Tortuga Bay Tek & Cooking Class

Tortuga or Turtle Bay is the most famous of the beaches in the Galapagos. Short morning classes and a late afternoon cooking class gave us the opportunity to take advantage of the free time by making the trek to this idyllic spot.

We met by the pier in Puerto Ayora after lunch then walked to the edge of town and up a stone staircase that led to the entrance of this national park. The trek from the entrance to the beach was almost 2 kilometres long. It was a beautiful walk through a forest of cactus along a bricked path.

students walking up stone staircase

Upon entering the park, we were told there was no swimming on the main beach only further along at a second beach. We left the stone path for the finest, whitest sand that most of us had ever seen and made our way to the far end of the bay, about a 20-minute walk along the beach. The waves were very strong in this area and red flags were flying, warning of no swimming. We made our way along the beach without seeing any turtles but there were numerous areas roped off where turtles have nested and laid their eggs. Walking along the shore of this beautiful beach we were struck by the complete lack of human impact on the area. There were no structures whatsoever, just beach and dunes with the strong waves lapping at the shore.

students walking along the beach

Upon reaching the end of the bay we found a trail that appeared to take us away from the ocean. We passed by many large black iguanas along that trail. The iguanas ignored us but if we got too close they appeared to snort something out of their noses. Surprisingly the path leading away from the windy, wavy beach was very short and opened up to a beautiful fully protected bay.

black iguanas on the beach

This back bay was protected by a reef or old lava flow or a sandbar that caused the waves to all break at the same point a long way from shore leaving the bay calm and wave free. The beach consisted of the same fine sand and was framed by trees providing shade for those that wanted it. Some students headed right into the water while others sat in the shade studying in small groups. Those that hit the water found it to be so warm. Even half way out into the bay, students could dive to the bottom and find the same soft sand. We enjoyed our time on the beach then packed up to make the trek back for the cooking class. Those that didn’t cook headed back to the hotel.

students sitting in the sand under trees

The cooking class took place in the restaurant where we are having our dinners this week. The teacher made the activity fun and everyone enjoyed making and trying the dishes, including ceviche. As the class painstakingly followed instructions it was funny to see the owners very young daughter walk up to the table, throw the ingredients together to make the same thing we were finding challenging – it was second nature to her. Students got to try their creations before leaving the restaurant and heading back to the hotel or the Malacon.

We returned to the restaurant a short while later for dinner. It was not the best representation of Ecuadorian cuisine – hamburgers. They hit the spot and were well received by the group. The evening saw some students sign out and head for the Malacon in town while others stayed in to study for their test the next day.

Despite the very long walk to and from the beach, many saw Tortuga Bay as the highlight of Santa Cruz… so far.

Kyle Pope
Program Manager