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Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge 3.0

Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands

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Review Summary

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  • Built around a mangrove 
  • Incredible location — sea lions always on and around the property 
  • Rooms have simple, homey decor 
  • Restaurant on-site serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner 
  • All-inclusive options available 
  • Within walking distance of downtown Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin Research Station 
  • Free breakfast and Wi-Fi 


  • Mangrove can emit funky smells 
  • No pool, spa, or fitness center
  • Wi-Fi is slow (a common Galapagos problem) 
  • Many guests complain about all-inclusive tours booked through the hotel 

Bottom Line

Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge is a solid mid-range option in downtown Puerto Ayora. Rooms are cute and cozy, but otherwise nondescript. There’s an on-site restaurant, but the cuisine isn’t noteworthy. The main attraction here is the hotel’s unique access to local wildlife. Built around a natural mangrove, the hotel is a hot spot for sea lion visitors. Every day, guests can watch as multiple sea lions snooze on hotel lounge chairs and play in the water just offshore. For many guests this unique perk overrides some of the hotel’s flaws, like its sometimes funky smells, lack of on-site amenities, and slow Wi-Fi. Guests looking for a nicer hotel with better amenities should check-out Finch Bay Eco Hotel, though there’s less on-site wildlife, and it tends to be pricier. 

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A mid-range hotel where sea lion sightings are a near guaranteed experience  

At Red Mangrove Aventura Lodge, it’s all about the sea lions. Every day guests congregate around the hotel’s outdoor deck to watch local sea lions snooze on hotel lounge chairs or splash around in the shallow water offshore. The uninhibited nature of the sea lions is something to behold, and getting to see them up close on your hotel deck is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The sea lions are so much a part of the landscape at Red Mangrove that the hotel even has a dedicated resting space for them — a shaded pergola with large benches.  

Besides the sea lion fanfare, not much goes on at Red Mangrove. There’s no pool or beach, and many guests spend their days off property exploring the island. Guests can choose to take part in one of the hotel’s all-inclusive packages, which include tours, excursions, and meals in the nightly room rate. However, many guests complain about the poor quality of tours booked through the hotel, and others find the on-site restaurant to be monotonous and mediocre. 

The lobby at Red Mangrove is a charming open-air space adjacent to the mangrove. It has a simple front desk and a small seating area, but generally nothing goes on here. The hotel sees a mix of all age groups and nationalities, from American families with young children, to European retirees, to Ecuadorian couples.  


In a secluded part of downtown Puerto Ayora, within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and the Charles Darwin Research Station 

Red Mangrove is well located within the town of Puerto Ayora. It has a quiet, secluded location that feels private, but is within walking distance of downtown shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s also the closest hotel to the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is about a 15-minute walk from the property. Red Mangrove is a waterfront property, but there’s no beach access here. 

Puerto Ayora is the main city on the island of Santa Cruz — the most populous island in the Galapagos, with about 12,000 residents. Puerto Ayora is a busy town, with tons of lodging options, restaurants, and tourist-oriented services, but some travelers may find its gift-shop laden streets a bit inauthentic. 

Santa Cruz is one of the Galapagos’ most accessible destinations. Daily flights from mainland Ecuador land on Baltra Island (GPS), a small land mass across the channel from Santa Cruz. From the airport, Puerto Ayora is about an hour -- first, a five-minute free airport bus ride to the ferry, a 10-minute ferry ride, and then a 45-minute drive (via bus or taxi). Many travelers choose to start or end their trips on Santa Cruz, due to the island’s accessibility. Some can’t-miss sights include the Charles Darwin Research Station, Tortuga Bay, Las Grietas, and the island’s many lava tunnels.  


Simple and homey, some with sea views and outdoor balconies 

Rooms at Red Mangrove are simple and homey. While not exactly luxurious, rooms are tastefully decorated with patterned quilts, local artwork, and wide-plank wood floors. Most are pretty small and don’t have ocean views, but a few suites are spacious and have outdoor balconies that overlook the water. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, small desk and chair sets, and electronic safes. Bathrooms have large shower stalls and mirrored vanities; some suites have soaking tubs. Some bathrooms are partially open to the bedrooms, which may cause an issue for families or friends traveling together. It’s not advisable to drink the tap water anywhere in the Galapagos, so Red Mangrove provides pitchers of purified water in each guest room. Visitors should use this water for drinking and brushing teeth.   


An on-site restaurant, free breakfast, and Wi-Fi 

There aren’t any big-ticket amenities at Red Mangrove, like a pool, spa, fitness center, or beachfront, but there is an on-site restaurant, and the hotel offers freebies such as breakfast and Wi-Fi. 

Red Mangrove’s restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual waterfront setting. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, but pesky birds can cause problems when dining outdoors in the morning. The restaurant’s decor has an Asian flair, which is also reflected in its menu options. The dinner menu features a lot of sushi and sashimi, along with other Asian specialities like tempura and fried rice. The food is mediocre, and gets monotonous after a few days — especially for guests with all-inclusive plans. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style. Breakfast is free for all guests, but lunch is only available for those with all-inclusive packages. 

Wi-Fi is free for all guests, but can be a bit slow. The Galapagos isn’t known for its fabulous internet services, so slow Wi-Fi connections are a common problem at many hotels. 

Red Mangrove has all-inclusive packages available, but some people are unhappy with tours and excursions booked through the hotel. They complain of poor quality guides, last-minute itinerary changes, and misinformation. We’d recommend staying away from any all-inclusive plan that includes visiting sister property, Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge on neighboring Isabela Island. The package includes transportation to and from the island by boat — a long, bumpy ride that causes most passengers to become seasick. Plus, the Red Mangrove Isabela Lodge is far inferior to its sister property. Rooms are dark and dingy, there are no on-site services, and many guests complain of an unhelpful, ambivalent staff.  

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Avenida Charles Darwin, Puerto Ayora, Ecuador

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