While the biodiversity of the Guayaquil Botanic Garden is impressive, there is nowhere in the world that captures the imagination of naturalists like the Galapagos. It was here that Charles Darwin conducted the research that helped illuminate his theory of natural selection. The isolated archipelago of volcanic islands has a level of biodiversity that is almost impossible to comprehend until you have met the birds and turtles that live here in person.
Santa Cruz is the largest of the islands, and home to one of South America’s most stunning beaches. Tortuga Bay at the island’s southern end is a crescent of white sand and clear blue waters, but this isn’t the place to come for a frozen drink while you put your feet in the water. Instead the principal draw of the beach is the iguanas, pelicans, and flamingos that live there. During nesting season, the bay receives thousands of sea turtles.