Looking for a quiet beach on Isla Santa Cruz? Look no further than Playa El Garrapatero. You need only take a taxi from Puerto Ayora. Via land and paved road, the one-way trip is about 40 minutes. Just flag down a local taxi off the street. Via water, expect it to take about 20 minutes. Head to the dock and ask at the port, just remember to also ask about the height of swells if you’re worried about getting seasick. Either way, make sure you arrange for a ride back before being dropped off! Cellphones don’t always work on the island and calling a taxi to come pick you up at El Garrapatero is expecting a little too much for the Galapagos.
But do plan on staying for at least a couple of hours. The short walk from the parking lot to the beach is about 15 minutes and that’s strolling along. It’s a similar habitat to that of the walk to Tortuga Bay but it takes much less time. If you’re wanting to see huge prickly pear cactus, their trunks looking more like trees than any cactus you have ever seen, there are plenty. There are also lizards sunning themselves along the walk and a variety of finches flitting in and out of the underbrush.
Once you arrive, you will have several choices of what to do. In fact, this beach is great for a mixed group of folks as there is a little something for everyone.
You can set up on the beach and just take in the view.
You can swim in the calm waters.
You can walk the short trail to the lagoon and see if you can find any flamingos or other water birds. This is one of the few places to see Greater Flamingos on the Galapagos.
Or you can walk the length of the beach itself and look for marine iguanas or bright orange crabs.
No matter what you decide, be prepared for a hot sunny day. Take lots of water and a snack if you think you might get hungry. There is nothing for sale. The park does allow camping in this location. Just contact the park before arriving. An area for bbq’s is also available but you must bring your own charcoal.
For these latter two reasons, we imagine that the weekend crowd can be rather large at El Garrapatero. After all, locals with cars and with free time on Saturdays and especially on Sunday afternoons, will flock to any beach that is easy access. Just be prepared to have the quiet beach be not so quiet on the weekends.
- Hours of Operation: 7am until 6pm
- Guard starts asking folks to leave around 5pm
- Best Days to Visit: Monday through Friday
- Best Time to Visit: Early Morning or Late Afternoon
- What to Take: Water, Light Snacks, Protection from the Sun, Umbrella
- Extra Tip: We saw locals entering the beach for sunset after the guard had left.