Diving & Snorkling Ecuador

Santa Cruz: Diving in the Galapagos gets even better

Written by Renato Matiolli

After San Cristobal we sailed to Santa Cruz. There was no surfing, no snorkeling and not as many playful sea lions. However the diving got even more spectacular on this island.

Beach Santa Cruz Cactus Galapagos

It took just half a day to move from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz. The crossing was easy with flat water. There was no wind nor waves. This is bad for sailing, but perfect to see the wild life. From the boat we could spot many funny looking fins, but we were unsure what they were. We considered being the tip of the wing of a mobula ray or a shark fin, or the paws of a sea turtle or sea lion. We just didn’t know for sure. When we got closer we discovered it was actually the fin of a mola mola, also know as sun fish. We jumped in the water straight away, in the middle of nowhere, to swim with them.


During this crossing from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, we caught our first fish since we left Panama. It was a classic yellow fin tuna. We really don’t like fishing, mostly because of the killing part, this is such a beautiful animal. However they do taste good and the crew was super happy about it.

Fresh fish

Seared tuna Tuna sashimi

Unlike San Cristobal where we were welcomed by a bunch of sea lions, here in Santa Cruz we were received by a school of sting rays and black tip sharks. They were everywhere. We kept wondering… is it because there are less sea lions that the young sharks can thrive? Or because there are too many sharks, therefore the young sea lions can’t? For some reason we rather believe in the first alternative.

In Santa Cruz, we did a few dives around the island. By far, the most amazing one was Gordon Rock. The place had everything on one dive. We dove with sea lions, tons of turtles, mola mola, white tip and Galapagos sharks, huge bump head parrot fish, eels, etc. But the highlight was definitely a super friendly whale shark and a school of hammerhead sharks.

Parrot fish

Sea turtle White tip shark

Whale shark

Hammerhead Hammerhead

Sea lion

Shark cave Galápagos shark

Every island we went in the Galapagos had giant tortoises breading centers. The one in Santa Cruz was the nicest one and it was called Charles Darwin Foundation. We felt really glad that there are people making sure that these beautiful animals don’t go extinct. It’s sad to think that humans have actually killed an estimate of 100.000 of them since the first boats arrived here in the Galapagos.

Giant tortoise 3  Land iguana

Another great sight to visit in Santa Cruz is Las Grietas. It’s this mini canyon where you can swim. It has two similar sections. The first one is full of tourists. However if you swim a bit and cross some rocks, you will be rewarded with the second section all to yourself.

Las Gritas

Las Gritas 3 Las Gritas 2

Unlike San Cristobal, Santa Cruz doesn’t have many beaches close by. The closest one is Turtle Bay. It’s a bit of a long walk, but it’s worth it. They say this is the surfing beach. It does have some close out waves that reminded me of Brazil. Except with no surfer and a lot more sharks in the water. I wonder why. This place was also full of marine iguanas. It’s amazing to see them going in the water and across the waves. They are really slow at the beach, but in the water they are feisty little fellows.

Tortuga Bay

Marina iguanas rock

Marina iguana Fabio Marina iguanas Sarah

Marina iguanas beach

Once again we had to get going as our crew was on a tight schedule. Not a problem this time as we were also excited to visit Isabela. It’s the more isolated island and the less dense populated of the three we were going to visit in Galapagos.

Tortuga Bay Crew

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Renato Matiolli

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