It’s all about ‘S’ in our Galapagos Islands beach blog, which incidentally focuses on the best spots on an Cristóbal and Santa Cruz Island, where we have Spanish schools! Whether it’s swimming, snorkelling, surfing or spotting (animals that is), your experience on this UNESCO World Heritage-listed paradise is bound to involve beaches. So, get informed, know where to go, and just be! Oh, and can you help us find an ‘S word’ for dive?


Beach at Galapagos Islands — © Instituto Superior de Español.
Beach at Galapagos Islands — © Instituto Superior de Español.

When it comes to swimming you’re going to want fast access, fun and frivolity. Here’s where we recommend:

  • By far the best place on Santa Cruz Island for easy-access relaxation is Tortuga Bay, one hour’s walk from the center of Puerto Ayora. And to top of the white sands and blue seas, you’ll also have the chance to spot seabirds, flamingos, pelicans and many more two-to-four legged natural wonders. Keep reading for more animal-spotting spots!
  • Also on Santa Cruz Island, a 30-minute drive from Puerto Ayora, is Garrapatero, which hosts frequent flocks of flamingos and more-than-welcomed white-cheeked pintail ducks, which we reckon are the classiest ducks of all (just to get you excited about ducks, of all things). And that’s just the flora! This not-too-distant destination is a natural paradise also ideal for a good swim and a snooze.


Snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean — © Instituto Superior de Español.
Snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean — © Instituto Superior de Español.

Yeah, there’s the flora and fauna of 20 beautiful tropical islands, with all their idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. But look closer! In fact… dunk your head under the sea! What’s lurking under water right across the Galapagos Islands is best seen snorkelling. This is where:

  • Seen from the skies, Kicker Rock is bound to grab your attention. But would you snorkel there? Just of the coast of San Cristóbal Island, Kicker is a stunning stone island with protruding facades and a dark, mysterious aura that lures the most ambitious snorkeler. Not for the faint hearted, the long swim is worth it if you’re fit and looking to spot tortoises in the deep.
  • Ochoa beach is a San Cristóbal-slice of heaven only accessed through tour operators. Aside from its sizeable population of sea lions, Ochoa — located 30 minutes by boat from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno — is a superb spot for crystal clear snorkelling and sea-creature spotting.
  • Mixing it up with another island that’s all about deep-sea diving, our next destination is just off the coast of Santa Cruz. Take a deep breath, a final look around, and get your head wet at Punta Carrión, where you’ll spot Galapagos herons, great blue heron, brawn pelicans (their feet at least), rays, and — if you’re lucky — white-tip sharks.


Perfect wave to surf at Galapagos Islands — © Instituto Superior de Español.
Perfect wave to surf at Galapagos Islands — © Instituto Superior de Español.

No beach blog that claims to have all its ‘S’ activities covered can forget surfing! Having made themselves known over the past few decades as a sanctuary for surfers, the Galapagos Islands certainly haven’t forgotten, with tour operators and friendly locals more than happy to get you there. Here are two of San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz’s best spots:

  • Catch a boat east of SC’s capital, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and you’ll be at one of the Galapagos Islands’ top surfing destinations. But, with 10-feet average waves, we’ll let you decide what you think of Punta Carola.
  • The name of this place — Chicken Hill — in no way attempts to assess whether you’re a chicken, a scaredy-cat or just plain old wimp when you face the average 6-feet waves here (the Spanish word for chicken, gallina, isn’t used that way). With long walls, and certainly no chickens, the Santa Cruz surf destination is known more for its great views.

Something starting with ‘S’ meaning dive, anybody?

How about we start with Spanish and Diving, a little plug about our diving programs on the Galapagos Islands? But back to down to business, our diving highlights on the Galapagos Islands are:

  • Just north of Santa Cruz Island, about an hour by boat, are the Guy Fawkes Rocks — two pristine islands that were formed from volcanic activity. With black coral and deep cavities, the underwater experience here is mind-boggling. You might also get to spot Galapagos sharks, white-tip reef sharks, seahorses, and much, much more.
  • As far as 25-feet below the sea, the diving at South Plaza Anchorage is ideal for beginners. For everybody else, you better enjoy swimming alongside curious baby sea lions, whose colony is not far away at all!
  • San Cristóbal’s Tijeretas Hill is that island’s very own beginners hub. For green sea turtles, Galapagos garden eels, rays and more. And don’t be jealous, there are plenty of sea lion cubs here as well!
  • With its warm waters and over 50-feet of fun, the dive site around Whale Rock near San Cristóbal Island is your chance to slither among sizeable schools of fish. But don’t get too fishy, you might also see the odd sea turtle or ray.

Spot animals

Seals at the coast of Galapagos Islands — © Instituto Superior de Español.
Seals at the coast of Galapagos Islands — © Instituto Superior de Español.

We know it’s what you’ve come for! The Galapagos Islands are a Swedish Smörgåsbord‎ of animals. We assure that’s meant figuratively — the animals around here are protected by the Galapagos Islands national park for their importance in the animal kingdom. We’ve got its Kings, Queens, Jacks and Jokers right here:

  • Cerro Brujo — or Wizard Hill — plays into our little ‘Animal Kingdom’ play on words, so let’s run with it first! No Wizards here, unfortunately, just birds — a lot of them. This site on San Cristóbal Island was also one of the first Charles Darwin visited when he arrived to the islands way back when, if nostalgia is your thing.
  • The Media Luna Cone is up next! Also on San Cristóbal, the Half Moon cove is right near a Turtle Reserve. Well worth the visit for lava lizards, geckos and mockingbirds.
  • At Santa Cruz Island’s Playa de los Perros, you won’t find dogs — like the beach’s Spanish name suggests — but white-tipped reef sharks instead! It features a natural pool where sharks come to nibble, so watch your feet. At Dog Beach you might also spot marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, sally light foot crabs, and frigate birds.

For more information visit the Galapagos Islands National Park website!

Originally published on Ailola by Jayson McNamara on January 13, 2017.