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Puerto Ayora is the tourism hub for the Galapagos Islands. The majority of cruises and aquatic tours begin here. The harbor at Academy Bay is bustling with activity, with tourists and inter-island travelers getting on and off small boats and medium sized cruisers at the dock, and shuttles go back and forth to larger cruise liners anchored in the bay.
Academy Bay is full of beautiful yachts, many of which are available for charter with a full crew, or as a bare-boat charter. The calm waters and gentle trade winds around the Galapagos provide ideal conditions for those interested in sailing and island hopping away from organized, packaged tours.
Along the Malecón, there are many good restaurants, cafes, boutiques and hotels in every price range. There is no shortage of luxury hotels and high and Eco lodges on the island, but most are small and personal with very few having more than 50 rooms.
Puerto Ayora is the most populated of all the towns in the Galapagos, with approximately 12,000 residents. But it does not have an airport. To get to Puerto Ayora by air, you must fly into the airport on nearby Baltra island, and then take a taxi-boat or ferry across the small channel between the two islands, followed by a bus or taxi into town.
Fresh water is premium on Puerto Ayora, please do not waste water. They do not have a fresh water reservoir or lake, like they do on San Cristobal. So they have to use ground water, which is brackish, or obtain water from the only desalination plant. As a consequence, all locals are very conscious about water conservation, and hotels and homes have often separate water systems for different grades of water. Drinking water is not available at the tap, you must buy this in bottles. To cut down on waste, buy personal drinking water, in larger containers and decant it to smaller bottles for daily use.
There is no beach to speak of at Puerto Ayora, except for Playa de La Estacion which is a very small beach about 3/4 mile out of town, a little beyond the Charles Darwin Research Station. The beach is sandy, but has a rocky shoreline and a lot of rocks in the water. Good waterproof footwear is strongly advised.
The other nearby beach is Playa Los Alamanes, which is located west of Puerto Ayora, but more difficult to get to, as you need to take a water taxi to get there.
|Type of beach||None|
|Length of beach||None|
|Wind direction||Light on-shore|
|Restaurants and Cafes||Huge variety in town|
Eating out: There is a wide selection of restaurants and cafes along the Malecón and all around the town. All the high-end hotels also have restaurants of their own. As on other islands, food is pricey, especially along the Malecón. You can save a ton of money, by walking just a few streets into town and staying away from obvious tourist traps. If you’re on a tight budget ask for “Menu” or “Almuerzo” for lunch, you can sometimes get “Menu” in the evenings too in some back-street restaurants.
Scuba Diving: There are lots of dive centers on the island, offering dive tours and PADI training, if you have the patience to learn during your trip. With its central location in the Galapagos archipelago, Puerto Ayora has access to a large number of the dive sites within 90 minutes boat ride, with some much closer. The nearest dive sites (20-60 mins) include: Academy Bay, Las Tintoreras, Gordon Rocks, Nameless Rock, and Santa Fe.
Cycling: For $15 per day you can rent a mountain bike and cover a lot of ground. Cycle up to the highlands, or to the Tortuga Bay and enjoy the wildlife and scenery around you. You’ll be able to see and appreciate much more than by going around in taxis.
Lava Tunnels: In various places around the island you will find the remnants of volcanic activity. Namely Lava tunnels. These are tunnels formed by lava flows, where the exterior of the flow solidified, while the interior was still flowing, and eventually emptied out, leaving just the exterior wall. Here are a few spots where you can find lava tunnels on the island: Rancho Primicias, Bellavista
Giant Tortoise: Less than a mile from town at the Charles Darwin Research Station you’ll be able to admire the incredible giant tortoises endemic to the island of Santa Cruz, which are being bred at the research station. During July to November, the Giant Tortoises migrate to the highlands 1300 ft above sea level on a plateau atop an extinct volcano, on the drier, sunnier east side of the island. There they can be seen grazing in herds.
Hotels and Hostals around Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island
|Estrella De Mar||Hotel|
|El Bambú Galápagos Inn||Hotel|
|Finch Bay||Luxury Hotel||$100+|
|Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge||Eco Lodge||$100+|
|Hotel Sol y Mar||Hotel||$100+|
|Grand Hotel Lobo De Mar||Hotel||$25-50|
|Pelican Bay Inn||Hotel||$25-50|
|Sir Francis Drake||Hostal||$25-50|
|Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos||Hotel||$250+|
|Angermeyer Water Front Inn||Hotel||$50-100|
|Hotel Mainao Inn||Hotel||$50-100|
|Marine Adventure||Cruise Operator||05 252 6556; 02 222 6786; 02 290 1687|
|Nauti Diving||Diving Tours||05 252 7004|
|Dive Center Academy Bay||Diving Tours||05 252 6497|
|Galapa Diving||Diving Tours||05 252 6982|
|Scuba Iguana||Diving Tours||05 252 6497|
|Tip Top Diving||Diving Tours||05 301 4745; 05 252 6502|
|Ecuagala Cía. Ltda||Logistics||05 252 7403|
|Galapagos Aqua Tours||Diving Tours||05 252 6632; 04 277 0576|
|Sub Aqua Dive Center||Dive Center||05 252 6028|
|Galapagos Sub Aqua||Dive Center||04 230 5507|
|Sol y Mar Diving||Dive Center||099 480 6281|
|Galapagos Islands Cruises||Cruise Operator|
|Tip Top Travel (Rolf Wittmer)||Cruise Operator||02 256 3181; 02 256 3098; 02 252 0716|
|Metropolitan Touring||Cruise Operator||02 298 8320; 02 298 8330|