Hidden Gem on Santa Cruz Island: Tortuga Bay

Places to See, Santa Cruz Island

While visiting Santa Cruz Island a friend told us about a beach called Tortuga Bay. He said that we could not afford to miss it.  He was right, it was beautiful.


Visiting Tortuga Bay does not require a Naturalist Guide, so we decided to set out on our own and try to find it.  It was easy to find.  We just hailed a taxi in the town of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island and were there in about five minutes.  The taxi fair was $2.00 and included pleasant chit chat about the Island, and the beach we were heading to.

We were dropped off at the bottom of some stone steps which took us up to a small building.  We went in because the taxi driver had told us that we would need to register.  This is required in all areas of Galapagos where visitation is allowed without a Naturalist Guide.

After registering we set out toward the beach on a nice brick path.  The path took us through a wooded area where we saw a lot of different plants, flowers, gecko lizards and birds.  After walking the path for about a half hour (including time for picture taking) we came to a long white sand beach.


The water at this first beach was rough and we saw signs telling us not to swim because of the large waves. As we walked along this beach we saw Blue Footed Boobies and Marine Iguanas.  I saw a little bird hop on one of the Iguanas and start picking at it, cleaning its skin.  I felt like a documentary film maker or something.  I think everyone that visits Galapagos feels that way at one point or another.

After walking this beach for about then minutes we came to an area with two paths.  One led farther along the beach to the left, and the other went through another wooded area to the right.  The path to the right led us to Tortuga Bay.

dena hainesUnlike the first beach, Tortuga Bay is protected and calm, so calm it reminded me of lake water on a still day.  The bay is lined on both sides by mangroves.  The beach area has soft white sand and is lined with shade trees.

Check out our Tortuga Bay Photo Gallery

We did not have our snorkeling gear with us, and we were short on time.  We had a scheduled tour of the Darwin Research station to get to, and had just enough time to get back for it.  It was sadly ironic to be standing on what I imagined to be one of the best places I had ever seen to snorkel, and then have to turn around and leave.

We did get up to our knees in the warm clear water.  Just standing there we could see schools of small fish swimming among the mangroves.  I can only imagine what the snorkeling would have been like.  We are excited to go back and indulge ourselves in what we expect to be some amazing snorkeling.

tortuga-bay-galapagos-islands-580x339 tortuga-bay-galapagos-islands-schooloffish tortuga-bay-galapagos-islands-mangrove

Panorama of Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island


After walking back, we returned to the same little building we had registered in, to let them know we were leaving.  At the bottom of the stone steps we walked for a few minutes and caught a taxi ride back into town.

If you’ve ever snorkeled at Tortuga Bay, please comment on this post and let us know what it was like.

Meet the Author

Hi, I'm Dena Haines! I'm an traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I blog at GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel) and Click Like This (How to Use a GoPro).

1 comment… add one
  • Trent Hendrickson Mar 26, 2012, 10:51 pm

    Probably the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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