Puerto Ayora is the largest town in the Galapagos Islands. It is on the southern side of Santa Cruz island, and is connected by road and ferry to the airport on Baltra Island.
Though a small town it has the best infrastructure in the Galapagos with the largest number of hotels, restaurants and stores. Other services include grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, boat supplies, a small hospital and a hyperbaric chamber. Puerto Ayora is home to the Galapagos National Park, the Darwin Foundation and the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Due to Santa Cruz central location within the islands Puerto Ayora is the best base for those people wishing to visit the Galapagos while staying on shore.
Passengers arriving by plane fly into the Baltra Airport (GPS) on the neighboring island of Baltra.
Upon exiting the Baltra airport board a bus to the Itabaca channal. There is no charge for this trip. There you claim you luggage and proceed on a ferry ($1) or a smaller water taxi. There is no real benefit to the taxi. At the other end of the canal you can ride the bus into town ($2) or take a taxi for about $25--(as of May 2017).
For the reverse direction, buses from Puerto Ayora to the channel only leave in the morning, with the last departure at 9:30AM (Aug 2010). If you have an afternoon flight, you'll have to take a taxi ($20) or find alternative transport.
There is public transportation via local speed boats to both San Cristobal and Puerto Villamil on Isabela daily. They leave at 7AM and 2PM, take around 2-hours and tend to be rough and noisy (25U$-35U$). Morning speed boats are better for smoother rides as the sea conditions worsen in the afternoon. The bathrooms on these boats are in poor condition and barely usable in rough seas. There are no other services available on these boats and passengers should carry their own water, snacks, plastic bags and toilet paper.
Many people arrive annually by private yacht as part of a trip around the world. Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno are the main ports of entry in the Galapagos - however most sail boats will enter at Puerto Villamil. Boating in the Galapagos is restricted. A non-Ecuadorian vessel arriving from a non-Ecuadorian port may stay up to 20 days in a single port. Arrival fees are approximately $130 plus $3 per tonne for the vessel, plus $110 per person for the Park's pass and island immigration. National Immigration and Customs are about another $50.
A permit to visit the five ports in the Galapagos (Puerto Ayora, Baltra, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Puerto Villamil and Puerto Velasco Ibarra) can be obtained by applying in advance with a ship's agent. These permits cost $300 for the vessel, in addition to the fees above. This permit is the only way for an Ecuadorian vessel or a vessel arriving from mainland Ecuador to visit the Galapagos. Licensed Yacht Handling Agencies can assist private vessels secure cruise permits.
Puerto Ayora is small enough to explore by foot. Most tourism is concentrated along the waterfront. White pickup truck taxis operate and can provide transportation around town, into the highlands, or across the island. Water taxis are available at the main dock and can take you to either a waiting boat or the dock on the other side.
- Charles Darwin Research Station, Avenida Charles Darwin (Located at the end of the road on the eastern edge of town), . 6AM to 6PM M-Sa. Has extensive exhibits on the natural history of the islands. The breeding programs at the station allow visitors to see many iguanas, tortoises, and other animals in various stages of their lives. The most famous resident of the station was Lonesome George, a tortoise found on Pinta island who was the last of his sub-species. George died in 2012. Free. edit
- Tortuga Bay. A beautiful white sand beach located a 30-45 minute walk from the west side of town. The path to the beach is baron and provides little to no shade. Ensure plenty of water and sunscreen is taken with you.
- Las Grietas. A stunning gorge with clear blue water ideal for swimming and snorkelling. The walk to Las Grietas is also stunning, passing through Cactus fields and lava rock formations.
- Bay Tour
- Darwin Station
- Study Spanish at the Galapagos Islands Spanish School  or Ailola Galapagos Spanish School. 
Diving in the Galapagos isn't cheap - count on paying at least $150 per dive trip that consists of 2 dives. As of January 2015 most diving companies won't let 1 dive only and charge the same price.
- Academy Bay Diving, Av Charles Darwin (Across from the volley ball courts), ☎ 59385859405 (galapgs_aca[email protected]), . 7AM-8PM. Professional and experienced guides, excellent equipment and local knowledge. Offers diving trips, day tours, cruises and more. edit
- Scuba Iguana, Av Charles Darwin (close to the entrance of the Darwin station), ☎ 05 2526497 ([email protected]), . One of the first dive companies in the Galapagos. Scuba Iguana has their own boats and dock. edit
- Sub Aqua, Av Charles Darwin, ☎ 05 2526350 ([email protected]), . Located across from the fishermans dock, Sub Aqua offers daily dive trips. edit
- Macarron, Av Charles Darwin, ☎ 05 2524080 ([email protected]), . One of the most professional and experienced divers in Galapagos, Macarron's equipment is high quality and he often leads the daily dive trips himself. edit
Ecuador uses the U.S. Dollar. Bring bills in smaller denominations because it's easier to get change. ATMs give limited amounts of money, but you can get larger cash advances inside banks.
The Banco de Pacifico is on the road towards the Darwin Station. It gives cash advances, changes cash or cashes in travellers' cheques.
Banco Pichincha has recently opened a branch on the road heading towards Baltra. The lines are normally much shorter than at Banco de Pacifico making it easier to get cash advances or other transactions. Most foreign cards will be able to get up to 600 USD per transaction.
There are several ATM machines located in front of the main dock. As with some ATM's in Ecuador you are limited to a $300 per transaction limit and you may need to do several transactions in order to get the amount of money you desire.
- Angermeyer Point, (take a water taxi to the private dock on the other side). With the most scenic view in Puerto Ayora, meals are served both inside and outside waterfront. Angermeyer Point is a popular destination for groups or those wanting to celebrate with a romantic meal. edit
- Red Mangrove Restaurant and Sushi Bar, Av Charles Darwin (Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge), . dinner only 6PM to 9PM. Maki rolls, sashimi, sushi and other Japanese dishes along with exotic drinks served waterfront. edit
- La Dolce Italia, Av Charles Darwin (Front of the Port Captain). Lunch and Dinner. The island's Italian Restaurant. edit
- Garrapata, Av Charles Darwin. Open 9AM -10PM M-Sa. Outdoor covered dining serving seafood and pasta dishes. edit
- Hernan Cafe, Av Charles Darwin y via Baltra (Located in front of the park). One of the more popular restaurants in town with a variety of breakfasts, sea food, pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches and ice creams. Best coffee in town, also has WiFi. edit
- Isla Grill, Av. Charles Darwin (opposite Banco Pacifico). Excellent seafood grills, pizzas and cocktails. Always full and for a good reason! Free WIFI. edit
- Kioscos, Charles Binford y Baltra. 1800-2200. Best place to get cheap food in the evenings. Kioscos open all down the street with tables in the road, and barbeques at each stall. Cheap and simple food for when you don't want to spend on an expensive restaurant. $6-20. edit
The water quality on Puerto Ayora is pretty bad - it is not recommended to drink the tap water, or even use it for brushing your teeth. This advice comes from the scientists at the Charles Darwin Station which study the water on the island.
Puerto Ayora nightlife is not comparable to many tourist destinations. It is more relaxed. There are several bars and discos where you can go out and have a good time.
- Limón y café, Av. Charles Darwin. Chill out with a beer or play some pool or tablefootball. There is also small dance floor to watch the locals dance salsa or for non-locals to try to dance it. edit
- Bongo Bar (The Bongo), Av Charles Darwin (upstairs from Garrapata). nightly except Sundays. Drinks, music, videos and pool one of the most popular destinations in Puerto Ayora. edit
- The Rock, Av Charles Darwin. Clean, well lit and comfortable place to enjoy a drink and enjoy a conversation. edit
- Semilla Verde Lodge, Km 12 via Baltra, ☎ 0059353013079 ([email protected]), . checkin: 11am; checkout: 9am. Very highly rated, located in the rural uplands of Santa Cruz Island. Offers six ensuite rooms and inclusive hotel/tour package options. Property has private forest & coffee plantations with nature trails, giant tortoises in season and good bird spotting. Rooms have large windows and private terraces, A/C, WiFi and TV/DVD. Attention by owner/naturalist guide. $144-$220. edit
- Amigos, (Next to Cafe Limon (no sign)). One of the cheaper places to stay. Nice family which allows guests to use the large kitchen. You'll hear the music from Cafe Limon until it has to close at 2AM. $12.50. edit
- B&B Peregrina, Av. Charles Darwin, . Clean rooms have air-conditioning and a private bathroom with hot shower. A small breakfast is included in the price. edit
- Casa del Lago, Near the Ninfas lake, Puerto Ayora, ([email protected]), . A small artistic lodging house and restaurant. Rooms include well stocked kitchen with refrigerators. ~$70. edit
- Casa Surf, ☎ 2526935 or 2524113 ([email protected]). Silviana rents rooms and apartments for $10-15 per person. $10-15. edit
- Hotel Espana ([email protected]), T. Berlanga & I. Plazas (Av Charles Darwin), ☎ 59352526108, . checkin: noon; checkout: 10. Nice clean hotel near everything in city center. 2 blocks from bus stop. Hot water in every room. Friendly staff.Single room with A/C & w/cable TV $30 a night. Single no A/C, w/cable $20 when available. (limited number of single w/no A/C). Double a/c, W/cable $40. triple a/c $60. Quad $70. 5 person $75. Full Breakfast $5.00 Free wi-fi. Tours, Travel consultant- Great ambieance. Backpacker friendly. Most popular Backpacker spot in Puerto Aroya..Highly recomended by world travelers. $20. edit
- Finch Bay Galapagos Eco Hotel, ☎ (593-5) 2526297 or (593-5) 2526298, . Unique location and friendly staff. Numerous activities to choose from, such as SCUBA diving, snorkeling, mountain biking and PADI diving programs. $250+. edit
- Hostal Costa del Pacifico, Avenida Tomas de Berlanga sn e Islas Plazas, ☎ (593-5) 2526222 ([email protected]), . checkin: 08pm; checkout: 10am. Very good location, comfort, quality and good taste. Best preis-performance ratio. $50+. edit
- Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge, Av. Charles Darwin y Las Fragatas, ☎ (593 5) 2526 564, . Built inside a mangrove forest in front of the sea between the bustle of downtown and the Charles Darwin Research Station...5-minute walk to either. Luxurious rooms, friendly English speaking staff, eco-conscience, restaurant with sushi, day tours, dive tours, and island hopping with lodges on Isabela and Floreana. edit
- Hotel Santa Cruz. One of the cheapest hotels in town, but it has little else going for it. Rooms have private bathrooms with cold water. Beds cleaned every-other guest. Approximately $15. edit
- Galapagos Best Homestay, Calle Piqueros, at the east end. (The first time you arrive, you'll want to take a cab. Remember that all cab fares are $1. Never pay more for that, even if the driver says so. It's a 10-15 minute walk to town once you know the way), . checkout: 10:00. Located near the top of town, it's a bit out of the way, but Puerto Ayoro is so small, this isn't really an issue. For what you get, it is surely the best value in all of town. Air Conditioning is included. The place is spotless. Each dorm/room includes a kitchenette with coffee free to use. Kevin will also give you a free tour of town when you arrive. Highly recommended. Book direct or through Hostelbookers/World. Dorm: $20 Private $25-28 per person. edit
Puerto Ayora is the best place on the islands to arrange a boat trip. Head out to one of the other islands, such as Isabela or San Cristobal.
Through an agency or with prior arrangement you can visit the uninhabited locations on Bartolome, North Seymour, Santa Fe, Plazas or Floreana.
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