Adventure Cruises in Chinese Hat

Though one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos, Chinese Hat cruises are popular due to the spectacular views it offers as well as the island’s distinctive shape, from which it gets its name. A sloping peak that rises to a point, much like the hats of Asian origin, Chinese Hat is a “splatter cone”, a hardened accumulation of lava produced by the long ago eruption of nearby Santiago Island. Time and water carved a channel between Santiago and its splatter cone, forming Sombrero Cino. Adventure cruises to Chinese Hat feature excellent hiking and a unique lesson in volcanology.

Top Things to do and see at Chinese Hat

Chinese Hat is a popular stop on many Galapagos cruise itineraries given the various adventure activities and wildlife encounters it offers, all in a small space easily enjoyed in a few hours! It can also only be visited as part of a small ship cruise, a rule enacted as a conservation measure, serving to add to the island’s desolate, otherworldly feel.

Tours typically begin at a beautiful beach, the site of many Chinese Hat wildlife encounters, including marine iguanas and the crimson-legged Sally Lightfoot crab. A path takes visitors through a colony of sea lions and to a lava field.

The trail continues up to the hat’s “point”, rewarding hikers with incredible views of the waves crashing into cliffs far below. From here, visitors can also spot Galapagos penguins across the channel, frolicking on the rocky shores of Santiago Island. This is the only species of penguin found north of the equator.

Once back at the beach, the calm waters are perfect for snorkeling and underwater wildlife encounters, including marine iguanas and sea turtles.

Top Tips for visiting Chinese Hat

  • Chinese Hat cruises include a fair amount of hiking, so be sure to wear good walking shoes.
  • Bring your camera to capture the panoramic views and unique volcanic formations.
  • Pack your swimsuit and towel and snorkel gear to enjoy the clear waters.
  • There are few sources of shade on Chinese Hat so sunblock and a good hat (maybe even a Chinese hat?) are recommended.
  • Due to its small size, access to Chinese Hat is controlled and can only be visited as part of a Galapagos cruise. Ensure that your small ship cruise includes the island as part of its itinerary.

Best time to cruise Chinese Hat

There is truly no best time to visit Chinese Hat but plan ahead as different seasons may require specific preparations and may impact your chances to see wildlife.

For instance, the Galapagos penguins breed and nest year round, so they can be seen at any time of the year, while marine iguanas nest on Chinese Hat from January to May.

January to March on Chinese Hat offers the best water visibility and warmest waters, making it the perfect time of year to enjoy snorkeling.

To see marine wildlife, the months of July to November bring more nutrient-rich waters and greater variety of wildlife encounters.

January to May is especially hot and sunny so those wanting to enjoy adventure activities on the island will want to bring plenty of water, sunblock and a hat.

Where do Chinese Hat cruises depart from?

Chinese Hat cruises typically depart from Baltra, Puerto Ayora or San Cristobal Island. These three departure points are serviced by one of two airports. Visitors on cruises leaving from Baltra or Puerto Ayora will fly into the airport on Isla Baltra. Puerto Ayora, on the island of Santa Cruz, can be reached within an hour from Isla Baltra using public transit. Cruises departing from San Cristobal are serviced by the San Cristobal Airport, near the port town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Both airports are reached via regular flights from mainland Ecuador, specifically from Quito or Guayaquil.

Contact our reservations team to book your next adventure cruise to Chinese Hat and the amzing Galapagos Islands.

Chinese Hat Reviews

  • 9.3 Superb
  • 11 Verified Reviews
  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Mark P
  • United States United States

AMAZING snorkeling. WISH we had stopped at more places like this!

Diving Chinese Hat in February on the Golondrina

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Anna Marie S
  • United States United States

Stark but beautiful landscapes. Loved the PALO SANTO TREES.

Diving Chinese Hat in April on the Yolita

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • J. Miller T
  • United States United States

incredible snorkeling - saw every kind of animal you can imagine in one snorkel

Diving Chinese Hat in June on the Galaxy

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Molly M
  • United States United States

The rock formations were gorgeous and we saw our first fur seal there.

Diving Chinese Hat in September on the Golondrina

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Nora F
  • United States United States

Snorkeling at Chinese Hat was good as we had small sharks and a manta ray to join us. The sandy beaches and sunset were really good as well.

Diving Chinese Hat in October on the Golondrina

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Tjeerd D
  • Netherlands Netherlands

Chinese hat snorkeling was fantastic.

Diving Chinese Hat in April on the Nemo II

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Kent Man Chun Y
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Good. Beautiful landscape and beach walk.

Diving Chinese Hat in November on the Grand Majestic

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Ravi R
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Sombrero? Beautiful isalnd with clear water and soft sand.

Diving Chinese Hat in November on the Fragata

  • 9.2 Superb
  • Liqi C
  • Singapore Singapore

Early morning landing was cooling and lovely views

Diving Chinese Hat in August on the Fragata