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Santa Cruz Island

The giant tortoises land

Santa Cruz or ‘Holy Cross’ is one of the 16 islands located in the centre of the archipelago.

The island’s history reflects the human impact from the 20th century that Santa Cruz has observed. Its wildlife has attracted many settlers along history such as germans and americans during WWl & WWll. The small towns of Bellavista and Santa Rosa were established in the humid highlands, where farmers raised cattle and planted crops such as avocados, coffee, sugarcane, bananas, oranges, and lemons.

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Santa Cruz is the main touristic hub in Galapagos, given its proximity to the airport on Baltra to the north. It is the only island in Galapagos where tourists can readily experience the interior and higher elevations of a Galapagos island. Its paved roads allows transportation along the island to be easy and efficient.

A visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station is included in many cruises. The visitor center at the station contains exhibits dealing with climate and geography, providing an insight into the evolution of flora and fauna as well as current conservation programs. The Darwin Station conducts research and provides technical assistance to other researchers and governmental agencies. Furthermore, the Darwin Station also provides environmental education to communities and schools in Galapagos.

Good to know

Area: 986 km2 or 381 mi2
Maximum Altitude: 864 m or 2835 ft
Human Population: Approximately 12,000
City: Puerto Ayora
Places to visit: Volcanic activity has long since ceased on Santa Cruz

Puerto Ayora

Located on the southern coast of Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora is a port town where sailboats fill the bay, sea birds fill the air, and marine iguanas dot the shore. Puerto Ayora is the heart and soul of the Galapagos Islands’ human population and is the main tourism hub on the archipelago.

Known for its quaint hotels with creative architecture and small delicious restaurants, Puerto Ayora is the base point for most tours and offers a big amount of services in Galapagos, including a hospital, banks, post office, radio station and even an airline office. Most travelers to the Galapagos will surely stop in Puerto Ayora during their trip.

Puerto Ayora is very appealing to those who like island-hopping. There are a variety of day tours available allowing visitors to design their own Galapagos experience. Day-trips to a number of the islands, kayaking, tours of the highlands, hiking, dive trips, mountain biking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities visitors can arrange in Puerto Ayora. It is also home to the headquarters of the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station.

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