馃彎 Playa de La Estaci贸n (Puerto Ayora): Ultimate 2024 Guide

Playa de la Estaci贸n blog cover image.  Text overlaying a photo of the beach showing white sand fringed with lava rock where it meets the turquoise ocean.

Playa de La Estaci贸n is a small beach favorited by locals due to its close proximity to the main town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos.

Overlooked by most tourists, this sandy oasis is hidden in plain sight, located near the entrance to the popular Charles Darwin Research Center.

During our visit to Galapagos in 2023, this beach became our go-to when we wanted to cool off without undertaking the massive effort of getting to more popular beaches like Playa Tortuga.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know (and probably more) about Playa de La Estaci贸n. This includes how to get there, what to expect, services available, wildlife, and more.

Disclosure: In order to keep providing you with free content, this post likely contains affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase through one of these links we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. So a HUGE thank you to you if you click one of these links 馃檪

Playa de La Estacion Quick Overview

This section provides a skimmable snapshot of all of the topics that will be discussed in greater detail throughout this guide.

Location1-mile (15-20 minute) walk from Puerto Ayora main pier.
0.1 miles (1-2 minute) walk from Charles Darwin Station Entrance.
Accessible ByShort, easy walk from town.
Lifeguard?No.
Restaurants?No – Many on the way though.
Restrooms?No – Nearest one is at Charles Darwin Research Station.
Other ServicesNone.
When to VisitMornings for shade and solitude, anytime is good.
WildlifeCrabs, marine iguanas, occasional sea lions.

About Playa Playa de La Estacion: Description

Photo of an empty beach at Playa de La Estacion on a perfect sunny day, featuring some swimmers enjoying the water.

Playa de La Estacion is a small, white-sand beach located only about a minute from the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island.

The sand is coarse but enjoyable, and there is sufficient vegetation to provide shade most hours of the day.

This beach is popular for locals, especially those who work in Puerto Ayora, as it provides a place to cool off near town during lunch breaks or after work.

Families with children also frequent the beach thanks to its easy, walkable ocean access right from the shore.

This is a very basic beach with no services provided. However, there are public restrooms nearby at the research station and plenty of restaurants and vendors along the walk.

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Getting to Playa de La Estacion: Location

The entrance sign to Playa de La Estacion.

The beach at Playa de La Estaci贸n is easy to find and access via a signed trail off of Charles Darwin Ave on the way to the Research Station.

To get there, simply walk, bike, or take a taxi to Charles Darwin Research Station and look for the sign to Playa de La Estaci贸n about 0.1-miles from the entrance.

If you have rented a bike, it is also an easy cycle from town and there are bike racks near the entrance.

The beach is less than 30 seconds away once you find the trail!

From Gus Angermeyer Pier (the main pier in Puerto Ayora), the walking distance is just short of a mile and takes about 15-20 minutes.

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Services at Playa de La Estacion

There are no services at Playa de La Estacion, but you will find all of the essentials nearby and/or on the way to the beach.

The closest public restrooms are just two minutes away in the Charles Darwin Research Station. You can also find food, water, and refreshments in the cafeteria there.

You do not need a ticket to enter the section of the research station where the services are located.

Wildlife at Playa de La Estacion

A Galapagos marine iguana on coarse white sand between lava rocks at Playa de la Estacion, Santa cruz.

The sheltered bay surrounding the beach provides great conditions for snorkeling. However, the marine life is typically more sparse here.

You will find a variety of tropical fish and, if you’re lucky, can sometimes swim with turtles, marine iguanas, and baby sea lions. These encounters are rarer than other snorkel spots in the Galapagos, but it is still worth packing your snorkel gear.

While Playa de la Estaci贸n may not be famous for its aquatic wildlife, you will be absolutely tripping over marine iguanas on your way there!

In addition, you will see swarms of colorful Sally lightfoot crabs skittering about the lava rock on the shoreline.

Some visitors may be lucky enough to see a sea lion here, though they are not common in this location.

In Galapagos National Park, the law is that you must stay 6 feet (2 meters) away from the animals. This distance includes protruding cameras and selfie sticks.

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Best Time to Visit Playa de La Estacion

Landscape photo of a quiet morning on the beach at the tropical oasis of Playa de La Estacion in Puerto Ayora, Galapagos.

The morning is the best time to visit Playa de La Estacion if you are seeking peace and quiet, as well as some shade. The water will likely be quite chilly, however.

The later it gets, the busier the beach will be. That said, there are never so many people that you will struggle to find a spot to sit, though shade can be sparse at times.

Playa de La Estacion faces south, so it is not particularly notable for sunrise or sunset, but this is still the best option for both in Puerto Ayora.

Tips for Visiting Playa de La Estacion

A brightly colored Sally lightfoot crab sits on black lava rock next to the ocean.
  • 鈿狅笍 Don’t touch the small green poison apples (manzanillos)!
    As the name suggests, they are toxic and can cause blistering.
  • Bring reef-safe sunscreen or wear long-sleeved swimwear.
    The sun is stronger than you might expect, you are at the equator after all! While the Galapagos is not known for its reefs, reef-safe sunscreen is better for all aquatic life.
  • Carry plenty of water.
    You won’t find anywhere to refill your water bottle near the beach so make sure you have enough with you.
  • Maintain a distance of 6ft (2m) from wildlife.
    Be respectful of wildlife and adhere to Galapagos National Park rules.
  • Pack your snorkel gear.

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FAQs About Playa de La Estacion

Hopefully, you have already learned everything you need to know for visiting Playa de La Estacion in Galapagos.

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions should you have any remaining. Click the dropdown arrows to reveal answers.

Can you swim at Playa de La Estacion?

Swimming is the most popular activity at Playa de La Estacion, particularly for locals and families looking to beat the heat.

Are there bathrooms at Playa de La Estacion?

There are no bathrooms at Playa de La Estacion, but public restrooms are available about 2 minutes away at Charles Darwin Research Station.

Are there any services at Playa de La Estacion?

There are no services at Playa de La Estacion, but you can find the essentials including food, beverages, and restrooms on the way to the beach or at the Charles Darwin Research Station nearby.

When is the best time to visit Playa de La Estacion?

Early morning is the best time to visit Playa de La Estacion if you are looking for a quiet beach and a bit of solitude. Sunset is also a lovely time for ample shade and views, but it will be more crowded.

A quiet morning at Playa de La Estacion.
Is there wildlife at Playa de La Estacion?

There are countless marine iguanas on and around the beach at Playa de La Estacion, as well as swarms of crabs on the rocky shores. Occasionally, visitors may also see sea lions, reef sharks, and potentially passing rays.

A bright red Sally lightfoot crab sat on a dark lava rock at Playa de la Estacion beach in the Galapagos.

馃檪 Our Experience Visiting Galapagos in 2023

Three people crouched behind a pair of blue footed boobies at Los Tuneles on Isabela Island Galapagos

In April 2023, we (Adam, Sophie & Adam’s 70-year-old mom) spent three weeks in Ecuador, two of which were on the Galapagos Islands.

The highlight of our visit was a guided hybrid tour of mainland Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands with Adventure Journeys.

If you’re interested in a trip that combines culture, nature, and even a touch of luxury, we highly recommend their upcoming Thanksgiving Special: Discover the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador Cruise.

Over 7 days, you’ll discover the best that the Galapagos and Ecuador have to offer with expert guides and all of the planning done for you. This is very similar to the tour we took and absolutely loved, but includes a luxury cruise as well!

馃摎 More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

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Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions, now it’s time for the rest of your planning!

These guides will help you through the process step-by-step, providing insight on everything from finding flights to top activities and so much more.

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Final Thoughts

Close up photo of a small Ruddy Turnstone bird in the sand.

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below 馃檪

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Written by
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 鈥淐hief Exploration Officer鈥 in 2021.

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