Lava Tunnel, 1 hour.
The Royal Palm sits in a valley between two extinct, cinder cone volcanoes; our estate has 9 different areas of geological interest including craters, superficial lava tunnels, multi-chambered tunnels, sink holes, craters, collapses and of course our main lava tunnel which is an 800- meter / 0.4 miles walk underground through a 1½ million years of natural structure formed by rivers of fast flowing (1800°c / 3300°f) liquid lava. A walk through these tunnels will take you on an exciting journey back in time to the very formation of these volcanic islands.
Just five minute’s ride from the reception, the Hotel Lava Tunnel, discovered in 1974 is the largest and interesting of any lava tunnel found on Santa Cruz. You descend through a collapse in the roof of this cavernous formation and follow 600 meters of illuminated trail that leads you through a labyrinth of different tunnels over specially constructed bridges and stairways. You will encounter different minerals, pyroclastic flows, mineralizations of different compounds, five different types of stalactites, cave-adapted vegetal life forms and sweet water pools. These all lead to a spectacular exit through a natural vent in the roof. … this really is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie! Back up on top, we finish our walk at the Barn Owl hideout for a visit! Our experienced Naturalist Guide will share a lot of environmental information and history about the Royal Palm Estate.
This is an accompanied tour either with a naturalist guide or with a member of the hotel staff. The tour is suitable for anyone with reasonable level of fitness. Non-slip walking shoes are essential.
Includes: Guide, flashlights and safety helmets
Entrance Fee: Adults $6.10 / Children $3.05
Naturalist Guide prices: From $110 per guest (minimum of 2 guests)
(subject to change)
Tortuga Bay Beach, ½ day.
Journey on foot through arid, aromatic forest and along this spectacular white, sandy beach to discover the hidden Playa Mansa blue lagoons.
A paved pathway takes you on a 35 minute walk from the outskirts of Puerto Ayora through an arid, aromatic, Palo Santo Forest* surrounded by Prickly Pear and Candalabra Cactus and birdlife until you reach the long, pristine, powdery Tortuga Bay Beach. (Note: Because of strong currents, this beach is not suitable for swimming).
A twenty minute stroll along this amazingly beautiful beach brings you to a protected pool that is ideal for swimming and easy snorkeling. Just a little further you will find ‘Playa Mansa’ - a tranquil lagoon where you can swim and snorkel too. Kayaks can be rented to get closer to the turtles, White Tip Sharks and schools of Eagle Rays and Golden Rays a little further out.
Between Tortuga Bay Beach and Playa Mansa there is short trail along a rocky stretch of coastline and through a beautiful cactus forest where you can see Marine Iguanas, Brown Pelicans and Blue Footed Boobies.
Advice for the Beach
Be very careful about entering the rough waters along Tortuga Bay beach where strong undertow currents can be dangerous unless you are an experienced surfer. It is completely forbidden to climb on the fragile sand dunes as they get very easily destroyed. Don't forget to bring a high factor sun cream and block; insect repellent is advisable. Strong shoes (the pathways get very hot), sun hat and beachwear; snorkel equipment and a wet suit may also be taken but will need to be carried by you.
*Palo Santo trees are endemic to the Galapagos and are burnt during festivals for their aromatic smoke.
Includes: transport, guide, snack box and soft drinks
Cerro Mesa + Trapiche + Playa Garrapatero Exploration, ½ day.
Let your guide take you on a journey from Cerro Mesa crossing Bellavista to the Cascajo viewpoint. Descend into Cascajo, Trapiche and onto Garrapatero Beach. Experience the different climatic zones in the wetlands, the agricultural area; the arid forest to coastal paths ending your trip on a beach of crystal clear turquoise water and fine white sand.
This adventure starts at "Cerro Mesa" crossing "Bellavista" and the viewpoint of the "Cascajo". At Cascajo we stop to enjoy a phenomenal panoramic view of Santa Cruz and other islands of the archipelago and keep an eye out for a sub species of giant tortoise that lives in the area around the crater of "Cerro Mesa". Then descend into "Cascajo", “Trapiche” and onto "Garrapatero" Beach. Trapiche is a local farm where you can see how the locals produce alcohol from sugar cane and also home of the famous Galapagos coffee. At the beach enjoy bird spotting - Flamingos, Frigates, Mocking Birds and Blue-Footed Boobies. If you wish to swim or snorkel here, please remember to take your swimwear and snorkeling equipment with you.
Includes: transport, guide, snack box, soft drinks & water.
Tortoises in the Wild, 2-3 hours.
Nothing will prepare you for your first glimpse of a Galapagos Giant Tortoise in its natural habitat. These enormous creatures roam freely between the National Park and agricultural areas.
This visit offers the ideal opportunity to view these ancient creatures munching on lush green vegetation or wallowing in the mud of the seasonal pools that attract them from the lowlands during the dry winter season. At certain times in the year, migratory shore birds can be seen here too. This guided tour includes a walk through open fields and forest. A basic cafeteria and clean toilets are available on these farms and some offer rubber boots in case of muddy conditions. Your guide will recommend the best farm to visit at that particular time.
Includes: transport and guide
Charles Darwin Station, incl. Giant Tortoises Breeding Center, 3 hours.
Established in 1959, The Charles Darwin Foundation is the world's leading research institute and center of knowledge dedicated to the conservation of the biological diversity and natural resources of the Galapagos Archipelago. The Galapagos National Park was also founded that same year.
Here, education is fun! Find out more about this amazing Foundation’s work including ecological restoration, wildlife repatriation, marine research, environmental education, scientific programs, sustainable local development and the volunteer and scholarship opportunities for visitors.
Giant Tortoises Breeding Center
Located at the far end of Puerto Ayora this center is home to the Giant Tortoise and Land Iguana captive breeding programs. See the tiny new born tortoises and sit alongside the huge adults in their corrals.
Here you can meet Diego ‘the Latin lover’ who has fathered the vast majority of over 1000 tortoises reintroduced back onto Espanola Island. The Van Straelen Centre offers a wealth of information about current conservation programs within the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Includes: transport and guide
Fish market & Las Ninfas Lagoon, ½ day (afternoon).
Mingle with the locals at the weekly fish market and then spend a relaxing afternoon at Las Ninfas Lagoon.
Puerto Ayora is located just 20 minutes from the hotel and is the largest town on Santa Cruz, inhabited by 18,000 people. After tourism, fishing is the most important and common industry here. The traditional fish market is a stop that everyone should make and humans are not the only visitors - the local wildlife visit too, hoping to catch a snack. Watch the local fishermen fillet the daily catch as the sea lions and pelicans jostle for the scraps. Then head off to Las Ninfas Lagoon located on the west side or Puerto Ayora; meander along the paths and boardwalks by the emerald waters and mangrove vegetation of this natural park - a must for the keen photographer and great for bird watching!
Includes: Transport and guide
One of our guest’s video of the fish market