Garrapatero Beach, Santa Cruz Galapagos

Garrapatero Beach is a popular beach destination for both locals and visitors due to its open, sandy beach and an outstanding variety of marine and terrestrial fauna, as well as unique vegetation.

It is a 3km length of beautiful golden sand on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands. Even better, because its location is so remote, you’ll often have it all to yourself throughout the week. 

Although you’ll be sharing the beach with sea lions, flamingos, and blue-footed boobies, that’s part of what makes it so special.

Garrapatero beach is one of the most stunning beaches in the Galapagos Islands. We think it is the finest beach in Santa Cruz to visit from Puerto Ayora. There is no need for a tour guide or any planning if you go on your own on a free day.

How to Get to Garrapatero Beach?

Garrapatero Beach is located on Santa Cruz Island’s east coast, northeast of Puerto Ayora. The trailhead is 19 kilometers from town, so you’ll need to schedule transportation.

You can hire a taxi in Puerto Ayora who are willing to make the trip and return later to pick you up.

Activities in El Garrapatero

Garrapatero is a fun day out for everyone. Typical beach activities such as sunbathing, swimming, and leisurely beach strolls are available to tourists.

Try following the route to the flamingo pool, doing some beach combing, and exploring the tidal pools – you never know what critters you’ll encounter.

Garrapatero Beach is also an excellent place to snorkel, sometimes with sealions or turtles.

A Well-Spent Half Day in El Garrapatero

We hired a taxi which agreed to pick us up later in the afternoon. We got off at the parking lot and we walked along a scenic cobblestone path that leads to the expansive view of Garrapatero beach. At the beginning of our hike, we were greeted with 20 feet cactus. As we walk near the beach, we passed by the diverse flora including mangroves and poison apple trees.

The diversity of marine life parallels the richness of the vegetation. We went snorkeling along the beach and saw reef and pelagic fish, sea turtles, rays, and Sally lightfoot crabs.

Bird aficionados will enjoy Garrapatero’s diverse bird life, which includes blue-footed boobies, flamingos, frigate birds, pelicans, and many others. Flamingos are uncommon, however, they may be seen in a small lagoon just a short walk from the beach.

Garrapatero Beach is a well-protected crescent-shaped bay that is ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Garrapatero Beach is also the only beach camping destination on Santa Cruz Island if you have a permit.

Travel Tips When Visiting Garrapatero Beach

  • Garrapatero Beach is a beautiful natural setting with minimal tourist facilities. Because there are no cafés or shops here, come prepared with food and drink for the day. There are also no beach amenities, so bring your own beach towel and umbrella for shade. Please remember to bring all of your litter back to Puerto Ayora.
  • To avoid getting stranded, remember to plan your trip back home in advance. Normally, the taxi driver who brought you here will be pleased to pick you up again at a designated time. Of course, you should only pay for the return trip after you get to Puerto Ayora, not when he drops you off at the beach.
  • Snorkeling equipment (snorkel, mask, and fins) may be rented from most agencies in Puerto Ayora. Wetsuits are also recommended if you expect to spend time in the water during the colder months of the Galapagos (June to December).
  • This beach is best visited during the week when it is often deserted. Weekends are often quite crowded for residents.
  • The beach at El Garrapatero is open every day at 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. We recommend departing early since, with no shade, it may get hot and scorching by late morning.
  • A public grilling area is available; simply bring your own food and charcoal. Camping on the beach is also allowed, although special permission from the Galapagos National Park is necessary.
  • Even on rainy days, the sun is powerful and may quickly cause sunburn. Remember to apply sunscreen on a regular basis and to wear a hat and sunglasses.

Bottom Line

Garrapatero Beach is a great day trip from Puerto Ayora. It’s simple and inexpensive to accomplish on your own. No need for bookings, tour guides, or advance planning. Simply arrange some free time during your bustling Galapagos holiday.

El Garrapatero is a beautiful place to relax in peace, appreciate nature, and get up close and personal with the spectacular Galapagos wildlife. It is indeed an affordable and enjoyable day out for the entire family.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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