El Garrapatero | Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
If you want to spend an entire day at the beach, El Garrapatero is the perfect place for swimming, relaxing in the sun, or enjoying a nice picnic by the ocean. Lined by a mangrove forest, this white sand beach is particularly popular with the locals. A beautiful lake behind the trees is home to an array of birds. Depending on the season, Garrapatero is one of the few places in Galapagos where you can see flamingos.
The easiest way to reach El Garrapatero is by taxi. The journey lasts 30 minutes from Puerto Ayora, and usually you can agree with the driver to return later to pick you up at a pre-set time. A round trip costs around USD30, that you can pay when you’ll arrive back in town, at the end of the day.
The taxi leaves you in front of a paved trail, lined with with shrubs and tall cactuses. Hiking here is easy and it takes about 15 minutes. As in many other places on the island, visitors must register their name before entering the beach.
Surrounded by a mangrove forest and native trees, El Garrapatero is one of the best places that locals love to go in Santa Cruz Island, especially on the weekends. If you plan to spend an entire day at the beach, there are many picnic areas, with benches and places to make a barbecue in the forest. The manzanillo trees (don’t touch them as they’re poisonous) create there a perfect home for finches, lava lizards, and the most interesting characters we could find, Hermit crabs.
Tips&Tricks: There are over 800 species of Hermit crabs worldwide. These crustaceans outgrow their shells, so from time to time they must borrow a new one. Being very inventive and unpretentious, they usually choose just about anything that comes their way and fits.
Just a short walk from the forest, there is a small lagoon populated by a variety of birds. Depending on the season, you can see flamingos, but in April we’ve only found some stilts and a family of ducks with a few cute ducklings.
Tips&Tricks: Being part of the Galapagos National Park, El Garrapatero closes at 5 PM.
What to pack for a day at El Garrapatero
Because we spent a few hours at the beach, two medium-sized waterproof backpacks were really important to keep our items safe, in case of bad weather. In them, we took our water bottles (carry enough because there is no store around for a few km), underwater camera, binoculars (because we love bird watching), sunglasses, SPF sunscreen (necessary throughout the day, even if it’s rainy or cloudy), towels, trekking clothes and wide-brimmed hats.