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Playa de la Estacion is a small beach on the right side of the main road to Charles Darwin Research Station, home to dozens of marine iguanas, sharks or rays that you can spot near the shore. Due to very strong currents and sharp volcanic rocks on the shoreline, the beach is more appreciated for the view than for snorkeling or swimming.

Tips&Tricks: As there is nowhere to cover for shade, be prepared to spend some time in the sun.

We visited Santa Cruz Island at the end of April and Estacion was the beach where we encountered dozens of marine iguanas at the end of their nesting season. Many of them were guarding their nests along the shore, while others were basking in the sun, perfectly camouflaged on the nearby volcanic rocks. Because they are digging hols in the ground to lay their eggs, so you must be really carefully when you walk along the shore.

Marine iguanas are part of the species endemic to Galapagos Islands and have the unique ability among lizards to breathe underwater. They are very agile swimmers, feed on algae and seagrass, have sharp claws and long tails. They are black, except for mating periods when males change their color. They are most colorful on Espanola and Floreana, with shades of red and green, while on Santa Cruz they become red and black, and on Fernandina green and brown.

A very interesting feature of the marine iguanas is the way they adapted to the extra salt they ingest from the ocean by expelling it out of their nostrils through a violent sneeze. The noise is particularly funny and loud, and often the secretions are scattered even one meter away.

What to pack for a day at Playa de la Estacion

Playa de la Estacion is a 15 minutes walk from the center of Puerto Ayora. Depending on how long you stay on the island, you can spend a few hours here. As there are only a few souvenir shops nearby, you’ll have to buy from the main (and only) supermarket everything you need. Don’t forget your SPF sunscreen (necessary throughout the day, even if it’s rainy or cloudy), water bottle, and a wide-brimmed hat.

Where to stay on Santa Cruz Island (our favorite choices)

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