With 97% of the Galapagos' land area designated as National Park you can imagine that towns do not feature
significantly in the islands. However, there are four inhabited islands, each with small towns. Virtually the
entire population of the Galapagos Islands, around 20,000 lives in one of the four towns.
With about 10,000 inhabitants, largest town is Puerto Ayora, de facto capital of the Galapagos. On Santa
Cruz Island it is the biggest town and center of the tourism business and other commercial activity.Most
tourists arrive begin their cruises from this port and arrive by air from its airport on Baltra Island, a small
slab of land on the other side of Santa Cruz Island.
Competing hard for the tourist dollar is the islands' second biggest town, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, with
about 5,000 people. This is the official administrative capital of the islands, but has about half the
inhabitants of Puerto Ayora. Puerto Villamil on Isabela has about a thousand people and is reminiscent of a
South Sea Island paradise, with curving golden palm-fringed beach. Smallest town in the archipelago is Puerto
Ibarra on Floreana, which is historically the longest inhabited island.
Although the people are generally friendly, the towns themselves are not especially inspiring. Planning and
infrastructure seem to take second place to making a buck, although some establishments are relatively
eco-conscious. Regrettably, this is not a mentality that is shared by the authorities or much of the local
population. Part of the reason may be the history of the Galapagos, and the fact that most recent immigrants
arrived from mainland Ecuador solely to seek a more prosperous living, rather than for the islands' natural