Why you should visit Santa Cruz
- Bring a torch and walk through lava tubes on the island for a volcanic adventure
- 'Gemelos’ (twin sink holes) make for a head spinning experience dropping 30 feet
- Visit the Charles Darwin Research Centre to learn more about conservation projects
- On Las Bachas Beach identify track marks left by the beach’s residents!
- Lookout for the well camouflaged land iguanas around Cerro Dragon
Our specialists 'Must Do'
There is much to explore; the question is what to do first? The lava tubes, large tunnels formed when the liquid magma stopped flowing, offer a surreal and unique experience to head underground and enter the darkness. Be sure to take a torch and if you are lucky, you may spot a barn owl. Over 30 metres deep ‘Los Gemelos’ are twin sink holes caused by a drop in the land over a fault line, a dramatic feature in the landscape and a good location to see Galapagos hawk and other bird species.
The Charles Darwin Research Centre is an easy walk from Puerto Ayora and an interesting place to get a good introduction to the islands and see the giant tortoise breeding programme.
A little more about Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is the second largest island in the Galapagos and has the largest human population, living mainly in the town of Puerto Ayora.
The island is thought to have been formed in two parts, north and south. The northern section is the older part, created due to an uplift of land — you can see the layers of marine sediment and limestone as evidence of this process. The southern younger part of the island was formed through volcanic cones and lava, the landscape of which is often likened to that of the moon with craters, cones and tuffs.
The varied landscape means the island has different altitude levels and has developed seven different micro climates which have allowed vegetation to thrive and support the varied wildlife.
The island is also home to giant tortoise, sea lions, flamingos, marine and land iguana, lava heron and boobies. By heading up to the highlands surrounded by scalesia trees, cacti and ferns, you will have the opportunity to see the giant tortoise thriving in this lush green scenery. Some can reach the grand old age of 200 years and weigh up to 250kg.
Further north, towards Las Bachas, you will find white sandy beaches and if you take a closer look, you’ll see marine iguana and turtle trails created by their climb out of the sea onto the beach. You may also see the iconic blue-footed boobies that tend to stand on the rock edge keeping a look out.
Travelling west you will come to Cerro Dragon, one of the only spots in the Galapagos Islands where you will be able to see land iguanas.
When to go
The Galapagos is a year round destination with two seasons; the hot wet season which runs from December to May and the dry cooler season which runs from June to December. In the wet season the island is lush and green and the waters are slightly warmer, whereas in the cooler dry season the islands are transformed, desert like, trees lose their leaves and turn white.