What can I do in Puerto Ayora?
We love the Galapagos, and we spend as much of our time here as we can. Because we visit every boat in our fleet personally we have spent extensive time in Puerto Ayora - so here are our top recommendations for things to do!
1. Surfing or relaxing at "Tortuga Bay", also known as "Turtle Bay"
This lovely beach is free to enter, and it's at the end of a wonderful 30-40 minute walk through the nature reserve. During your stroll, you'll see giant cacti, lava lizards and the famous Darwin Finches. Once on the beach itself, there are huge marine iguanas, sea turtles and sea lions. Bring your snorkelling gear!
Local "surf dudes" offer lessons on the beach (renting a board will cost you around $25 for a half day, and a 2 hour lesson is around $40). If you don't surf, don't worry! Just relax and soak up the atmosphere. This is a Galapagos "must do" beach.
2. Journey to the highlands
This is a great way to see lots of Santa Cruz island's amazing nature. Take a taxi to the Finca with the "Magic Swing". You'll be able to visit a traditional coffee farm and a big volcanic crater with lava tunnels that formed millions of years ago. It's a great way to see more of the unique vegetation of the Galapagos, and a fascinating change from the arid nature of many of the other islands. From town get a taxi and ask them to take you to "Columpio Magico" (Via Playa El Garrapatero).
3. Snorkeling at "Las Grietas"
Take an 80 cent water taxi ride from the small pier in Santa Cruz to "Angermeyer's Point". It's only a 2 minute ride. From there, walk to "Las Grietas". This is where beautiful lakes of salt water and rain water have formed in deep cracks in the lava crust. The water is crystal-clear and snorkeling in Las Grietas is an absolute thrill. Make sure to swim all the way to the end of the first "Grieta", it's separated from a second one by just a few lava rocks. This next one is usually much quieter than the first one and it's a simple climb over those rocks to find it. If you're feeling adventurous - and you're a good swimmer - you can even dive under the rocks into the second lake.
Also, on the way to or from the Grietas there is another really nice beach called Playa Alemanes where you can stop and swim in the sea.
4. Visit the Charles Darwin Research Station
This is where you'll see some of the biggest tortoises on the islands. This is the only place you will find not only Santa Cruz giant tortoises but also turtles from other islands. It's fascinating to compare the differences in form and shape that evolution has driven over millions of years in isolation on the different islands. There is some great information on the state of current research and preservation projects in Galapagos and some of the things to look out for during your adventures around the archipelago.