Galapagos Santa Cruz is the second largest volcanic Island of this lovely Archipelago and the center of tourism.
The beautiful town of Puerto Ayora is located here and is the economic center of the Galapagos Islands.
Puerto Puerto Ayora is home to both the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station.
The Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Santa Cruz Island you can visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Program run by the research station, which began by rescuing the remaining 16 tortoises on Espanola Island in the 1970s.
This program has restored the population of animals there to over 1,000 today.
You will see many Giant Tortoises from hatchlings to juveniles to large, distinguished individuals like Lonesome George, the last of his particular race of tortoise. He may be 120 years old!
The local color of this port makes for an attractive stop-off, with dozens of restaurants, souvenir shops and even Internet services.
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Galapagos Santa Cruz Island is located near the center of the Archipelago, Santa Cruz is the center of tourism in the Galapagos Islands.
Its close proximity to Baltra Island's airport makes it readily accessible.
Santa Cruz's human development began in the 20th century, between WWI and WWII when settlers from the United States and Europe moved to the area.
Galapagos Santa Cruz made a perfect destination. A large Island with a variety of geology, wildlife and vegetation, all of the Galapagos life zones are present on Santa Cruz Island.
The villages of Bellavista and Santa Rosa were established in the highland's humid zone.
This region made prime farmland for the new immigrants who planted avocados, Galapagos Coffee, sugarcane, bananas, oranges, lemons, and farmed cattle.
Santa Cruz Island is a world in its own. It has a relaxed coastal town feeling.
Its pace matches that of Lonely George, and so don't be in a hurry while spending time here.
Within a few days, you'll feel right at home with the locals. They're so accustomed to one-day tours, that once you're around for a while, they'll warm right up to you.
Soon, Galapagos Santa Cruz will work its charms, enchanting you with its lazy afternoons to hectic nightlife (especially on Thursdays and Sundays when most tours are either starting up, finishing, or stopping mid-week!).
Santa Cruz Island has the largest human population in the Galapagos Archipelago. The meaning of Santa Cruz in English is Holy Cross.
This Island is also known as Indefatigable, after the HMS Indefatigable landed here long time ago.
It is also the second largest Island terms of land area at 986 sq km.
Puerto Ayora lies in the south of Santa Cruz Island in the famous Academy Bay. Puerto Ayora has the usual facilities found in any town including a hospital, post office, radio station and an airline office (TAME).
A 20-minute walk north east of town is the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Southwest of Puerto Ayora, you will reach the beautiful Turtle Bay or Tortuga Bay in Spanish with a gorgeous white sand beach and some excellent swimming.
The water is clear as crystal and very well suited for swimming as there is hardly and current.
Beneath the water you can meet sharks or marine iguanas, above the water seabirds like pelicans and flamingos and other Galapagos endemic birds.
From Turtle Bay you can head on to the highlands of Galapagos Santa Cruz, and visit the fascinating lava tubes. These are Underground tunnels formed from the solidification of lava, these tunnels are a must see.
You can also visit the small town of Santa Rosa, with the El Chato Tortoise Reserve nearby. Here, you'll observe many endemic Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat as well as a number of endemic land birds.
There are many other tourist sites at Galapagos Santa Cruz Island, but you will have to catch a boat from Puerto Ayora. You can visit Whale Bay and Conway Bay on the western coast of the Island.
Black Turtle Cove is located on the northern coast, where you can spot lava herons, pelicans, sea turtles, sharks and golden mustard rays among the mangroves found here. Make sure you visit Cerro Dragon, which is a small lagoon with many colorful.
The highlands (located in the center of the Island) of Galapagos Santa Cruz are impressive. The highland is marked by extinct volcanoes and very astonishing plants can be found here.
In addition to ferns and meter high miconia shrubs you can also see scalesia forests. Scalesias belong to the family of sunflowers and grew tall because of the absence of trees. More About Galapagos Plants
Another popular visitor sites are the twin craters (Los Gemelos) that are actually sinkholes. In the highlands there are also several lava tubes up to a length of 2 kilometers.
They were formed when the outside lava already solidified and on the inside the hot and still liquid lava continued to flow. Today you can explore those mystified tunnels with torch and headlamp.