What is Garrapatero Beach Like? (Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos)

Places to See, Santa Cruz Island, Things to Do

The first Galapagos excursion we went on was to Garrapatero Beach on Santa Cruz Island. It took about 30 minutes to drive there from Puerto Ayora. On the way we saw some of the highland with its farmland and little villages.


I didn’t really know what to expect once we got to where we were going. I was excited to start exploring the Islands that I had only ever dreamed I would visit. But I was also wondering what this first excursion would be like. Would it be a rough hike, a rocky beach, or would we have to enter the water from a wharf?

It was none of the things I had been picturing. The “hike” was actually a leisurely walk of about 15 minutes down a winding stone walkway. It was on the walk to Garrapatero Beach that we were first introduced to the poison apple tree. The Naturalist Guide asked our group to stop so he could tell us all about it. He also pointed out many different kinds of birds.

garrapatero-beach-santa-cruz-parking-lot garrapatero-beach-santa-cruz-trail


The beach reminded me a little bit of some the beaches on Prince Edward Island, an Island off the coast of Canada. Except instead of red sandstone, we saw black volcanic rock peppered with bright red Sally Lightfoot Crabs. This was the first time I had seen volcanic rock and it really intrigued me. The contrast of the black rough rock next to the white smooth sand and the sparkling blue water was beautiful.

Instead of the rocky beach I was expecting we found a white sand beach, perfect for entering the water slowly. I’m the type that likes to take her time getting used to the water. I’ll jump in if I have to, but I would much rather walk out little by little. It didn’t take long to get used to the water, the temperature was very nice for swimming.


Some in the group went swimming while others enjoyed lying on the beach. The Naturalist Guide and Tour Leader took advantage of the time by walking around and chatting with everyone in the group. It was a nice way to get to know them better and ask any questions about what we had seen on the walk to the beach, and on the beach itself.

It seems that everything about the islands is interesting, the people included. Our Tour Leader was from Floreana Island. He told us that when he was growing up there were only a few families living on the island. How many people have had that kind of an experience?

Have you visited Garrapatero Beach? Please share your experience by commenting on this post.

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
  • Pam Apr 1, 2012, 2:06 pm

    The last time I visited El Garapatero was a week after the Chilean earthquake in February 2010, after which the Galapagos Islands, and Santa Cruz in particular, had been ‘annoyed’, though very thankfully not ‘victimised’, by the ensuing tsunami. There remained sand-aplenty, but it had been scoured leaving rifts and gullies, dry pits and new pools between the newly extended rocks.  That sand was attractively stained in different colours and showed various patterns left by the swirly water.  There were many waders looking for titbits but the water was too sandy for snorkelling. It took about three weeks for the natural look of the sand to begin to return to normal but the dreaded tabanos (nasty biting horse-flies who love nothing more than to chomp into salty human flesh) had abundantly remained in residence.  (An excellent tip given to me by a local lady was to coat oneself with Johnson’s Baby Oil before going in the water – it can be towelled off with no residual greasy staining).  The flamingoes unconcernedly graced the lagoon nearby and it was comforting to be away from civilisation, but to have a National Park Ranger Station on the beach.  CAUTION – if you visit the beach independently, get a local to recommend a reliable taxi driver who will return at a given hour to fetch you – it’s a very long walk under the equatorial sun!! Do you detect the ill-fated voice experience here?

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