Visiting Isla Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago

Puerto Ayora

When you take the water taxi ashore you pass the tourist pier, but the water is too shallow for docking. The pier has a concrete observation stand with an upper level (the white structure in the middle of the picture with the sign). The tourist pier is near the left end of the waterfront; you can see the waterfront park leading away to the right.   The central part of the waterfront park, as seen from the tourist pier. This part of the park has a bandshell, but no bands played while we were there.

The end of the tourist pier had a convenient and elegant sun shade.  

The waterfront park also had a nice fountain, but it was turned off.  

Puerto Ayora and Academy Bay, as seen from a tall escarpment in back of the town. The main part of town is reasonably level.  

I stitched together several pictures to make this large panorama of the town, as seen from the same viewpoint as the previous picture. You can click on this picture to enlarge it (119 kb); use your browser's "back" command to return here.  

Approaching the island by boat, Puerto Ayora looked to be a small outpost on a small island in a very big ocean. Once I had an opportunity to explore, though, I decided the town was fairly booming and much bigger than it seemed at first. Puerto Ayora is clearly the center of "civilization" on Isla Santa Cruz and it became the base for all our shoreside activities.

As cruisers, we spent a lot of time walking around town searching for goods and services, or just exploring and observing. There was a good-sized commercial area near the waterfront with the typical open-front shops, plus a residential area further back from the water. All the streets were paved and many had paved sidewalks. Overall, the town seemed to be better off than La Libertád on the mainland, no doubt due to the many well-to-do tourists who inject cash into the local economy. Despite the exotic location, the townspeople go about their daily routines just like people in small towns everywhere.

The commercial district had many tourism-related shops like restaurants and souvenir shops. There were several hotels, obviously of different price ranges, all completely unique and locally-owned. We noticed a couple of internet cafes, several tour operators, dive shops, a laundry (not self-service, which is normal), a bank with an ATM, hardware stores, a sizable hospital with several nearby pharmacies, and various other shops you'd expect in a small town that caters to tourists. At one end of the waterfront, there was a stark-looking modern church; nearby was the Post Office (Correos del Ecuador). I needed stamps for post cards but I didn't know the word for "stamps" so I didn't go in (we got estampillas later).

At the far end of the waterfront there was a cove with a fishermans' wharf and a small open-sided fish market. Next door in a rough boatyard local craftsmen were laboriously constructing a good-sized wooden fishing boat. Also nearby, the artisan's market had numerous stalls for vendors to sell their wares. It never seemed very busy and I was disappointed to find mostly cheap trinkets and other inconsequential souvenirs.

Back from the waterfront the town was mostly residential, with a few hotels and restaurants mixed in. Scattered here and there were a few tiendas, small neighborhood convenience stores. I also saw a couple of schools, with students dressed in simple white uniforms.

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