Santa Cruz is the second-largest island in the Galapagos and home to Puerto Ayora (the largest town in the islands). In 1959, the Ecuadorian government declared all the islands, except areas already colonized, as a national park. In the same year, the Charles Darwin Foundation was founded to promote scientific research and ensure the conservation of the Galapagos. In 1992, the waters surrounding the Galapagos were declared a marine reserve. Here, you have the opportunity to visit a giant tortoise reserve in the lushly vegetated highlands, where the animals roam free in their natural habitat. On another excursion, a short drive through town brings you to the Galapagos Park Service giant tortoise breeding station and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Afterwards there is time to wander through the lovely streets of Puerto Ayora for some shopping.