
  • Convey one thing to do through the hour you’ll spend on the seashore, like a e book in a dry bag or some waterproof playing cards or a towel to take a seat on.
A blue footed booby and his babies on the Los Tuneles tour from Isabela Island in the Galapagos!
A blue-footed booby dad and his awkward, fur-covered infants. Boobies are doofy AF and we love them.

Seymour Island Day Journey

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

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

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

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

You’ll be able to 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 an amazing room at Sueno Silvestres resort for an inexpensive mid-range value proper within the coronary heart of Puerto Ayora!

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Resorts: The place to Keep

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

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

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

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

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

  • Finch Bay Lodge is palms down the nicest resort in Santa Cruz.  Suppose luxurious all the things. There’s even a personal dock with a personal yacht for company. Facilities embody 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 each day.
  • Lodge Angermeyer Waterfront Inn is in a picturesque resort made from lava stones and driftwood. Large home windows overlook the ocean as you dine in your included breakfast or take pleasure in a cocktail by the hearth.  Sunbathe, chill, or snorkel on the personal waterfront!

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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 Prime Journey Suggestions & Sources

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try 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 normally keep in budget-friendly trip leases, boutique accommodations or personal rooms in hostels. We use Reserving.com to e book accommodations (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and wonderful critiques). For trip leases, we desire 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 observe file. You can even e book trip leases on Expedia and Resorts.com. We additionally use TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our residence and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Journey Insurance coverage Information to search out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, and so they 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 will we earn money again that we are able to spend on extra journey, however the card gives improbable 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 advisable drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times suggest getting each vaccine advisable by the CDC! You will get them at your major care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get a neighborhood’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 tips on how to get from place to position, 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 check rental corporations and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: At any time when we’re testing early or profiting from a protracted layover, we use LuggageHero to soundly retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating round. Use the code PRACTICALW for two hours of free baggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN retains your digital info (like web site login particulars, financial institution information, and so forth) secure, even once you’re linked to an unsecured community whereas touring. Plus, it enables you to use Netflix & different streaming websites overseas! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO once you join!
  • What to Pack: Listed below are the journey necessities that we carry on each journey. We even have packing lists for sizzling climate, chilly climate, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!



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