Santa Cruz Island is home to Tortuga Bay, one of the top attractions in the Galapagos Islands that is located on Santa Cruz Island on the south side.It’s the perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and seeing some amazing Galapagos wildlife. This beautiful beach is named for its black sea turtles that nest in this beach. You could see nesting locations in this beach and many of the sea turtles travel towards the evening. We could not find them in the nests during the day time. If you are traveling by cruise, you might want to take a stop in Santa Cruz, take a water taxi to visit this beach.
Getting to Tortuga Bay
You can either walk or take a water taxi from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay. Walking is the most popular route to get to this bay. The trail path will take you past a gorge and up to the Park Services station. The stone path continues for around 4 km roundtrip and and leads to the white sand beach. It takes around 45 minutes to walk to the entrance of the beach and you do not feel tired – the trail paths are well maintained and an easy walk that can be done by everyone. You will see lava lizards and a number of birds including a yellow warbler and a several mockingbirds. We also learnt that the mockingbird species in Galapagos is very unique and does not do any mocking.
If you don’t want to walk a water taxi can be hired from the pier in Puerto Ayora and will cost roughly $10 USD per person, each way.
Things to see in Tortuga Bay
On the beach you will get to see numerous marine iguanas scattered around the white sand beach. Many will be taking a sun bath too and interesting to see them stretch their necks, most of the times it will look like they are posing to the photos.Blue footed boobies and pelicans are a common sight, as are white tipped reef sharks and sea turtles.
The white sand beach, cacti, turquoise water, and black volcanic rocks make for beautiful scenery, as do the mangroves. There are also many varieties of endemic plants along the path and beach area.
I would recommend atleast half a day in this beautiful beach that has plenty to offer. Even if you do not swim, you can still relax at the beach, do a nice walk and enjoy the marine habitat and scenic views. The beach is opened only until 5 PM, so plan your visit accordingly.