San Cristobal, Galapagos: Ultimate Guide for First-Time Visits (2024)

San Cristobal Galapagos blog post cover graphic. Text overlaying an image of the San Cristobal sign in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno at sunset with a sunstar showing in the "O".

San Cristobal is, in our opinion, the best Galapagos island to stay on. The airport is within walking distance of town, making it the easiest island to fly into, and the visitor amenities are ample while still feeling authentically Ecuadorian.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the only major town on San Cristobal Island. This is where you will find a wide assortment of restaurants, shops, bars, tour operators, and accommodation options that range from budget to upscale.

We spent two weeks exploring the Galapagos islands in April 2023. Having stayed on all three major islands, San Cristobal stole our hearts and is the one we recommend to experienced travelers.

In this ultimate guide to San Cristobal, we will cover everything you need to know for your first visit to our favorite Galapagos island! This includes information on getting there, where to stay, where to eat, what to see and do, and so much more.

🙂 Our Experience STaying On San Cristobal Island

The We Dream of Travel team eating local food at a restaurant in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Galapagos
Adam, Sophie, and Mom sit down for a traditional Ecuadorian meal at a small restaurant in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

In April 2023, we (Adam, Sophie & Adam’s 70-year-old mom) spent two weeks in the Galapagos islands with the goal of creating up-to-date travel guides for future visitors.

We stayed on all three major islands, beginning the trip with 5 nights on San Cristobal Island.

What stood out immediately was how authentically Ecuadorian San Cristobal felt. There were far fewer English-speaking locals and Western-style restaurants than we expected, which allowed us to immerse ourselves in local culture.

We definitely recommend staying here to anyone who speaks at least conversational Spanish or anyone interested in a cultural experience. Those of you who just want to see the animals will prefer staying on Santa Cruz Island instead.

🦎 San Cristobal Island Tips & Overview

Before diving into the specific details of where to go and what to do in San Cristobal, you may want to familiarize yourself with some basics.

Below is a quick snapshot of what to expect from the island and our top tips to know before visiting.

San Cristobal Overview

Main TownPuerto Baquerizo Moreno
AirportSan Cristóbal Airport (SCY)
Get ThereFrom Mainland: Flights from Quito or Guayaquil.
From Other Islands: Ferry or Inter-island flight.
From International: Not available.
Known For(Arguably) best home base for a Galapagos vacation.
Excellent wildlife encounters with or without tours.
Best ratio of authentic local experience with necessary tourism services.
HighlightsKicker Rock, 360º Tour, Playa Mann, El Junco Lagoon
Time ZoneGMT-6 (one hour behind mainland Ecuador)

Our Top Tips for Visiting San Cristobal

Sophie relaxing on Punta Carola Beach sat beside a marine iguana on San Cristobal Island.
A marine iguana joins Sophie for some time in the sun at a beach on San Cristobal.
Bring CashMost businesses only accept cash and ATMs are unreliable in Galapagos.
Internet & WiFiFree WiFi is available in many places but is very slow in Galapagos.
Cell ServiceCell service is patchy, but data can be more reliable than WiFi in main towns. Claro provides the best coverage on the islands and SIM cards are cheaper to buy on mainland Ecuador prior to flying out.
SunscreenSunscreen on the islands is very expensive, and the sun is strong, so be sure to bring plenty with you. Ensure you are using reef-safe sunscreen to protect the incredible marine life.
ToursYou can save some money by booking tours when you arrive on the islands. However, you risk the most popular tours being sold out. Consider booking online, or at least arrange your tours as soon as you arrive.
FerriesIf you plan on traveling between islands using the inter-island ferries, you will want to consider booking these online in advance as they can often sell out. Tickets cost $30 on island and $35 online.

Map of the Galapagos Islands

A color coded map of the Galapagos Islands showing inhabited islands and those accessible by day trip or cruise, plus ferry routes custom made by We Dream of Travel.

The map of the Galapagos Islands above shows the archipelago in its entirety.

It has been color-coded to indicate the islands that are inhabited and can be stayed on, those accessible by day tour, and those that are accessible via cruise ship only.

In addition, ferry services and airports are indicated by the appropriate symbols.


Map of San Cristobal

Map showing all the best things to do, points of interest, and where to stay in San Cristobal Galapagos.
Map of San Cristobal.

We’ve put together a Google Map of all the places mentioned in this San Cristobal blog post.

You can click here to open the map of San Cristobal, or click on the image above.

✈️ How to Get to San Cristobal

Sunset behind the "Welcome to San Cristobal Galapagos" sign on the main pier in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

There are only two airports in the Galapagos that you can fly in and out from: one is the airport on Baltra (GPS), which services Santa Cruz island, and the other is the San Cristobal airport (SCY).

The San Cristobal airport (SCY) is the best and easiest Galapagos airport to fly in and out from. It is conveniently located less than one mile from town (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno) which means you could walk to your accommodation if desired.

Of course, most opt to take a taxi for just $4 instead.

This is why we recommend starting (or ending) your Galapagos itinerary in San Cristobal, even if you only have 5 days in Galapagos.

There are no international flights to the Galapagos, so your journey to the islands must begin from mainland Ecuador in either Quito or Guayaquil.

Flying to San Cristobal Airport (SCY)

View of San Cristobal showing Kicker Rock from plane window flying into Galapagos.

To get to San Cristobal island in the Galapagos from mainland Ecuador, you will need to fly there from either Quito or Guayaquil; these are the only two cities with flights to the islands.

No reservations, guides, or pre-arranged permits are needed to fly to Galapagos. However, you must purchase an INGALA Tourist Control Card (TCT) at the airport before boarding your flight for Galapagos.

This costs just $20 and can be purchased at a dedicated desk in the Quito or Guayaquil airports.

Upon arrival in San Cristobal, you will also want to have cash ready to pay the $100 per person Galapagos National Park entry fee.

These fees are both important to factor into your Galapagos trip cost.


Be cautious of accidentally booking a locals-only fare!

Flight comparison sites often yield prices that are only for Ecuadorian citizens.

As a foreign visitor, you must book the higher price point or you will be charged an additional $150-200 at the airport.

There are three airlines that fly from Ecuador to Galapagos. The fares you need to purchase for each airline are:

  • L” fare for Avianca
  • Top” fare for Latam
  • Cacao-Premium” fare for Equair

Unfortunately, this is not clear on airline websites, and we met many people on the islands who had made this mistake.


Getting to San Cristobal from Other Galapagos Islands

Galapagos ferry traveling from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz island.

If you are trying to get to San Cristobal from another Galapagos island (normally Santa Cruz), the best and most cost-effective way to do so is by taking the inter-island ferry.

Only two ferry times are available to get to San Cristobal from Santa Cruz each day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Tickets cost $35 online or $30 locally and typically fill up in advance.

Be sure to arrange this ahead of time!

If you are traveling from Isabela island, you can get to San Cristobal by taking the morning ferry to Santa Cruz and then catching the afternoon ferry the rest of the way.

In this instance, however, we actually recommend you book an inter-island flight instead. While it costs a bit more, you will save a LOT of time and get the added benefit of a scenic flight over the beautiful Galapagos archipelago.


🚕 How to Get Around San Cristobal

Colorful wall mural in San Cristobal Galapagos, seen near the main pier.

The best way to get around San Cristobal is by simply walking! Most attractions and tour starting points are located within the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno where you will find 99% of tourist accommodations, with many of the best beaches within walking distance as well.

If you require transport for any reason, taxis are readily available, and short journeys are very affordable at around $1-$2 within Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Taxis on the Galapagos are white pickups and can easily be flagged down or found waiting in popular spots.

For some of the remote destinations you may wish to visit, buses and affordable taxis are available, as well as bicycle rentals for the truly adventurous.

There are no car rentals available in the Galapagos islands.

🏠 Where to Stay in San Cristobal

Best Areas to Stay in San Cristobal

At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any bookings made using the links below.

Beautiful sunny day photo of Playa Oro and the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

The best area to stay on San Cristobal is in the only major town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. This is where you will find nearly all of the hotels, hostels, fincas, and guest rooms on the island.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is also where you will find all of the major restaurants, shops, and tourist services.

The nearer you can stay to the San Cristobal Main Dock, the closer you will be to all primary services. Otherwise, look to stay as close to Playa Mann as possible; this is the best beach on the island!

While you may be able to find a random accommodation elsewhere on San Cristobal, this is not advisable, barring extremely unique and specific personal circumstances. Services are extremely limited outside of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Best Hotels in San Cristobal (Galapagos)

Photo of hotels and palm trees behind Playa Oro on San Cristobal in the Galapagos.
Approximate Hostel Price
(bed in a dorm room)
Starting at $15
Approximate Budget Price
(basic private room in a hotel, hostel, or homestay)
Starting at $30
Average Midrange Price
(3+ star hotel rooms and apartments)
Starting at $65
Average Luxury Price
(5-star hotels, entire homes, and villas)
Starting at $200

You will find ample basic hostels to mid-range hotels on San Cristobal, which can start as low as $15-$20 per night.

However, there are relatively few options for luxury accommodation and no 5-star hotels in San Cristobal.

The most high-end luxury available is the newly built Hotel Indigo Galapagos, an IHG Hotel. Unless money is truly of no concern, we wouldn’t recommend this hotel as it is typically 2-3x more expensive than any other hotel on the island.

Starting prices are low for San Cristobal, but accommodation options are somewhat limited, especially compared to the more popular island of Santa Cruz.

Below are some of the top-rated hotels on San Cristobal for all budgets:


📸 Best Things to Do in San Cristobal

The great thing about visiting San Cristobal is that there is so much you can see and do without a tour or National Park Guide, especially compared to the other islands!

This section features the top attractions and best things to do in San Cristobal that do not require a tour or guide.

Beaches, tours, and day trips will be featured in subsequent sections.

1. See Galapagos Giant Tortoises at Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado

A juvenile tortoise surrounded by poison apples (manzanillos) at Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado in San Cristobal

Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado is the best place to see Galapagos giant tortoises on the island of San Cristobal.

This tortoise sanctuary provides a semi-natural environment that protects new and old generations of the island’s oldest residents.

If you can visit multiple reserves, you will immediately notice how different each tortoise species looks between the islands!

You can visit this reserve on its own by simply riding a bike or arranging a taxi, or as a stop on the San Cristobal Highlands Tour.


2. Hike to Laguna el Junco

Panorama photo of Laguna El Junco lake on the San Cristobal highlands tour.

Laguna El Junco is the largest freshwater source in all of Galapagos. It is also a beautiful landscape to behold.

In addition to the human residents, the lake is also important to aviary wildlife. Expect to see flocks of Magnificent Frigatebirds swooping the water to clean themselves.

The hike to the lake is short but mostly uphill. Most people need about 10-15 minutes to get to the top.

You can visit Laguna El Junco by yourself or as a stop on the Highlands tour.

3. Take in the views from Cerro Tijeretas

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno seen from Cerro Tijeretas Viewpoint

Mirador Cerro Tijeretas is aptly named, translating to Frigate Bird Hill viewpoint in English.

In addition to providing sweeping views back over Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and out to Kicker Rock, it is also a great place to spot frigate birds as they nest in the nearby cliffside and soar overhead.

Reaching this viewpoint requires a 15-20 minute hike starting at the Interpretation Center near Playa Mann.

The trail is completely pathed, winding through a lava rock and cactus-filled landscape.

However, there is little to no shade so bring plenty of water and sun protection.

4. Discover the San Cristobal Interpretation Center

A view of the interior of the San Cristobal Interpretation Center; one of the best free thing to do in the Galapagos islands.

Located near Playa Mann, the San Cristobal Interpretation Center has various exhibits with displays in Spanish and English about the natural and human history of the islands.

The Interpretation Center also serves as the starting point for the trails that take you to Cerro Tijeretas (above) and Darwin’s Cove (below).

5. Snorkel at Darwin’s Cove (Muelle Tijeretas)

Top-down view of the crystal clear waters of Darwin's Cove, one of the most popular snorkel spots on San Cristobal island.

A 30-minute walk from town, Darwin’s Cove has the clearest and calmest water on San Cristobal for snorkeling.

In its impossibly turquoise waters, you may encounter some of the most iconic Galapagos residents including sea lions, turtles, sharks, and an array of tropical colorful fish.

This is one of the best snorkeling spots in the Galapagos islands that can be discovered without a guide or boat tour!

6. Explore Puerto Baquerizo Town & Pier Boardwalk

The charming town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos islands.

Take a stroll along the main street, Malecón San Cristóbal, and explore the souvenir and gift shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars.

One of our favorite spots was the short boardwalk between the piers.

Here, you’re guaranteed to spot sea lions and crabs scattered across the rocks, as well as the occasional marine iguana and sea bird.

7. Surfing at Tongo Reef

A female surfer rides a wave at Tongo Reef on San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.

For the surfers out there, Tongo Reef offers one of the best places to surf in the Galapagos.

It is an exposed reef break that has pretty consistent surf year-round. You can get here by taking a $10 water taxi or by taking a land taxi down El Cañon road.

Due to its remote nature, Tongo Reef is typically only recommended for pro-surfers and you will also want to ensure you bring everything you need with you.

You can rent surfboards from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, as well as wet suits.


🏝 Best Beaches in San Cristobal

The beaches of San Cristobal are somewhat limited, but each is truly magical. Exploring them is undeniably one of the best things you can do on San Cristobal for free.

Expect to share pretty much every featured beach with plenty of resident sea lions.

1. Playa Mann

White sand and turquoise waters at Playa Mann San Cristobal early in the morning under a blue sky.

Playa Mann is the best beach on San Cristobal and one of the best beaches in all of Galapagos.

While mornings are quiet, this small spot of sand will always be crawling with locals and tourists alike.

You will find some local restaurants, bathrooms, and even a lifeguard at Playa Mann.

This is also the most popular place for sunset on the island.

Playa Mann is located within easy walking distance of town.


2. Playa Punta Carola

A sea lion pups takes a large stretch in this gorgeous sunset photo from the beach at Playa Punta Carola to end Day 2 of a 7 day Galapagos itinerary.

Playa Punta Carola is a pristine white sand beach with all the beauty and wildlife of Playa Mann, but without the crowds (and services).

You will find this quieter alternative just around the bend from Playa Mann.

It is walking distance from town and makes a great option for sunset.

There are no services here or nearby, so be sure to bring everything you need or fuel up near Playa Mann first!

3. Playa Puerto Chino

A view of the turquoise water at Playa Puerto Chino, considered one of the best beaches and things to do in Galapagos from San Cristobal island.

Playa Puerto Chino is the last stop on the San Cristobal Highlands Tour. However, it is also possible to arrange a taxi or bike to the beach.

The sheltered bay, powdery soft sand, and absence of lava rock make for safe conditions for swimming and relaxing.

You will often see the odd sea lion on the beach, but not in the same numbers as elsewhere on the island.

Also, you can occasionally see blue-footed boobies on the hilly outcrop at the end of the beach.

4. Playa de Oro

A pair of sea lions sit on the otherwise empty Playa de Oro beach on San Cristobal during golden hour.

Playa de Oro is a small, inviting patch of sand located right in town.

This is a popular place to take the kids and swim right from the shore with no effort required.

It offers calm water and plenty of sea lions that will undoubtedly be putting on a show!

5. Playa Baquerizo

A marine iguana surrounded by poison apples sits under a tree in the white sand of Playa Baquerizo beach.

Reaching Playa Baquerizo requires a grueling walk, but the reward is absolutely worth it.

To get here, you will need to undertake about an hour of hiking from Cerro Tijeretas over sharp lava rock with almost complete sun exposure. It is not easy, but this also keeps the beach quiet.

Upon arrival, you can expect an absolute paradise that will be shared almost exclusively with the wildlife.

Sea turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, and all varieties of bird life are almost guaranteed here, with swimmable water right from the beach.

6. Playa Lobería

Three sea lions swim underwater at the popular beach of Playa Loberia on San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.

Just south of the San Cristobal airport and only 2 miles (3km) from town, Playa Loberia is one of the most famous beaches for snorkeling with sea lions.

It used to be the absolute best beach on San Cristobal to see them and is still fantastic.

However, you no longer have to go that far for this experience as they are all over Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Still, Playa Loberia is a wonderful place to hang out and snorkel with smaller crowds than you will find at the beaches in town while still being a quick and easy journey either by foot or taxi.

7. Playa de los Marinos

A girl in a swimsuit relaxes on the sand of Playa de Los Marinos beach surrounded by sea lions.

Playa de los Marinos is a very small beach located directly adjacent to the main pier right in town.

While this beach is not at all popular for humans, it is literally crawling with sea lions.

Due to the incredibly dense sea lion colony here, Playa de los Marinos is not one you should expect to spend a day at.

Instead, this beach is best enjoyed by bringing a camera and watching the ridiculous hijinks of the “dogs of the sea”.

8. Bahia Sardina

A young woman in the turquoise ocean at Bahia Sardina with white sand beaches and green rugged landscapes in the background.

The beach at Bahia Sardina is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos islands.

Pristine white and golden sand run into impossibly clear water while distant volcanic remnants provide the ideal background for the perfect Galapagos tropical island photo.

The only way to get to this beautiful oasis is by booking the San Cristobal 360º Tour which begins in town and takes visitors on an all-day boat excursion around the entire island.

On the tour, guests get about an hour to snorkel at Sardina Bay where they will likely encounter sea lions and the occasional green sea turtle.

9. Playa Cerro Brujo

Footsteps traverse the white sand of Playa Cerro Brujo with the rugged cliff sides of the eponymous Cerro Brujo formation in the background.

Cerro Brujo Beach has powdery soft sand with spectacular views of the Cerro Brujo (meaning “Witch’s Hill”) caldera formation and Kicker Rock.

The only way to get to Playa Cerro Brujo is by boat. Some cruises will stop here, otherwise, a Kicker Rock day tour is the best way to visit from San Cristobal.

Be aware, however, that not all tours will visit the same beaches. Some many instead stop at Manglecito Beach or Puerto Grande Beach. Which they go to is dependent on the permits they were issued.

Ensure you check with your tour operator first if stopping here is important to you.

10. Bahia Rosa Blanca

Two boats anchored at Bahia Rosa Blanca, with white sand shores and crystal blue waters.

Unfortunately, the look of the beach at Bahia Rosa Blanca is better than the experience itself due to a thriving population of extremely mean horseflies.

Luckily, the beach itself is not the primary attraction here. Instead, a calm water bay nearby allows snorkeling with countless sea turtles!

Much like Bahia Sardina above, you can only get to Rosa Blanca Bay via the 360º Day Tour.

⛵️ Best Day Tours from San Cristobal

You have already learned about many of the best beaches and things you can do in San Cristobal on a self-guided adventure above.

However, many of the best destinations in and around San Cristobal require a boat or national park guide (or both!) to visit.

Below is a collection of the best tours and day trips to consider booking on your trip to San Cristobal.

On a personal note, the San Cristobal 360º Tour was the highlight of our entire trip to the Galapagos and is our one must-do recommendation!


1. San Cristobal 360° Tour

A swimmer wades into incredibly clear aqua water from the beach at Bahia Sardina during a 360 Tour of San Cristobal island in the Galapagos.

The 360° Tour began as a way for fishermen to make some money off tourists, but has become perhaps the best day tour available in all of Galapagos.

On this voyage, visitors will be taken by boat around the entirety of San Cristobal island, making stops at some of the island’s most beautiful beaches and the famous Kicker Rock.

If you are staying on San Cristobal, this is a genuine must-do.

We consider it THE best thing to do in Galapagos for self-guided travelers!

2. Kicker Rock Tour

An over/under photo showing the crack at Kicker Rock both above and below water, captured during a 360º day tour of San Cristobal island.

Kicker Rock is widely considered the best location for diving and snorkeling in Galapagos and is one of the best places to see Galapagos Hammerhead sharks.

The crystal-clear water makes visibility spectacular and the area is teeming with marine life.

Expect plenty of tropical fish, bait balls, sea turtles, sea lions, and probably hammerheads!

Kicker Rock can be visited as its own day tour or as a stop on the 360° Tour. It is also one of the best diving sites for those who are SCUBA-certified.

3. San Cristobal Highlands Tour

An adult saddleback Galapagos tortoise resting in a pool of muddy water in the sun at Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado in San Cristobal.

A San Cristobal Highlands Tour will take you to three popular sites on the island:

The highlands tour is a great way to see a different part of San Cristobal and provides an opportunity to see giant Galapagos tortoises up close.

While it is possible to book a tour to the San Cristobal Highlands with an English-speaking guide, it is not necessary!

The most popular and easiest way to visit is by booking a taxi “tour”. This can be done through any tour operator or via your accommodation host/hotel staff.

If your Spanish is good enough, you can also just speak to any taxi driver directly.

4. Isla Lobos Day Trip

An underwater image of a sea lion surfacing for breath in crystal clear water off of Isla Lobos Galapagos.

Just off the coast of San Cristobal, Isla Lobos is named for its thriving sea lion (lobos de marinos in Spanish) population.

In addition to sea lions, the small islet is home to a number of Galapagos birds including blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, and frigate birds.

Its crystal clear waters also make it a great place for snorkeling in the Galapagos, with sea lions being the star attraction.

5. Española Island Day Trip

A colorful Christmas marine iguana on Española Island day trip from San Cristobal Galapagos

Although most visitors head to Española Island to see the waved albatross that nest here, there is plenty more to see on the island!

With its pristine white sand, Gardner Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Galapagos and an excellent place for snorkeling.

It is also home to a unique colorful subspecies of marine iguanas, nicknamed Christmas iguanas due to their green and red colors. Their colors are particularly pronounced during mating season.

6. Punta Pitt Excursion

Olivine Sand Beach at Punta Pitt San Cristobal Galapagos

Punta Pitt is most well known for being the only location in the Galapagos where you can see all three species of boobies (Nazca Blue-footed, and Red-footed) nesting in one place.

Additionally, it provides a nesting site for both species of frigate birds, making it a true birdwatcher’s paradise.

As if this wasn’t enough, it is also one of the few places you can walk on an olivine sand beach, often called “green sand beach”!

A day tour to Punta Pitt typically includes a snorkel stop.

It is also often a stop on the 360° Tour but, in this instance, you only sail by it without making a landing.

🍽 Where to Eat & Drink in San Cristobal

Although San Cristobal doesn’t offer quite as many options as Santa Cruz, you will still find a reasonable variety of places for eating and drinking to fit all budgets and preferences.

This includes everything from high-end dining to local street food, with foreign and local fare options alike.

As you might expect, local food comes with a local price tag (typically about $5 per meal), while European, Asian, and American fare is available at a similar price to what you’d pay back home.

Best Local Food: This Unnamed Place!

Our favorite local place in all of the Galapagos islands does not even have a name!

Tucked away on Avenida Alsacio Northia, this small, family-run restaurant was recommended to us by a local and we ended up eating here almost every night (except for the few when we ate at Giuseppe’s!).

For $5 you get fresh fish or meat grilled right outside along with a generous portion of rice, menestras (beans), and salad.

Best Coffee: Sabor Cuencano

This small cafe has the best coffee we found on San Cristobal. It is a little expensive for the Galapagos at around $3-4, but it was worth it for a necessary caffeine fix.

Their breakfast sandwiches were also great, though we wouldn’t really recommend any of their other pastries.

Best Pizza: Giuseppe’s

After so many days of local food, nothing sounded better than pizza and Giuseppe’s is by far the best on ANY Galapagos island. This place is an absolute gem!

The pizza here is the best you’ll find anywhere in the Galapagos. Although they seem expensive at first, the portions are very generous, making it a surprisingly budget-friendly option.

🙋‍♀️ FAQs About San Cristobal

Faro Playa Mann (Playa Man Lighthouse) at sunset.

In this section, you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about San Cristobal island in the Galapagos that first-time visitors have.

Simply click the drop-down arrows to reveal answers.

What is San Cristobal Galapagos known for?

San Cristobal is one of only two Galapagos islands you can fly into from the mainland and is (arguably) the best island to stay on in the Galapagos archipelago. It offers a wide variety of the necessary tourist amenities while still providing an authentic Ecuadorian experience.

Some of the most famous things to do on San Cristobal island are snorkeling at Kicker Rock, taking the 360º Tour around the island, swimming with sea lions at any local beach, and encountering Galapagos tortoises at Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado Tortoise Reserve.

Is San Cristobal the best Galapagos island?

While Santa Cruz is the most popular choice of Galapagos island to stay on and visit, many consider San Cristobal the best island. It has the most accessible airport, best beaches, ample tourist amenities, and smaller crowds than Santa Cruz.

Is San Cristobal Island in Galapagos worth visiting?

San Cristobal is a must-do on any trip to Galapagos, and is arguably the best island to stay on in the region. The 360º Tour and Kicker Rock Tour from San Cristobal are two of the best day tours available in Galapagos, plus the island offers a wide range of activities that can be done without booking a guided tour.

How many days do you need for San Cristobal Galapagos?

You only need about 3 days to explore the top attractions of San Cristobal island, but you will also want to budget an additional day for any tours you wish to add to your itinerary, such as the popular Kicker Rock and/or 360º Tour.

San Cristobal is also a gateway to a few uninhabited Galapagos islands that can only be visited via cruise or on a day trip. These include Isla Lobos, Isla Espanola, and Kicker Rock.

Can you stay on San Cristobal island in Galapagos?

Of the 4 Galapagos islands that you can stay on, San Cristobal is the second-most popular choice (behind Santa Cruz Island). However, many consider it the best option overall due to the conveniently located airport, ample beaches, and authentic Ecuadorian experience.

The islands you can stay on, in order of popularity and population, are:

  1. Santa Cruz
  2. San Cristobal
  3. Isabela
  4. Floreana
What is the best way to get around San Cristobal island in the Galapagos?

The best way to get around San Cristobal is by walking! Most attractions and tour starting points are located within town (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno), and many of the best beaches are within walking distance.

For some of the remote destinations you may wish to visit, there are buses and affordable taxis available, as well as bicycle rentals for the truly adventurous.

There are no car rentals available in the Galapagos islands.

Can you walk around San Cristobal Galapagos?

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the only major town on San Cristobal island and can be explored entirely by foot. For destinations that are not within walking distance, you will need to hire a taxi, book a tour, or rent a bike.

📚 More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

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Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions, now it’s time for the rest of your planning!

These guides will help you through the process step-by-step, providing insight on everything from finding flights to top activities and so much more.

Planning Guides

Local Guides

Things to Do Guides

💬 Final Thoughts

Colorful flags line the waterfront of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal Galapagos seen from a boat.

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below 🙂

We truly hope you have found this complete guide to visiting San Cristobal island in Galapagos useful as you plan the Ecuadorian vacation of a lifetime!

We truly hope you have found this complete guide to San Cristobal island in Galapagos useful as you plan the Ecuadorian vacation of a lifetime.

Now we’d like to hear from YOU!

Was there any information that you found confusing, inaccurate, outdated, or missing?

Or perhaps this is the best guide you’ve found on the topic and had all of your questions answered?

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Now we’d like to hear from YOU!

Was there any information that you found confusing, inaccurate, outdated, or missing?

Or perhaps this is the best guide you’ve found on the topic and had all of your questions answered?

Regardless of your thoughts, we want to hear them! Help us to help future readers like yourself by providing your feedback in the comments below.

Enjoyed this Ultimate Guide to San Cristobal Galapagos? Pin it! 🙂

Now we’d like to hear from YOU!

Was there any information that you found confusing, inaccurate, outdated, or missing?

Or perhaps this is the best guide you’ve found on the topic and had all of your questions answered?

Regardless of your thoughts, we want to hear them! Help us to help future readers like yourself by providing your feedback in the comments below.

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Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's “Chief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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