Final Thoughts On Where To Stay On Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands have managed to successfully retain their natural beauty and in a world increasingly looking for more environmentally friendly travel options, the islands provide plenty of options. They also have an interesting culture that often goes overlooked but is well worth exploring.
In terms of the best island, we are going to go with San Cristóbal! It has the most facilities available and has a great selection of all the fantastic attractions that make the Galapagos Islands a worthy destination. As for where to stay on Galopgas Islands after you arrive?
Book yourself into the Galeodan Penthouse Suite on San Cristóbal for an amazing retreat in your own little garden of paradise. For a more budget choice, however, youll have to head over to Santa Cruz Island and check into Galapagos Dreams the best hostel in the Galapagos Islands.
That being said, depending on how isolated you want to be each of the inhabited islands has their own charms and are well worth exploring. We hope weve helped you narrow down your options.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
And dont forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. Theyre easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once youve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
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Arriving In Puerto Ayora
Arriving at the Santa Cruz dock, our next task was to get across the island to Puerto Ayora. Its $5 per person to take a bus, or you can opt for a pick-up truck taxi for $20.
After 20 minutes idly waiting for the bus to fill up and leave, a family asked us if we wanted to split a taxi with them. We ended up paying $8 for our portion of the taxi, and as a bonus received some great Galapagos travel tips from our driver!
As we chatted and drove, a cool mist swirled around the truck and raindrops spattered the windshield. Peering out the windows through the fog, we were ecstatic to realize that the road and its surrounding countryside was crawling with giant land tortoises.
The magic of the Galapagos had begun.
Day Tours From Santa Cruz To Other Islands
One of the best things about Santa Cruz is its strategic centered location which give you the opportunity to do day trips to other islands such as Isabela o San Cristobal and also the most unique inhabited ones like Bartolomé or North Seymour. All of this day tours include lunch and usually depart very early in the morning to make the best out of the day, because of this is very important that you slept the night before in Santa Cruz.
Heres some of the daily tours we offer that you can do from Santa Cruz:
Bartolomé Island Tour
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Gorgeous Apartment In San Cristbal: Galeodan Penthouse Suite
This spectacular penthouse apartment comes with unbeatable views across the harbour giving you the perfect space to wake up every morning! There is a private patio, as well as a king-sized bed to provide ultimate comfort. It is only a five-minute walk away from the town centre, and a stones throw from the beach.
What Should I Bring According To The Weather On Santa Cruz
In the months between June and November, its very sunny. Between February and May its the rainy season. July to October are the cool, drizzly months and the sea temperature gets very cold.
What you should definitely take, regardless of the season: a waterproof jacket, closed-toe shoes, seasickness medication , refillable water bottle, sunglasses, hat, pen drive most of the tour operators take photos and videos with their cameras on the daily tours so youll need a pen drive to transfer them. Dont count on them sending them to you via email or google drive because the Internet connection is terrible on all three islands.
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What To Do On Santa Cruz Galapagos
The town of Santa Cruz is a great place to base yourself to explore the Galapagos. In addition to having quite a few interesting spots to visit on the island itself, it is also the main launching point for day trip in the region. This section will detail things to do on the island itself, and the next section will discuss day trips from Santa Cruz.
Where To Stay In The Galapagos Islands
Flakey, black iguanas make their erratic, daily shuffle from the wetlands to the beach, carving tracks in the cream sand with their tails as, feet away, a pair of bubble-gum pink flamingos dip their heads in a slush-colored swamp. Behind, the Sierra Negra volcano looms dangerously, just perceptible in the highland mist ahead, the Pacific Ocean stretches as far as the eye can see. This is not a take from a nature documentary, but the view from the terrace of Iguana Crossing, one of the fantastic options of where to stay in the Galapagos Islands, located on Isabela, one of the four inhabited islands.
Inky with volcanic rock or white-washed and fresh, tucked into enchanted forests or into accessed only by boat, fitted with computerized telescopes or ocean-facing bathtubs, simple or lavish: right across Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal and Floreana there are welcoming, eco-minded and sustainable hotels with ocean views, stylish interiors, family-friendly features and prices to suit all pockets.
Read on to learn more about the spectrum of options around the four populated islands.
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Daily Tours From Santa Cruz Galpagos
To get the full Galapagos experience we recommend taking at least one paid tour per island to get to know places only reachable with an authorized guide and boat. Since Galapagos is a protected area, is not a place where you can just walk around and make your way to meet some places. There are standar paid tours where a certified bilingual guide will lead your way to some amazing places that give Galapagos the Enchanted islands name.
Heres the ones we recommend on Santa Cruz, and off course, you can book any of them with us.
Best Hotel In Galapagos: Eco Hotel Katarma
Eco-tourism is the reason so many people visit the Galapagos Islands every year, so it goes without saying that we would include an eco-hotel in our top three! The relatively new hotel has been designed using local artists and architects, and most of the materials used are recycled from previous projects.
The Galapagos Islands are fairly close together, but ferries can be expensive. Though all of the islands are great for natural beauty, some have larger populations than others, so where you end up largely depends on what you want to get out of your trip to the archipelago.
Santa Cruz is one of the most popular destinations, especially for nature lovers! Of the inhabited islands, Santa Cruz houses the best-known nature reserves, and most attractions in the island can be easily reached by a short hike from the main town. Though all of the tourist accommodation is in Puerto Ayora, the other towns are also worth a visit.
In terms of population, however, San Cristóbal is the largest island in the archipelago! Backpacking the Galapagos Islands are notoriously expensive, however, a good way to save money is to base yourself in the largest town Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is on this island. Facilities are also more widely available than other islands, making it a good choice for those that want their home comforts.
Still undecided? Check out our extended guides below!
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Where To Stay In The Galapagos: Santa Cruz Hotels And Vacation Rentals
As I mentioned before, we stayed in an apartment on every island because staying for 3 weeks we loved to cook our ou meals and not having to eat out every day but also for a budget reason.
However, we realized that in Santa Cruz you can find many local places where to have a decent meal for a local price. There is not much difference in spending also because buying your grocery in the supermarket is like shopping in a jewelry shop.
So, in the end, we didnt save much. Keep it in mind when you choose where to stay in the Galapagos Islands.
Apartments in Santa Cruz Island Galapagos
The Finch house
The Finch house is a very popular home for rent in Santa Cruz. Located in the heart of the town close to all the bars, restaurants and at walking distance of the most popular attractions. The home is very spacious and equipped with all the necessary amenities, including WIFI, a rare find in the Galapagos Islands. However, if you are looking for luxury, this is not your place.
Casa del Lago
Especially loved by solo travelers, these self-catering suites with private balconies overlooking an internal garden boast colorful decor, with stone walls and wooden details creating a cozy charming atmosphere.
Close to the Lago de las Ninfas and at 45 minutes from Tortuga bay la Casa del Lago apartments have a strategic location at walking distance to the town center and the harbor but in a quiet and tranquil area.
Where To Stay In Isla Santa Cruz Galapagos
Santa Cruz definitely has the widest variety of accommodation options. There are a few higher-end places right on the waterfront but most are scattered throughout the town. There are also some options for places out of town and in the highlands. While you will be immersed in nature and have hiking trails at your doorstep, consider this choice carefully. We met a couple who regretted this as it was a pain to get a taxi into town every time they wanted to eat or explore.
We stayed at Hostal Crossman both times we visited Santa Cruz. While I would have liked to try somewhere new it is simply the best value option we found. It has comfortable rooms, private bathrooms and a shared kitchen in a great location for one of the best prices on the island. Check the prices and availability now.
If you want to splurge, Red Mangrove Hotel is incredible. Right on the ocean, the included breakfast can be eaten watching sea lions playing right in front of you and the free bikes will make exploring a breeze. The sun deck has sun loungers for guests use as long as the sea lions have saved you one! Check out the pictures here.
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Regular Restaurants And Coffee Places
There is a food street that lights up at night and lots of restaurants one close to the others, set tables out and serve their best meal, normally lobster, fish, ceviche and other local specialties. I have to be honest, we went there only once and I didnt really like it. I found outrageous prices and low quality.
- Touristy Restaurants street of puerto Ayora
We have tried other restaurants instead such as:
El Giardino, we only had ice cream there but some friends we met along the trip had a lot of praise about this place. The menu looked really inviting, in fact, besides the bucolic setting, hence the name
The Rock Galapagos Cool ambiance, although we didnt make it there to try their food. It has been recommended to us quite often, though.
La Regata Here I had the best lemonade with lemongrass ever and delicious vegetarian quesadillas. They also have great espresso coffee and decent WIFI.
Hernan Cafe This place was always full and when we tried it we understood the reason. Its a little overpriced but not for being in the Galapagos, we realized. On our last night on the island, we decided to take a splurge and try their specialties. The ceviche mixto is to die for, but mind that the portion is enough as an appetizer so we shared it and had also a seafood pizza which made our day as well.
Definitely, a place that I highly recommend.
To check out reviews for other restaurants, you can .
Which Galpagos Hotel Is Right For Me
As above, your best choice on Isabela Island is the Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel.
On Santa Cruz you have several options. Weve personally checked out these four, all providing different experiences, one of which will be perfect for you.
In the cooler highlands, Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos is a five-star resort and member of the Leading Hotels of the World. They have yachts for day trips, so you can explore islands like Bartolomé and Santa Fe, which your live-aboard cruise might not have visited. The lava tunnel on Royal Palms 190 hectare private estate is a cant-miss stop. Royal Palms spacious villas and casitas have fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs, and this is your perfect choice if youd like privacy.
If you like to be in the centre of the action, Hotel Solymar has an ideal waterfront location. It is between the open-air market , and the port itself, where youll see more napping sea lions and maybe even a school of rays swimming among the water taxis. Solymar has a small pool and a very talented chef in their seafront restaurant.
You might want to take advantage of Galápagos fresh seafood and cook up a storm, or perhaps youre travelling with kids or a bigger group and want space to stretch out. Torre Mar Vacation Rentals would be perfect for you. Just a couple blocks up from the port, youll have your own kitchen, a big patio with a barbecue, and can rent out as many flats as you need . Throw some of those big lobsters on your barbecue!
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Suggested Itineraries For Santa Cruz Galapagos
The following are our suggested itineraries for a stay on Santa Cruz island. None of my suggestions include a day trip to Isabella or San Cristobel island as I think you should visit these islands independently and stay overnight. However, if you are short on time, you can add a day tour to either of these islands on to your itinerary quite easily.
A Guide To Visiting Santa Cruz Galapagos
The Galapagos Islands figure on most peoples bucket list. From white sand beaches to incredible wildlife encounters, it really is a once in a lifetime experience. Santa Cruz is the second-largest island after Isabela and most cruises start here. However, it is possible to explore the islands on your own. So if youve decided to organize your own island-hopping tour or have a few extra days before or after your cruise, heres a complete guide to visiting Santa Cruz!
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Explore The Lava Tunnels
Formed by the solidified molten lava flow, the lava tunnels on Santa Cruz Island abound. There are a few awesome tunnels located right inside the El Chato Tortoise Reserve, but if you want to explore further, head to the tunnels near the Santa Rosa town. Here youll find tunnels that are more than 1 km in length and get a chance to get a real feel for what life is like inside.
Where We Stayed In Puerto Ayora
Thankfully, we didnt have to look for much longer.
We were soon stopped at the fish market by Carlos, who said he had a hotel just up the road and promised us all of the amenities for $50 a night .
Carlos was friendly and chatty, asking us the usual questions about where we were from and offering suggestions and advice as we walked the few blocks to his hotel.
Sure enough, Sueno Silvestres delivered on its promises: there was hot water, towels, working WiFi, A/C, two comfortable beds, several outlets, drinkable water, and even a small kitchen that we were free to use.
Our room was spacious and clean, and Carlos was happy to answer all of our questions and assist us with anything we needed. For $50 a night, we were happy! Psst: we still recommend you book online in advance. Check prices for your trip.
The hotel is on the outer edge of Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, and close to the Charles Darwin Station, so after settling in and getting some good advice from Carlos, we headed to the center to spend the last few hours of sunlight on this misty Sunday afternoon.
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Things To See And Do In Isabela
The hike to the Wall of Tears is packed with highlights including beautiful lakes, flocks of flamingos and iguana filled beaches
The Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre on Isabela is smaller than others on the islands, but still has some great information about the native species
Head to Los Tuneles a tour is advised, but the day-long excursion involves walking through volcanic tunnels, snorkelling and shark spotting
Concha de Perla is another great snorkelling spot and you are even permitted to play with the native sea lion population
Encantado de Pepa is a hugely popular cafe with locals, not least because of its owner who is somewhat of a local character the location also helps
Bar Casa Rosada is a great hangout spot in the evening with live music, a laid back atmosphere and volleyball