One of the most popular day trips on the island of Santa Cruz is Tortuga Bay. You can arrive in two different ways – by boat or by foot. You can also leave by the same method. Or chose one for one direction and the other to return.
The trail begins at the end of Boradados El Alquimista (see map). The trail is open only during daytime hours and there is a gate that can be locked so make sure you plan accordingly! You will be asked to sign in but there is no entrance fee. You paid that at the airport when you arrived to the Galapagos!
Plan on taking one hour to hike the trail. That should give you time to also take pictures along the way. The trail is very dry and it can be hot, so carry plenty of water. The trail is paved, so the hiking is fairly easy. Plan on seeing lots of lizards and plenty of birds, especially if you hike quietly. There are a wide variety of finches to be seen!
There are no real services out at Tortuga Bay so carry anything you think you might need. Some folks go out with surf boards (no life guard) and others carry their snorkeling gear. There are places to practice both sports. You can also rent kayaks to take out in the protected area of the bay, so carry a small amount of cash with you ($10 per person for kayaking, more if you plan on returning by launch). The kayak provider has dry bags to protect your camera gear. You’ll also want to carry snacks or a picnic lunch. Please remember to carry out all garbage and please don’t feed the animals!
The hike itself is worth the time and if you’re going only one way, then enter via the trail and take the launch back home. Be warned, in certain months the water can be very choppy close to shore and though the boat ride is short, it can still make you sea sick.