Puerto Ayora is an Ecuadorian city, cantonal head of the Santa Cruz Canton, as well as the largest and most populated city in the Province of Galapagos.
It is located in the center of the Galapagos Islands, in the south of Santa Cruz Island, at an altitude of 12 meters above sea level and with a warm semi-arid climate of 23.9 °C on average.
It is called "The heart of the Galapagos" for being the economic center of the archipelago and its geographical location. In the 2010 provincial census, it had a population of 11,822 inhabitants, which makes it the most populous city in the archipelago, and the eightieth nationally. Its origins date back to the beginning of the 20th century, but it is from its designation as cantonal capital, when it presents an accelerated demographic growth until establishing an urban town, which would later be one of the three urban centers of Galapagos. The main activities of the city are tourism, artisanal fishing and transportation.
Puerto Ayora has a privileged location, protected along the shores of Bahía de la Academia, a busy port normally full of boats that transport tourists between the islands, private yachts and fishing boats. It is also a good place to observe pelicans, marine iguanas, herons, sea lions, and a large number of blue-footed boobies. During most of the year it receives the cool breeze from the sea that gives the city a very pleasant climate, especially during the months of the warm season (December to May). From the Baltra airport, you can reach Santa Cruz Island by water taxi, crossing the Itabaca and Baltra Channel.
Most of the hotels, bars and restaurants are located on Avenida Charles Darwin on the seafront. The biggest point of interest is Tortuga Bay, a very short distance from the city (about 2.5 km), with free access. In it you can see marine iguanas, crabs, birds, the gigantic Galapagos tortoise, the white tip reef shark and visit the natural mangrove swamp, separated from the beach, where swimming is allowed. Located in Puerto Ayora is the Charles Darwin Research Station, with a breeding center for giant tortoises, and in the mountains, an hour from the city, the island's great lava tunnel.