San Cristóbal Island Travel

One of the grandparents of the Galapagos Archipelago, the ancient ecology, beaches and wildlife of San Cristóbal are not to be missed.

San Cristóbal is one of the earliest formed islands of the archipelago, comprising no less than four extinct volcanoes, and is also one of the largest. This makes it an excellent choice for a land-based Galapagos tour, with so much flora and fauna to discover while keeping the same base throughout your trip. Some of the more famous inhabitants of this eastern island include Sea Lions and Giant Tortoises, though there’s myriad birdlife too and it’s also the only Galapagos island that sees three different species of Boobies and the Frigatebird nesting in the same place.

San Cristóbal is in fact a pilgrimage for birdwatchers, thanks to hordes of the Chatham Mockingbird, Frigatebird and all three varieties of Galapagos Boobies a common sight throughout the island. These can be admired while on a nature walk to any of the top locations across San Cristóbal: with Tijeretas Hill and Brujas Hill being among the very best of them. Expect captivating views of the bays, red mangroves and pristine sandy beaches, peppered with birdlife, of course.

The beaches of San Cristóbal are particularly delightful, many of them flaunting milky-white sand and fantastic snorkelling opportunities too. These include Ochoa, Puerto Chino, La Loberia and Punta Carola Beaches, where you can delve into the sea to snorkel alongside Sea Lions or perhaps have a go at surfing the waves. The latter, Punta Carola, is an easy stroll from the island’s main town and capital of the Galapagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, where you’ll find a clutch of restaurants, the Interpretation Centre and Natural History Museum, plus San Cristóbal Airport which is close by.

In addition to the fantastic birdwatching, beaches, beautiful walks and abundant wildlife, San Cristóbal Island is also home to Laguna El Junco; the largest freshwater lake in the entire archipelago. Quite beautifully located within the crater of a now extinct volcano, the eerie waters sit calmly atop the easily accessible summit of the mountain, providing an excellent opportunity to stretch the legs and enjoy some elevated views.

Highlights of San Cristóbal Island:

Kayaking and diving at Kicker Rock

Flung off the western coast of the island is Kicker Rock, or León Dormido as this formation is also known (since it resembles a sleeping lion). What is left of a long extinguished volcanic cone, now heavily eroded by the sea, Kicker Rock is as fascinating above the ocean as it is below. The visible clifftops are home to numerous families of coast-dwelling birds, such as the famous Blue-Footed Booby, though underwater the unique geology of the giant rock and its opposing facade have created an ideal environment for all manner of marine life. While here, enjoy watersports like kayaking and diving in order to take a closer look at the resident Sea Turtles, Octopus, Reef Sharks and tropical fish.

Snorkelling at Lobos Island

Since its name translates to ‘Sea Lion Island’, you can only imagine what to expect here! Swarming with playful Sea Lions, at Lobos you can don a snorkel and marvel at the huge colony that call the islet home, while also looking out for Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies above water.

Birdwatching at Punta Pitt

Birdwatching is one of San Cristóbal’s top activities, and Punta Pitt in the north-east is an excellent place to do it. A wet landing takes you to this extraordinary location, teeming with three species of Boobies – Blue-footed, Red-footed and Nazca – as well as Frigatebirds, the only nesting site of all four types of bird. While here, why not enjoy a spot of snorkelling in the sea?

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