What can I do in San Cristóbal?
San Cristobal is a lovely island to visit at the start or end of your Galapatours cruise around the archipelago. Officially the capital "city" of the Galapagos, the main town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is a delightful place to base yourself and is the gateway to some wonderful locations on the island. Here are a few of our recommendations of what to see and do during a stay in San Cristobal.
1. Visit Puerto Baquerizo Moreno itself
This is a wonderful town to stroll around. The main attraction is the town beach - but it's not for people! The beach here is the only one in the world that we know of that is reserved only for sea lions! The Galapagos sea lions are treated like citizens of the town, and as well as congregating on the beach in their hundreds, they can often be seen sitting on benches, on boats or on the steps!
There's nothing better than a walk through town to the shore, spotting marine iguanas sunbathing on the seawall and red crabs scuttling over the rocks. You really can't miss seeing and hearing the sea lions and their friendly barks and shouts. Need a break? Our personal recommendation is to enjoy an ice-cold batido de mora (berry milkshake) and some rich, stodgy cake from Mary’s Cakes & Coffee. Tell them we sent you!
2. Tortoise Breeding Center - "Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado"
Just a few miles down the main cross-island road is, in our opinion, the most "natural" of the giant tortoise sanctuaries in Galápagos. Adult tortoises are left here to roam completely freely, so you'll sometimes have to hunt around in the brush and thickets of the sanctuary to find one! "Hunt the Tortoise" is our favorite game here - our record is 11 found on one visit - see if you can beat that. There is also a working breeding center here and you will be able to see young and "teen-aged" tortoises as well as the mature veterans - although in giant tortoise terms teen-aged means 30 or 40 years old!
You'll need to take a taxi from town to visit here, this should cost around $10.
3. La Loberia
Over the other side of the airport, about a 40 minute walk, 15 minute cycle ride, or 5 minute taxi ride is the beach at La Loberia. This is a lovely little cove to spend a few hours watching the marine iguanas from the shore or snorkeling in the water with the friendly sea lions. If you've got more energy there is hiking trail that goes from the beach up to the nearby cliffs. From here you'll have superb views along the coast and back over the unspoilt wilderness of the island interior. We think it would be a shame to come here and not follow this particular trail.
4. Puerto Chino
This is a small but beautiful bay with crystal clear calm waters. A favorite getaway for locals and tourists alike.
This is the official Visitor Center for Galapagos, and it's a great place to learn about the islands. Not only can you discover all about its unique wildlife and habitats and the efforts to protect and conserve them, but also about the geological history of the Galapagos born from fiery volcanos, and the interesting human history too.
The center is just a 15 minute walk from town, and in our opinion it's superior to the more famous and frequently visited Charles Darwin Research Center. Definitely one to visit during your stay.
6. Punto Carola and Playa Cabo de Horno
These gorgeous twin beaches are also known collectively as "Lovers Beach", and they are exactly what you would expect from a Galapagos beach - pristine white sands, gentle Pacific surf, sea lions playing in the shallows, and marine iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks. If the tides are right and the surf a little higher, it's a great place to go surfing. However, as we're all very romantic, we think this is the best place in Galapagos to watch the sun set with someone special beside you.
If sunset from the sandy beach isn't romantic enough for you, you can always hike the nearby path that leads to the summit of Cerro Tijeratas for an even more enchanting view from above.
The beach is only accessible on foot, but it's easy to find from town - just follow the path to the Centro de Interpretación where another path will lead you here.