Attractions on Santa Cruz Island
Often considered one of the best Galapagos Islands to visit, Santa Cruz Island is the second largest behind Isabela and located at the very center of the archipelago. It’s also home to the most populated urban center on the islands, in the form of Puerto Ayora. As such it’s a top destination for those looking for a land-based adventure. There are also a number of smaller villages on the island.
The island has a very volcanic past (as do most of the Galapagos Islands), which is characterized by a 2,000 meter-long lava tunnel that visitors can walk through. In addition, there are two gigantic holes caused by collapsed magma chambers.
Also on the islands is Tortuga Bay, a short walk from the town, where you can view the marine iguanas, and mangrove where you’ll find white tipped sharks and the famed Galapagos tortoise. As well as Tortuga Bay, the beaches at Punta Estrada and Las Grietas are three of the most popular beaches for interacting with the underwater. Snorkeling and diving here are popular, where you can get up close and personal with the charismatic sea lions.
The Charles Darwin Research Station, named after the man who put the islands on the map, is also well worth a visit. It’s dedicated to preserving the incredible wildlife found on the islands and sharing information with visitors about them.
At 864 meters-high, Santa Cruz is also home to some of the rare highlands you’ll find in the Galapagos Islands. This lush and fertile area presents another side to the archipelago and is one of the main reasons why This Island is one of best Galapagos Islands to visit. It’s here that you can meet some of the island’s – and planet’s – oldest inhabitants in the form of the giant tortoises. With some in excess of 150 years old and weighing as much as four grown men, these magnificent creatures are capable of storing enough energy and water in their fat stores so that they don’t need to eat for a whole year at a time.
As one of the best Galapagos Islands to visit, it has a little bit of everything to explore – from lava tunnels and volcanic activity to incredible wildlife, highlands, beaches, and accommodation. If you’re going to visit just one island, this should be very near to the top of your list.
Alternatively, make sure that this is one of your stops on any Galapagos cruise. With a fleet of vessels, ranging from budget to luxury Galapagos yachts, there are plenty of options available.