Isla Santa Cruz Travel Guide

  • Isla Santa Cruz
    by Gypsystravels
  • Isla Santa Cruz
    by Gypsystravels
  • Isla Santa Cruz
    by Gypsystravels

Isla Santa Cruz Things to Do

  • Rancho El Manzanillo

    When I visited Galapagos Islands in 2011 and 2013 I had not heard of El Manzanillo. When I saw the sign along the main road across the island I asked the taxi driver what it was and he told me it was a fairly new ranch where you can see tortoises in their natural habitat. It opened in 2012. So, one day I decided to cycle there from Puerto Ayora....

  • Playa Escondida

    I went on a snorkeling tour to Isla Santa Fe and before returning to Puerto Ayora we visited Playa Escondida on Isla Santa Cruz. It is a small secluded beach, east/northeast of Puerto Ayora. Coming home I have looked on Google Earth and there I saw that it is situated near El Garrapatero. To visit Playa Escondida you must arrive from the sea. When...

  • Four daytrips with bicycle (2014)

    When I visited Puerto Ayora in 2014 I made four daytrips with bicycle. One day I cycled to Rancho Chato 2 and another day to both Cerro Mesa and El Garrapatero. I also went to El Manzanillo with bicycle and to Los Gemelos. For three of the bicycle tours I rented a bike at Comercial Pinguino next to Hotel Darwin on Av Baltra. The bikes there were...

  • Cerro Mesa – the crater

    I arrived to Cerro Mesa by bicycle. Just as I arrived to the visitor centre (which actually looks abandoned) a man in a car arrived. He told me to go to the crater first, and indicated the road, before going up on the top of the hill. The crater at Cerro Mesa is the largest crater on Isla Santa Cruz.It was a sunny day and the short walk to the...

  • The view point at Cerro Mesa

    After visiting the crater at Cerro Mesa I walked up to see the view from Cerro Mesa, a flat hill with the altitude of 490 metres. There is a nice view from the top towards the coast, except a new built hotel. It is the super expensive Pakaia Lodge you can see, and one can wonder how they got the permission to build it there. Except the man at the...

  • Bahía Borrero

    Bahía Borrero is one of the small white sandy beaches on the north coast of Isla Santa Cruz. This was the last stop on a daytour I made, which had also included circling around Daphne Major and two snorkeling spots off Isla Pinzón.It was lovely to take a walk along the beautiful beach. There were ghost crabs on the beach, Sally lightfoot crabs on...

  • El Garrapatero Beach

    2013: El Garrapaero is a beautiful and tranquil beach about 20 km northeast of Puerto Ayora. You can take a taxi to go there or rent a bike and cycle like I did.I arrived early and there was no one else at the beach, not even the park ranger had arrived to his office. I put my things in the shade, under a tree and went for a walk on the beach. ...

  • Rancho Chato 2- Tortoise Reserve

    2013: Rancho Chato 2 is situated a few kilometers from Santa Rosa, in the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz. It is a tortoise reserve and we came here on the first day of the cruise with Cachalote (Fernandina itinerary). Already along the road, before reaching Rancho Chato 2, we saw Giant Tortoises. The tortoises live in their natural habitat in this...

  • Laguna del Chato – El Chato Lagoon

    2013:On the first day of the second cruise I did with Cachalote (this time the Fernandina itinerary), we visited the tortoise reserve El Cato 2. During our visit here we walked to Laguna del Chato which is an important lagoon for the Giant Tortoises that come here to drink. Around the lagoon you can usually also see some aquatic birds. We saw...

  • Rancho Primicias

    Rancho Primicias is situated in the highlands of Santa Cruz. It is a private ranch which you can visit to see the Galapagos Giant Tortoise in their natural habitat. The tortoises come here as there are plenty of water holes, food and areas with shade. There are several paths around the property and you can walk around on your own. I enjoyed my walk...

  • Los Gemelos

    2013: Los Gemelos means The Twins. They are two large holes, around 30 metres deep, which were created when the roof of empty magma chambers eventually collapsed. They are situated in the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz, just next to the main road that crosses the island. Los Gemelos are surrounded by scalesia forest and here you can find, vermilion...

  • Tortuga Bay (Turtle Bay)

    At Tortuga Bay there is a beautiful long white sandy beach (Playa Brava). There are strong currents in the sea so this beach is not for swimming, but some people are surfing, kayaking and sunbathing. If you want to swim there is a smaller protected beach (Playa Mansa) in the end of Tortuga Bay. At Tortuga Bay you will probably see Marine Iguanas...

  • Las Grietas, Puerto Ayora

    Las Grietas is a long fissure in the lava rock. Here freshwater filtered down from the highlands meet salty water entering from the sea, making the water in the ravine brackish. It is a very nice place for swimming and snorkelling. The water is very clear, but can be a bit cold. Some people dive or make somersaults from the high cliffs. When you...

  • Wildlife at Tortuga Bay

    You don’t need to go on an expensive cruise or daytrip to see wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. A nice and easy thing to do is to walk the trail to Tortuga Bay and walk along the beach till the end of the path. You will for sure see lots of birds and marine iguanas. I have talked to people who, when they went to Tortuga Bay, only walked the trail...

  • El Mirador de los Túneles

    When I was on my way back to Puerto Ayora after one of the daytrips on bicycle I noticed a signboard along the road, not far from the town. It was a signboard for El Mirador de los Tuúneles and the trail was not very long, so I decided to have a look. There are many lava tunnels on Isla Santa Cruz. This is not one of the larger ones which you can...

  • Charles Darwin Research Station

    Charles Darwin Research Station is situated in the outskirts of Puerto Ayora, at the east end of Avenida Charles Darwin. It was established in 1964 and it is the headquarters of the Charles Darwin Foundation. Here more than 100 scientists, students and volunteers are working with research and conservation projects to protect the Galapagos ecosystem...

  • Rancho Fortiz

    When I had passed on bicycle on the main road I had seen a sign for Rancho Fortiz and decided to have a look after I had been to Los Gemelos. I wanted to find out if it was a place where you could see tortoises and if I could have something to eat there. If there was nothing there I would at least have got the opportunity to explore a little bit...

  • Punta Carrión

    Punta CarriónPunta Carrión is a snorkeling/diving site on the north/north eastern side of Isla Santa Cruz. Day tours to Plaza Sur often stop here for snorkeling on their way back to the Itabaca Canal and that is what we did when I was on one of those day tours. Where we started snorkeling it was quite deep and there was not much to see. I swam...

  • Puerto Ayora

    With around 15 000 inhabitants Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos Islands, and it is also the tourism centre. There are many hotels in all categories here, but they are more expensive compared to the mainland. Especially along Avenida Charles Darwin you will find hotels, as well as restaurants and souvenir shops. There are also some...

  • Whimbrel

    The Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) is common in Galapagos Islands, but it is a migrant bird that prefers breading in the colder northern climates of North America, Europe and Asia. In the Galapagos it can often be found along sandy beaches, by lagoons and tidal pools.The Whimbrel is a large wader with a long curved bill. The females have a longer...

  • Three daytrips with bicycle

    When I visited Puerto Ayora and Isla Santa Cruz in 2013 I rented a bike three times and made daytrips out of Puerto Ayora. One day I cycled to Media Luna and walked to Puntodo, another day I cycled to Los Gemelos andRancho Primicias, and another day I cycled to El Garrapatero. I rented the bikes from two different agencies on the street Islas...


Isla Santa Cruz Restaurants

  • Eating on Isla Santa Cruz, other places...

    Rancho PrimiciasI visited Rancho Primicias in July 2013. After walking around the paths to see the giant tortoises I ordered an empanada de queso ($1.50) and a fruit salad ($3) and sat for a while in the restaurant. There were no other guests in the restaurant at the moment, and I had only seen a few when walking around, but I think that Rancho...

  • Restaurants in Puerto Ayora

    In Puerto Ayora there are lots of restaurants in different price ranges. You can find lunch offers (almuerzo) for around $4 (July/August 2014) and also in the evening there are set dinner menus (merienda) for that price along Calle de Los Kioskos, even though most meals there cost more. Especially along Avenida Charles Darwin there are several...

  • Isla Santa Cruz Hotels

    0 Hotels in Isla Santa Cruz

Isla Santa Cruz Transportation

  • Cycling

    When I visited Galapagos Islands in June/July 2013 I rented a bike three days. It was $10 for half a day and $15 for a full day. One day I cycled to Media Luna and walked to Puntudo, another day I cycled to Los Gemelos (over 20km from Puerto Ayora) and Rancho Primicias, and another day I cycled to El Garrapatero.In Puerto Ayora there are bicycle...

  • From Baltra Airport to Puerto Ayora

    When you fly to Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador you will either arrive at the airport near Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal, or to the main airport on Isla Baltra. Isla Baltra is a small, flat island just north of Isla Santa Cruz. There are no visitor sites on Isla Baltra, but people are transferred from here to Isla Santa Cruz, or...

  • Speedboat between Puerto Ayora and...

    Update July 2014: I had planned to go to Isla Isabela the same day I arrived to Galapagos Islands, so when the bus arrived in Puerto Ayora I directly crossed the road and went to Cabomar’s office, afraid that there was not going to be any tickets available. Luckily there were still tickets available for the 14.00 boat. The ticket was $30. As last...


Isla Santa Cruz Warnings and Dangers

  • Yellow Paper Wasp

    The Yellow Paper Wasp is an introduced wasp to Galapagos Islands. It was first recorded in 1988 and has since then become widespread, especially in coastal areas.They are a real nuisance, they compete for food with the finches and they can sting humans. I have heard that there can be swarms of wasps at some places occasionally, and visitors can be...


    I noticed that when I was standing by the waters edge how clear the water was. Also I noticed the huge amount of rays right by the waters edge...hundreds of them and not only that so many sharks zipping in and out close by the waters edge,..I wasn't sure if their were schools of small fish in the shallows that was promoting this exhibition , BUT, I...

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

Isla Santa Cruz Sports & Outdoors

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo


    by MalenaN Updated Jan 17, 2015

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When I was in Puerto Ayora in 2013 I went jogging along the trail to Tortuga Bay twice, or three times. I went jogging early in the morning before breakfast and at that time there were many other people out jogging along that trail as well. The trail is paved and it is 2.5 km long. Reaching the beach at Tortuga Bay you can either continue for a longer jog along the beach or turn around, as I did, and follow the same trail back.

    In the beginning of the trail you must register (it opens at 6am) and you must also sign out when you return. I didn’t have the copy of my passport number with me when jogging, but it was already I the book since I had visited for a walk the afternoon before.

    When I visited Puerto Ayora in 2013 I noticed that the vegetation along the trail was drier then when I had visited two years earlier, even if it was the same time of the year, June/July. There had probably been less rain that year.

    Coming back to Puerto Ayora after a cruise and a visit to Isla San Cristobal I had planned to do some more jogging here, but unfortunately I had got a fever by then.
    Update 2014: I went jogging several times along this lovely trail. It was greener in 2014 than in 2013 (same time of the year) and it was enough to give the name of your hotel at the registration point when I didn't have my passport number.

    The trail to Tortuga Bay The trail to Tortuga Bay The trail to Tortuga Bay The trail to Tortuga Bay The trail to Tortuga Bay

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Isla Santa Cruz Favorites

  • Galapagos Carpenter Bee

    The Galapagos Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa darwini) is endemic to Galapagos Islands, and it is also the only bee species found there. They collect nectar and pollen from many species of flowers and are therefore a very important pollinator in the islands. The Carpenter Bee in the photo is a female. Females are black and larger than males. The males are...

  • Spiders in the Galapagos Islands

    During my two first visits to Galapagos Islands I can’t remember seeing any spiders at all, but last time I saw quite a lot of them sitting waiting for prey in their nests. There are over 50 species of spiders in the Galapagos so it is strange that I hadn’t seen any on my previous visits. Maybe I had just not paid attention. The spiders in the...

  • Hermit Crab

    There are around 1100 species of hermit crabs in the world. Most of them live in water but some live on land. In Galapagos Islands there are at least two species of hermit crabs that are terrestrial, the Caenobita compressus and the Calcinus exploratory (Galapagos hermit crab, also called orange tipped hermit crab). You can find them on the sea...


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