Santa Cruz Galapagos is the most popular tourist destination of the Galapagos Islands. A large island right in the center of the archipelago, Isla Santa Cruz is located close to the main airport on Isla Baltra and has the largest settlement of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. Many tourists will begin their trip at Puerto Ayora, and it is one of the few places where visitors can find hotels in the Galapagos, as well as shops, restaurants, and bars. In addition to being an important tourist center, Santa Cruz Galapagos also offers a wide variety of fauna and flora, allowing visitors to get an authentic glimpse of the wildlife in the Galapagos Islands.
Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos Islands, and many visitors will stay overnight in some of the hostels or Santa Cruz hotels. For tourists who have not yet booked a boat tour in advance, Puerto Ayora is a good place to find tour agents and operators. You can also buy souvenirs, find an ATM, and buy necessities in the town. This is a beautiful seaside town with a laid-back feel, and you may even see some marine iguanas by the waterfront. Puerto Ayora also boasts the Charles Darwin Research Station, an excellent place to start your tour of the Galapagos, as the station offers environmental education and a good introduction to many of the endangered and unique species in the archipelago. You can also visit their breeding program to see various lizards and tortoises being nurtured.
From Puerto Ayora you can hike into the surrounding countryside and view some of the local wildlife. Among the biggest attractions of Isla Santa Cruz are the giant Galapagos tortoises that roam free in the tortoise reserve. At the reserve you can learn more about these magnificent endangered tortoises and see one up close—some of these tortoises are more than 100 years old. Other species that you can see while on the trail include land iguanas, several varieties of finches, owls, as well as the Vermilion Flycatcher, a brilliant red bird.
Santa Cruz Galapagos is a good place to spend a few days for travelers who want to relax and explore at their own place. Tortuga Bay, a half-hour walk from town, is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon and truly feel that you are on vacation. The tropical white sand beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and you can also walk along the beach to the mangrove forest, where you can see pelicans and other sea birds.
In addition to many attractions on the land and sea, there are also opportunities to explore under the land of Isla Santa Cruz. Tourists can explore naturally formed lava tubes that tunnel hundreds of feet into the ground. If you want to explore the geological history of the island in greater detail, two volcanic craters are available to visit, which are now inhabited by many species of birds. In addition to Santa Cruz Galapagos' natural wonders, there are of course many things to do, including surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, exploring by Jeep, and more that await the eager visitor.