Tortuga Bay – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

June 2018

Tortuga Bay – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

Our first say of exploration on Santa Cruz! We were anxious to continue discovering what these gorgeous islands had to offer.

A half hour walk lead us to the entrance of Tortuga Bay, which was filled with mockingbirds and Darwin finches that distracted us from our normal fast stride- it was impossible to not pause and take everything in.

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After what felt like an eternal walk, the walkway opened up onto a gorgeous white sanded beach with blue waves smashing into black lava rock transforming the water into white foam before retracting back into the ocean for another round.

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This first beach to known for having strong currents and is generally not recommended for swimming, though we did see some surfers attempt to catch the aggressive waves. There is a bay farther down where the waters are calm and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. The walk tot he bay was filled with marine iguanas, some over four feet long, just sunbathing on the sand.

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We were amazed at each prehistoric looking iguana every time we passed one. We found an alcove to the left that perched on top of lava rock with a sweeping view of the ocean. Several pelicans were trying their luck diving for breakfast and slowly, we began to spot little black heads floating in the ocean. The marine iguanas were making their way out into the ocean for their algae meal. It was incredible to witness them embarking on this seemingly impossible task swimming against the waves and current out and then riding the ocean back while navigating the lava rocks.

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The bay area finally revealed itself past a line of cacti with a small beach area and lava rock cliff. While we were anxious to explore, we were distracted by rapid movement at our feet. We looked down to small holes, but nothing around. Crouching down, unmoving, we waited to find out who lived inside. Slowly, the tiniest crabs began to peek out using an oversized claw as a walking stick. Known as fiddler crabs, hundreds emerged mimicked the same motion but quickly retreated when they sensed movement.

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Before going towards the beach area, we decided to climb the lava rock formation that protected the bay area, giving it the calm and clear water.

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While the bugs certainly tested our cool (with high stakes, as losing one’s cool meant falling on to lava rock or a cactus!), we found light-footed crabs and baby marine iguanas all over this small area.

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A quick stroll around the bay area and it was time for us to start heading back. On the way, we noticed more marine iguanas lounging in the sun with the periodic sound of projectile snot. The marine iguanas detox themselves of the salty water by blowing it out their nose. By now the number of pelicans diving had also increased so it made for an entertaining walk.

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This was the perfect way to start our day! Tortuga Bay is an easy adventure for those visiting Santa Cruz in the Galapagos Islands. Our next stop was a boat to our second island of the trip, San Cristobal.

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