Home to many endemic wildlife such as marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, crabs, marine turtles, sharks and rays, Tortuga Bay is one of the largest beaches on Santa Cruz Island. It has two areas, the open beach where currents are very strong, suitable for surfing, and a beautiful lagoon where you can swim. Snorkelling and kayaking at Tortuga Bay is one of the most unique experiences in Santa Cruz, as you can encounter more marine life than anywhere else on the island.
You can reach Tortuga Bay by taking a water taxi or by walking along a 2,5km paved trail from Puerto Ayora. The hike itself it’s an interesting experience, as it passes through an arid zone, lined with shrubs and tall cactuses up to a few meters. As the journey will take you at least 45 minutes, you’ll have the opportunity to spot many endemic birds or lava lizards on the way. As in many other places on the island, visitors must register their name before entering the bay.
Tips&Tricks: There are a few places to stop along the way, with gazebos and benches for resting. Apart from these areas there is nowhere to cover for shade, so be prepared to walk a lot in the sun.
Your first sight of Tortuga Bay may leave you speechless. Pelicans and blue-footed boobies fly over the turquoise ocean, carefully searching for fish, while dozens of marine iguanas are basking in the sun on one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in Galapagos.
Tips&Tricks: The tide tends to completely change the landscape. Every afternoon, the ocean covers most of the beach making the way back almost unrecognizable. From place to place, you’ll find special high wooden hangers to keep your backpack and items safe.
The water in the lagoon is very clear, so you’ll observe marine life better than anywhere else on Santa Cruz Island. Do not hesitate to rent a kayak, because the experience is incredible. Paddling along the edge of the mangrove forest, we could see so many sea turtles and sharks swimming around us.
Tips&Tricks: Being part of the Galapagos National Park, Tortuga Bay closes at 5 PM. Do not forget that you still need to walk 2,5km, so be sure to leave one hour earlier.
What to pack for a day at Tortuga Bay
Because we spent a few hours in the bay, 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.