|Travel Ecuador : Galapagos : Cities :|
Puerto Ayora is probably the most important town of the Galápagos Islands. It is located on Santa Cruz Island and is the kicking off point for a great deal of the Galápagos cruise tours, land-based tours and diving trips that take place in the islands. Almost all tours stop here at some stage. If you head to the Galápagos Islands without a tour booked, this is the place to head to try and find space on a boat.
Most days, there are a large number of boats in Puerto Ayora’s busy harbor. This is a town that the cruise boats use for collecting water and food. For many tourists, this is the first part of the Galápagos that they will see. Pelicans and frigate birds can be seen at the harbor, as can marine iguanas.
On changeover day for some travelers, the port at Puerto Ayora is used as a dropping-off point. While the transfer of the passengers is being arranged, those staying on board the boat often take a trip to the highlands to view giant tortoises in the wild on that day. This trip often includes a visit to some interesting geological features, such as lava tunnels. Alternatively, there is a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, right on the outskirts of town, where you can see Lonesome George the tortoise. Some tours include both trips in their itineraries.
Puerto Ayora has a small selection of shops stocking goods that travelers might need, such as batteries and medicines. It also has a couple of decent internet cafes for those needing to get online and catch up with friends.
Puerto Ayora hotels
Puerto Ayora has a wide variety of hotels given the size of the town. There are a good range of hotels at all ends of the market. There are some very nice hotels at the luxury end of the range. The best place to look for a hotel is Avenida Darwin, as this is where the majority of the hotels are located. If on a cruise, you will most likely not stay in Puerto Ayora, instead continuing to sleep aboard your boat. Prices for Puerto Ayora hotels are higher during the high seasons.
Puerto Ayora offers a surprising range of restaurants for the traveler to choose from. There are pleasant little cafes serving sandwiches and snacks through to much fancier places where you can expect to pay a good deal more.
The main option in town is seafood, unsurprisingly for a port town. However, because the town is so touristy, there are a number of restaurants serving different kinds of international cuisine. There are also a range of pasta and pizza options available. It is even possible to find decent Asian and vegetarian food in this town. Most of the restaurants are to be found along Avenida Darwin.
Those on a cruise tour are unlikely to eat in Puerto Ayora’s restaurants, as they are fed all of their meals on the boat.
Puerto Ayora nightlife
There is not a huge array of nightlife options in Puerto Ayora, but for those wanting to get out, there are a couple of places. This includes one or two discos and places to dance.
Puerto Ayora is well connected by bus and ferry with Baltra, so that it is possible for travelers to catch their flights from the Galápagos Islands, many of which come through Baltra. In most cases where a cruise has been booked in advance, this transfer will be arranged by your tour operator. Your guide will usually come and collect you from the airport on the first day and transfer you back there on the last day. The airlines also offer transfers, and you may be able to get a taxi. There is a small ferry crossing between the islands.
For those staying on cruise boats, it is possible to take water taxis back to your boat from the harbor after a few hours spent wandering around the town, or having a drink in one of the bars or restaurants. In some cases the staff of your boat may come and collect you if you set a prearranged time with them.
Puerto Ayora is a fairly safe town. As elsewhere, you should take care of your belongings to avoid being the target of petty theft.