Exploring Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz
Tortuga Bay, named after the black sea turtles nesting there, is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in South America and not without reason. It is a long stretch of white sand beach with turquoise and crystal clear water and when we were there it was almost empty. It is an incredible place to relax, swim and snorkel.
How to get there?
Tortuga Beach is within walking distance of Puerto Ayora. However, you can also hop on a water taxi at the main pier which drops you off at Tortuga Bay. If you decide to walk, follow the street from the main pier for 10 minutes or take a short taxi ride to the park entrance.
You reach the visitor center at the park entrance after a steep staircase and have to register in the office. They track people entering and leaving this place but you don't need a guide to visit Tortuga Bay. The staff at the visitor center also gave us some helpful information on where we were allowed to swim.
Once you have completed the formalities, you are ready to continue on your path that takes another 30 to 45 minutes and is approximately 2,5 kilometers long. Although the path is surrounded by many trees there is hardly any shade. Even though the it is not far, the path never seemed to end because we chose to go there during the midday sun and it was very hot. Otherwise, we might have laughed at people walking passed us with an umbrella but in this case we envied them.
Relaxing at the stunning beach
Nevertheless, the walk is worthwhile. You reach an incredible, large, picture perfect, white sandy beach which was (at least in our case) almost empty. It is a beautiful stretch of secluded beach with turquoise and crystal clear water. Since there were almost no people around it felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Tortuga Bay is an excellent place for long walks on the beach. We walked with our feet in the water as we weren't allowed to swim there due to the currents. However, there is another beach next to Tortuga Bay that is more sheltered where you can swim. Just remember that it takes a bit longer to get to that beach.
You can also just relax, enjoy the view and have a picnic. There is one fact you should keep in mind, though. Make sure you bring lots of water and some snacks because you there are no shops to buy anything at Tortuga Beach.
Swimming in the crystal clear water
After you have walked another 15 minutes to the end of the first beach, you will reach the second beach which completely different. It is surrounded by mangrove forest and there are two peninsulas that flank either side of the beach. You are allowed jump in the water and swim and snorkel at this beach. If you snorkel you might spot some marine wildlife such as marine iguanas, colorful crabs, sea turtles and tropical fish. You can also rent a kayak and explore the bay.
Punta Ayora, Santa Cruz
All day, closes at 6pm
Duration & Distance
At least 1,5 hours
No guide necessary
Snorkeling gear (optional)
Water and snacks
Make sure to get the timing right. Try to start earlier in the day to avoid the midday heat and check the tide schedule because the beach dramatically disappears during high tide.
Bring everything you need including lots of water, snacks and sunscreen. There are no shops at the beach.