10 Awesome Things to do on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

Early this year, we took our kids and spent four days on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands. We visited the Galapagos Islands using a land based itinerary. San Cristobal was our favorite island in the Galapagos, with incredible wildlife, amazing scenery, and beautiful snorkeling. This is a list of the best things to do on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands that you don’t want to miss!

Things to do on San Cristobal, Galápagos Islands: Explore and Learn

See Giant Tortoises at La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado

giant galapagos tortoise at la Galapaguera on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

Visiting La Galapaguera is one of the most amazing things to do on San Cristobal Island. This reserve serves as a human run breeding program for giant Galapagos tortoises.

A giant Galapagos tortoise in the forest at the Galapaguera on San Cristobal Galapagos Islands

The animals walk freely around the Galapaguera reserve, and guests can navigate along a path and observe the tortoises in their natural habitat.

Ages range from hatchlings to older large tortoises. You can easily spend an hour or two here immersing yourself in the peaceful environment and beautiful animals.

Little boy with a baseball cap on standing in front of a giant tortoise on the path in front of him at La Galapaguera

If you are on a land based itinerary of San Cristobal, and you decide to visit La Galapaguera, we recommend hiring a driver for the day and combining your trip with a visit to Puerto Chino Beach and El Junco.

    Visit the Interpretation Center

    picture of volcanoes becoming islands at the Interpretation Center on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

    The Interpretation Center is a short walk from town, and the perfect place to start your exploration of San Cristobal. The Interpretation Center has several exhibits providing information about the history of the multiple settlements of the Galapagos Islands. It also goes into the unique geology and biodiversity of the island, with exhibits about conservation efforts.

    father and son walking on a path at the Interpretation Center in San Cristobal on the Galapagos Islands

    It was a good intro for our kids into where we were and why it was special. The Interpretation Center doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to explore, but it is a perfect starting point for a day spent walking the trail to Cerro Tijeretas and Playa Punta Carola.

    Things to do on San Cristobal, Galápagos Islands: Hike

    Hike to Cerro Tijeretas

    View of Cerro Tijeretas and the lagoon

    We recommend spending at least half a day exploring Cerro Tijeretas in San Cristobal. The hike to Cerro Tijeretas leaves directly from the Interpretation Center and is about 2 km. It is a paved and easy path, and leads to incredible views and look out points.

    little boy looking over a fence at Cerro Tijeretas in San Cristobal

    There is a popular snorkeling cove along the path, which is great for experienced snorkelers. We took our first try at snorkeling here (we were beginners!), and there were some challenges as the area was rocky and there tides were strong. (We recommend La Loberia as the best place for snorkeling beginners on San Cristobal.) However, for strong swimmers, this is an amazing place to get to snorkel with sea lions, turtles, and rays.

    the lagoon at Cerro Tijeretas in San Cristobal on the Galapagos Islands

    If you have little kids with you and you aren’t planning to snorkel, this hike to Cerro Tijeretas is still very worth it. The views are gorgeous and you are sure to see a variety of birds along the way.

    Climb to El Junco

    boy taking a picture of El Junco lagoon in San Cristobal on the Galapagos Islands

    El Junco located in the San Cristobal highlands is the only source of fresh water on the island. It is a 2 km up and back hike from a small parking lot at the base.

    stairwell leading up to the hike at San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

    At the top of the El Junco hike, you are treated to beautiful views of the San Cristobal highlands, and the water filled crater that supplies the island.

    father and son hiking up El Junco in San Cristobal on the Galapagos Islands. Clouds in the background.

    The hike is all stairs, and might be strenuous for some, but we really enjoyed it. The scenery was beautiful, and seeing the lake gave our family an appreciation of how precious water can be in areas like this.

    If visiting this, we recommend combining it with a day trip to the Galapaguera and Puerto Chino Beach.

    Things to do on San Cristobal, Galápagos Islands: Beaches

    See Marine Iguanas at Playa Punta Carola

    Little boy being chased by a marine iguana on Playa Punta Carola on San cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

    Playa Punta Carola is the perfect beach to spot marine iguanas on San Cristobal. It is easy to access on the tail end of the hike to Cerro Tijeretas. There is a large population of sea lions on the beach. It is easy to spend 2-3 hours here.

    marine iguana on the Galapagos Islands

    The Playa Punta Carola beach is peaceful, with soft sand. We sat out here, enjoyed a picnic, and watched the wildlife. Our kids loved watching the marine iguanas dive into the water and swim from rock to rock.

    Snorkel at La Loberia

    sign at La Loberia

    La Loberia was our favorite beach during our land based itinerary of the Galapagos Islands. You need a driver/taxi to get you there as it is south of the airport and about 2 km from town. I wouldn’t recommend hiking to it (no shade), although we almost got stranded because it was difficult secure a ride back :). Make sure you coordinate a pick up time with whoever drops you off, cell reception here is spotty.

    Playa Punta Carola on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

    La Loberia is a beautiful beach that was shallow enough for our boys to try out snorkeling. My son and I saw a giant sea turtle together, which was really the highlight of our trip. We also had sea lions pop in and out of our view as we were swimming.

    This is a great place to spend a beach day. The beach is less crowded than others on the island, and its perfect for families.

    Swim at Puerto Chino Beach

    father and son swimming at Puerto Chino Beach

    Located in the San Cristobal highlands, Puerto Chino Beach is the most scenic on the island. With beautiful topography and clear blue water, you won’t regret stopping here for an hour or two.

    View of Puerto Chino Beach in San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

    We brought a picnic and had a great time swimming in the clear blue water of Puerto Chino Beach. There is less wildlife than other beaches on the island, but we saw some birds that we didn’t catch elsewhere.

    If on a land based itinerary of San Cristobal, we recommend hiring a driver and combining this trip with your visit to La Galapaguera and El Junco.

    Things to do on San Cristobal, Galápagos Islands: Food

    Dine at Chakana

    Chairs and Tables in Chakana, a restaurant in the Galapagos Islands on S

    We came across this restaurant our first evening in San Cristobal and fell in love. They served up beautiful beautifully prepared traditional dishes. From pork ribs to ceviche, everything we tried was delicious. If you go, don’t miss their pan de yuca which was the best thing we ate in Ecuador.

    Pan de Yuca at Chakana, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

    Their cocktails are also delicious. Choose an old standard, or venture to one of their suggested tropical cocktails – you won’t be disappointed. We loved this place so much we visited twice.

    Green cocktail at Chakana on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

    Have Drinks at The Pier

    The Patio Restaurant on San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands

    The Pier is another great spot on San Cristobal. It was our favorite spot for afternoon drinks and a bowl of ceviche.

    Ceviche at the Patio Restaurant on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

    The Pier is in a perfect spot, on a quiet street overlooking the ocean. You can listen to the waves crash and watch playful sea lions dive in and out of the water. Our kids loved watching the wildlife here. It was the perfect spot to relax after a long day at the beach.

    Summer IPA Endemica Galapagos at the Patio Restaurant on San Cristobal on the Galapagos Islands

    Enjoy Fresh Baked Bread at Sabor Cuencano

    Each morning in San Cristobal, our day started with fresh baked bread. There was no better place on the island to get delicious Ecuadorian baked goods than at Sabor Cuencano.

    fresh baked bread on the Galapagos Islands

    From blackberry pastries to cheese croissants, this cafe serves up delicious and fresh items perfect for a light breakfast or a mid day treat.

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