Santa Cruz Island is the most visited island in the Galapagos archipelago since most commercial flights from the continental mainland land here. Although there are also direct flights to San Cristobal Island, many tourists prefer Santa Cruz Island due to its central location with respect to the rest of the islands. This allows you to explore the rest of the islands in Galapagos in a more convenient way.
Puerto Ayora is the capital of Santa Cruz. Here you will find a lot of commercial activity, traffic, hotels, bars, restaurants, stores and ATMs (which on other islands are not yet available). Santa Cruz has a lot to offer: scenery, beaches but also incredible activities. You can also spot a lot of wildlife on this island: observe sea lions, giant tortoise, marine iguanas and many more!
Being the second largest Island of the Archipelago and the most populated one, you have plenty of different wonderful hotel options to choose from. On the Highlands of Santa Cruz between Ferry port to Baltra and the Town of Puerto Ayora you will find many exclusive Lodging with incredible views and high-end accommodations. In Puerto Ayora you will find quite a large variety of hotels in all categories and standards, all wonderful enough to enjoy a pleasant stay while discovering the marvels of the Galapagos.
From your hotel you can arrange daily visits to nearby Islands like North Seymour, Plaza or Bartolome and also can visit spectacular local sites like Charles Darwin Station, the Twin Craters, Tortoise Breeding Center, Tortuga Bay and much more!
Santa Cruz is located in the center of the Galapagos archipelago, at a distance of approximately 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian mainland. It is a sleeping volcano whose last eruption is estimated to have occurred 1.5 million years ago. As a testimony of its volcanic past there are two enormous cavities called "Los Gemelos" or "Twin Craters" that were formed from a magma chamber.
Airlines flying to Galapagos from mainland Ecuador are LATAM and Avianca. There are direct flights from
Guayaquil and Quito to the Galapagos Islands every week. It is important to note that the flights are not specifically flying to Santa Cruz Island, but to Baltra Island, which is a small island next to Santa Cruz. In Baltra there is only an airport, the island is not inhabited and there are no hotels. Actually, the only purpose of the island is to accommodate the airport.
Once you have landed at the Baltra airport, you will have to board a bus (the company’s name of which is Lobito) to transport you to the coast of Baltra Island. After a 10-minute bus ride, you will arrive at the port of Baltra where a ferry will take you across the Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island. When you have crossed this small canal, you arrive to Santa Cruz. From there you will need a transfer to the capital of the island, Puerto Ayora, to its city center where the main activity and most hotels are concentrated.
The most economical and practical option to travel between the main populated islands (Santa Cruz, Isabela island, Floreana island and San Cristobal island) is by speedboat or aquatic taxi. These small boats leave daily from the port. A boat trip usually takes 2 hours, depending on the route and the sea conditions.
If you want to make the most of your time and if your budget allows it, you can also move between islands in a small plane. There exist a pair of a local flight operators on the Galapagos Islands.
Puerto Ayora, Carrion Point, Charles Darwin Station / Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, Garrapatero Beach, Lava Tunnels, Tortuga Bay Beach, Whale Bay, Gordon's Rock, Bachas Beach, Black Turtle Cove, Cerro Mesa, Dragon Hill, Eden Islet, Highland, Twin Craters