Charles Darwin Interpretation Center
Although the majority of Galapagos visito rs come here to observe and appreciate the natural wonders the Islands have to offer, many also find it interesti ng to learn more about the protection and c onservation programs in place on the islands. Some of the principal attractions of the National Park Information Center are; the Van Staelen Exhibition Hall, the Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises, Lonesome George (the last surviving tortoise from Pinta Island) and other adult Galapagos tortoises in captivity.
Located to the West of Turtle Cove, t he sand on these two small beaches is made of decomposed coral. As a result the sand here is very white and soft, making it a favorite nesting site for sea turtles. Behind one of the beaches there is a small water lagoon, where occasionally it is possible to observe flamingos and other coastal birds, such as black-necked stilts and whimbrels. The other beach is longer and has two old barges that were abandoned during the Second World War, when the USA used Baltra Island as a strategic milita ry point in order to protect the Panama Channel. (The metal is rusty and sharp, so it is not a good place for swimming).
Highlands of Santa Cruz Island
The trail to the high lands leaves from Bellavista an d passes through the agricultural zone, near the National Park boundary, the Miconia Zone and then goes to the Fern and Sedge zone. With clear weather (unpredictable) this area offers beautiful scenes of rolling hills and extinct volcanic cones covered with grass and lush greenery all year round.
The path to Tortuga Bay is good for birdwatching as it is easy to spot several species of finches as you walk along the path. Many consider the sa ndy white beach the nicest of the archipelago and the beach’s name derives from the sea turtles that go th ere to lay their eggs. The sunsets here are excellent and although the main beach is used primarily for s urfing, the west cove is a nice spot for relaxing, swimming or snorkeling. Flamingos, marine iguanas, pelicans, Whimbrels and can also be found here.