🏝 Top 25 Best Galapagos Beaches & How to Find Them (2024)

Best Galapagos beaches blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying a young woman standing in the ocean at Bahia Sardina, with white sand beach and turquoise water.

While the Galapagos islands are most famous for their incredibly tame wildlife residents, we were delighted to discover that they are also home to most of the best beaches in Ecuador.

One of the most unforgettable moments of our two weeks exploring the many Galapagos beaches was hiking to a completely empty white sand beach where we swam with sea lions, turtles, and marine iguanas in crystal-clear turquoise water. It truly felt like a daydream.

In this guide, I will reveal the 20 best Galapagos beaches with descriptions and instructions on getting to them.

Most of the featured beaches can be accessed by foot or taxi, but some may require a guide, tour, or cruise.

πŸ™‚ Our Experience Beach Hopping in Galapagos

Sophie relaxing on Punta Carola Beach sat beside a marine iguana on San Cristobal Island.

In April 2023, we (Adam, his mom, and Sophie) spent two full weeks exploring the Galapagos islands and their many beaches.

During our time, we stayed on all three major islands and visited several uninhabited ones as well. Our goal was to see as much as possible, both for our own experience and for the sake of creating helpful travel guides to the Galapagos.

We visited every beach featured in this post and took every photo you see. This was truly one of the most special destinations we have ever traveled to, and hope that our joy for the Galapagos islands, their beaches, and wildlife is evident throughout our guide.

πŸ—ΊοΈ Map of the Galapagos Islands

A color coded map of the Galapagos Islands showing inhabited islands and those accessible by day trip or cruise, plus ferry routes custom made by We Dream of Travel.

The map of the Galapagos Islands above shows the archipelago in its entirety.

It has been color-coded to indicate the islands that are inhabited and can be stayed on, those accessible by day tour, and those that are accessible via cruise ship only.

In addition, ferry services and airports are indicated by the appropriate symbols.


πŸ– Best Beaches for Self-Guided Visits

As beautiful as many of the best Galapagos beaches are, many of them are simply impossible to visit on your own without a tour due to a lack of infrastructure on the islands.

Even some of the more accessible beaches require long walks, bike rentals, and/or taxi hires to reach.

As we believe the most important factor when ranking the best beaches on the Galapagos is the ability to actually get there, this list begins with those destinations that do not require guides, day tours, or cruise ships to reach.

1. Playa Mann

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesMann Beach
Accessible ByFoot (10-minute walk from town)
Important DetailsGreat for sunset, local favorite, lots of services
Playa Mann beach showing white sand and turquoise water completely empty early in the morning.

Overall, Playa Mann is the best beach in the Galapagos islands due to its combination of easy access, pristine white sand, calm waters, abundant services, and wildlife regulars.

Only a 10-minute walk or less from the main town on San Cristobal, this spectacular beach provides the quintessential Galapagos experience without even having to book a day tour.

Additionally, having all services available at extremely reasonable pricing makes this the best place within the archipelago for a beach day.

Visitors can expect to swim with plenty of sea lions and/or soak in the sun with a marine iguana or two while the sun sets perfectly over the westerly horizon.


2. Playa Puerto Villamil (Playa Isabela)

Other NamesPuerto Villamil Beach, Isabela Beach
Accessible ByFoot
Important DetailsThe main town is built around this 4-mile stretch of open beach.
Several marine iguanas make their way to the water across white sand along Playa Isabela Beach at sunrise.

Playa Puerto Villamil, informally known as Playa Isabela or Isabela Beach, is a 2.5-mile (4km) stretch of soft white sand that runs along the only major town of Puerto Villamil on the island of Isabela.

What makes Puerto Villamil Beach so special is that it is truly the most extensive, accessible beach in all of the Galapagos.

From the moment you arrive at the port on Isabela island, you will be gazing down a paradisiacal expanse of inviting shoreline teeming with marine iguanas and Sally lightfoot crabs.

While most people do not go all the way to Ecuador’s most famous islands for a beach holiday alone, the idea of opening your hotel sliding doors directly onto soft white sand is inarguably appealing, and Puerto Villamil Beach is the place to make this dream a reality.

3. Playa de Oro

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesGolden Bay Beach
Accessible ByFoot – Located in town
Important DetailsLots of sea lions, calm water, no effort required
A pair of sea lions sit on the otherwise empty Playa de Oro beach on San Cristobal during golden hour.

Playa de Oro may not be the largest or most impressive beach, but it is incredibly picturesque and is the most accessible of all the beaches on San Cristobal island.

Located directly in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, this golden oasis will be the first sandy shoreline you will encounter as you arrive in town.

Don’t be surprised if you find some sea lions enjoying time in the sun or playfully swimming around you in the calm water. After all, Playa de Oro is a favorite Galapagos beach for all locals, humans and otherwise.


4. Playa Punta Carola

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesPoint Carola Beach
Accessible ByFoot (about 15-minute walk from town)
Important DetailsNo services! The short walk eliminates 90% of crowds.
Playa Punta Carola on San Cristobal, Galapagos showing an empty white sand beach with turquoise waters and blue sky.

Playa Punta Carola is the secluded, quiet alternative to the most popular beach on San Cristobal in Playa Mann.

To reach this white-sand haven, simply continue past Playa Mann for another 5-10 minutes.

As most of the families and crowds will stop at one of several options nearer to town, there are always far fewer people at Playa Punta Carola.

Be aware that there are no services at this beach. However, what it lacks in amenities it makes up for in aesthetics and experience.

You will encounter similar but more plentiful wildlife here as at Playa Mann, and find it an even better option for sunset.

5. Playa de Los Marinos

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesBeach of the Sailors, Sea Lion Beach
Accessible ByFoot – Located in town
Important DetailsCaution required, LOTS of sea lions!
A young sea lion stares down a woman on the beach at Playa de Los Marinos on San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.

Playa de Los Marinos is a small spit of sand located right beside the main pier of San Cristobal, directly adjacent to town.

What makes Playa de Los Marinos one of the best Galapagos beaches is the amount of sea lions that inhabit it. There are so many, in fact, that you often cannot actually get to the beach as they will literally be blocking all entrances!

Should you manage to make it onto the beach, you will find plenty of photo ops for one of those iconic Galapagos pictures of you with wildlife.

Just remember, Galapagos National Park law dictates you remain 6ft (2m) away from wildlife at all times.

Respect the animals and understand these playful creatures can quickly become aggressive. Give them plenty of space and be prepared to leave quickly if any seem agitated.


6. Playa Baquerizo

IslandSan Cristobal
Other Names
Accessible ByFoot (1.5-hour walk from town)
Important DetailsChallenging walk, especially on hot days
A marine iguana sat on the white sand of Playa Baquerizo facing the camera with scattered lava rock and greenery behind it in the background.

Playa Baquerizo was our favorite beach on San Cristobal island, but it also required the most effort to reach.

To get here, visitors must first hike up to Mirador Cerro Tijeretas; an elevated lookout over Baquerizo Moreno Bay. From there, it is a long walk over mostly sharp, uneven lava rock with much of the trail completely exposed.

As expected, there are no services whatsoever at Playa Baquerizo, so be sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate footwear.

What makes this beach so incredible is that, upon arrival, it feels like discovering a truly secret and unspoiled place.

We set our things under the shade of a manchineel (manzanilla) tree and sat next to a sleeping marine iguana while we caught our breath, then entered the water to swim with sea lions and several green sea turtles.

It is this feeling of being in a true paradise that makes Playa Baquerizo one of the best Galapagos beaches.

Ironically and biblically appropriate, the only tree in this paradise (the manchineel tree) bears extremely toxic fruit known as “poison apples”. Do not touch them as even contact with the skin can cause severe reactions.

7. Playa Brava / Playa Mansa (Tortuga Bay)

IslandSanta Cruz
Other NamesTurtle Bay
Accessible ByFoot or Water Taxi
Important DetailsA water taxi will save a lot of time to reach.

Located on Santa Cruz, Playa Tortuga Bay is the most popular beach on the most popular island in Galapagos. This is true in spite of the journey required to reach it, mostly because there are few other options near the main town of Puerto Ayora.

You will have several options for getting to Tortuga Bay Beach with a direct correlation of time and money:

  1. Water taxi from Puerto Ayora (20-minute boat ride costing $10 per person each way)
  2. Taxi to the trailhead, then walk 1.5 miles/2.4km (30 minutes) to the beach.
  3. Walk all the way from Puerto Ayora (2-3 miles/3.2-4.8km).

While there is clearly some effort required in reaching Tortuga Bay, the reward is two immaculate beaches that are teeming with marine life including herons, green sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, pelicans, and small reef sharks (not dangerous to humans).

The first beach you will arrive at is Playa Brava, which is an open expanse of pristine sand but is not swimmable due to intense waves and currents.

If you walk all the way to the end of the beach, you will actually find a very short overland trail to another small beach called Playa Mansa. This is the main destination for most, especially families with children.


8. Playa El Garrapatero

IslandSanta Cruz
Other Names
Accessible ByTaxi
Important DetailsNo tour required, but need to hire a taxi to visit.
Aerial image of Playa El Garrapatero Beach, Santa Cruz in Galapagos.

Playa El Garrapatero is extremely remote yet easily accessible for those with spare time on Santa Cruz island.

This beautiful beach is located on the east coast of the island at the end of the E5 Highway, also known as the Santa Cruz Highway, which goes all the way from Playa El Garrapatero up to the airport on Baltra.

The beach is typically fairly quiet and is good for swimming or snorkeling, or for a casual beach time if time permits.

The downside is that it will cost about $40 roundtrip for a taxi and the horseflies there can be obnoxious.


9. Playa La LoberΓ­a

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesWolf Beach, Sea Lion Beach
Accessible ByFoot, Taxi, or Bike (2 miles from town)
Important DetailsNearest beach to the airport, lots of sea lions
Three sea lions swim underwater at the popular beach of Playa Loberia on San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.

In Ecuador, sea lions are known as “lobos marinos” which translates to sea wolves. Accordingly, Playa La LoberΓ­a translates roughly to “the wolf beach”.

Unsurprisingly, Playa Loberia is one of the most famous beaches for swimming and hanging out with sea lions.

It used to be the absolute best beach on San Cristobal to see them and is still fantastic. However, you no longer have to go that far for this experience as they are all over Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Still, Playa Loberia is a wonderful place to spend some time with smaller crowds than you will find at the beaches in town while still being a quick and easy journey either by foot or taxi.

It is located just south of the San Cristobal airport and only 2 miles (3km) from town.

10. La Playita

Other NamesIsabela Little Beach
Accessible ByFoot, bike, or taxi from town (1.8+ miles / 3+ km)
Important DetailsBasic toilets nearby, no other services
A small group of marine iguanas scurry out to see at La Playita Beach on Isabela island with Volcan Cerro Azul in the distance.

Appropriately named, La Playita (which translates to “Little Beach”) is a small sandy shoreline located just beyond the expansive, aforementioned Isabela Beach.

The main appeal of visiting La Playita is the seclusion. While Playa Isabela will typically be abuzz with tourists, those who venture just 1.5 miles further will likely discover their own little piece of Galapagos paradise.

There are basic toilets available near the beach, but be sure to bring your own toilet paper!

11. Playa de La EstaciΓ³n

IslandSanta Cruz
Other NamesCharles Darwin Research Station Beach, Beach of the Station
Accessible ByFoot (5-10 minute walk from town)
Important DetailsVery small but most easily accessible beach on Santa Cruz
A quiet morning at Playa de La Estacion, the closest beach to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos.

Playa de La EstaciΓ³n is the most easily accessible beach on Santa Cruz island.

Due to its proximity to town, it is a favorite for locals on a lunch break or enjoying a day off. Tourists, meanwhile, often overlook this hidden gem tucked away near the entrance to Charles Darwin Research Station.

You can walk to Playa de La Estacion from anywhere in Puerto Ayora in 5-10 minutes. There is no entry fee nor are there services, but you can find most of what you need from food to restrooms on the way or at the Charles Darwin Research Station nearby.


12. Playa de los Alemanes

IslandSanta Cruz
Other NamesGerman Beach
Accessible ByShort water taxi from Puerto Ayora pier.
Important DetailsWater taxi required, no services.
A golden sandy beach surrounded by mangroves and few scattered rocks comprise Playa de los Alemanes on Santa Cruz island Galapagos.

Unless you are staying at one of the few nearby hotels, such as Finch Bay Hotel or Angermeyer Waterfront Inn, you will need to take a short water taxi to reach Playa de los Alemanes.

From the main pier in Puerto Ayora, the water taxi costs $1 and takes only a few minutes. Once dropped off, the walk from the pier to the beach is just 0.25 miles (0.4km) along a paved path then a boardwalk.

While access to this beach is fairly easy, it takes just enough effort to keep the large crowds away, meaning you will typically find plenty of space here! Keep an eye out for sea lions playing in the surf and marine iguanas lounging on the sand.

If you plan to visit Las Grietas, you will naturally pass this beach, making it an ideal stop on your way to or from this famous snorkel spot.


13. Playa Ratonera

IslandSanta Cruz
Other NamesMousetrap Beach, Ratonera Beach
Accessible ByFoot (5-10 minute walk from town)
Important DetailsServices only at Charles Darwin Research Station nearby
A sunset photo of Playa Ratonera showing one of the best beaches on Galapagos that you can walk to.

Located just beyond the aforementioned Playa de La EstaciΓ³n is another small beach known as Playa Ratonera (which translates to “Mousetrap Beach”).

These two beaches are nearly identical in every way. Neither have services directly, but both are near enough to the research station for anything you need, and both basically feature the same landscape.

The only notable differences are the slightly longer walk and the amount of lava rock at the shoreline. Due to these factors, Playa de La Estacion gets the nod as the better beach on Santa Cruz, but both are worth a visit.

🚀 Best Beaches to Visit by Day Tour

Many of the most spectacular beaches in Galapagos are located in remote locations accessible only by boat.

Sometimes this means getting to a region on an inhabited island where there is no infrastructure, and others it means boating out to an isolated island.

This section highlights the best Galapagos beaches that you can only get to by booking a day tour from one of the main islands you can stay on.


14. Playa Puerto Chino

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesChina Beach
Accessible BySan Cristobal Highlands Day Tour or Bike Rental
Important DetailsLast stop on Highlands Tour.
Looing down at the white sand and azure water of Playa Puerto Chino from the hilly viewpoint at the end of the beach.

Playa Puerto Chino is the last stop on the San Cristobal Highlands Tour, though true beach enthusiasts can arrange transport or even bike just to this beach if they wish to spend more time in this slice of paradise.

This is the prettiest beach on San Cristobal and likely the best swimming beach in all of Galapagos. The sheltered bay, powdery soft sand, and absence of lava rock make for safe conditions.

You will often see the odd sea lion on the beach, but not in the same numbers as elsewhere on the island. Also, you can occasionally see blue-footed boobies on the hilly outcrop at the end of the beach.

15. Playa Dorada

Other NamesGolden Beach
Accessible ByIsla Bartolome Day Tour from Santa Cruz
Important DetailsOnly limited tours and cruises land here
A cruise ship docks off of Playa Dorada on a sunny day in Isla Bartolome.

Playa Dorada is the premier beach on the small island of Bartolome.

Isla Bartolome is one of the most iconic Galapagos photography locations.

It is renowned as the most beautiful, picturesque island in Galapagos, and the half-moon bay at Playa Dorada with Pinnacle Rock standing triumphantly above is a major reason for this reputation.

Unfortunately, you can only visit Playa Dorada on a Bartolome Island day tour from Santa Cruz or via a Galapagos Cruise that includes it as a stop.

Even on a Bartolome day tour, you may not have the opportunity to hang out on the beach depending on the permit your tour operator was able to acquire.

While the difficulty of access prevents this spectacular place from appearing higher on the list of the best Galapagos beaches, those who do make it will go home with unforgettable photos and hopefully an experience to match!


16. Playa Bahia Sardina

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesSardina Bay Beach
Accessible By360ΒΊ Tour from San Cristobal
Important DetailsWet landing, by tour only
Adam Marland of We Dream of Travels standing alone at Bahia Sardina Beach during his 2023 travels to the Galapagos islands.

The beach at Bahia Sardina is perhaps the most photogenic of all beaches in the Galapagos islands.

Pristine white and golden sand run into impossibly clear water while distant volcanic remnants provide the ideal background for the perfect Galapagos tropical island photo.

The only way to get to this beautiful oasis is by booking the 360ΒΊ Tour from San Cristobal which takes visitors around the entire island.

On a tour, guests get about an hour to snorkel at Sardina Bay where they will likely encounter sea lions and the occasional green sea turtle.

17. Playa Cerro Brujo

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesWitch’s Hill Beach, Cerro Brujo Beach
Accessible ByKicker Rock tour from San Cristobal
Important DetailsNot every Kicker Rock tour stops here.
Footsteps traverse the white sand of Playa Cerro Brujo with the rugged cliff sides of the eponymous Cerro Brujo formation in the background.

Cerro Brujo Beach is undeniably one of the most picturesque and softest sand beaches in Galapagos.

Each step feels like nuzzling your toes into flour, and the westerly view of Kicker Rock makes for a spectacular photo and vista, especially at sunset.

The only way to get to Playa Cerro Brujo is by boat. Some cruises will stop here, otherwise, a Kicker Rock day tour is the best way to visit from San Cristobal.

Be aware, however, that different tours will visit different beaches, depending on what permits they were issued.

Also, understand that “Cerro Brujo”( meaning Witch’s Hill) is the name of the adjacent caldera. Every Kicker Rock tour will mention a visit to Cerro Brujo, but this may not include an actual landing on the beach. If this is important to you, be sure to check prior to booking.

18. Punta Cormorant

IslandIsla Floreana
Other NamesCormorant Point Beach, Galapagos Green Sand Beach
Accessible ByIsla Floreana Day Tour from Santa Cruz
Important DetailsAn olive-green sand beach tinted by the mineral olivine.

There are two beaches at Punta Cormorant that you can visit on the day tour to Floreana from Santa Cruz. One is a pristine white sand expanse that is home to a plethora of stingrays, and the other is the famous Galapagos Green Sand Beach.

Adjust your expectations and do not fall for over-saturated internet photos, however, the beach is kind of an olive green bordering on brown. It is undeniably unique and impressive, but not as vibrant as photos you will find on the internet.

Also, do not be fooled by photos of Hawaii’s green sand beach which often come up mislabeled having been taken from stock photo sites.

Warnings aside, the Galapagos’ Green Sand Beach is a truly unique place that is worth visiting if you are already making the trip to the remote island of Floreana.

In addition to the olivine sand, you will discover a thriving population of migratory birds and likely see flamingoes as well! Ironically, cormorants are the one thing you are unlikely to see as they no longer call this beach home!

The white sand beach is beautiful, but swimming is not permitted due to the large population of sting rays that hide in the sand. Stings can be extremely dangerous in such an isolated location.

19. Bahia Rosa Blanca

IslandSan Cristobal
Other NamesWhite Rose Bay, Rosa Blanca Bay
Accessible By360ΒΊ Tour from San Cristobal
Important DetailsLOTS of horseflies, wet landing
A small crescent shaped, white sand bay with lava rock on either end and turquoise ocean with a boat anchored at Bahia Rosa Blanca, San Cristobal.

The look of the beach at Bahia Rosa Blanca is unfortunately better than the experience itself due to a thriving population of extremely mean horseflies.

Luckily, the beach itself is not the primary attraction here. Rather, a calm water bay nearby provides the opportunity to snorkel with countless sea turtles!

You can only get to Rosa Blanca Bay via the 360ΒΊ Tour from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal. This will be one of the featured snorkeling stops on the tour and is a favorite for those who have yet to swim with turtles.

20. Bahia Sullivan

IslandIsla Santiago
Other NamesSullivan Bay Beach
Accessible ByIsla Bartolome Day Tour from Santa Cruz
Important DetailsNot guaranteed on Bartolome day tours
View of Sullivan Bay beach from Bartolome Island viewpoint.

Despite being located on Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay Beach is one of the potential snorkeling destinations on a day trip to the directly adjacent Bartolome Island.

This beautiful beach features ample white sand against lush greenery and is often visited by the rare Galapagos penguins.

The only way to reach Bahia Sullivan is to book a Bartolome Island day tour that happens to be permitted access for the day of your booking, or to find an inter-island cruise that features it in the itinerary.

21. Playa Negra

IslandIsla Floreana
Other NamesFloreana Black Sand Beach
Accessible ByIsla Floreana Day Tour from Santa Cruz
Important DetailsCan stay overnight!
Dramatic sunrise at Playa Negra on Floreana island in the Galapagos.

Playa Negra is the most popular beach on the (barely) inhabited island of Floreana. It is the nearest accessible beach to Puerto Velazco Ibarra, the main town on the island.

The name, translating to Black Sand Beach, is derived from the dark volcanic sand you will find here. This is not uncommon in the Pacific islands as volcanoes are responsible for creating them, but it is always neat to see!

The great thing about Playa Negra is that you can visit on a day trip from Santa Cruz or stay the night in town. With a population of only 100 or so, this sleepy island goes under the radar for most visitors have no idea there is a 4th inhabited island meaning you will get to experience something few do!

22. Playa Las Bachas

IslandSanta Cruz
Other Names
Accessible ByDay Tour to North Seymour Island from Santa Cruz.
Important Details
A photo of the quiet Playa Las Bachas beach on Santa Cruz island.

Playa Las Bachas is not just a beautiful beach teeming with wildlife, but it is a place of modern historical significance as well.

On the beach, you will discover the remains of old barges from World War II buried in the sand. The Galapagos islands were used by the US for defense purposes against attacks from Japan and, following the war, the barges were simply left and some washed ashore on Las Bachas.

Interestingly, the name “Las Bachas” comes from these barges. The locals struggled to pronounce the English word barges and “bachas” was the nearest they could get! The name stuck, although it literally translates to “the potholes”.

Las Bachas is a beautiful white sand beach and a major nesting site for green sea turtles, meaning you are very likely to see them while snorkeling here. There is also a nearby lagoon with flamingoes.

This is a common stop for Galapagos cruises due to its proximity to the main airport on Baltra, but can also be visited with the North Seymour Island day tour from Santa Cruz.

23. Post Office Bay Beach

IslandIsla Floreana
Other Names
Accessible ByIsla Floreana Day Tour from Santa Cruz
Important DetailsHistorically significant and fascinating beach.
An old barrel and signs at Post Office Bay with the ocean in the background on Floreana Island.

The beach at Post Office Bay is less known for its beauty or scenery and more for a seemingly random barrel located there.

In fact, this barrel is one of the world’s oldest “post offices”. Established in 1793, it was installed as a way for sailors to send letters. When a seaman was headed home, they would take any letters going to that region along with them to be distributed back on land.

This tradition is still actively alive even today, with tourists leaving letters and notes to faraway places. The delivery time is typically long, but there have been documented occasions where the letter actually beat the sender back home!

24. BahΓ­a Gardner

IslandIsla EspaΓ±ola
Other NamesGardner Bay Beach
Accessible ByDay Tour to Isla EspaΓ±ola from San Cristobal
Important DetailsTours to EspaΓ±ola are best during Waved Albatross season.
A large group of sea lions lounge on the pristine white sand of Bahia Gardner (Gardner Bay Beach) with bright blue water in the background on EspaΓ±ola Island Galapagos.

Gardner Bay Beach is the premier white-sand destination on the island of EspaΓ±ola.

It is a popular place to snorkel from on a day tour to the island due to the exposed tuff cone favorited by rays, sea lions, turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, and a variety of tropical fish right off the shore.

While the primary reason to visit Isla EspaΓ±ola is to see the unique species of waved albatross that come here to nest and breed each year, the snorkeling and swimming at Gardner Bay provides another great reason to book a day tour from San Cristobal.

25. Playa Escondida

IslandSanta Cruz
Other NamesHidden Beach
Accessible BySanta Fe Day Tour from Santa Cruz
Important Details
Daytime photo of Playa Escondida, also known as Hidden Beach, on a remote part of Santa Cruz island in the Galapagos.

Playa Escondida translates to “Hidden Beach” and is appropriately named as you will not find it on Google Maps and its remote location is only accessible by boat.

The only way to get to this beautiful white sand beach is by booking the day tour to Isla Santa Fe from Santa Cruz. Most tours will stop here on the way back from Santa Fe so guests can enjoy incredible snorkeling or just relax on a beautiful beach.

Playa Escondido is located on the east side of Santa Cruz, just southwest of Playa El Garrapatero which can be reached by land.

The notable wildlife you will discover on this unspoiled beach includes the usual sea lions, crabs, and marine iguanas, as well as blue-footed boobies, sea turtles, white-tipped sharks, rays, and potentially land iguanas.

πŸ›³ Best Beaches to Visit by Cruise Only

This final section highlights the best Galapagos beaches that you cannot arrange travel to but may be included on a cruise itinerary.

To further make the distinction, understand that any beach mentioned so far could be included and visited on a Galapagos cruise itinerary, but these ones can only be visited via cruise (unless you know how to sail your own ship, that is).

Galapagos Red Beach

IslandIsla Rabida
Other NamesGalapagos Red Sand Beach
Accessible ByCruise only
Important Details
A cruise ship docked off of Rabida Red Sand Beach in the Galapagos Islands.

There are not many places you will find red sand beaches in the world, but the Galapagos archipelago is home to one of them and it is spectacular.

This striking beach is located on the remote Rabida island. There are no tour options available for getting here, meaning you will have to book a cruise that includes it in the itinerary if you want to see this miracle of nature.

Of note, there is also a red sand beach on the Hawaiian island of Maui for those who are not able to get to this remote island during their Galapagos vacation.

As with all beaches in the Galapagos, there will be opportunities for witnessing a variety of wildlife on Red Beach, but the unusual aesthetic is its major appeal.

Darwin Bay Beach

IslandIsla Genovesa
Other Names
Accessible ByCruise only.
Important Details
Golden sand leads to a rocky outcrop with seabirds sat on it at Darwin Bay beach Genovesa island.

Those fortunate enough to be on a cruise that features a stop on Isla Genovesa will get to spend some time on one of the most beautiful and tame beaches in Galapagos.

This small cove is one of the few places where you will see the lava gull, which is endemic to the Galapagos islands. It is also a nesting sight for the red-footed booby and home to the swallowed-tailed gull, said to be the prettiest of the gull species in the world.

Because so few people visit this remote island and there have been no predators in their history, the famously tame animals of the Galapagos are a little extra casual here.

Espumilla Beach

IslandIsla Santiago
Other NamesFoam Beach
Accessible ByCruise only.
Important Details
Reddish hued sand surrounded by lush greenery at Playa Espumilla Beach Santiago, Galapagos.

Playa Espumilla is a beautiful, dark sand beach enclosed by lush greenery and several calderas. It is located in James Bay on the northwest coast of Santiago Island.

This is one of the more photogenic beaches you will find in Galapagos. It is also among the least visited of the named beaches. Although not quite as vibrant as Rabida Red Sand Beach, Espumilla has a uniquely beautiful dark, reddish hue to it.

Fun Fact: “Espumilla” translates directly to “foam”, but it is actually named after a popular Ecuadorian dessert and street food. The dessert resembles ice cream but is actually a meringue that doesn’t melt in the hot climate.

πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ FAQs About the Best Galapagos Beaches

A marine iguana takes a seat next to a young girl as both enjoy the sunshine from the sands of Punta Carola beach.

Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions from people looking for information on the best Galapagos beaches.

Simply click the drop-down arrows to reveal answers.

What are the best Galapagos beaches?

The best Galapagos beaches on each major island based on experience, wildlife, services, and ease of access are:

  1. Playa Mann (San Cristobal)
  2. Playa Isabela (Isabela)
  3. Playa Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz)
  4. Playa Negra (Floreana)
Can you swim in the ocean in Galapagos?

Visitors are welcome to stay overnight and swim from the beaches of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana islands in the Galapagos. No guides or special permits are required to visit or enjoy the Galapagos’ beautiful beaches.

Is it safe to swim in Galapagos?

The Galapagos islands provide a safe place to snorkel and swim while engaging with incredibly tame wildlife. Each island has a handful of beaches that visitors can swim from without the requirement of any guides, reservations, tours, or permits.

What is the best beach on San Cristobal in Galapagos?

Playa Mann is the best beach on San Cristobal due to the ample services provided, wildlife encounters, soft sand, and ease of access. Those who value a quieter experience, however, may prefer the nearby alternative of Playa Punta Carola.

What is the best beach on Santa Cruz in Galapagos?

Playa Tortuga Bay is the best beach on Santa Cruz despite the prerequisite hike (or 20-minute water taxi) to get there. It features powdery soft sand, plenty of wildlife, and a sheltered cove with calm water that is safe for children and popular for kayaking.

Playa de La EstaciΓ³n is another popular option due to its ease of access and proximity to town.

What is the best beach on Isabela in Galapagos?

Playa Isabela is the main reason that most visitors make the effort to get to Isabela island, and is one of the best beaches in Galapagos. This 4-mile (2.5km) expanse of pristine shoreline runs parallel to the main town on the island and offers the chance to book accommodation directly in the sand.

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πŸ’¬ Final Thoughts on the Best Galapagos Beaches

Beautiful day time photo of the secluded Playa Baquerizo Beach on San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.

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Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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