We have been to a few beaches in South and Central America, but there are no words to describe how we felt when we landed on Tortuga Bay beach in Santa Cruz, Galapagos.
A beautiful long white sand beach where iguanas and sea lions relax, surrounded by a vast blue sea teeming with incredible marine species.
Tortuga Bay is considered one of the nicest beaches in the world, and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador are fortunate to have it.
The name refers to the beach’s role as a nesting ground for Galapagos sea turtles, particularly the green turtle.
As a result, you will be able to see several areas officially designated and safeguarded by the Galapagos National Park where tortoises nest.
So please avoid approaching these locations.
In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know to enjoy this paradise.
Traveling to Galapagos?
How to get to Tortuga Bay?
Tortuga Bay beach, also known as Bahía Tortuga in Spanish, is located in southern Santa Cruz, about an hour’s walk from Puerto Ayora.
It is open every day from 6 a.m. until 17 p.m, and does not have an admission fee (it is completely free).
There are two ways to get to Tortuga Bay beach: by walking or by taking a taxi boat.
If you decide to walk, it will take you about ten minutes to walk from the pier at the end of Charles Binford Avenue to the start of the trail, which is two blocks away.
From there, take the 45-minute walk trail to Playa Brava (you must first register at a national park booth).
If you don’t want to walk or have a family member who can’t, you can pay a taxi-boat to carry you directly to Playa Mansa from the dock in Puerto Ayora.
The ride takes about 20 minutes and costs $25 – $30 per person.
They drop you off in the morning and pick you up around lunchtime.
We visited Tortuga Bay in September, and the weather was great. Not too cold and not too hot.
Also read: Best time to visit Galapagos Islands
What should you bring?
The Galapagos Islands are a National Park and Marine Reserve, so there are no visitor facilities that serve beverages or rent snorkeling equipment.
So here’s what I recommend you bring:
- Hiking shoes
- Cap or hat
- Water bottle
- Beach slippers
- Snacks (there are no food outlets)
- Trash collection bag
- Snorkeling gear
Make sure everything fits in a tiny, comfortable backpack.
Keep in mind that if you decide to go on foot, the tour is a round trip.
Want to visit another beach in Santa Cruz? El Garrapatero beach
Tortuga Bay attractions
You can visit Tortuga Bay without a guide.
However, if this is your first time visiting this location, I recommend that you do so with a certified guide in order to become more familiar with the islands and the local flora and fauna.
Tortuga Bay Trail
The trail is about 2.5 kilometers long and takes 45 to 50 minutes to walk.
It all relies on your physical condition.
Along the path, you will see the area’s flora, which is a dry forest with very tall native cactuses (Opuntias), palo santo, and animal species like mockingbirds, finches, lizards, and endemic frogs, among others.
Playa Brava and Playa Mansa
Tortuga Bay has two beaches: Playa Brava and Playa Mansa.
The first beach you come upon when the trail ends is Playa Brava.
You’ll be able to feel the white sand between your toes, which feels like flour or talcum powder.
You will also be able to view the enormous, turquoise-colored ocean with powerful currents from a distance (thus the name “Playa Brava”).
Swimming is not recommended at this beach, especially while there are red flags. If you can swim, on the other hand, you might do it very carefully.
The huge waves that occur here are only rideable by the most skilled surfers.
As you continue north, you will come across a mangrove zone and a sunbathing place for marine iguanas.
This is the beginning of Playa Mansa.
In this initial stretch of mangrove, you might see blue sharks (small sharks), colorful fish, or sea turtles.
Kayaking and snorkeling in Tortuga Bay
This place has a lot of mangroves, small paths, and a bay with calm water.
You may kayak, snorkel, or swim here. Kayak rentals start at $15 per person per hour (in 2021).
You can also relax on the sand and sunbathe.
In this part of the beach, there are hangers where visitors can put their things too. But if you’re hesitant to leave them (like we were), I’d want to remind you that Galapagos is extremely safe.
So don’t worry about it.
Tortuga Bay Galapagos Hotel
The closest place to stay is in Puerto Ayora. Here are a few options: