Bike travel, commuting and more


Ecuador V: Galapagos Santa Cruz island

Puerto a Playa Los Alemanes

In the dock to Playa Los Alemanes

A break in the Galapagos Islands

Ecuatorian Cyclist
Cyclist on our taxi ride to the airport

As expected, there are many agencies in Quito to book tours to the Galapagos, the tourist jewel of Ecuador. However, there were not as many as we had expected, and most had very limited options. Apparently, most people go to Galapagos from Guayaquil, and the two agencies we tried only offered a very basic package where kids would pay the same as us and the activities would be easily replicated if we wanted to book everything ourselves. So that is what we did. We found some reasonable, but still expensive, flights to Santa Cruz island with LATAM, planned to visit also Isabela which is the biggest island, and book some accommodation in both islands with

Stopover in Guayaquil
The plane got empty in our stopover in Guayaquil, only to fill up again
Cotopaxi view from the plane

Since we are going with small kids, most activities are not suitable for us, as they involved longer treks or diving/snorkeling which our kids, not able yet to swim, can’t do. Still, we did a decent job of filling our time there and visiting as many attractions, beaches and animal sightseeing as possible.

Arrival in Baltra
It was hot when we arrived!

The arrival in the airport in Baltra island was quite a shock, coming from the cool temperatures in Quito at 2800 mts to the warm and humid in Galapagos. From Baltra we had to take a bus to the harbour, then a short boat trip to Santa Cruz island, and then a bus to Puerto Ayora, the island capital where our hotel was.

Hotel Costa del Sol in Puerto Ayora
Crossing from Baltra
Our first iguana while waiting for the boat
Food in Puerto Ayora
The experts checking the local fish “Brujo” and lobster

That same afternoon we went to the nearby Los Alemanes beach, which involved another short boat trip, and a lot of iguanas on the way, which the kids loved. The beach is nice and quiet, and not very deep, so it was perfect for families. Unfortunately we stayed too long and the mosquitoes quickly took over as soon as the sun was gone.

Iguana by Los Alemanes
Arriving at the beach, the kids found another iguana

We stayed 4 days in Puerto Ayora, and we went to visit the Darwin center, which is a breeding place for Galapagos turtles, with a guide that explained in surprisingly good German all about those giants. We also visited Las Grietas, which are some lagoons created by the volcanic rocks next to the sea where you can swim. Unfortunately you are now also required to get a guide and pay an entrance here, which to be honest is a bit too expensive for what it is.

Turtles in Darwin Center
First time we get to see the turtles, in the Darwin Station
Way to Las Grietas
Searching for “fiddler” crabs on the way to Las Grietas
Las Grietas
Finally there

Another day we went to the “Gemelos”, 2 massive holes up in the mountains created by the ground collapsing into the tunnels below the surface made by the lava from previous eruptions, and afterwards we visited a rancho where many Galapagos turtles roam freely and you can see them from very close. This was a real highlight, specially for Simon. It was also lucky that it was relatively quiet and the guide there allowed us to get close to many huge specimens.

Los Gemelos
View of one of the holes
Lava tunnel
Any excuse is good to use the headlamps
I saw it first!
Tortuga pair
Happy to see us

Another day we walked to Tortuga Bay, a huge beach where marine turtles go to lay their eggs. We then went to a nearby beach to swim and took a boat back, which Thomas did not enjoy much as it was quite a bumpy ride to cross the waves coming into the bay.

Sea Turtles
Pretending to regulate traffic on some sea turtle tracks in Tortuga Bay
Iguana on the beach
When you are in the “flow” local fauna doesn’t matter

Our impresion of Santa Cruz has been very positive. You can see the quality of life here is much higher than in the continent, so tourist money is somehow also reaching the locals. Many work as guides, or tour operators, taxi drivers… The policy in the islands is that only locals can live there, and anywhere else, either foreigners or Ecuatorians from the continent need to get a temporary permit. There were many playgrounds for the kids, which is a rare thing anywhere in South America, and the place just felt safe and alive also at night, which is not the case in the continent.

Next stop.. Isabela island!!


  1. Katherine

    Llegaron a Galapagos!!! Excellent viaje. Tanto que ver. Pues la fauna no se molesta tener humans alrededor. De hecho si te descuidas los lobos marinos se te cojen tu sillon para descansar Al sol! 🙂 . En fin. Diviertanse en Las Islas Encantadas!

  2. Nuria

    Qué sitio impresionante. Un abrazo para toda la familia

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