Off the coast of Ecuador, there is a collection of nationally protected volcanic islands & islets, known as the Galápagos Islands.
The most accessible of these islands being Isla Isabela, Santa Cruz & San Cristobol.
The Galápagos Islands are a magical place, alive with; iguanas & sea lions, birds & sharks, fish, lizards, dogs, a host of friendly locals, live music, dancing, laughter community. It's a place of unbelievable beauty, with some of the most blue water in the world.
Getting to the Galápagos,...can seem a little daunting due to the limited flight options and number of flights it takes. To help, I have created a little cheat sheet to make it easier. I even included options on easy ways for flight attendants to non-rev!
Santa Cruz Island
From the moment you step off the plane onto the tarmac in Baltra you are greeted with wildlife. There are lizards long every warm surface and birds hopping about. Baltra is the island located right above Santa Cruz, which is home to the airport.
You're efficiently escorted through immigration, where they will also re-check your bags. United States citizens pay $20 immigration fee, and an additional $100.00 to enter. While this adds to the cost of the trip, knowing that your money goes to the preservation of all the rare & endangered animals on the island makes it well worth it.
From there, is a short bus ride costing you $5.00 takes you to the ferry , which is a $1.00 ride, and you're on your way to Isla Santa Cruz, where you get your first glimpse at all the marine wildlife. Sea lions and crabs surround the boat while pelican-like birds are diving in and out of the water scooping up mouthfuls of fish. It is quite a sight to see.
Once the ferry arrives, you are in Santa Cruz! But you've still got a bit of a way to go. A $1.00 bus ride to downtown, or a more expensive taxi ( which if you befriend some people becomes quite affordable) to your hotel and you're there!
The Main Street for shopping, eating booking tours is Ave Charles Darwin I would suggest staying as close to here as possible.
While Santa Cruz Island is a busy island full of locals and tourists alike, a quick ferry costing somewhere between $25.00 and $35.00 to San Cristobol is almost the opposite.
There are fewer tourists, and the streets are much calmer. There was a sense and feeling of family, if I was traveling with children this is where I would suggest spending most of your time. There are many parks and activities geared for kiddos. I would also suggest this be a great place for anyone looking for a surf trip!
This island had a community feel to me. The way shop owners would sit outside their stores with the other shop owners, talking and laughing, or the way that cab drivers would stop to pick up their kids from school with passengers still in the truck.
If you came to the Galápagos Islands to see sea lions, this is island is for you. There are a lot more sandy beaches, and a lot of great places to go surfing or diving. I personally brought my own snorkel gear and this is where I definitely got the most use of it.
After a very busy week in Santa Cruz, I found that San Cristobal was a wonderful balance of great restaurants, beautiful beaches, and amazing surfing.
OTHER ISLANDS & ISLETS
You can book a ferry to Isla Isabella from either Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. This is a great island to explore for the day, either on your own or with a tour. There is much to do and see. Refer to the map below for more details.
There aren't any ATMs on this island, so bring plenty of cash with you.
This island was one of the more expensive to stay. Budget travelers should look into Hostal Cerro Azul.
great place to go scuba diving & see hammer head sharks. I highly suggest Scuba Iguana.
No Visa required for US citizens staying less than 90 days.
There are many ATM's once you arrive at each island, but they are tricky to find in the airport, and you need to have the immigration fee nd park fee in cash upon arrival.
A great way to get a feel for these islands are with tours. Walk along the Main Street on each island to find many tour guides.
To be safe, I suggest booking your tour the day before you would like to go.
I would also suggest that tours are not always the best way to see the island. Time permitting, go explore on your own!
Ferries & Water Taxis
While white pick-up trucks are the tell tail sign of the taxi here, a yellow boat is what you should keep an eye out for when hiring a water taxi.
For less than a dollar you can get from Santa Cruz to Las Grietas.
To book a ferry between the islands there are store fronts along the Main Street. However, price shop if you can, Tickets range from $25.00 to $35.00.
Here is a detailed map of the locations mentioned above
If you need help planning your trip please let me know!
x Sasha x
Hi there! I'm Sasha and I'm the girl behind The Site Seeker. Welcome to my little corner of the internet. Here you will find every reason to pack your bags and travel. As a flight attendant and all around travel enthusiasts I love sharing a little look into my world.