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Playa El Garrapatero
Playa El Garrapatero

Playa El Garrapatero

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Santa Cruz Island

The basics

This beach offers plenty of swimming and snorkeling opportunities, as well as a lovely picnic area, complete with grills. If you want to spend even more time at this beach, look into booking a campsite (contact the park ahead of time). There’s also a freshwater lake nearby that is home to even more tropical animals, such as herons, grebes, and many shorebirds. Day trips from Puerto Ayora to Garrapatero Beach, some of which include kayaking, are available, as well as multi-day tours of the Galapagos.

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Things to know before you go

  • Be sure to bring water and snacks since there are no vendors here.
  • You also need to bring your own charcoal in order to use the on-site grills.
  • Remember to bring sunscreen and an umbrella for more sun protection.
  • There are restrooms on-site, but no other facilities.
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How to get there

Sitting on the north side of Santa Cruz, El Garrapatero is easily accessible from Puerto Ayora; the beach is about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) northeast of Puerto Ayora. After a 30-minute taxi ride from the city, it’s about a 15-minute walk (about two-thirds of a mile or about one kilometer) from the parking area to the beach. Since cell service is unpredictable, you might want to arrange for a ride back before being dropped off.

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When to get there

Overall, the Galapagos is considered a year-round destination. As with most beach destinations, visit in the early morning or late afternoon during the week, when it’s the least crowded. On the weekends, expect to encounter more locals and tourists. Also, the beach closes in the evening and there’s a guard on-site to enforce the rule.

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Cerro Mesa

Some guided tours combine a stop at the Cerro Mesa Ecological Reserve with a visit to El Garrapatero Beach. At the reserve, you can take a guided nature walk and enjoy island views from the lookout where you can see the southern shore of Santa Cruz. It’s also home to the largest crater on the island.

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