Visiting Isla Santa Cruz in the Galápagos Archipelago

Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay)

Marcie and David walking along the first-class paved trail that leads across the arid hills to Turtle Bay. In the right-hand picture, you can see the gazebo where we stopped on the way back.

Marcie and David walking along the beach.  

This is my favorite picture of Marcie. It was such a beautiful scene, with lovely colors and the wild surf rolling in to shore. This is one reason why cruisers cruise, or why travelers travel—to insert yourself into a scene of almost otherworldly beauty, places that seem all too rare in everyday life.  

More beautiful scenery.  

A bird flying low over the breaking surf.  

Friday, April 2, 2004 (Day 5 in the Galápagos Archipelago)

Today we decided to visit Bahia Tortuga (Turtle Bay), said by our guidebooks to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galápagos Archipelago. The bay is within walking distance of Puerto Ayora, about 2 miles each way. After walking through town, we took the turnoff for Turtle Bay and approached a tall rocky escarpment. The path led up a stairway of basalt blocks to a guardhouse at the top, which was the entrance to Galápagos National Park. We had to sign in and out and give our passport numbers.

Within the park, the trail continued along a first-class paved walkway that passed through typical Galápagos desert scenery, with tall cacti, scrawny trees, and other arid vegegation eking out an existence atop the blocky chunks of basalt. There were the usual Galápagos finches, mockingbirds and lava lizards, but the environment seemed so inhospitable and severe it was hard to believe that animals could survive.

When we reached the beach, we were treated to a spectacular view of the windswept ocean, with big rolling waves surging in one after the other. The colors made a lovely pastel combination: blue sky, white clouds, aqua blue-green water and white coral sand. A white beach is an exotic treat on an island composed entirely of black volcanic rocks. The whole scene was so perfect and beautiful and so completely natural with no development at all. To add to our enjoyment we had the beach practically to ourselves—our very own deserted tropical beach.

We ambled along the damp high-water line and took in the natural scenery as frigatebirds and pelicans soared overhead and a sea lion played in the surf; here and there black gnarly marine iguanas basked in the hot sun. The beach was interrupted by occasional black rocky outcrops and leafy green mangrove thickets. At the extreme high-water mark, the sand formed a bench or shelf a couple of feet high, with a low dune to landward that was covered with typical beach plants like succulent vines and scraggly shrubs and grass. In one place, we saw the unmistakable trail made by a sea turtle leading up from the surf line then inland over the dune.

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