The biggest cities in Galapagos are Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The archipelago is massive, and 98% of this is national park area while roughly 3% is dedicated to those few inhabited areas that are located throughout the archipelago (4 in total). The word “city” in this context is more of a misnomer given that these are probably best regarded more adequately as small port towns. In this blog, we invite you to check out two of the best-developed cities in the archipelago, informing you a little bit about them.
Named after the Ecuadorian President Isidro Ayora, Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz Island’s main town. It is one of the most cosmopolitan and inhabited areas, with over 12,000 residents and some of the best infrastructure found throughout the whole archipelago. There are several banks, schools, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and stores situated throughout this relatively large port town. For many visiting the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora may very well be the best place to communicate with the outside world.
Puerto Ayora has a relatively new hospital (which was constructed back in 2006) that has the archipelago’s only hyperbaric chamber.
Puerto Ayora’s “boardwalk” runs the gamut of the aptly-named Charles Darwin Avenue, which starts at the docks (from which you can transfer across a small patch of the bay to the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel) and runs all the way along Academy Bay to the Charles Darwin Research Station. There are several attractions, passing creatures and places to check out along the way, one of which is the Fish Market of Santa Cruz Island.
One of the biggest nearby highlights of Puerto Ayora is Tortuga Bay – one of the world’s top ten beaches! It is here that visitors can check out a number of iconic species such as marine iguanas, birds, crabs, and the plethora of mangroves that sometimes serve as a cover for living treasures such as the giant tortoise or white tip reef sharks.
The capital of the Galapagos Islands, located on the southern coast of San Cristobal Island, has a special charm and draw of its own. The population on the islands is believed to be around 7,000 inhabitants, making it one of the second biggest cities in Galapagos after Puerto Ayora while still retaining it’s “small-town vibe.” For the most part, locals engage in fishing; nevertheless, tourism is on the rise and forms a large part of the economy of the city itself. The town comes complete with a nice waterfront and relaxed island life that makes it a special town to experience. A notable and large portion of the population is actually sea lions.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno has been the home to the Galapagos National Park Interpretation Centre since 1988. The town itself is also home to a natural history museum and has its own airport – San Cristobal Airport. Founded in the mid-19th century, the town is one of the oldest settlements in the whole archipelago and is officially the town where the Governor of the archipelago resides.