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The largest of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela is one of the most volcanically active places in the world. Whether this is thrilling or terrifying is up to you. It doesn’t seem to bother the iguanas and penguins of Las Tintoreras, a nearby island cluster and popular snorkeling site. Walk from Puerto Villamil through mangrove forests and saltwater lagoons to reach the Tortoise Breeding Centre. Isabela was once used as an exile for prisoners, who built the devastating Wall of Tears as part of their punishment.
How often do you get the chance to walk through a tunnel of lava? Created by the flowing and cooling process of liquid magma, the underground lava tubes of Santa Cruz are simply breathtaking. The most popular is the Tunnel of Love, so named for the heart-shaped hole in the ceiling. Cool down with a splash in the fresh waters of Puerto Ayora, snorkel at Tortuga Bay or the mangrove-lined Garrapatero Beach and get friendly with the giant natives at the El Chato Tortoise Reserve.
With nine bays and 36 beaches, Huatulco is ideal for anyone who loves the sun. It's not an overdeveloped resort town, but the hotels are comfortable—even luxurious. Ecotourism is gaining in popularity, so take a break from sunbathing and try river rafting or a hike through the jungle.
The quintessential California beach town of Santa Cruz! It was here that surfing was first brought to the mainland by Hawaiian royalty. Home to the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined downtown area, and the historic Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, which stretches out a half-mile into the waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Other highlights include UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, and nearby redwood forests.
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