San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos

Sea Lions and Surfboards

Overview

San Cristóbal is the most easterly island of the Galapagos archipelago. It was formed when three or four volcanoes, all now extinct, joined together into one landmass. Named after the Spanish version of St Christopher, the Patron Saint of seafarers, it’s original English name was Chatham Island.

San Cristobal boasts the oldest permanent settlement in the Galapagos, and it’s the island Charles Darwin first visited when the Beagle arrived in the archipelago in 1835. The reason for the island’s early settlement is its freshwater lake, El Junco, which is the only source of water for the entire island, and it was home to the Governor’s residence at the time of Darwin’s visit.

Over the years, the island has been home to a company that harvested orchilla moss (a native lichen), used at that time as a dye for fabric, a tannery that produced leather, and the production of fish and tortoise oil, as well as sugar canes and refining. There was even a penal colony for prisoners from the mainland until the early 20th century, when after a prisoners' revolt they all escaped! As well as abundant bird life, sea lions can often be found basking on the sun-warmed rocks around the shoreline. The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island is the official capital of the Galapagos province, and it's home to most of the government offices, as well an Ecuadorian Navy facility, and an airport with daily flights to the mainland.

The permanent population is about 5,400 strong making it the second most populated island in Galapagos, after Santa Cruz. The majority of residents are employed in tourism, civil service or fishing. The port town is home to the Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences and often hosts Ecuadorian and overseas students who come to study the wonders of the islands. The Galapagos National Park Service Interpretation Center is near the town and is a popular destination for visitors. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno has also become the centre for the Galapagos’ growing surfing culture. The waves are best at the beginning of the warm season when you usually don't need a wetsuit. Tongo Reef, west of town, is one of the best places to enjoy the surf.

Photos of San Cristóbal Island

Fast Facts about San Cristóbal Island

  • The centre of Galapagos' growing surfing culture
  • San Cristobal is the official capital of Galapagos
  • Home to the oldest human settlement in the Galapagos
  • Sea lions bask on the the sunny rocks around the shore

Highlights

Lobos Island

An oasis of tranquility, with wonderful swimming

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling, Panga Ride

Arrival at San Cristóbal airport + transfer to ship (organized)

Your Galapatours adventure begins...

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Witch Hill

"Witch Hill" hosts a stunning coral beach

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Snorkeling, panga ride, hiking

Interpretation Center

Discover more about our history and habitats

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking, Exploring the museum

Kicker Rock Circumnavigation

One of the most photographed sites in Galapagos

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Panga ride, Snorkeling

La Galapaguera "Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center"

Giant tortoise breeding center and reserve

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking

Pitt Point

Stunning clifftop views and all 3 species of booby

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Snorkeling, panga ride, hiking, kayaking

Puerto Chino

A walk down to this hidden gem is worth it!

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Tijeretas Hill

See Great and Magnificent Frigatebirds together

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Transfer from ship to San Cristóbal airport (organized)

All good things must come to an end ...

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

El Junco Lagoon

One of only a few fresh water lakes in Galapagos

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

A town where sea lions have their own beach!

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Hiking, Snorkeling

Flight to San Cristóbal AV1630

operated by Avianca

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Flight to San Cristóbal AV1636

operated by Avianca

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Flight to San Cristóbal XL1419

operated by LATAM

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Flight from San Cristóbal AV1631

operated by Avianca

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Flight from San Cristóbal AV1637

operated by Avianca

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Flight from San Cristóbal XL1418

operated by LATAM

Click here to read more

Possibile Activities

Map of San Cristóbal Island

Map Loading

All cruises to visit San Cristóbal Island