Begin with your first excursion to Black Turtle Cove, which is situated in the northern part of Santa Cruz. This inlet is surrounded by mangroves and is only accessible by dinghy. The shallow cove here is a safe haven for young marine life including black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, sea turtles, and a variety of rays.
The white sand coral beach of Darwin Bay heads a half mile trail that winds through mangroves packed with land birds. Have the opportunity to spot Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and swallow-tailed gulls. Further down the path are tidal pools where sea lions swim playfully in the pristine waters.
Rabida Island is one of the most colorful and volcanically varied islands in the archipelago. Its famous maroon sandy beach and stunning lookouts provide wonderful landscapes. Some of the rarest species of birds are in abundance here, such as nine varieties of finches, large-billed flycatchers, Galapagos hawks and brown pelicans. It is a birdwatcher’s delight. This is a great snorkeling site if you choose to indulge.
The El Chato Tortoise Reserve is divided into two areas: Caseta and Chato. The reserve allows visitors to observe giant tortoises in the wild during the dry season. It is also a good place to spot short-eared owls, Darwin’s finches, yellow warblers, Galapagos rails, and paint-billed crakes.
Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz, Las Bachas is a wonderful swimming beach. There is a floating pier here that is one of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II presence in the Galapagos. You may have the change to see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach at this location.
Cormorant Point hosts a large flamingo lagoon where other birds such as common stilts and white-cheeked pintails can also be seen. The beaches on this island are distinct with their incredible green color which is due to the high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the “Four Sand Beach” composed of white coral.
Gardner Bay is located on the eastern side of the island and is the breeding site of nearly all of the world´s pairs of waved albatrosses. It has a relaxing white sandy beach with a myriad of sea lions and its rocky shores make this site a great place for exploring the ocean through diving and snorkeling.
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