Our first destinations in Galapagos Islands was San Cristobal. There is so much to see and do here that you do not want to miss out. It can be quite overwhelming choosing what to see and do, so I have put this list together to make sure you hit the ground running!!
Here is a no nonsense guide to San Cristobal.
After dropping off you bags at your hotel I recommend taking a taxi to Las Loberias beach. This is a great introduction to the Islands. This sheltered bay is a great place to swim with turtles and sea lions. The best thing is they are only a few steps away from you towel.
LA CASA Del Ceibo
This tree-house would even make Tarzan green with envy!! This 300+ year old tree has been transformed into liveable accommodation. We didn’t stay here, but from what I hear it’s pretty awesome and around $20 a night why not give it a go? This place has a few beds, toilet (downstairs INSIDE THE TREE!!) , kitchen, small lounge area and plenty of outside BBQ area. You can take a short taxi ride here, like we did, on the way to other sites around the Island – I highly recommend a visit!!
Lagoon el Junco
This enormous Crater Lake looks fresh out of a scene of Jurassic Park. The thick green foliage covering the misty path eventually opens up revealing a gigantic crater lake. This lake is the islands only source of fresh water and during the rainy season it is often very foggy. It takes about half an hour by taxi to get here but its well worth the drive. I found this place extremely intriguing, it is named after the plant that can commonly be found in this area the ‘junco’. Whilst we were there it appeared a pair of frigate birds had made a home, constantly taking flight patrolling the large lake.
It can get quite cold once you get to the top so perhaps take a jacket or a towel to wrap around you. This place is an absolute must!! But a word of warning, the walk up is not for the faint hearted. Remember to ask you taxi driver to wait for you as it will be very difficult to get back into the city without him (pay him after he drops you back into town so as not to confuse him).
Playa Puerto Chino (Beach)
This beautiful white sand beach is bordered by black volcanic rock that would rival some of the beaches in the Whitsundays (Australia). Make sure you come prepared to swim. The 20-25 minute walk from the parking lot will have you sweating up a storm. This beach is full of wildlife (not in terms of numbers but diversity). We saw plenty of turtles and sea lions from the lookout, some blue-footed boobies’ sunbaking on the rocks and finches living amongst the mangroves.
There is not a great deal of shade here so make sure you come prepared if you do not want to laze in the sun. I suggest bringing plenty of water and some snacks as this area is not close to any townships. I also suggest asking your taxi driver to wait for you as you will be hard pressed to find any form of transport to get you back into town.
My suggestion is to hire a taxi driver for the day ($70-80 depending on how hard you bargain) and ask him to take you to Quinta el Ceibo, Lagoon el Juno and Playa Puerto Chino. The price of the taxi will not vary based on number of people or where you are going so get as many of your friends or others you have met together and start exploring!!! Make sure the taxi driver understands to wait and pay them at the end when they drop you home.
Puerto Baquerízo Moreno
Every time I think of this place I cannot help but laugh. The main esplanade in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is lined with sea lions, particularly at night when they come ashore to sleep. I suggest going for a walk in the later afternoon and watch the sea lions fight it out for prime position. They literally pile on top of each other to sleep – unfortunately for them I don’t think they get much sleep as someone is always unhappy, it’s absolute chaos!!
Cerro Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill)
This little oasis is about a 45 min walk to the top of the lookout from the Interpretation Centre. The turquoise waters are a great place to snorkel with sea lions and tropical fish that hide amongst the substrate. You will also see frigate birds, finches and many lizards along the path as you walk. This walk can be quite challenging, so make sure before you set off on this adventure you are prepared for it.
This is essentially a museum of natural history of the Galapagos Islands. I found this really interesting and even learnt a few things about how the island was formed, their diversity and human settlement!! It’s definitely worth a visit on your way through to Cerro Tijeratas.
All the activities I have listed thus far are free aside from this one. Now I will mention that we didn’t get a chance to do this dive, saving our time to dive Wolf Rock (Santa Cruz). I have heard incredible things about Kicker Rock and I suggest if you have some time to give it a go!!
If you aren’t marvelling over the sheer size and appeal of this geological feature perhaps you will love the array of tropical birds that call it home. The true wonders from my point of view lay beneath the surface. This rock has eroded over time creating a small pass through the rocks centre making it ideal habitat for many sharks and rays, in the otherwise sandy habitat. This is a great place to snorkel or dive as the currents are relatively mild. If you decide to do it please let me know how you go!!
This is a wonderful beach located directly across the road from Universidad San Francisco de Quito (University). It is only a 10-15 min walk from the city centre and is a great spot for snorkelling, swimming and surfing (depending on weather). I loved walking to this little hidden gem in the late afternoon and watching the sun set deep oranges and reds over the water. There are a few sea lions that laze on the beach through the day and even more at night as they come ashore to rest.