Located in the center of the archipelago, Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos. The island’s capital, Puerto Ayora, is the largest populated center in the Galapagos and home to the majority of hotels, tourist centers and also the Charles Darwin Research Station. The island is a large dormant volcano with an amazingly varied climate and landscape from the coastal areas to the central highlands. From Santa Cruz you can witness the famous giant land tortoises, interesting volcanic formations and even sail to nearby islands to experience up close the rare and famed fauna of the Galapagos such as land and marine iguanas, boobies and frigate birds.

Themes

  • Adventure
  • Landscape
  • Wildlife

Highlights

  • Bartolome Island
  • North Seymour Island
  • South Plaza Island
  • Charles Darwin Station

Places to Stay

Angermeyer Waterfront Inn

Style: Guest house

The Angermeyer Waterfront Inn , situated on the historic grounds of the original home of adventurer and Galapagos settler Gus Angermeyer, enjoys a privileged location across Academy Bay with views of the bay, Puerto Ayora and the interior of Santa Cruz Island .

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Finch Bay Ecolodge

Style: Boutique

The only hotel in Puerto Ayora located on the beach, the Finch Bay is a beautiful and relaxing retreat in the Galapagos.

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Galapagos Safari Camp

Style: Camp

Styled after the classic Safari Camps of Africa, Galapagos Safari Camp is an eco-luxury camp set within a 55 hectare farm within the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

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Activities in Isla Santa Cruz

Half day visit to Tortuga Bay with snorklin from Puerto Ayura Hotel

An easy hike from Puerto Ayora, the trail to Tortuga bay will delight with its unique and impressive cacti but the end reveal is the real winner… a beautiful long white sand beach with cyrstal clear turquoise waters! At the far end of the bay, there is a magrove lagoon full of wildlife and ideal for swimming and snorkeling. (Duration 1-2hrs, snorkeling equipment included)

Half day visit to Tortuga Bay with snorkling from high land hotel

An easy hike from Puerto Ayora, the trail to Tortuga bay will delight with its unique and impressive cacti but the end reveal is the real winner… a beautiful long white sand beach with cyrstal clear turquoise waters! At the far end of the bay, there is a magrove lagoon full of wildlife and ideal for swimming and snorkeling. (Duration 1-2hrs, snorkeling equilment included)

Half day visit to Cerro Mesa & Garrapatero beach

On the eastern side of the island and at an elevation of 490m, Cerro Mesa is the largest crater on Santa Cruz. On this private tour enjoy the spectacular views afforded by the crater and look for the unique endemic flora as well as several species of finches. Continue on to beautiful Garrapatero Beach which features a magnificent contrast of black lava, white sand and turquoise water along with a flamingo lagoon and plenty of birdlife. (Half-day, Private Activity, lunch included)

Full day visit to Giant tortoises and Charles Darwin with Safari

Experience the emblematic ‘mascot’ of the Galapagos islands on this private guided half-day tour through the verdant highlands of Santa Cruz islands. First visit interesting volcanic formations such as pit-craters and lava tunnels and learn about the island’s endemic forests and unique microclimates. Then be amazed by the giant land tortoises roam free in their natural habitat, observing these gentle creatures from a series of trails through the Primicias ranch area. (Full-day, Private Activity, lunch included at Safari Camp)

Full day visit to Giant tortoises and Charles Darwin

Experience the emblematic ‘mascot’ of the Galapagos islands on this private guided half-day tour through the verdant highlands of Santa Cruz islands. First visit interesting volcanic formations such as pit-craters and lava tunnels and learn about the island’s endemic forests and unique microclimates. Then be amazed by the giant land tortoises roam free in their natural habitat, observing these gentle creatures from a series of trails through the Primicias ranch area. (Full-day, Private Activity, lunch included at Primicias Ranch)

1.5 h Charles Darwin from Puerto Ayura Hotel

Visit this important conservationist and scientifict station where Ecuadorian and foreign scientists work constantly on research and projects for conservation of the Galapagos terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Learn of the center’s numerous projects including breeding and re-introduction of the Galapagos giant tortoises. (Private Activity)

1.5 h Charles Darwin from Highland Hotel

Visit this important conservationist and scientifict station where Ecuadorian and foreign scientists work constantly on research and projects for conservation of the Galapagos terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Learn of the center’s numerous projects including breeding and re-introduction of the Galapagos giant tortoises. (Private Activity)

Full day visit to South Plaza Island

At only 130 meters wide, South Plaza is one of the smallest yet richest islands in the archipelago, loved by visitors for its stunning flora as well as fauna. Landing here is a beautiful sight, where the bright turquoise waters of the sea contrast with the deep black lava rocks of the coast, speckled with fiery orange Sally light foot crabs. The island also features the beautiful Sesuvium ground cover which changes its color from intense green in the rainy season to orange and purple in the dry season, as well as a large grove of prickly pear cactus, a favorite food of the yellow land iguanas who populate the area. Additionally, visitors will enjoy the important colony of male sea lions and the prolific birdlife including many swallow-tailed gulls, nazca and blue footed boobies, and red-billed tropic birds. (Full day, group activity, 2 hr navigation, 2 hr hiking, lunch included, optional snorkeling equipment included)

Full day visit to North Seymour Island

Experience the magnificent fauna characteristic to the Galapagos islands by visiting North Seymour Island, home to one of the largest nesting sites for the magnificent Frigate birds. On the two kilometer walking trail, which can be rocky and difficult at times, observe blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, marine iguanas, land iguanas and also the playful sea lions along the coast. (Full-day activity, 45 min transfer to port, 45 min navigation to island, approx 2 hr hiking, group activity, lunch included)

Full day visit to Bartolome Island

Stand in awe at one of the Galapagos’s most dramatic landscapes from your viewpoint overlooking Bartolome Island. On this full day excursion in a small group, travel from your hotel in Santa Cruz island to Baltra where you then embark on a 3 hour navigation to Bartolome Island. Resplendent with unique volcanic and geological formations are yours to behold after moderate hiking. (7am-3pm, 6 hours total navigation, 2 hours on island, group activity, lunch included, optional snorkel included)

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