San Cristobal island is probably best known as the island that holds the capital of the Galapagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It has a population of about 6,000 and is home to various species of interesting wildlife.
While it´s not a popular island among tourists, it has a certain charm of it´s own. The locals are extremely friendly and everything you could need is in walking distance- even the airport. It may not have the trendy bars and colorful markets like its neighbors, but it boasts the relaxed island lifestyle that comes with an island with less travelers and more locals.
Sea lions own the town, taking naps on park benches and side walks. They`re new pups can be found frolicking in the waves, often getting curious enough to get up close and personal with anyone courageous enough to brave the Humbult current´s frigid waters.
If you`ve come for the beaches, San Cristobal has them! Just a short walk from the pier are two white sand beaches that usually have sea lions swimming in their pools. If you want to take a ride through the highlines, get a taxi ($30/ round trip) to take you to Puerto Chino. It`s located on the opposite side of the island, but it`s more secluded and the adventurous can even camp out over night.
If you want to steep yourself in history, visit the San Cristobal Interpretation Center. Learn abount conservational efforts on the island as well as the mysteries and unsolved disappearances of Floreana. The Interpretation Center is free and a great way to get a better grasp of the Galapagos islands. There are three main exhibits focusing on human history, natural history, and conservation. If you find yourself inspired, Mann beach, Punta Carola beach, and Frigate Bird Hill are all walking distance from the center. You can swim, surf, or birdwatch to your heart`s content.
Overall, San Cristobal is a wonderful island that often gets overlooked by its neighbors. It`s a great place to relax, practice your Spanish, and enjoy island living. We`d recommend it as a stop either before or after your cruise.
If you find yourself wanting to give back to the island, we´d suggest volunteering at New Era Galapagos. It´s a wonderful organization that is focused around the local youth. On the weekdays one can teach English at their afterschool program. On the weekends, help is often needed teaching the youth about environmental and conservation efforts. William Puga, the owner of New Era Galapagos is more than willing to find host families for all of his volunteers. He`s also quite the public figure around town and will help you find any cruises or day trips and discounted rates. Tell him we sent you.
Most of all, remember to have fun, experience, and explore. For most people, the Galapagos is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Make sure you experience it to the fullest.