A Quick Trip to Santa Cruz, Galapagos

We only had two days to spend in Santa Cruz, but it seemed like just enough time for us. Our first day we spent here was in between the islands of San Cristobal and Isabela. To travel between the islands, you need to take a two hour speedboat. Santa Cruz is in between San Cristobal and Isabela, so you need to stop there on the way. If you are truly adventurous and have a tank for a stomach, you could travel from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz on the 7am speedboat and then from Santa Cruz to Isabela on the 2pm speedboat. Our stomachs were not so adventurous.

For anyone else who has ever gotten slightly seasick in your life, we’d recommend staying a night in Santa Cruz. The trip was a lot rougher than expected, especially for Jordan who never really gets seasick. Unfortunately, we were stuck near the center of the boat with little ventilation and could feel the big waves a lot more. If you have a rain jacket and don’t mind getting soaked, definitely try to sit in the back of the boat where it’s open!

We arrived in Santa Cruz on our first day around 9:30am. We made our way to our hostel, Galapagos Best Home Stay, and quickly changed into some bathing suits and packed up our daypacks (highly recommend the Osprey Daylite!). We made our way across town to hike to Tortuga Bay. The hike itself takes about 30 minutes each way just to get to the first beach. It was a beautiful walk filled with tons of cacti, birds, and skinks. We were warned that the current was really rough at the first beach and to make sure we walked the extra 20 minutes once we arrived to get to the second lagoon. This was the best advice!

The first beach was filled with surfers and iguanas. Pete was in heaven. We got pretty close to some iguanas, as they were just passed out and crawling all over the sand! As we reached the second beach, Playa Mansa, our jaws dropped.

Playa Mansa, Santa Crus, Galapagos - QFYC

It was the most beautiful, tranquil beach we’d ever seen. The water was warm and still, and the small strip of beach was lined with mangroves. There were probably less than twenty people on the beach at the time; it felt like our own little slice of paradise. We took some time to relax and write in our journals, before running out to the water to catch a glimpse of a baby hammerhead shark! We’re still amazed at how many different animals we saw in only a few days in the Galapagos. From hammerhead sharks to blue-footed boobies to baby sea turtles – there’s just so much to see and experience. It really makes you think about the world around you.. if only the rest of the world could live so symbiotically.

The first day ended with a trip to the center of town for dinner. Santa Cruz is much more inhabited than San Cristobal or Isabela; and as gorgeous as Tortuga Bay was, that was probably why it was our least favorite of the islands we visited. One benefit though to the larger population is the Kiosko.

At night, one of the main streets shuts down and is filled with tables and chairs from the surrounding restaurants. The fresh seafood options are endless, and we wound up treating ourselves to a HUGE lobster for $20! Best lobster we’ve ever had. We sipped on some more grande Pilsners and chatted with the German couple next to us about what we should do when we reached Isabela. We walked back to our hostel to get to bed and pack up before another 7 am speedboat to Isabela.

Kiosko, Santa Cruz, Galapagos - QFYC
Kiosko, Santa Cruz, Galapagos - QFYC


 

Our second real day in Santa Cruz was our last night in the Galapagos. We took the afternoon speedboat from Isabela (which actually wasn’t horrible thankfully! Maybe the afternoon is the way to go with those..). We checked into the Sir Francis Drake hostel right on Baltra Ave, the main street in Puerto Ayora. We had another cheap seafood dinner at the Kisoko before walking around to pick up some souvenirs. We quickly realized just how expensive everything was and that maybe a Galapagos bucket hat wasn’t worth $25… so we started our patch collection with a Galapagos National Park patch and went on our way.

How to Get to Santa Cruz (Baltra) Airport:

We had to wake up really early to catch the first bus to the airport for our 10am flight. For anyone flying out of Santa Cruz airport, you need to take a $1 taxi to the bus terminal (just say “terminal”) and hop on a $2 bus that will take you to the airport. They seem to run every 30 minutes or so, but once they are full they leave. We got there around 6:40 am for what was supposed to be the first bus leaving at 7:15 and we left at 7:00am. The bus takes about 45 minutes to get to the ferry, which is another $1/person to take you across the channel to Baltra Island. The ferry is a short ride, but fair warning to anyone else that is a control freak: they put all of your luggage on the roof of the ferry. I think every form of water transportation we took gave Jordan a slight heart attack thinking our luggage was about to fall into the water. From there, catch one of the free airport shuttles to the terminal. It only takes about 10-15 minutes. It was actually pretty easy to get to the airport and only cost $4/person using public transportation! If you’re not as strict on your budget, you can also take a taxi right to the ferry for about $18.

 

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