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Puerto Ayora is a town in central Gal√°pagosmarker, Ecuadormarker. Located on the southern shore of Santa Cruz Islandmarker, and it is the seat of Santa Cruz Canton. Named after Isidro Ayora, an Ecuadorianmarker president. The town is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Santa Cruz.

Puerto Ayora is the most populated town in the Galapagos Islandsmarker, with more than 10,000 inhabitants. For many people Santa Cruz may be the only inhabited island they visit while in Galapagos. It has the best developed infrastructure in the archipelago. The largest of the two banks (Banco del Pacifico) in Galapagos is located here. A variety of schools, hotels, restaurants, clothing stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, marine stores tourist shops and night clubs here. It is the best place in Galapagos for communicating with the outside world via numerous cybercafes with Internet access or phone offices where you are able to call anywhere in the world. Puerto Ayora emergency medical facilities include a new hospital opened in 2006 and the island's only hyperbaric chamber.

Home to both the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Parkmarker, it is headquarters of Galapagosmarker conservation efforts. Most visitors to the Galapagos will have a scheduled visit to Puerto Ayora in order to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about the history of the islands and the future conservation.

Puerto Ayora has a privileged location, along the shores of Academy Baymarker. During most of the year, it receives a refreshing breeze which gives the town wonderful weather. Temperatures vary year round between 18-29 degrees Celsius (64 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit). The months of the hot season (December to May) make Puerto Ayora a tropical paradise.

Academy Bay located in front of Puerto Ayora is a busy harbor, normally full of boats cruising the islands, passing private yachts and local fishing boats. This bay is a good location to spot brown pelicans, golden rays, marine iguanas, herons, lava gulls, frigate birds, Galapagos sea lions, and large numbers of blue-footed boobies, which fish by spectacular plunge diving.

Fresh water is at a premium on the island and in this town. Locals practice water conservation and typically collect rainwater during the rainy season. As well, there is a desalination plant on the island. Many facilities have separate water systems with varying degrees of use/quality. For example, water used for cleaning/showering may not be potable. Visitors need to check with owners of various facilities with regards to water usage.


Puerto Ayora Main Dock

Flights from continental Ecuador fly into either San Cristobal or to Baltra Islandmarker just off the north end of Santa Cruz. Those airlines are AeroGal & TAME. The typical means to reach Puerto Ayora from the Baltra airport is a bus ride to the Itabaca channel where a ferry ride is taken to Santa Cruz Islandmarker. Then another bus, courtesy vehicle or taxi is taken to Puerto Ayora.

There are also daily speed boats which take passengers to or from Puerto Ayora and the other inhabited islands of San Cristobalmarker or Isabelamarker. Those wishing to use such boats should likely determine schedules and make reservations in advance. While there are many local travel agencies and tour scheduling companies, many of these are serving as broker for a lesser number of actual boats than might be indicated by the multiple points of presence of tour scheduling store fronts and Internet sites.

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