Santa Cruz Island is one of the Galápagos Islands with an area of 986 km2 (381 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 864 metres (2,835 ft). Situated in the center of the archipelago, Santa Cruz is the second largest island after Isabela. Its capital is Puerto Ayora, the most populated urban centre in the islands..
Tortuga Bay is a beautiful white sand beach, is named for being a nesting site for the black turtle.
It can be reached by boat or walking from Puerto Ayora (2.5 km from Baltra Avenue to the end of the brava beach). The Estimated walking time is 50 minutes.
Before arriving at the control booth, there is a bicycle parking; once in the booth, you should proceed to register with the park ranger.
Sand dunes and a rocky point divides the beach, creating a protected area and good for swimming “Playa Mansa”.
Access to this site can do from 08h:00 until 17h:00.
It is an ideal place for surfing and Snorkel practice site.
This site does not require a guide to accompany visitors
The walk starts in the city. It is very easy to follow the indicative signs from the main street of Puerto Ayora. The trail is well marked. You have to calculate that the hike takes about an hour. Remember to bring water.
After 50 minutes of walking you arrive to Brava beach. You need to walk 5 minutes more and you can see sand dunes and a rocky point divides the beach, creating a protected and good area for swimming. This place is called “Playa Mansa”. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of Santa Cruz. If you want to see the beach with a few people try to go early in the morning and enjoy it.
Germans Beach and Las Grietas
This place is very close to Puerto Ayora, to west of Academy Bay. To get there you need to take a boat, from the municipal pier to the pier Hotel Dolphin.
It is one of the most recommended places on this island, where you can get to know this Germans Beach. A peaceful, quiet, precise place for family walks. On this site you can also snorkel and rent kayaks.
Hence you must follow the path that goes through the lagoons, the beach and the residential area to reach the ravine of the largest crack. The trail is marked with stakes.
It is important to collect trash around and do not carry organic food that has seed. All waste must be brought back to town.
The lagoons that are on the road are of salt water and they are an ideal place for migratory and shorebirds site. The giant cactus that can be seen on the road, have evolved for light and do not to be covered by dense shrubbery or to protect land iguanas and giant tortoises that inhabited the place before and ate cactus.
In Las Grietas, you can see two layers of very clear water. The surface water is fresh water coming down from the top of the hill and reaches the crack by filtration and the bottom water is salt water entering from the sea. The mixture of these two waters is called brackish water, which is used as tap water in the town of Puerto Ayora.
You can jump from there into the cold water below, or you can follow the wooden staircase to the water, It is very exciting to swim, or jump from the different rocky platforms.
From the center of Santa Cruz, you can easily walk to the scientific station, this site is where the research and projects for the conservation of marine ecosystems of Galapagos are made. Here I could observe the different animals in the islands that are in sexual reproduction and it also has an Interpretation Centre of Natural History and it also carries out educational projects in support of the conservation of the Galapagos Islands.
In my way I could know the Lonesome George the last tortoise of its species in Galapagos, unfortunately he had died a couple of years ago.
Santa Cruz Fish Market.
After visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station, I was walking back when I saw on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz this seafood market, I am a big fan of markets, they show us the culture of the people and that essence we always need to know.
I come from a city closely linked to fishing, I used to see birds flying over the fishermen to take fish, but what caught my attention in this market was like fishermen, pelicans and frigate birds coexist so close to the fishermen expect some of that fishing, It is very appealing to tourists in my case to remember the city where I grew up between the sea, fish and birds.