Explore the best of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos

In order to offer transparency into how our stories are produced and to teach our readers about the importance of media literacy online, the editorial team provides a quick self-rating of the integrity of the articles and the facts presented against the following IQ metrics.

  • Published on April 19, 2023
  • Last Updated June 8, 2023
  • In Places

From giant tortoises to pristine beaches, find out why you should add Santa Cruz Island to your bucket list!

If you are looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, check out the impressive Galapagos Islands. They are located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador and full of incredible wildlife and natural beauty unlike anywhere else in the world.

We visited the island of Santa Cruz, which was quite the journey from mainland Ecuador, starting with a 2.5 hour flight from Quito to Baltra Island. Upon exiting the Galapagos airport, we boarded a bus shuttle to the main dock, followed by a ferry across the Itabaca Canal to the island of Santa Cruz. Upon arrival, we took a bus to Santa Cruz’s downtown area known as Puerto Ayora.

One of the main draws of visiting the islands is the opportunity to see animals up close and personal. We had plenty of chances to encounter some truly amazing creatures like sea lions, iguanas, unique birds, and giant tortoises in the wild. Keep in mind that you should treat them with respect and not touch or feed them.

Chew sizing up one of the island’s giant tortoises.
Chew sizing up one of the island’s giant tortoises. Photo courtesy of Olivia Taylor-Chew.

Aside from the wildlife, the otherworldly landscapes are truly captivating. We found ourselves surrounded by unique plant life, crystal clear waters, and volcanic formations.

It is important to note that the islands only accept cash payments, so we had to bring plenty of it. Although there were ATMs present on Santa Cruz, many were not in function. You’ll want to bring enough cash to pay for transportation, accommodation, food, shopping, and any excursions.

The Galapagos Islands are not as budget-friendly as mainland Ecuador, but there are ways to spend less. Save money by taking a bus to and from the airport rather than a taxi, which are faster but more expensive. Hostels offer private rooms downtown that are cheaper than most hotel rooms. Lastly, tours booked on the island are much cheaper than those booked online ahead of time.

There are three main takeaways to remember before you go:

  1. It’s a long but worthwhile journey to get to the Galapagos Islands. Be prepared.

  2. You’ll encounter fascinating animal life. They should be respected and not touched.

  3. Most places accept cash only, so bring lots of cash with you.

For more details on our experience in the Galapagos and cost breakdowns, watch the video below:

Olivia Taylor-Chew is a Long Island, New York based budget travel blogger who is on a mission to “See the World & Save a Dollar!” She is the co-founder of ChewsToExplore, a budget travel blog site and YouTube channel.


(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)