Santa Cruz Island
Located near the center of the archipelago, Santa Cruz is the center of tourism in the Galapagos. Its close proximity to Baltra airport makes the island readily accessible. Puerto Ayora the largest settlement in the Galapagos is the homeport to many yachts, as well as home to the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station making it included as part of most cruise itineraries.
Santa Cruz’s human development began in the 20th century, between WWI and WWII settlers from the United States and Europe moved to the area. Santa Cruz made a perfect destination. A large island with a variety of geology, wildlife and vegetation, all of the Galapagos Life Zones are present on Santa Cruz. The villages of Bellavista and Santa Rosa were established in the highland’s humid zone. This region made prime farmland for the new immigrants who planted avocados, coffee, sugarcane, bananas, oranges, lemons, and farmed cattle.
Though the presence of humans and introduced animals has affected Santa Cruz, day trips from Puerto Ayora offer visitors many interesting sites.
Wild Galapagos Tortoises roam free crashing through the mist covered guayabillo, pega pega, and grasses of the humid zone. Flycatchers, Darwin finches and owl fill the scalesia forests near Los Gremlos. Almost every bird found in the archipelago has been seen within the many life zones on Santa Cruz.