Playa de la Estacion | Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
Playa de la Estacion is a small beach next to Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayora. It is more appreciated for the view than for snorkeling because the strong currents and volcanic rocks that surround the shore make diving quite difficult.
Here you can find marine iguanas, sea lion pups, manta rays, sea turtles, and many tropical fish. It definitely worth a visit, especially if you spend a few days on Santa Cruz Island.
Tips & Tricks
As there are no trees nearby and definitely no shadow, avoid going to Playa de la Estacion at lunchtime.
We visited Galapagos at the end of April and Estacion was the beach where we encountered dozens of marine iguanas. They were already nesting so we needed to carefully walk around. Most of them were staying in the green areas near the beach, while others were camouflaged on the rocks.
Marine iguanas are part of the species only found in 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. The population on Espanola and Floreana become most colorful, with shades of red and green. Those in Santa Cruz Island become red and black, and those on Fernandina become green and brown.
A very interesting feature of the iguanas is the way they adapted to the extra salt they ingest from the ocean. Due to evolution, their body removes the salt accumulated in the glands as a violent sneeze. The noise produced is particular and very loud, so it cannot be overlooked, often the secretions are scattered even a meter away.
Tips & Tricks
Due to the excess of salt, marine iguanas have salt or potassium crystals on the head. Due to their individual patterns, every lizard has a completely unique look.
What should you bring to Playa de la Estacion
Depending on how long you stay on the island, you can spend a few hours at Playa de la Estacion. As there are only a few souvenir shops nearby, you will have to bring from Puerto Ayora everything you need. Don’t forget your SPF100 sunscreen, water bottle, some snacks, and a wide-brimmed hat.