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santa cruz

This island is in the centre of the archipelago and close to the airport on Baltra. As a result it is the most populated island, although most of the human activity and all the places to stay are in just one place; Puerto Ayora, where you can organise a cruise or go out on interesting day tours.

Puerto Ayora

The town is located on the southern shore of the island. There are more than 10,000 inhabitants but it remains safe and relaxed. Tourists wander along the waterfront or in and out of souvenir shops. Fishermen chug into Pelican Bay with their catches. Agencies and restaurants hawk services to tourists. There are banks, a basic hospital, internet and tourist info available from several offices and booths. Apart from the sights listed below, you can just hire some snorkelling gear from a dive shop, or a bike, and go off and explore.

Sights on Santa Cruz

Charles Darwin Research Station
Located 20 minutes walk north of the town centre. There is an interpretation centre, a rearing area for giant tortoises and space for their fully grown ancestors, including Lonesome George.

Tortuga Bay
A beautiful beach 3km SW of town – it feels like a long walk along the trail and the beach is virtually deserted. That is the beauty of it, but take water.

Cerro Crocker
You can hike up to the highest point on the island and see how the vegetation changes dramatically.

Lava Tubes

You can walk through tunnels formed by lava in several locations, one is 3km from Puerto Ayora on the way to Bellavista.

El Chato Tortoise Reserve
Beyond Santa Rosa you can enter this large reserve. The trails are confusing but you can see giant tortoises in the wild.

Caleta Tortuga Negra
A canoe trip through a mangrove lagoon with lots of birds and marine life on view but no black turtles, as the name would suggest.

Cerro Dragon
A 2km trail up the hill, passing marine iguanas on the beach and land iguanas on the hill.

Where to Stay, Where to Eat

Click here to find out where to stay or where to eat on Santa Cruz.


There aren´t that many places to go out at night in Puerto Ayora and a stroll along the Avenida Charles Darwin will reveal them all.


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