Located on the north shore of Santa Cruz, Las Bachas is a swimming beach. One of the few remnants of the U.S. World War II presence in the Galápagos, a floating pier, can be seen here. You may see flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs, hermit crabs, black necked stilts, and whimbrels. Sea turtles also nest off the beach.
Darwin Bay offers a beach consisting of coral where a 750m trail takes you through more seabird colonies. You get to see the cliffs from the seaward side, which are home to a large red-footed booby colony. Once ashore the number of birds seems overwhelming – Nazca boobies soar overhead, great frigatebirds display their pouches while resting on the nearby rocks and plants, and mockingbirds scamper quickly across the sand.
The Sullivan Bay lava field has a variety of interesting patterns made by the shapes and textures of trees that once existed there and hornitos caused when pockets of gas or water trapped under the lava exploded. The low-lying mollugo and the lava cactus are the only plants that have managed to take root in this harsh environment. On the shoreline black and white oystercatchers can be seen fishing for crabs and molluscs in the tide pools.
Santa Fe is a volcanic uplift and hosts a forest of Opuntia cactus, which are the largest of the archipelago, and palo santo. Weathered cliffs provide a haven for swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropic birds, and sehar-waters petrels. The Santa Fe species of land iguanas are often seen, as well as lava lizards. There is a picturesque turquoise lagoon and calm waters where you can snorkel amongst sea lions.
Isla Lobos is small island is named after the sea lions that rest and play on its rocky shores. It is also home to blue-footed boobies, great frigate-birds, brown pelicans, lava gulls, common noddies, yellow warblers and small and medium ground finches. There is good snorkelling in the clear waters of the channel and this is one of the best sites at which to swim with sea lions underwater.
Gardner Bay has a magnificent beach with turquoise waters. Around the small islets nearby, snorkellers will find lots of fish and sometimes turtles and sharks. The bay is also frequented by a transient colony of sea lions which like to swim with you. Birds, like the endemic Hood-mockingbird and different species of Darwin finches, are omnipresent.
On Santa Cruz Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station is an international not-for-profit organization that provides scientific research, technical information and assistance to ensure the proper preservation of the Galápagos Islands. Visitors can learn about natural history, issues concerning the islands, and see the tortoise breeding and rearing project at work.
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.