The Galápagos has long been one of the most popular destinations to visit in South America – an archipelago of incredibly diverse and unique islands. This place was made famous by the research and writings of Charles Darwin, who highlighted many of the islands’ endemic species in his literally life-changing publication, The Origin of Species.
The Galápagos are made up almost entirely of protected land and marine reserves, which is why I was so particularly amazed by the size and bustling atmosphere of the main port of call, Puerto Ayora, on the island of Santa Cruz. What I thought to be a quiet and sleepy town turned out to have a plentiful array of activities to offer the traveller, not to mention some of the nicest beaches I saw in all the Galápagos. And so, here’s a quick guide to five easy-to-access activities in Puerto Ayora, because there is truly more than meets the eye.
I didn’t think I’d be doing any surfing in the Galápagos, however, there was a stunning white-sand beach ten minutes from the town centre – and it had waves! This place was suitable for anyone from beginners to those more advanced. If you’re inclined to try it out, ask around town about board-rental shops and surf lessons. I’ve a feeling you’ll find what you’re looking for quite easily. Surf’s up in the Galápagos, dude!
Photo courtesy Les W.
2. The Darwin Research Center (DRC)
Established in 1959, the DRC’s primary focus is to work closely with government institutions, providing scientific knowledge and assistance to help ensure the conservation of the islands. Today it is open to the public to share evolutionary science. The DRC also runs a world-class rehabilitation program for giant tortoises and is considered the best source of research and information about this amazing creature. Well worth the visit if only for a half-day.
3. Tracking wild giant tortoises up in the hills
One of the coolest things I got to do in Puerto Ayora was go searching for giant tortoises in the hills behind town. They were harder to find than I had thought, but with a local guide and our good four-wheel drive we spotted a half-dozen in just over an hour. It was amazing to get so close to such a passive and beautiful creature.