A Guide to the Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal

By now, if you read our last post, you should have decided whether you want to cruise the Galpagos or explore it all on yourself. Well, either way you should still take some time to check out the islands on your own. This guide will help fill your time on one of the main islands, San Cristóbal. We flew into San Cristóbal from Quito but decided to continue on to the other islands and visit San Cristóbal at the end of our trip as we were flying back out of there. To save time, if you haven’t already booked your trip, we would recommend flying into one airport and flying out of the other. If you will be incorporating a cruise at some point, see where their final drop off point will be, they will either do one in Baltra or San Cristóbal. We only spent 2 days here but there’s certainly enough here to keep you going for longer.

Turtle in San Cristobal Galapagos

How to Get to San Cristóbal

Flights from the mainland leave from Quito (UIO) and Guayaquil (GYE) to San Cristóbal (SCE) airport. Which is about a 15 minute walk or a short taxi ride into town. Avianca, LATAM and Tame, all offer similar priced flights either direct from Guayaquil or from Quito with a stop off in Guayaquil anyway. As always, we recommend heading over to Momondo to start your flight search. The stop off in Guayaquil is just to pick up extra passengers so you will not need to leave the plane. It takes about two ours flying from Guayaquil and about 4 hours from Quito depending on the length of the stop off. Taxi boats shuttle between Santa Cruz and San Cristobal twice daily for $30 one way. This can be an uncomfortable two hour journey so take sea sick tablets just in case. Tickets can be bought in several tour offices near the port in either San Cristobal town or Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz

Accomodation in San Cristóbal

Like all of the main islands in the Galapagos there is a huge variety of accommodation options and as a backpacker, you may be overwhelmed with choice and end up going for the first thing you see. We did that and although the place wasn’t bad, it likely wasn’t the best the island had to offer. Many fellow travelers recommended Casa de Laura, but it was full when we got there. If you have the chance, we recommend taking a look and seeing what is available in advance. Prices vary from around $15-$30 US per night. If you are staying for a few days and are keen on cooking your own meals and living with some locals, Air BnB is another great option, check here for latest availability. Also, if you sign up today you can earn upto $35 in Air BnB Credits.

What to do in San Cristóbal

Playa Las Loberia

Marine IguanaPlaya Las Loberia is located just a short walk east of San Cristóbal Airport. While we were waiting for our connection to Santa Cruz on the first day we headed over there to explore. This place was our first impression of the Galapagos for us and was a great experience to see the Sea Lions lazing all over the beach. The day we arrived it was very windy so we didn’t go in the water and there weren’t many tourists, I imagine on a calm day the place is pretty jam packed. There were a few surfers however and we would highly recommend this spot to those of you who are in to that as that part of the island gets some pretty big waves. As you walk further along the beach you begin to see a lot of lava and this is where the marine iguanas tend to frequent. You don’t see many at first but as your eyes adjust you begin to see hundreds if not thousands dotted along the coastline.

Hiking around the Western part of San Cristóbal

When we returned to San Cristóbal Island after our cruise and other trips, we spent a day walking around with our snorkels exploring the western part of the island by the Interpretation centre. Punta Carola, the Centro de Interpretacion and Cerro Tijeretas were all seen in the one day. The great thing about this area is that you can explore all the spots in half a day, a full day or longer. It caters for everyone’s time budget. As I said we spent the whole day there and snorkelling in Tijeretas was probably my favourite due to a very friendly sea lion. We could’ve easily gone back there.

Playa Punta Carola

Playa Punta Carola has an abundance of sea lions both young and old splashing around in the waters. You can usually tell the young ones from the old, not just because of their size but the sea lion pups are much more curious and love to play. There was one particular sea lion on the beach who decided at one point he didn’t want jay getting in the water and everytime he went close, the sea lion would chase him off. This little cove is also known as the best spot for surfing on the whole island of San Cristóbal, however, when we were there the water was pretty calm so it is likely hit and miss.

Playa Punta Carola

Mirador Cerro Tijeretas

The walk then takes you across land to the Mirador Cerro Tijeretas, the walk up to hear can likely be done in trainers of flip flops as some areas have boardwalk, but beyond there the trail becomes pretty non existant and we would suggest some good hiking shoes, just bring them along in your backpack if you dont want to wear them all day while you’re at the beach. Looking down from the mirador you get a fantastic view of clear azur waters below and coral.

Cerro Tijeretas

You can walk down the boardwalk from there and take a dip in the little cove. We highly recommend it, this was one of our favourite snorkeling spots in the Galpagos thanks to a very charismatic sea lion pup.

Cerro Tijeretas Snorkelling

This is the cove of water you see when looking down from Mirador Cerro Tijeretas. The water here is pretty cold but extremely clear and deep and has a plethora of wildlife for such a small radius. There are fish, sea turtles and sea lions. One in particular stole the hearts of all the tourists snorkeling there that day. Here he is having some fun:

He was pretty impressed by his own reflection and thought he looked rather tasty too.

This guy gave everyone a great performance that day, he was swimming, blowing bubbles, playing chase. At one point everyone got out of the water for a sunbathe and it was clear that the little guy was nackered as he joined in for a quick power nap.

Tired Sea Lion Tijeretas

It was short lived however, because as soon as there were people in the water again he jumped right back in, he just wanted to play and we loved his enthusiasm. Another great thing about this very memorable experience is that it was free. Yes the Galapagos can cost a lot (flights, accomodation, etc) but you can spend your days lazing at the beach and snorkeling/hiking, you won’t pay a cent and you get to meet fellas like this.

Selfie with the Sea Lion at Tijeretas

Centro de Interpretacion/Interpretation Centre

The Interpretation Centre is a great way to escape the heat and learn more about the ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. There is a wealth of knowledge here and you could definitely spend a few hours reading all the interesting facts, statistics and history of the Galapagos Islands. Entry to the interpretation centre is free and it has exhibits on natural history, human history and conservation and development.

Kicker Rock/ León Dormido

We did not get the chance to visit the León Dormido (Sleeping Lion) or Kicker Rock as it also referred to but it is worth a visit if you have the time during your trip as many of our traveling friends can’t say enough good things about it.

Kicker RockPhoto Credit: “Kicker Rock by Brian Gatwicke License: Creative Commons

Kicker Rock is located around 2 hours off the northwestern coast of San Cristóbal. It is open to both snorkelers and divers though the current can be a little strenuous. A two tank dive will set you back around $160 US whereas a snorkeling tour of Kicker Rock will cost around $120 US. The advantage of a dive though is, if you’re deep enough, there’s a good chance of spotting some Hammerheads. Other marine life at Kicker Rock includes Galapagos Sharks, White-tip Sharks, Large Rays, Pelagic and Reef Fish, Sea Turtles and Sea Lions. You can even spot the Frigate Bird here and the Blue Footed Booby. There are sometimes tours that offer both Kicker Rock and Punta Pitt in one day which is a great opportunity to try and spot the Red Footed Booby on the island.


We hope you enjoy your trip to San Cristóbal and the rest of the Galapagos Islands. If you have any questions about the Galapagós, whether it is about whether or not to do a tour, how to travel the Galapagos on a budget or anything else you can think of, reach out to us below and we would love to help you out. 

Sally

2 Responses to “A Guide to the Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal

  • Stafaine
    6 months ago

    Woow, this looks really amazing,
    This is really on my have to do list before i get into my 40’s

    Keep posting,
    Kind regards
    Stefanie

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