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Adventure Cruises in San Cristobal
Formed by a trio of fused, long-extinct volcanoes, San Cristobal is the easternmost island in the Galapagos archipelago. The island played an important role in the history of the natural sciences, having been Charles Darwin’s debarkation point in 1835 and the site of many of the father of natural selection’s discoveries. San Cristobal Island continues to be a favored destination for naturalist tours and adventure cruises alike, given its rich biodiversity and fantastic conditions for diving and snorkeling.
Located on the southwestern coast of San Cristobal Island, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of Galapagos Province and the site of the Centro de Interpretación, the Galápagos National Park visitor center. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno has seen a steady rise in tourists, due to its proximity to the San Cristobal Airport and its port in Wreck Bay, popular with small yachts and adventure cruises arriving from Puerto Ayora.
Top things to do & see in San Cristobal Island
Despite its relatively small size, San Cristobal Island includes many of the attractions that make the Galapagos Islands such a fascinating and rewarding destination: from crystal blue waters and awe-inspiring landscapes to unique wildlife and historical significance, San Cristobal Island has it all.
Most tours of San Cristobal Island will include two or three of the highlights listed below. The most popular stops include El Junco Lagoon, Kicker Rock, and Isla Lobos.
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Interpretation Center will serve as your introduction to San Cristobal Island and, in some cases, to the Galapagos Islands as a whole. Though not the largest town in the islands (that would be Puerto Ayora), Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the administrative capital of Galapagos Province and a good place to buy the works of local artists or stock up on Galapagos coffee, a popular gift.
The Interpretation Center features educational displays pertaining to the history and geology of the islands. For a wonderful view of the island, including the bay where Darwin first made land in the Galapagos, hike to the top of Frigatebird Hill, just beyond the Interpretation Center.
El Junco Lagoon is as popular with Frigatebirds as it is with human visitors. The birds come to the El Junco to wash the salt from their feathers in the lake’s fresh, sapphire blue waters, making it a key site for birdwatchers. Situated a 45-minute bus ride from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, El Junco Lagoon is 2300 feet (700 meters) above sea level and offers spectacular views of the island.
Pitt Point, a birdwatcher’s dream come true, is home to the blue-footed, red-footed and Nazca boobies, storm petrels, and frigatebirds. The best birdwatching is done from atop a nearby cliff, reached via a steep but accessible trail. Visitors less interested in birds will be entertained by the sea lions that dot Pitt Point’s beach. Pitt Point is also a popular location for hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking.
Kicker Rock is San Cristobal Island’s most iconic site. Also called Leon Dormido (Sleeping Lion), Kicker Rock, when viewed from the south, looks very much like a lion at rest. Seen from any other angle, however, the rock formation clearly consists of two jutting shards of stone, one larger than the other and rising 500 hundred feet out of the water. Kicker Rock is situated four miles off the coast of San Cristobal Island and, though there are no landing points at Kicker Rock, the formation is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers and a good place to spot Galapagos sharks, hammerhead sharks, sea turtles, and rays.
Isla Lobos, or Sea Lion Island, is aptly named, and it will not take you long to figure out why: the island’s barking population can be heard well before you reach its shores. Isla Lobos is a popular spot for snorkeling and, if you’re lucky, you may very well be joined in the water by a playful sea lion or two. Isla Lobos also features as a nesting spot for blue-footed boobies.
Best time to cruise San Cristobal
There is no bad time to visit San Cristobal, though you will want to plan ahead as some activities are best enjoyed during specific times of the year. The island is warmest from January to May, while, to see wildlife and especially marine life, visit the Galapagos in June to November, the best time for diving and snorkeling.
Galapagos in March and April is the Frigatebird's mating season when the males inflate their red throat pouches. August is birthing season for sea lions, when the usually playful animals may become more standoffish. But all those new sea lion pups come of age in November when they become old enough to frolic with tourists and their parents can relax.
Where do San Cristobal cruises depart from?
Before you can enjoy the pleasures of San Cristobal, you must first know how to get to the Galapagos Islands to start your cruise.
Flights to the Galapagos leave from Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, and typically fly to Isla Baltra Airport, the main airport servicing the Galapagos. Using public transit, Isla Baltra Airport is approximately two hours from Puerto Ayora, on the island of Santa Cruz. Most cruises to San Cristobal leave from Puerto Ayora, given that it is the largest and most central port city in the Galapagos archipelago. It typically takes two hours to reach San Cristobal from Puerto Ayora by boat, though the time and route was taken by your cruise may vary.
Note, however, that flights are available from Quito and Guayaquil to the San Cristobal Airport. Check your itinerary carefully before purchasing your flight from the mainland to the Galapagos Islands and back as many popular cruises begin or terminate at San Cristobal Island.
Contact our reservations team to book your next adventure cruise to the Galapagos Islands.
San Cristobal Reviews
- 9.2 Superb
- 12 Verified Reviews
Great way to kickoff the trip with seeing the blue footed boobies.
Diving San Cristobal in December on the Estrella del Mar
I will say that I have difficulty remembering exactly which island was which. I enjoyed all the excursions to all the islands, no complaints at all. The snorkeling was my favorite part. I wouldn't have changed a thing about the itinerary.
Diving San Cristobal in February on the Estrella del Mar
Giant Tortoises research station was wonderful. It was the first time I've seen one. Snorkeling at Kicker Rock didn't turn out too well due to rough sea and low visibility.
Diving San Cristobal in February on the Grand Majestic
I loved the visit to the highlands to see the giant tortoises and to to Darwin Center. We even got to walk through a lava tube.
Diving San Cristobal in March on the EcoGalaxy
Excellent! However transversing the boulders and rocks was challenging and could be difficult for some.
Diving San Cristobal in October on the Nemo III
It was during the last day of the cruise, early in the morning. Nice place but difficult for walking because of the boulders.
Diving San Cristobal in February on the Sea Star Journey
Very nice. Both Darwin Center and the center for the giant tortoises.
Diving San Cristobal in April on the Xavier III
Good viewing of sea lions, birds. Good snorkeling;
Diving San Cristobal in November on the Grand Majestic