Santa Cruz - Galapagos Islands

Santa Cruz – Galapagos Islands

Back in 2011, we took the plunge and booked a vacation through Friendly Planet to visit the Galapagos Islands.  I’d worked with some amazing people who did research in the Galapagos, and have always been intrigued by this place that seemed so mystical and unique, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it could be a possible vacation destination.  However, a year before our adventures some of my relatives took a trip to the Galapagos which opened my eyes to potential travel for us.  They did a lot of diving there, and I believe stayed on a boat (it sounded incredible).  We weren’t SCUBA certified at the time, but still interested in the Galapagos, so I kept my eyes peeled for opportunities.

Travel to Galapagos Islands
Santa Cruz – Galapagos Islands

When I saw the tour package we purchased (which was on a big sale!), I was beyond excited but didn’t really know what to expect.  The exact tour we did doesn’t appear to be available anymore, though there are some similar options.  We flew from Miami into Guayaquil, Ecuador, then to Baltra in the Galapagos.  After landing, and going through security/customs our luggage was placed on top of a bus, and we were transported to a ferry.  We then took about a 5 minute boat ride over to the island of Santa Cruz, where our adventures began!

We stayed at the Red Mangrove Santa Cruz Diver’s Lodge, the room was very nice, and the food was great.  Right away we saw so much wildlife: Sally lightfoot crabs, sea lions, several birds, and a stingray.  Our group ventured out to El Garrapatero beach and spent some time wandering around.  We also went to Los Gemelos (the twins) which were two collapsed lava chambers.  Our guide on Santa Cruz was phenomenal.

Travel to Galapagos Islands
Santa Cruz – Galapagos Islands – Los Gemelos

My favorite part of our visit to Santa Cruz was a stop at the Galapagos tortoise reserve.  The tortoises were so amazing to observe!

Galapagos Islands
Galapagos tortoise

We also visited the remnants of a lava tunnel, before boarding our boat to go to the island of Floreana.

Travel to Galapagos Islands
Santa Cruz – Galapagos Islands – Lava tunnel remnants

From Floreana, we boated over to Isabella, and finally back to Santa Cruz for the last part of our trip. One of our last days was spent touring the Charles Darwin Research Station.  Lonesome George was still alive during our visit, and it was neat to see him.  Diego was also there, he’s the opposite of George as he has fathered MANY tortoises.  We stayed at the Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge our last night on the islands, and walked around a little in the area that night to see the fish market, and find some last minute souvenirs.

I will blog separate posts about our adventures in Floreana and Isabella (new posts each Monday!).  I believe we were in the Galapagos a total of 6 days.  We saw a lot, but definitely could have stayed longer!



Pack lightly! – Especially if island hopping

Santa Cruz is more built up than I was expecting – don’t be surprised


22 thoughts on “Santa Cruz – Galapagos Islands

  1. Oh wow! Loved reading about the Galapagos Island! How amazing! the tortoises and lava tunnels? Wow! Definitely added to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Woooha! Looks at that tortoise! What a giant one! would love to sit on him and take a ride around Galapagos! :D I have seen few vids as well about this place! and it blows my mind everytime! Thanks for sharing! Loved it :)

    • The tortoises are amazing! You aren’t allowed to approach them, but they didn’t seem to mind us hanging out off in the distance :)

  3. Oh that nature… It is just like a dream to me ! Going there is in my bucket list, even though at the same time,I really don’t want to disturb the environment more than it is.

  4. Your picture at the top of the turtle made me smile, he (or she) just looked so cute! I would love to visit the Galapagos one day –always been a dream. The lava tunnels sound amazing, plus I’d love to see all of the wildlife there!

  5. I’ve always really wanted to make it to the Galapagos and come this July, this dream might actually be realised! Certainly, the tortoise sanctuary looks like a lot of fun while just seeing the abundance of life there would be pretty humbling. That being said, it also seems like one of those places with an odd relationship to tourist; dependent upon it but also potentially damaged by it. Let’s hope the natural beauty there can be preserved even when the crowds do descend

  6. The tortoise reserve reminds me of Mauritius. These guys are so huge and yet so gentle and friendly. Did you get to pet any of them? Some of them even crane their necks to get a pat.

  7. Galapagos island has charmed me with it’s pictures in this article. The connection between man and nature is this island is mysteriously heart warming. The island is full of intrigue and a treasure of biodiversity.

  8. Such a beautiful discovery. I would love to visit Galapagos tortoise reserve. I have never seen such big tortoise in my travel so far. Were the tortoise friendly?

  9. Wow. The tortoises are so amazing. My feed is constantly popping up with Galapagos islands these days and the more pictures I see, the more I want to go there. Looking forward to your next posts on Galapagos islands :)

  10. Galapagos islands are in my dreams since I was a child but I don’t see them in any future trips for the following years. Thinking about Lonesome George, it’s both fascinating and sad that you witnessed the last remaining of its kind. Just think about it, now it’s extinct, you saw something that now, due also to human activities, no one else can see anymore…

  11. I have never been to Galapagos and I have been dying to go there soon. I have seen giant tortoises in Zanzibar a long time ago. Are these ones shy? Looking forward to read all your posts on Galapagos islands.

  12. Galapagos is in my dream destination list and reading your post I know it is worth going there.
    Can’t believe I can get to see the seals so close. The lava tunnel is worth exploring. Thanks for this intro to the place.

  13. Glad to see this post. I first heard of Galapagos ages ago as a kid, when I was reading some book on Darwin. Just love those animals, especially the tortoise that must be ancient enough to have seen Darwin alive.

  14. Never been to Galapagos but each and every picture of this beautiful island blows my mind. The flora and fauna are so different from the rest of the world. Would love to visit someday if I get a cheaper flight from Ireland for sure :) Lava tunnel looks eerie and looking forward to your post on Floreana :)

  15. I’ll definitely check out Friendly Planet! Visiting the Galapagos Islands has always been a dream of mine. How cool that you were already seeing so much wildlife just from your hotel! You captured the beauty of the Galapagos so well. I will bookmark this for the future!

  16. A lava tunnel?! That’s so spooky and COOL at the same time! I’m such a fan of beautiful beaches and interesting wild life. Galapagos seems to have both! Thanks for sharing :)

  17. I would love to visit this magical place! I’ve heard so many good things about Galapagos, it looks like a dream. And these giant creatures are unbelievable. What an experience to observe them :-)

  18. The turtles are fascinating, and I am thankful there’s a reserve to protect them. Do you remember the cost of the package? Very curious to know the non discounted price…

    • No, sorry, I don’t remember the cost of the package… and it doesn’t look like the one we went on is offered anymore. They do run sales from time to time though.

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