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 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 about 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. Though there are no landing points at Kicker Rock, the formation is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers and is 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 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 to see wildlife and especially marine life; visit the Galapagos from 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 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 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.

Book your next adventure cruise to the Galapagos Islands today.

San Cristobal Reviews

  • 9.1 Superb
  • 31 Verified Reviews
  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Meng Y
  • United States United States

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

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Nancy T
  • United States United States

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

  • 8.0 Very good
  • David A
  • United States United States

Each island was a little different and offered something new. It is hard for me now, without a review of photos to remember the offering of each, but, I did see something new on every island.

Diving San Cristobal in September on the Fragata

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Gail G
  • United States United States

Excellent! However transversing the boulders and rocks was challenging and could be difficult for some.

Diving San Cristobal in October on the Nemo III

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Hassan A
  • United States United States

Very interesting especially try to Kicker Rock.

Diving San Cristobal in January on the Natural Paradise

  • 8.4 Very good
  • Julie L
  • United States United States

Backwards. The learning center should be visited at the beginning of the trip. The town is charming.

Diving San Cristobal in February on the Infinity

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Douglas S
  • United States United States

A visit to a tortoise sanctuary

Diving San Cristobal in May on the Solaris

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Richard O
  • United States United States

The museum was a great way to finish the trip.

Diving San Cristobal in May on the Infinity

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Mark B
  • United States United States

The Finger Hill beach was beautiful and enjoyed the dinghy ride to the chapel and hole in the rock. Pitt Point hike was enjoyable and Kicker Rock was marvelous to view

Diving San Cristobal in September on the Reina Silvia Voyager

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Yilin Z
  • United States United States

It was good, learned a lot about island history and giant tortoises!

Diving San Cristobal in January on the Grand Majestic

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Elizabeth H
  • United States United States

Amazing getting to see the massive Galapagos tortoises and the breeding facility.

Diving San Cristobal in January on the Solaris

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Erica K
  • United States United States

Tortoises were incredible to see and the town is pleasant to visit the shops and walk around.

Diving San Cristobal in March on the Treasure of Galapagos

  • 8.0 Very good
  • Roger B
  • United States United States

This was the only disappointment of trip. We had too much time and too little todo. Got dumped at airport way too early. Had to wait 45 minutes for counter to open. Not much for food options at airport and nothing to do with too much time there. Need another activity for this morning.

Diving San Cristobal in May on the EcoGalaxy

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Carlos E
  • Chile Chile

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 Galapagos Sea Star

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Tjeerd D
  • Netherlands Netherlands

The snorkeling at kicker rock was fantastic!

Diving San Cristobal in April on the Nemo II

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

Good viewing of sea lions, birds. Good snorkeling;

Diving San Cristobal in November on the Grand Majestic

  • 7.2 Good
  • Concepcion M
  • Spain Spain

Not good, disappointed with this excursion

Diving San Cristobal in April on the Grand Majestic

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Katalin V
  • Netherlands Netherlands

Nice, we samen the turtles. How they grow up from baby to adult turtles

Diving San Cristobal in April on the Galapagos Legend

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Caroline L
  • Canada Canada

That was the day, we had no group outing except one snorkel, but I strolled around the island myself.

Diving San Cristobal in June on the Solaris

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • ALAN G
  • Canada Canada

All the excursions were good. Each was different.

Diving San Cristobal in September on the Galaxy

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Bela D
  • Hungary Hungary

The early morning cruise to Kicker Rock was excellent. We saw dolphins . The hike and snorkelling at Lobos was also great. The city visit was not very interesting.

Diving San Cristobal in February on the Bonita

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Peter D
  • Belgium Belgium

Beautiful sunrise while sailing around kicker rock. Very nice to swim with sea lions.

Diving San Cristobal in June on the Alya

  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • Thalia S
  • New Zealand New Zealand

Loved snorkelling with the playful sea lions, and seeing the first blue-footed booby and Pacific green sea turtle.

Diving San Cristobal in July on the Eden

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Nancy M
  • Canada Canada

Isla Lobos was the best! Challenging walk but worth it for the bird sightings!

Diving San Cristobal in October on the Bonita