Tortuga Bay is located on the southern coast of Santa Cruz Island in the Galápagos, making it convenient walking distance from the largest population center of Puerto Ayora. Given the range of land and sea creatures that can be found at this white sandy beach, it is a must-see destination in the archipelago.
The trail to Tortuga Bay is approximately 3 kilometers, and going by foot is your only option. At the gated entry, all visitors are required to sign in and sign out at the Galápagos Park Service station, which is for the protection of the animals and their natural habitat. Walking the entire path will take you approximately 30 minutes each way, and the beach remains accessible from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For those unfamiliar with the latitude of the Galápagos’, the sun sets near to 6:00 each night all year long because of its close proximity to the equator.
Upon reaching the beach you will see an extensive range of wildlife in the ocean, on the beach, and covering the volcanic rocks on the shoreline and in the air. Some of the many varieties of marine and terrestrial life found at Tortuga Bay include sea turtles, reef and pelagic fish, rays, white-tipped reef sharks, crabs, marine iguanas, frigate birds, pelicans and blue-footed boobies. It is the prevalence of sea turtles at this location that gave name to the beach, with Tortuga being the Spanish word for sea turtle.
In addition to enjoying the wildlife viewing and sandy white beaches, Tortuga Bay is an exceptional destination for swimming, surfing, snorkeling and kayaking. For the protection of the marine animals, these activities are limited to each of the far ends of Tortuga Bay, but this still leaves ample space to enjoy all activities. While snorkel and surf equipment is not available for rent at the beach (bring your own), a $20 kayak rental will score you a three-hour excursion.
Overall, as the Galápagos Islands usually make for a big check on a person’s vacation bucket list, this is certainly a destination where you can also check off many of the top wildlife attractions. From the unique birds and iguanas to swimming with sharks and sea turtles, Tortuga Bay is a truly world-class travel destination.