galapagos beaches
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17 Best Galapagos Beaches (8 Islands) Photos, Snorkeling, Wildlife shares the best travel insights, facts, and photos. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

While the animals are the biggest draw for most Galapagos visitors, the beaches are often where they are seen. They are often seen resting, feeding, or playing on the beach. Or you’ll enter the beach to swim and snorkel with them.

Here are the best Galapagos beaches by their island. We’ll begin with the beaches on Santa Cruz, Floreana, Isabela, and San Cristobal beaches. There are some beaches from lesser-known islands, including Bartolome, Española, Genovesa, and Rábida Island.

galapagos beaches

When you think of the Galapagos Islands, you probably think about all the different animal species that roam the islands.

With 18 main islands in the archipelago, there are countless beaches for you to visit. Here are 17 of the best beaches in the Galapagos Islands. 

5 Beaches on Santa Cruz Island

Here are the best beaches near Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.

tortuga bay beach galapagos sign
Sign at the entrance to the hike to the beach at Tortuga Bay

1. Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island

  • Type of Beach: Calm, almost like a lake. Fine sand.
  • Other Names: Tortuga Laguna, Playa de la Bahía de la Tortuga
  • Features: No guide is required to visit this beach.
  • Trail length: 1.55 miles (2.5km) Approximately a 45-minute walk
  • Important Details: Open 6 AM to 6 PM. This is roughly the daylight hours in the Galapagos.
  • Island: Santa Cruz Island

Tortuga Bay is one of the most popular beaches in the Galapagos. It is easily visited by land or cruise-based travelers.

tortuga bay beach galapagos
The calm waters of playa mansa (calm beach) at Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island

It’s easy to get to and takes less than 30 minutes from the town of Puerto Ayora. This beach is stunning and home to iguanas and flamingos. Many tourists visit this beach to see the natural beauty and animals roaming the beaches. 

Getting to Tortuga Bay: As you walk the trail, the first ocean you’ll see is actually Tortuga Bay. This is a nice beach for walking but signs recommend against swimming in the water. The Spanish sign warns “Playa Brava” meaning “Rough Beach”.

For calm swimming and more wildlife, turn right and walk to the end of the beach. You’ll find Tortuga Laguna (Tortuga Lagoon or Tortoise Lagoon). This is the calm, peaceful water – and it’s full of life.

tortuga bay map to beach
Map to the beach at Tortuga Bay. Notice the sheltered beach at the far right of the beach.

Here’s our guide to visiting this beautiful place. We loved our trips to Tortuga Bay.

During turtle nesting season, there will be caution signs about how to respect the turtles. This white sand beach is a must-see when visiting. 

garrapatero beach santa cruz island galapagos
Garrapatero Beach sign on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos

2. Garrapatero Beach, Santa Cruz Island

  • Type of Beach: Golden Sand, secluded
  • Other Names: Playa El Garrapatero
  • Features: No guide required to visit this beach.
  • Trail Length: Just a few minute walk from the parking lot.
  • Important Details: You’ll need transportation to this beach.
  • Island: Santa Cruz Island:

If you have a couple of hours to spare, El Garrapatero is an excellent option. It is almost 2 miles (3 km) of golden sand. And while it isn’t as sheltered as Tortuga Laguna, it is still good for swimming. And an excellent destination for viewing wildlife.

Garrapatero Beach Galapagos
The expansive Garrapatero Beach in the Galapagos

Getting to Garrapatero Beach: You’ll need transportation to this beach. We visited with our tour group. But you can also hire a taxi (car or water taxi) to drive you to the parking lot.

It takes about 30 minutes by car to get to the beach from Puerto Ayora. When we visited, our group had it all to ourselves.

People come to this beach to sunbathe, swim, and observe the wildlife. On the beach, you’ll commonly see flamingos, birds, and sea lions. Snorkeling is popular here, too, so you will want to remember snorkel gear! 

3. Las Bachas Beach, Santa Cruz

  • Type of Beach: White sand, lots of shell fragments. Secluded.
  • Other Names: Barge Beach.
  • Features: Coastal lagoons where you can see flamingos and other sea birds
  • Trail Length: Up to 45 minutes, if hiking the length of the beach.
  • Important Details: Wet landing from the panga.
  • Island: Santa Cruz Island

Bachas Beach is located on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. It is located close to the ferry landing from Baltra Island.

  • Origin of the Name: There are some wrecked WWII barges on the beach, which is the origin of the name. Bachas is the English word barges pronounced with Spanish phonetics.
  • Can you visit Bachas Beach by car or walking trail? I don’t think so. This is a common stop for cruise ships, but I don’t think you can drive to this beach. Despite some online reviews stating they’ve done this, I don’t think it’s possible. Likely the reviewer is mixing up this beach with another one.

On the beach, you can see lots of endemic vegetation, including salt bushes and mangroves (red and black). Las Bachas Beach is perfect for lounging and wildlife spotting.

4. Playa Escondida, Santa Cruz Island

  • Type of Beach: Secluded, fine sand beach. Lots of wildlife.
  • Other Names: Hidden Beach (English translation)
  • Features: No trail or road access
  • Trail Length: Arrival by boat, wet landing.
  • Important Details: Guide required to visit this beach. No services.
  • Island: Santa Cruz Island
playa escondida galapagos
Playa Escondida (Hidden Beach) in the Galapagos

Playa Escondida is a special place. While there are lots of wildlife across the Galapagos, certain areas seem to have more. This area is seldom visited and we felt like we were right in the middle of it all.

We saw sea turtles and reef sharks while snorkeling. And on land, there were blue-footed boobies and sea lions. And countless marine iguanas and crabs. And hundreds of sea birds from the boat.

Getting to Playa Escondida: You’ll arrive by boat (panga or zodiac), likely from the town of Puerto Ayora. Our guide impressed us with his ability to navigate the breaking waves and outcroppings of lava. Both our arrival and departure went smoothly.

The trip to the beach takes you along cliffsides full of nesting sea birds. They flew around us and the boat as we went by. It was a special experience.

5. Las Grietas, Santa Cruz Island

  • Type of Beach: Stone, walled in by lava cliffs.
  • Other Names: The Cracks, The Crevasses (English translation)
  • Features: Saltwater swimming hole, in fractured lava
  • Trail Length: 0.6 miles (1 km) each way.
  • Important Details: No guide is required. Good for a few hours and lots of photography opportunities.
  • Island: Santa Cruz Island
las grietas galapagos swimming
Swimming at Las Grietas on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

This was one of our favorite places on Santa Cruz Island. And while not a typical “beach” it is a pretty unique swimming hole. And I didn’t want you to miss out on this one.

Las Grietas stands for The Cracks and is basically an earth fracture. Two cliffs of lava tower on each side. And the water is brackish, even salt water. Aerial photos show that it has ocean access, even you you can’t see the ocean from Las Grietas.

Getting to Las Grietas: At the main wharf in Puerto Ayora, take a water taxi to Angermeyer Point. From there, you’re on foot. You’ll pass by an Inn, German Beach, a salt lake, and lava fields with cacti. When you arrive, you’ll be at the top and be able to see the crystal-clear water. A staircase will take you down to the water level.

Here’s our full guide to visiting Las Grietas.

3 Beaches on Floreana Island

Floreana Island is quite isolated, even by Galapagos standards. And it was my favorite island to visit. Here are 6 reasons to visit Floreana Island.

6. Playa Negra, Floreana Island

  • Type of Beach: Black sand, calm waters, close to town
  • Other Names: Black Beach (English translation)
  • Features: Snorkel with sea turtles, sea lions, and maybe even penguins
  • Island: Floreana Island
playa negra floreana island galapagos
Shadows cast across the black sand of Playa Negra on Floreana Island in the Galapagos

Getting to Playa Negra: Playa Negra is close to the town (Puerto Velasco Ibarra) on Floreana Island. You can walk there in a couple of minutes from the dock where your boat will land.

On our second trip to Floreana, we snorkeled there for a few hours with our tour group. Almost as soon as we went under the surface, we discovered three large sea turtles feeding on algae.

We spent more than an hour just floating around with them, filming and enjoying them. We also saw lots of fish and other aquatic life.

playa negra beach at sunset
Playa Negra beach at sunset on Floreana Island

The water is calm, the sand is soft to walk on. To the right of the beach is where we found the sea turtles. There were more rocks there, but it wasn’t an issue because we were floating the whole time. We were swimming in 3-6 feet of water while observing the turtles.

7. La Lobería, Floreana Island

  • Type of Beach: Secluded, white sand beach.
  • Other Names: Sea Lion Nursery
  • Features: Sea lions
  • Island: Floreana Island
la loberia galapagos beach
La Loberia beach on Floreana Island in the Galapagos

This beach was one of the highlights for us on Floreana, along with our time at Playa Negra. We visited La Lobería twice, once with the group and another time with a local guide – a descendant of one of the first settlers on the island.

  • Getting to La Lobería Beach: Heading south and then west from Playa Negra, you’ll find a trail heading to La Lobería. It is only a few minute walk.
  • Origin of Name: La Lobería basically means “place of the sea wolves.” In Spanish, sea lions are called lobos mariños (sea wolves). Our guide and the owner of the tour company both referred to the area past the beach as a sea lion nursery.
la loberia floreana galapagos beach
La Loberia is a special Galapagos beach on Floreana where you can swim with sea lions

A Word of Caution: We swam at the main beach, and a sea lion came to us. The guide indicated that it was a juvenile male. I’m unsure of the signage there now, but avoid going out on the point. It is basically a sea lion breeding area. Our guide said that the adult male wouldn’t take kindly to intruders and it might not go well.

8. Post Office Bay Beach, Floreana Island

  • Type of Beach: Secluded, crescent-shaped white sand beach
  • Other Names: Unknown
  • Features: Unique postal service
  • Island: Floreana Island

Post Office Bay is a beautiful beach on the north shore of Floreana Island, not far from Puerto Flores. It has fascinating history dates back to the 18th century when whalers would leave letters for ships heading to the US in barrels. 

Today, you can lounge on the beach, swim, write your own letter, and leave it in a barrel to be delivered to the mainland. 

Getting to Post Office Bay: Almost all visitors will arrive here by boat. It is an easy, wet landing on a calm beach. There is road access if you’re staying on land. But it isn’t a main road and it might be challenging to find someone to take you by land.

3 Isabela Island Beaches

Isabela Island is the largest island in the Galapagos. And this first beach is one of the longest.

Puerto Villamil Beach on Isabela
Puerto Villamil Beach on Isabela Island

9. Puerto Villamil Beach, Isabela Island

  • Type of Beach: White sand beach, public and huge
  • Other Names: Unknown
  • Features: Close to hotels and restaurants. Soft sand very long.
  • Length of Beach: 1.78 miles (2.87 km)
  • Island: Isabela Island
Puerto Villamil Beach
Puerto Villamil Beach, on of the longest Galapagos beaches

Puerto Villamil Beach is in the tiny port town of Puerto Villamil. It’s one of the longest beaches in the Galapagos Islands and super easy to get to from anywhere in the port town. The beach is populated with lava herons, marine iguanas, and many birds. 

Since it’s easy to get to the beach, it’s usually filled with sunbathers, swimmers, and people snorkeling in the crystal-clear blue water. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and other things to do nearby.

10. Playa Isabela

  • Type of Beach: Golden sand beach,
  • Other Names: Isabela Beach (English translation)
  • Features: Sea lions. Everywhere.
  • Island: Isabela Island
Playa Isabela
Benches and volleyball net on Playa Isabela

Located to the left of the Passenger Pier on Isabela Island. You’ll see this when you first arrive by boat. There is a small shop selling drinks and tour tickets.

You’ll find many beach chairs occupied by countless sea lions. Our daughter shared a beach with on especially lazy sea lion on our last trip there.

concha de perla isabela island
Concha de Perla on Isabela Island

11. Concha de Perla

  • Type of Beach: Natural pool for snorkeling
  • Other Names: Pearl Shell (English translation)
  • Features: Clear, calm water. Lots of sea life
  • Island: Isabela Island
concha de perla galapagos snorkeling
The super calm waters of Concha de Perla – a great place for snorkeling in the Galapagos

Getting to Concha de Perla: You’ll find Concha de Perla on a short walking trail near the Passenger Pier. No guide is needed, just grab your snorkel gear and head over.

There is a nice boardwalk that goes among the mangroves. There isn’t a typical beach here, but a nice entrance into some of the calmest and clearest water we’ve seen.

It’s worth the time to visit.

2 Beaches on San Cristobal Island

12. Puerto Chino

  • Type of Beach: Crescent-shaped, golden sand beach. Somewhat secluded.
  • Other Names: Translated, it means Chinese Port, although it isn’t known by this name.
  • Features: Located out of town, on the east coast of the island.
  • Island: San Cristobal Island

Getting to Puerto China on San Cristobal Island is a little more complicated, but the view and the remote beach are worth it. You’ll need to access the beach by boat or a 7-minute walking trail (650 yards) from the parking lot. 

This remote beach is popular with families and is ideal for swimming. There are rocky areas of the beach where you’ll see sea lions and finches throughout the day. It’s a smaller beach which is excellent if you prefer less crowds. 

The wave activity means it won’t be as good for snorkeling as other beaches on the list. No services or shade.

13. Playa Cerro Brujo

  • Type of Beach: White sand, secluded. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
  • Other Names: Witch Hill Beach (English translation), although it isn’t known by this name.
  • Features: Wet landing, arrival by boat only.
  • Island: San Cristobal Island

One of the best beaches on San Cristobal is Playa Cerro Brujo. It’s a more challenging beach to get to, and you’ll need to visit by boat. 

The sand is pearl white, and the water is so clear you can see the fish swimming from the shoreline. It’s a quieter beach and perfect for when you don’t want to be surrounded by people. 

5 Other Beaches on San Cristobal

Here are some more San Cristobal beaches to visit on your trip.

  1. Playa Mann: Located on the outskirts of town, it has sea lions and services (restrooms and restaurants).
  2. Playa de Los Marinos: Great for watching sunsets and seals. Located in town.
  3. Playa Punta Carola: Located just north of town, it’s a popular beach for bird-watching and snorkeling with sea turtles.
  4. Playa Lobería: Snorkeling with sea lions, sea turtles, and fish. Not to be confused with La Lobería on Floreana Island.
  5. Playa Oliviana: A secluded beach in the northeast.

Galapagos Beaches on The Other Islands

14. Playa Dorada, Bartolome Island 

Playa Dorada Bartolome Island
Playa Dorada on Bartolome Island
  • Type of Beach: Golden yellow sand,
  • Other Names: Golden Beach (English translation), although it isn’t known by this name.
  • Features: Excellent snorkeling. Amazing views from the lookoff (viewpoint).
  • Island: Bartolome Island 

Bartolome Island is one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. Cruise ships stop to view the beach, Pinnacle Rock, and the outstanding view from the viewpoint above the beach.

You can expect to see penguins, turtles, and sea lions while swimming and walking the beach.

15. Gardner Bay, Española Island

  • Type of Beach: Long, white sand beach. Private and pristine.
  • Other Names: Bahía Gardner (in Spanish)
  • Features: Wet landing, arrival by panga via cruise ship.
  • Island: Española Island
Gardner Bay beach Espanola Island
Gardner Bay beach on Espanola Island is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

According to CNN, Gardner Bay is one of the best beaches in the world. It is popular with sunbathers and those participating in water sports. There’s snorkeling, birding, and swimming there. 

Gardner Bay is on the northern coast of Espanola Island. And if you’re on a cruise, it’s also easy to get to. While there, you can see manta rays, albatrosses, and lots of colorful marine life. As you sunbathe, you can watch sea lions playing on the shores.

There is no airport on the island – there are just three in the Galapagos. The only way to visit is by boat.

16. Darwin Bay Beach, Genovesa Island 

Genovesa Island is uninhabited and one of the most pristine areas of the Galapagos Islands. Darwin Bay Beach is in a very remote location and is only available by boat.

The beach features soft white sand and several species of birds, sea lions, manta rays, and turtles. The beach is shielded by a volcano crater and is perfect for snorkeling and diving. Great Darwin Bay is very sheltered, with the beach on the opposite side of the opening.

17. Red Sand Beach, Rábida Island

  • Type of Beach: Red sand, secluded area.
  • Other Names: Red beach, Rabida beach
  • Features: Red color of the sand and cliffs. Wet landing from the panga.
  • Island: Rábida Island
red sand beach galapagos rabida island
The red sand beach Rabida Island, Galapagos

Red Sand Beach stands out among other Galapagos beaches because of its red sand color. Rábida Island is tiny and located to the south of Isla Santiago. It is famous for birding, a large sea lion colony, and its trademark red sand beaches.

Why is Rabida Island Red? The dark red color of the sand comes from the oxidized iron in the volcanic material. Basically, the iron sand has rusted.

Learn more about the islands with these 25 Galapagos facts.

galapagos island beaches

This guide is part of our larger series of the best beaches in each region. Check out the related guide: 22 Ecuador Beaches on Mainland

Your Turn

The Galapagos Islands are some of the most beautiful places on earth. We’ve traveled there three times. And some of our best memories were made on the beach or snorkeling in the water from these beaches.

Which beaches are on your bucket list? Have you been to the Galapagos? Did I miss your favorite beach? Please share them in the comments!

Keep reading: Where are the Galapagos Islands Located?

galapagos beach
Galapagos beach on Isabela Island

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