Patagonia and other adventure travel destinations

The Practical Guide to Exploring Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands

Although the entire archipelago is a naturalist’s paradise with its hundreds of beaches and tiny islets crawling with unique wildlife, Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands ranks as one of the best. A pretty cove with pristine, white-sand beaches and waters designed for snorkeling, this bay is an accessible and rewarding place to pass an afternoon.

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How to get to Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands

Tortuga Bay is located only 1.5-miles (2.4km) from Puerto Ayora, the capital of the second largest of the Galapagos Islands, Santa Cruz.

tortuga bay galapagosThere are two ways to get to Tortuga Bay:

  • From the main water taxi dock in the town, it is a one-hour walk along a paved trail lined with trees and hundred-year-old cacti.
  • Take a water taxi from Puerto Ayora at a cost of $10.50 USD each way. It is best to get to the dock before 9 am to buy a ticket.

Visiting Tortuga Bay, you aren’t required to take a guide. Instead, you must register at the Galapagos Park Service office. The bay is open from 6 am until 6 pm.


What to do in Tortuga Bay

The whole area is rich in white-sand beaches, mangroves and, as is to be expected on the Galapagos Islands, a mind-boggling diversity of unique flora and fauna. Be aware that the first beach that you come to has waters with strong currents, making the waters dangerous for swimming. Wait until the second beach, as the water there is calmer and better suited for those taking a dip.


Marine iguanas, a unique species that has adapted the ability to dive into the sea in search of food, are found along the beach and in the water. The whitetip reef shark, a near threatened species, is also often spotted by snorkelers. It spends much of its time hiding in secluded caves and is rarely dangerous to humans.

tortuga bay galapagosVarious birds also inhabit the bay, with blue-footed boobies some of the most prevalent. Easily identifiable thanks to their blue feet, this species is famous for its elaborate mating ritual, which involves the male courting the female by “dancing” and showing off his large, colorful feet. To see this delightful display, visit during the mating season, June through August.

On the route to Tortuga Bay, listen out for the singing of Galapagos mockingbirds, and keep your eyes peeled for the bright plumage of yellow Galapagos flycatchers in the boughs of the trees.


The crystal-clear waters of this stretch of shoreline make it ideal for snorkeling and marveling at the incredible colors of the reef fish that swim before your eyes. It’s also possible to rent kayaks to paddle through the waters, while surfing is a popular activity in the breaks off near the first beach.

For many, sunbathing as you listen to the gently crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean as they lap against the shore is the best way of experiencing Tortuga Bay – just remember to apply a liberal amount of sun lotion!

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