So much more than a day at the beach, a trip to Tortuga Bay was one of the highlights during my stay on Santa Cruz.
To get there requires hiking 1.5 miles (one way) on a well maintained path. At the top of the hill you are required to register with the guard, requesting some information including your passport number. This is your last chance to use the restroom, there are no amenities on the beach bring whatever you may need (water, snacks, sunscreen, towel). Visitation hours are from 6AM-5PM the beach is free. The path is a great introduction to wildlife in the Galapagos. You’ll see mockingbirds, finches, anis, and lizards along the way – along with the interesting flora. Get to know the interesting endemic variety of prickly pair called opuntias.
Along the path there are some hills, after the steepest one there is a resting area. When you hit the shore you will be at Playa Brave, a beach where mostly local surfers go in because the current is said to be rough. If you’re not planning on swimming this is a great spot to stay because there is a larger stretch of sand for peace and quiet. You can watch the marine iguanas take their afternoon walk to go seek algae
If you take out your snacks, an silent alert beams out to all finches within a mile radius and they will visit your site. Walk all the way to the right of Playa Brave and you will pass a little tide pool where some people were snorkeling.
Rent equipment in town and bring it to the beach. Keep walking and you may encounter the grand daddy group of marine iguanas hanging out by the mangroves.
There is a cool little view point to hike over in this area. Then continue on the well worn path which leads to Tortuga Bay. The lagoon is safe to swim and snorkel in, protected from the waves by a natural barrier. I was excited to rent a kayak here for two people it is $20 with no time constraints. There is so much to see. The reef sharks were sleeping in the mangroves.
Puffers, and all sorts of interesting fish swam around.
A blue footed booby sat up on a cliff.
Pelicans sat up in the trees. I thought to my dismay that I found a dead heron,
but really it was just, playing dead?
I’m not sure what this behavior meant, never seen it before. Sea turtles bopped their heads,
and continued to swim right up to our kayak!
Marine iguanas and sting rays swam beside us, while sally lightfoot crabs scurried on lava rock.
It was an amazing paddle. After relaxing on the beach a bit, we took a walk to the cliff area topped with opuntias.
The view of the bay is excellent and yellow warblers were abundant.
A day at the beach in Santa Cruz is a must, and as always with the Galapagos, it is a full on wildlife experience.