Located on Isla Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora is the largest city in the Galapagos Islands. A well developed town with a rapidly rising population of around 15,000 people, Puerto Ayora sits on the southern coast of Santa Cruz in the gorgeous Academy Bay. With most tourists and visitors coming here as it is close to the airport on Isla Baltra, Puerto Ayora is a charming town with unique atmosphere that is all its own.
One of the best places to live at while touring the Galapagos, Puerto Ayora is also an excellent place to use as a base camp and arrange boat trips if you prefer to tour the Galapagos by yourself. Here, several yacht and tour companies have offices, along with the headquarters of Galapagos National Park Services.
A far cry from the bustling cities that one is normally used to, Puerto Ayora is a laidback town with a relaxed ambiance. The bay here is always filled with sailboats and yachts, while birds can been seen flying around overhead, looking for a nice tasty snack to get hold of. A thriving center for people who live in the Galapagos as well as tourists, one can find plenty of affordable and good quality accommodations here, as well as a number of fine dining restaurants and some good bars to wind down after a long day at sea. The people here are quite friendly and usually welcome visitors with open arms.
There are plenty of stores all over town to souvenir shop in, and if you look hard you can find some really great bargains. Since this is a tourist town, do be careful that you are not overcharged. The shops here carry everything from clothing and beach wear to delightful ceramics and wonderful postcards. There is only one bank in town with an ATM machine and the post office is right hear the harbor. You can also find plenty to do travel companies around that offer day trips as well as hiking tours, dive tours, mountain biking, snorkeling trips and horse back rides.
A great place to explore on foot, most of the touristy things in town can be found along the docks. However, itís worth exploring Puerto Ayora if you have the time. White pick-ups act as taxis here, but they can be quite expensive to use. A great way of discovering this town is through its food, so donít forget to visit a food stall to try out one of the local cuisine which can sometimes be as cheap as US$2.
Located on the eastern end of town is the Charles Darwin Research Station that has an amazing natural history exhibit of the archipelago. When here donít forget to visit Lonesome George, the sole surviving tortoise from Isla Pinta.