Here,find baby, hand-sized tortoises, between the ages of one and five years old, and marvel at how they achieve such large sizes as adults (500 lbs or more!). Galapagos tortoises are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years, so the young ones have a long life ahead of them as long as they receive the protection they need.
Santa Cruz Island is home to the largest town and economic center of the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora. In this portside town you can buy souvenirs (postcards, t-shirts, books, etc.) of the islands. Check out the unique Galapagos handicrafts at the local market.
After shopping in Puerto Ayora and lunch on the boat (guests may dine in town if they desire), explore the highlands or “ parte alta ” of the island, which is a moisture-rich area with fertile volcanic soils. Learn about the vegetation and animal life of this zone, often strikingly different than that found at lower elevations.
Darwin’s Finches, Yellow Warblers, and Bright Red Vermillion Flycatchers will fly in and out of the moss-covered trees.
From this high vantage point, be treated to beautiful views of the surrounding archipelago.
Your first stop is Punta Cormorant. Here you can follow a footpath to a lagoon inhabited by flaming-pink flamingos. At the end of the road, head to a white sand beach which is a green Sea Turtle nesting area and a superb spot for watching sea birds and sea rays.
Back on the yacht, skirt the island’s coast until you arrive at La Corona del Diablo or the Devil’s Crown, a sub-marine crater that offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling in the Galapagos. This is a great spot for seeing the wide array of tropical fish, many endemic to the islands, including purple sea stars and spiky sea urchins. The crater’s most thrilling undersea creatures, however, are the white-tipped sharks. As with most of the creatures in the Galapagos they are unperturbed by your presence, so you can swim in their company freely and fearlessly.
After returning to the boat for lunch move on to Post Office Bay, where the islands original post office (really only a wooden barrel) was established around 1793. The current system still functions as it did three centuries ago: Visitors drop off unstamped letters and postcards AND pick-up whatever mail they can hand deliver themselves when they return home!
As you follow the footpath around the island, you will pass hundreds of Blue Footed Booby nesting sites including one colony of masked boobies.
There is a good chance you’ll see the thief-like Frigate Bird (which has the habit of stealing other birds food), as well as the stunning Red-Billed Tropicbird and the nocturnal Swallow-Tailed Gull. If it is the right time of the year (mid-April to December) you’ll also encounter the giant Waved Albatross. Apart from a few pairs that breed on Isla de Plata, off the Ecuadorian mainland, all of the world’s 12,000 Waved Albatross breed on Espanola Island. At the end of the breeding season, the entire population leaves the island and heads out to sea, where they spend years without touching land; four or five years may pass before the fledglings return to Espanola.
As you make your way around the island you’ll pass by El Soplador , a giant blowhole that explodes to heights reaching 25 feet. In the nearby tide pools you can often find lounging sea lions enjoying the blowhole’s misty spray. Following lunch on board the yacht, you’ll visit Garner Bay, a great place for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. Lionfish, Flycatchers, and Galapagos Hawks will keep you company as you relax under the rays of the evening sun. Dinner on the yacht completes your day.
For those of you arriving on that day, you will go from the airport straight to the boat to show you to your accommodations. After lunch, the ship will navigate to Isla Lobos , a very small islet made of volcanic rocks that gets its name from the colony of Sea Lions (Lobo de Mar in Spanish) that live there. Here you can observe the behavior and interaction of Sea Lions living in a small community, after this visit we have the chance to go snorkeling.
In the afternoon, head back to mainland Ecuador.