San Cristobal is the capital of the Galapagos Islands. Next to Santa Cruz Island is the most visited since most of the commercial flights from the mainland land at its airport. It is not the largest (which is Isabela) or the most populated (which is Santa Cruz), but we can say that it is the favorite island of sea lions. There are so many who will find you on the dock, in playgrounds, in restaurants and even sunbathing in a hammock.

San Cristóbal is also the favorite island to surf in the Galapagos for its wonderful beaches where you can take a big wave accompanied by turtles, sea lions or rays.

Do you want to visit San Cristobal Island? We tell you everything you need to know to get there, some free activities and essential tours so you can take advantage of your stay without spending a lot of money.

How to get to San Cristobal Islands in The Galapagos?

Flight from Continental Ecuador: Guayaquil or Quito

You can flight from Guayaquil airport José Joaquín Olmedo, or from Mariscal Sucre airport in Quito. If you take a flight from Quito, you will scale in Guayaquil, and takes longer because it is more crowded than José Joaquín Olmedo airport. So if you find flights to Guayaquil at the same price than to Quito, take the firsts ones. Anyway, from both airports you can get straight to San Cristobal airport. From San Cristobal airport you should take a taxi to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the main city in the island, and where all hosts, restaurants and lounge bars are concentrated. The price of the trip is usually $ 1 (yes, a dollar) since it is very close to the city. Remember that taxis are usually white Toyota vans, forget about waiting for yellow taxis because they will not arrive. Don´t ask the taxi driver how much is it? Just  tell him that you want to go Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and confirm the price is a dolar.

Catch a boat from Santa Cruz

Between Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, there are several boats that for approximately $ 30 and in 2 hours takes you from one island to other everyday. To travel from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal you just have to go to the port and buy your ticket. Keep in mind that these boats only leave twice a day under the following schedule:

  • Departure from Santa Cruz: 7am – Arrival to San Cristobal: 9:15 am
  • Departure from Santa Cruz 2pm – Arrival to San Cristobal: 4pm

If you are on Isabela Island you will first have to take a transfer to Santa Cruz and from there take another one to San Cristobal. There are no direct boats those two islands. In our post about what to do in Isabela Island we have published the schedules of the transfers from Isabela to Santa Cruz, you can see them by clicking here.

By Plane

If you want to save time and your budget allows you, you can travel by plane from one island to another. In addition, you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Enchanted Islands from the sky. The two companies that perform this service are:


Get ready to go! What to bring with you to San Cristobal Island in The Galapagos?

When preparing your luggage, do not forget the following:

  • Cash: although on this island and in Santa Cruz you will find ATMs, not all establishments or hotels accept cards. Always have some cash on hand for any emergency
  • Sport shoes: In addition to the flip flops, you will need comfortable shoes to explore the island comfortably.
  • Anti-mosquito repellent: it will be very helpful, especially in San Cristobal
  • Water and snacks : the sun hits very hard and you will not always have shops nearby to buy something to drink or eat
  • Snorkeling equipment: we will tell you about free places where you can snorkel if you have your own equipment, so get one for your trip

Free and low cost activities on San Cristobal Island

Cerro Tijeretas

It is called Tijeretas since this is the name with which they commonly refer to frigatebirds. You can reach here after a 30 minute walk from Puerto Ayora. On the way there are several viewpoints where you can snorkel for free and see a variety of marine species, including turtles and marine wolves.

Snorkeling Tijeretas - San Cristobal
Snorkel Tijeretas – San Cristobal
Sightseeing Cerro Tijeretas
Mirador Cerro Tijeretas

Puerto Chino Beach

Although it is not so close, it is totally worthy to visit Puerto Chino Beach and enjoying a relaxing day on this beach. To get there you should deal on a round trip with a taxi driver and walk about 15 minutes until you reach it. The beach is surrounded by endemivc vegetacion, sand is magnificent and the sea has a wonderful turquesa color.

Puerto Chino Beach - San Cristobal
Puerto Chino Beach – San Cristobal

El Junco

Walk up the volcanic crater’s crown and enjoy a panoramic view of the island. You can ask the taxi that takes you to the Puerto Chino beach to stop in this place, you will not regret it.

El Junco - San Cristobal
El Junco – San Cristobal
El Junco - San Cristobal
El Junco – San Cristobal

Surf in incredible beaches surrounded by iguanas and sea lions

These are the 2 best beaches on the islands for surfing. Whether you’re pro or you’re starting out, in Galapagos you’ll find a beach where you’ll enjoy!

Playa de La Lobería & Tongo Reef

Undoubtedly the best beach in the archipelago to surf. Don’t beleive me? Check it out:

Punta Carola

It is located next to Puerto Baquerizo, and is one of the busiest beaches. In season the waves are amazing:

Tours en San Cristobal – Galápagos

Tour León Dormido

Probably the most popular Tour in the Island where you will be snorkeling on an island called León Dormmido or Kicke Rock.  The rocks have metres height. They are almost together but there are narrow channels that you can go through and many marine species have their refuge here. Are located  5 kilometres at the north of San Cristobal island, and takes around an hour to get there but boat, depending on the weather.

Probably you will find Several birds fishing. Enjoy the expertise of Blue-Footed Boobies  going for it straight forward.  After having obtained their fish, they keep swimming in the water or with a low flight, with an air of satisfaction.

When the sea is calm you get there faster. If you are looking for a great susnset photo, follow this tour in late afternoon. When the sun comes down, you will have a view of the sunset between the two highest rock. That would be the perfect photo to remember this place.

But before that, take your snorkeling or diving equipment  and enjoy the amazing marine animals that crwd this spot. Swim with sharks, manta rays, sea lions, tortoises and an amazing variety of phises. After this activity, you will visit the beach El Manglesito for a relaxing moment. This tour costs around $ 120 and lasts from 9 am to 3pm approximately.


San Cristobal is the ideal island to visit if you are looking to enjoy paradisiacal beaches where you can rest or surf. It is also the island where you can see the largest number of sea lions camouflaged in the daily life of the island. Although it is not the most charming of the archipelago, if your plane lands here take a couple of days to get to know it. It will surprise you!

Do You want to know more?

If you are thinking about visiting The Galapagos Islands and you have many questions or questions, write us! We will be happy to help you plan your trip to the enchanted islands.