Santa Cruz Island Travel

Situated in the middle of the Galapagos Archipelago, Santa Cruz offers a sheltered haven for wildlife and visitors alike.

Geographically speaking, Santa Cruz sits in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, undoubtedly one of the reasons why it is the most popular island base for travellers. Its popularity is also owed to the rocky outcrops, sandy beaches, resident Iguanas and Blue-Footed Boobies, verdant Highlands, Charles Darwin Research Centre, buzzy port town, and a slew of luxury ecolodges to call home for a few days, taking tours to explore the rest of Santa Cruz and nearby islands too.

One of Santa Cruz’s most striking features are the Lava Tunnels which perforate the island over several kilometres. Formed as the exterior walls of ancient lava flows solidified quicker than the still-flowing interior, these tunnels naturally emptied themselves of molten liquid during their own formation process. To walk through the prehistoric lava tunnels is like nothing else on earth, adding a fascinating diversion from the extraordinary wildlife experiences to be enjoyed across the island.

In fact, there’s a huge variety of flora and fauna to see on Santa Cruz, particularly since it’s the only island with six different types of vegetation zones. Walk through Scalesia Forests, past cacti and ferns, and be sure to spend time on the blissful beaches and craggy coastline too. Snorkelling is fantastic here, particularly at Carrion Point, Las Grietas, and Garrapatero Beach which is a startlingly unspoiled stretch of sand backed by a freshwater lake, where Flamingos, Herons and Stilts like to frolic. Another creature you’ll want to seek out while visiting Santa Cruz is the Giant Tortoise, which you can spot in their natural habitat at El Chato Reserve or within the Charles Darwin Research Centre, not far from the main town of Puerto Ayora, the largest settlement in the Galapagos Islands.

Highlights of Santa Cruz Island:

Volcano craters of Santa Cruz

Verdant plains and fields of green are in stark contrast to the arid, rocky outcrops and golden beaches of the lowlands, but the Santa Cruz Highlands offer just that. Here, coastline gives way to lush gorges and rolling fields, with some of the most accessible depleted volcano craters anywhere in the region – including Los Gemelos, the Twin Craters.

Charles Darwin Research Station

This is simply one of the unmissable centres of the Galapagos, dedicated to the conservation of protected species such as Giant Tortoises. These creatures are bred here at the Research Station and reintroduced into the wild after a few years, when it is safe to do so. During your visit you can see the Tortoises and also resident Land Iguanas; a must whether staying close by or simply passing through to another island.

Las Bachas Beach

Santa Cruz boasts many stunning beaches, and Las Bachas is one of them. Situated to the north, it’s ideal for swimming, snorkelling and birdwatching, with Flamingos, Sea Turtles and Sally Lightfoot Crabs making up some of the wildlife population. It’s also a striking place due to the shipwreck that’s caught in the sand here; a rusty barge from World War II that has been washed up here ever since.

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