Santa Cruz is the second largest of the islands in the Galápagos and is around 1,000 square kilometres (386 square miles). It has a long history of human settlement and agriculture and is now the most populated of the four inhabited islands, with an estimated population of 17,000.
The name ‘Santa Cruz’ is Spanish for ‘Holy Cross’ but it’s English name, Indefatigable, was given for the British vessel, HMS Indefatigable.
Human settlement began in the 20th century, when settlers came from the United States and Europe between WWI and WWII. The small towns of Bellavista and Santa Rosa in the highlands were established by farmers, who raised cattle and planted crops. The landscape of the island has been left permanently altered by invasive species.
Today Santa Cruz has the longest, paved road in the archipelago, which runs north-south across the island. The island’s largest city, Puerto Ayora, is located on the southern coast, in Academy Bay, and is the largest and most developed town in the archipelago. The island is also the main tourism hub in the Galápagos and is the only island where tourists can experience the interior and higher elevations of a Galápagos island.
Along the pavements in Puerto Ayora, sea lions and marine iguanas bask in the sun. Fishmongers shoo pelicans away from their market stalls as locals unload cargo imported from the mainland.