Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz Island)

#1 in Best Things To Do in Galapagos Islands
Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz Island)
shalamov/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.7scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Outdoorsy types don't flock to these two white sand beaches simply to bake in the warm equatorial sun. Travelers visit this isolated strip of Santa Cruz Island's southern coastline for some quality face time with the Galápagos' marine turtles. If you visit between January and February, you may even catch sight of the black turtles laying their eggs (hatchlings emerge and make their way to the sea between April and May). Even if you're not a turtle-lover, you can still get up close and personal with the other beach combers like marine iguanas and Sally Lightfoot crabs.

While most recent travelers describe their visits to Tortuga Bay as a highlight of their trips, some do caution that it can feel like quite a trek to get there from Puerto Ayora, especially in the hot sun. Also, remember that the beach closest to the bay's entrance (Playa Brava) has strong currents, so it's not suitable for swimming. If you want to swim, continue walking to the bay's other beach (Playa Mansa).

The easiest way to reach Tortuga Bay from Puerto Ayora is to walk, bike or take a water taxi. If you decide to walk, a trail that starts at the western end of Charles Binford Street will take you to the bay's entrance. The area welcomes visitors every day between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. At the bay's entrance, you'll find a conservation center, a ranger station (where the property's only restrooms and snack shop reside), a parking lot and bike racks. At Playa Mansa, kayak rentals are also offered. The beaches are free to visit, but you'll need to sign in at the ranger station before entering. To learn more about Tortuga Bay, check out Ecuador Travel's website.

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More Best Things To Do in Galapagos Islands

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Type
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#2 Rancho Primicias (Santa Cruz Island)

One of the Galápagos Islands' most well-known creatures is the giant tortoise, and one of the region's best places to see them is at Rancho Primicias. Located on Santa Cruz Island roughly 13 miles away fromPuerto Ayora, this privately-owned animal sanctuary is filled with giant tortoises. The site also features empty

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