El Garrapatero is another pristine beach on Santa Cruz Island that, like Playa de la Estación, is great for unwinding after the island’s activities.
The beach is not particularly crowded, is 35 minutes away from Puerto Ayora by vehicle, and is open to the public without fee.
The best thing is that you may camp on this beach with prior permission, allowing you to enjoy another amazing experience in the Galapagos.
This article will go over the activities available as well as how to get to Garrapatero Beach in the Galapagos Islands.
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Activities and information
The beach is available from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm and is located southeast of Santa Cruz Island.
Although it is often not too busy, we suggest going during the week to avoid crowds. Alternatively, you may join a trip to Cerro Mesa and end up at this lovely beach.
El Garrapatero is a pristine and peaceful beach that is significantly smaller than Tortuga Bay yet far less busy.
It offers a picnic area with tables and BBQ spaces, making it ideal for a full day at the beach.
Additionally, there are changing rooms and bathrooms (no showers) at the entry, next to the registration hut.
The beach is accessed through an 870-meter-long trail.
You will enjoy the local dry forest along the road, which is home to Candelabro cacti, Opuntias, carob, palo santo, muyuyo, and manzanillo trees.
If the manzanillo has a milky substance on its leaves, avoid touching it. Do not even consider eating the fruit since it is poisonous.
You could also spot some creatures like finches, mockingbirds, or lava lizards.
You will reach El Garrapatero beach after the trek is complete.
It is a 1,500 meter long, extremely broad beach with white sand, volcanic rocks, mangroves, and calm seas that is perfect for kayaking.
You can swim in the water, but always proceed with caution as there are some volcanic rocks nearby and others offshore.
In addition, you may go kayaking, have a picnic, or snap photographs of some of the local wildlife, including blue-footed boobies, ghost crabs, and sea lions.
Kayak rentals are $10 per person (in 2022), but we were told that if you are a foreigner, they charge $15.
During your kayak excursion, you may see the local mangroves, discover other neighboring beaches, and witness a variety of wildlife.
When the tide is low, there is typically a little beach on the left side of the main beach, which is great for kids.
And approximately 100 meters beyond the beach, following another of the trails, you will reach a lagoon or brackish pool where you may view flamingos (the pool is not created during the dry season).
Also read: Weather in the Galapagos Islands
Snorkeling in the ocean allows you to view marine iguanas, turtles, and a few tiny fish. But to achieve that, you must go deep inside and use extreme caution.
The sea won’t have good visibility if there were strong sea currents the day before.
There are no rental facilities on the beach, so if you don’t have snorkeling gear, you’ll need to get it at Puerto Ayora.
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One of the guides advised us to avoid snorkeling after 17h00 owing to the presence of sharks.
Although the beach shuts at that hour, it is the only beach in Santa Cruz where you may camp with prior permission.
If you camp, remember to obey the Galapagos National Park visiting regulations.
This beach, like all protected areas in the Galapagos, has no visitor facilities offering food or beverages. So bring your own food and pick up any trash you create.
We would like to remind you that the Galapagos Islands are a protected area with ecotourism as its main activity.
If you want a paradise beach with bars and music, this may not be the spot for you.
Why is it named Garrapatero? According to one of the park guards, there were numerous cattle with ticks (garrapatas in spanish) in the beach area in the 1960s and 1970s, therefore the region was plagued.
How to get to Garrapatero Beach?
El Garrapatero beach is only accessible by land.
You may take a taxi van from Puerto Ayora for $35 USD round trip (cost 2022). You can simply split the bill with up to four others, if you have the chance.
You will be dropped off at the parking lot, from which you will need to walk along the trail to reach the shore.
It is a 10-15 minute walk till you reach the checkpoint where you must register.
Some people ride their bikes along the bike trail from Puerto Ayora to El Garrapatero beach.
If you are in good shape and feel brave, go for it, but it is a 19-kilometer uphill ride through the highlands of the island (Bellavista and El Cascajo communities).
If you want to accomplish this excursion, we recommend renting electric bicycles; otherwise, take a cab.