San Cristobal


This easternmost inhabited island is dubbed as the land of paradise. San Cristobal can be a relaxing getaway.  There are many beaches to choose from.  Some reachable by combination of taxi ride and walking while others can only be reached by signing with a tour.

The island’s main settlement is Puerto Basquerizo Moreno or Puerto Moreno for short.  It is sligthly smaller than Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz but larger than Puerto Villamil in Isabela. Puerto Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos. There are plenty of hotels, shops, restaurants, tour and dive companies to choose from.

Sea lions are almost everywhere close to shore. There is a colony by the dock. You can definitely smell and hear them.  

Colony of sea lions in Puerto Bazquerizo Moreno

What To Do

Playa La Loberia

Map of Playa La Loberia at the end of the street
Playa La Loberia

Playa Loberia is the number one beach that does not require siging up with a guide or tour company.  The beach is about 500 feet long.  The water is relatively calm and clarity is around 15 feet.  This is the prime snorkeling area. There are no corals but the fish are colorful nonetheless.  We saw large parrot fish here with brown body and blue vertical stripes.  There was also a large parrot fish with green and blue colorations.  Sea turtles may visit the area as well.

Playa Punta Carola

Playa Punta Carola

Playa Punta Carola is within the National Park Interpretive Center.  It is a little longer than Playa Loberia but has the same rocky bottom. There are occasional strong waves that hit the shore that stirs up the sand and dislodges moss like plants from the rocks.  It is supposed to be a snorkeling beach but we saw fewer fish here than Playa Loberia.

Muelle Tijeras

The man-made platform at Muelle Tijeras as viewed from Mirador Charles Darwin

Muelle Tijeras is also within the National Park Interpretive Center.  There is no beach but there is man made deck that visitors can use to sit and relax after swimming.  There is no shade. The cove is a fabulous place to swim with sea lions, especially the juveniles who will playfully swim alongside people.

The water here is the calmest but deep in some places being an old dock. Current was virtually non existent unless you venture towards the open ocean. Water visibility is 15 to 20 feet.  There are colorful fish but not in great numbers.  We saw a lone sea turtle here grazing on plant life clinging to rocks.

Playa Basquerizo

Playa Basquerizo trailhead at Mirador Tijeras

Playa Basquerizo is the furthest beach that is reachable through the interpretive center.  It involves a 45 minute trek with a steep trail section. We did not make it to this beach as the long walk and hot weather did not make it appealing.

Playa Mann

Playa Mann
Sunset at Playa Mann

Playa Mann is a small but popular beach.  The water is not clear even though it is torquoise in color.  The lack of clarity is due to the sand being stirred by the waves.  However, there are days when the water here is calm.

Most people go to Playa Mann for the sunset.  The beach directly faces West and the yellow to orange sunset reflects beautifully on the water.

Puerto Chino, Galapaguero and Junco

Puerto Chino

These three locations are a popular way to spend half a day on the island.  And you can hire a taxi to take you to these locations and back to Puerto Moreno.

Puerto Chino is a nice beach on the East side of the island.  The waves can be high leading to mediocare water clarity at times.  You do need to walk about 15 minutes from the end of the road/parking area to get to the beach.  We skipped swimming in this beach as the waves were high enough and often enough for our liking.

Number 53 Galapaguero tortoise

The Galapaguero is a Galapagos tortoise breeding center that is operated by the national park.  It is free to the public, you just need to sign-up at the entrance.  We saw 10 mature tortoise while walking on the designated paved footpath on the way to the breeding center.  There are visual displays at the breeding center about the endemic tortoise of San Cristobal as well as enclosures that house several young tortoises.

Junco is an extinct volcano in which the crater is filled with water.  It takes about 15 minutes to tackle several steps to get up to the crater.  The crater is huge, probably about 1,000 ft in diameter.  There were frigate birds soaring over it and would occasionally get in the water to feed.  Occasionally, the fog would roll in which would temporarily obscure the view.  Speaking of views, the high vantage point on the way to the crater does provide some terrific views.

360 Tour

A 360 tour is an all day event that stops at other beaches on the island that are not reachable by car because there are no roads to it.  Our taxi driver said that the most beautiful beach on San Cristobal is Playa Cerro Brujo and can only be reached by tour boats.

Getting Around

2024 San Cristobal taxi rate sheet
We used Kevin to take us to Junco, Galapaguero and Punto Chino. His truck was clean, new and has AC.

The town of Puerto Moreno is rather compact and very walkable.  If you prefer not to walk, you can always take a taxi that charges a set rate depending on your destination.  There are also bike rentals.  We saw some visitors driving around electric fat tire bikes.  Perhaps there may a rental place but we did not see it while walking around.

Your next option to get around the island is to go on a tour for places where there are no roads leading to it. Hiring a small boat is not possible because the waves are too high such that a bigger tour boat is needed.

How Many Days

We stayed three nights and that was enough for us to see and spend some time at all the places on the island that are reachable by taxi.  You will need additional days if you want to do a 360 tour or a dive trip.

Where To Eat

One of the many restaurants on Avenida Alsacio Northia offering lunch and dinner deals

The road by the port is lined with restaurants and shops.  Meals here tend to be pricier.  The restaurants one or two streets inland have lunch and dinner plate deals such that a decent meal costs $5 or $6. Some even includes a soup or a drink or both.  And it is good gasting too.

ATM and Credit Cards

There are a couple of ATM’s. Some busineses accept credit card payments although those tend to restricted to the pricier shops and restaurants.  It is still cash only if you want to eat in mom and pop busineses or making a small item purchase.