We had three days before our cruise to explore Isabela and Santa Cruz islands. Since we already booked our cruise, we didn’t want to pay any more to do day tours although many of them sounded amazing! Since we were on a tight budget, we discovered all the free things to do in the Galapagos islands of Isabela and Santa Cruz:
Isabela: Time needed – 1-2 days
1.A beautiful walk on a breathe taking trail and scenery to the tortoise breeding centre. We passed by several lagunas where there were flamingos! They were sleeping or eating constantly with their heads in the water but I lucked out and got this shot!
2.Visit the tortoise breeding centre. I didn’t think that a breeding centre would be interesting but it was! You can see so many tortoises at different ages and it was really cool to see the hundred year old ones and the one year olds in the same place.
3.Rent bikes for the day and ride along the coast appx. 6km
4.Walk along the beach and see hundreds of marine iguanas. I couldn’t stop taking photos of them! It was so cool! They camouflaged so well that half the time I didn’t see them until I got too close and they tried to move away. There were so many babies!
5.Rent snorkel gear for $5 and go to Perla Concha for snorkelling and if you’re lucky a sea lion may be there swimming too!
6.Grab a 6 pack of beer, make some tuna sandwiches and watch the sunset on the beach.
7. On Sunday there are locals playing soccer at the only soccer field on the island. Cheer them on from the stands!
You can only get here by walking and it takes about an hour but the journey and arrival are both beautiful. When you arrive at the beginning of the paved hike, you must sign in. Tortuga Bay is open from 6am-5pm so make sure you arrive with plenty of time to enjoy it. There are two beaches, both made of powdery, white sand. The first beach is for surfing only as the current is quite strong and there are no lifeguards. When you walk across this beach you will arrive at Tortuga bay where you can snorkel and see lots of fish and sharks. The water is so calm in this area, it almost feels like a lake. Beautiful place to relax and enjoy the sunshine.
From the port, pay $0.80 for a water taxi ride here. Then you follow the signs to Las Grietas, the signage is pretty clear. It’s about 30 mins walk in and the walk is through some pretty amazing scenery. It’s a beautiful grotto with crystal clear blue water. So clear that you don’t even need snorkel gear to see the huge fish inside. We jumped off the ledge into the frigid water and enjoyed the swim to the other side. It’s truly a beautiful place to be.
3.Charles Darwin Centre
This was a well laid our museum where you can learn more about Darwin, the Galapagos and the environment. Bring your passport because you can get it stamped here! There’s even a tortoise on it! Yaaaas!
4.Watch at the fish market
There are so many different animals here trying to get some free food. We saw sea lions which acted more like dogs, a great blue heron, about 7 pelicans, and a bunch of huge frigates flying near by. It was fun to watch and be close to all these wild animals. Something you can’t do anywhere else in this world.
5.Walk around the town while having amazing coconut icecream – self explanatory lol.