How To Visit Santa Cruz Independently

For many, Santa Cruz is the jumping off point for a trip to the Galapagos islands. And what an introduction it is! There are incredible wildlife encounters to be had and beautiful landscapes to explore. And it’s easy to visit Santa Cruz independently and on a budget. Many of the attractions are free to enter and are walking distance from town.


For information on visiting the Galapagos independently, click here. Or, to see what activities to do when you visit Santa Cruz independently, read on… 

Visit Santa Cruz Independently: Activities & Places


Tortuga Bay

Just a short walk from town, Tortuga Bay was our first introduction to the Galapagos. It showed us just what we were letting ourselves in for…


Marine iguanas on beach with people, tortuga bay, santa cruz

Iguanas at Tortuga Bay



Puerto Ayora

Puerto Ayora is the jumping-off point for countless day tours and independent excursions. But you don’t need to leave the town for some interesting wildlife encounters…


The daily fish market in Puerto Ayora

Puerto Ayora



The Lava Tunnels, Tortoise Ranch, and Los Gemelos

We mostly stuck to free activities on Santa Cruz. Though we did splash out a car and driver for the more out-of-reach sights…


Man and woman with giant tortoise shell on Primicias Ranch

At the tortoise ranch



Las Grietas

Who needs an expensive tour when you can hop on a water taxi? Las Grietas is one of the Galapagos’ best kept secrets for the budget traveller. We skipped the tour and visited this snorkelling site independently…


Las Grietas, visit Santa Cruz independently

Las Grietas



Darwin Station and Tortoise Centre

The Darwin Station provides information about the ecology of the Galapagos islands. Just next door, the Tortoise Centre allows visitors to see giant tortoises and iguanas…


Close up of giant tortoise

One of the Galapagos’ famous giant tortoises



Playa de la Estacion

A handy beach to combine with a visit to the Darwin Station and Tortoise Centre. Playa de la Estacion is just a short walk from town…



Looking for independent activities on Isla Isabela? Click here.

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