isla santa cruz galápagos ecuador

Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island (Infatigable) is the second largest island of the Galapagos archipelago, with an area of 986 km2. Its highest point is Cerro Crocker, at 864 meters. Santa Cruz has the largest population in the Galapagos Islandsespecially the town of Puerto Ayora on the south coast. With about 20,000 inhabitants, it is the largest human settlement of the islands and offers some tourist facilities. If you are looking for activities to do in Santa Cruz, here is the perfect article for you. Here.

The city's harbor is named after the "Academy of the Bay", in honor of the Academy ship that arrived there in 1905 with an expedition sent by the California Academy of Sciences. Today, the harbor is very popular among sailors, but also among the sea lions and pelicans. The public jetty is a good place to watch frigate birds and blue-footed boobies fishing in the inner anchorage of 'Las Ninfas' and Pelican Bay, especially when fishermen are cleaning their catch.


In 1959, on the occasion of a century of the publication of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species," the government of Ecuador and the Charles Darwin International Foundation established, with the support of the UNESCOThe Charles Darwin Station at Academia Bay, near Puerto Ayora. While the vast majority of Galapagos visitors come here to see and appreciate the natural wonders, it is also interesting to learn about the protection and conservation of the islands. One of the main attractions is the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall. The museum teaches interested travelers with exhibits on climate and geography and offers insight into the evolution of the flora and fauna.

In this turtle conservation facility, the hatchlings are lovingly cared for. As soon as they are strong enough, they are ready for repatriation. From small and young to robust older ones. Sharing their natural enclosure with each other, it is possible to observe these charming heavyweights up close. The most famous of them was the "Lonesome George“, cuyos compañeros isleños están extintos (hay un total de 11 subespecies en las islas). Numerosos intentos de apareamiento entre él y una tortuga hembra fracasaron y lamentablemente falleció el 24 de junio de 2012, dejando su especie extinta. Su cuerpo fue embalsamado y ahora se exhibe en la Estación Charles Darwin en memoria de las alegrías que trajo a los visitantes de las islas.

A major problem for the tortoise population and some other species are the animals introduced by colonists, such as goats, pigs, cats and rats. They endanger the existence of endemic species, to the point that the national park staff does everything possible to eliminate them. Next to the visitor center you can explore the arid Galapagos vegetation, composed of cacti, mangroves and thorny bushes, where many land birds live.

Isla Santa Cruz Galápagos
Santa Cruz Island - fauna


Especially suggestive and a must for every visitor to the Galapagos is the Santa Cruz highlands, in the middle of the island. The highlands are characterized by extinct volcanoes and the extraordinary plants found there. When the weather is good (unpredictable), this area offers year-round splendid landscapes of hills and extinct volcanic cones, covered with lush and abundant vegetation. In addition to ferns and one-meter-high Myconia shrubs, Scalesia forests can also be observed. Scalesia belong to the sunflower family and have grown in the absence of trees.

The most popular tourist sites to visit are the twin craters (Los Gemelos), now dolines. At the top, there are also some lava tunnels up to 2 km long, which were formed when the lava came out and solidified, and inside the hot and still liquid lava kept flowing. Today it is possible to explore the mystical and shadowy galleries with a torch and lamp. the reserve is located near the town of Santa Rosa "El Chato"There is a large lake, grasslands, and cloud forest where you can observe giant tortoises as well as short-eared owls, Darwin's finches, wizard birds, flycatchers, and red-billed tropicbirds.


A well-maintained road of approximately one hour will take you from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay. This excursion is ideal for bird watching. On the way, it is easy to observe different species of finches. The sunsets here are excellent. West Inlet offers a very nice area for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing. The water is crystal clear and very suitable for swimming because current is almost absent.

Underwater it is possible to find sharks or marine iguanas, while seabirds such as pelicans and flamingos can be observed from the surrounding mangroves. If you want to know all the fauna of the Galapagos click here

The white sand of the beach is considered by many the most beautiful of the archipelago. Its name comes from the sea turtles that come to lay their eggs. Other animal species can be found here, such as pelicans, flamingos, and marine iguanas.


These two small beaches are located west of Caleta Tortuga. Their sand is made of decomposing coral, which makes it white and soft. The Bachas Beach one of the favorite nesting sites for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches is a small brackish water lagoon, where flamingos and other land birds such as the black-necked plover and curlew can occasionally be seen. The other beach is longer but has two old barges abandoned during the Second World War when the United States used the Baltra Island as a strategic point to protect the Panama Canal (the metal is rusty and sharp, so it is not a good place to swim).

If you haven't seen enough turtles yet, take a boat to nearby Black Turtle Cove. Passing through some small bays, you may see rays and whitetip reef sharks entering the inlet, which is home to black turtles.


Another place to visit is Cerro Dragon, located on the westernmost tip of the island, it allows for an easy dry landing on a concrete pier. The trail leads to a white sand beach and then continues cross-country. Here the visitor will be rewarded by the presence of wading birds in a hypersaline lagoon and, inland, by a group of nesting land iguanas. A trail through cactus and palo santo trees leads to a hill where a splendid view can be enjoyed. Less than a kilometer away, an impressive panga ride will give visitors the opportunity to observe turtles, a large number of seabirds, and sharks in a mangrove environment.


The climate on Santa Cruz Island is tropical, with average temperatures ranging from 18 to 26 degrees Celsius. The dry season lasts from June to December, with warmer temperatures and clear skies. The rainy season lasts from January to May, with cooler temperatures and cloudy skies. If you want to know the weather in the Galapagos Islands we have the perfect article for you Here.


The average temperature on Santa Cruz Island is 22 degrees Celsius. The average maximum temperature is 26 degrees Celsius, and the average minimum temperature is 18 degrees Celsius.


Santa Cruz Island receives an average of 200 mm of rain per year. The rainy season lasts from January to May, with an average of 100 mm of rain per month. The dry season lasts from June to December, with an average of 100 mm of rain per year.


The average humidity on Santa Cruz Island is 80%. Humidity is highest during the rainy season, and lowest during the dry season.


The wind in Santa Cruz Island are generally mild, with average speeds of 10 to 15 kilometers per hour. Winds can be stronger during the rainy season, when storm systems can generate gusty winds.

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