The second largest island in the Galapagos archipelago is the island of Santa Cruz, which might be called the focal point of Galapagos’ Tourism.
Santa Cruz’s popularity among tourists may have to do with the fact that it is very close in proximity to one of the only two airports in the Galapagos or that it is one of only four islands that accommodate overnight guests.
The island of Santa Cruz is also where you can find the famous Charles Darwin Research Station. Virtually all tours of the area will offer a visit to this branch of the non-profit Charles Darwin foundation where research and scientific investigation is conducted to further preservation efforts on the island. Visitors can also check out the tortoise breeding and rearing that takes place right in the facility, along with the most famous inhabitant of the islands, Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises.
Santa Cruz is probably the most tourist friendly of all the islands, and is where you can find the port city of Puerto Ayora (named for the former Ecuadorian President). Puerto Ayora is a vivacious sea-side town where vistors will discover many hotels, restaraunts, bars, and shops. It is the most populated town in the all of the Galapagos with a staggering population of just over 10,000 inhabitants!
Nevertheless, Puerto Ayora’s spirited environment and assortment of activities and entertainment makes the town deserving of at least a two-night stay.
Like most of the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz is also home to a wide array of animal life, including a large tortoise population nearby at Black Turtle Cove. Pelicans, land iguanas, Darwin’s finches, wild tortoises, and other creatures roam free in the area and virtually every bird native to the Galapagos has been seen at one time or another on the island of Santa Cruz.
Sharks, rays, sea lions and sea turtles are just a few of the aquatic inhabitants visitors will come across during their stay. You will likely also catch a glimpse of the marine iguanas which swim and slither through the sea – an amazing sight that you may have previously seen in movies like Russell Crowe’s Master and Commander.
There is no shortage of entertainment in Santa Cruz – visitors can go mountain biking, kayaking, scuba diving, horseback riding, surfing, or take a jeep tour on land or a glass bottom boat tour on the ocean. If you need a break, have a drink at an outdoor bar in Puerto Ayora.
In any event you will never find yourself bored on the dynamic and always active island of Santa Cruz!