Tortuga bay is one of the most popular destinations in Santa Cruz – due to its very fine beach, which is located in a sheltered bay and so is spared from the wind and waves that make a lot of the Galapagos beaches a bit rough for snorkelling and swimming.
It can be accessed without a guide, and is around a 45 minute walk from the edge of town where the trail starts. The walk is really nice with lava and cactuses all around – it’s also paved so it’s a very easy trail. If you want to be lazy and just get straight to the beach, you can also take a water-taxi from the centre of town – yes of course we didn’t do that! 🙂
The first beach that you arrive at is a huge white sand beach. This beach is not the sheltered one, and is quite wild and windy. Swimming and snorkelling are not allowed here – partly so as not to disturb the wildlife, and partly to stop people from drowning in the rough conditions.
This beach is really scenic – there are hardly any people on it, and lots of marine iguanas :-). You have to walk the length of this beach and go around the corner in order to get to the sheltered swimming and snorkelling beach.
The second beach is very nice as well – it’s not as big – but it has beautiful, clear, perfectly still water. Of course, this also means that it has tons of tourists sitting by it.
We had a quick walk along the beach – which was a bit too crowded for our liking – and then headed to a small trail that makes a loop around the peninsula between the two beaches. This trail was AWESOME! Lots of cactuses, good views all around, and green turtles visible in the water! 🙂
After a very enjoyable morning, it was time to head back down the trail to town. On the trail on the way, we had spotted a tortoise hiding in the bush. The tortoises usually live in the highlands, but apparently when the wet season starts they make their way to lower ground. We were at the very end of the dry season, so this tortoise had obviously gotten an early start…we were really pleased to spot it again on the way back! 🙂
We arrived back to town after a really nice morning, and definitely ready for a big lunch…