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San Cristobal Island: Self Guide

San Cristobal Island

Welcome to San Cristobal Island! This island, which is also known as Chatham, is definitely the jewel of the Galapagos Islands. Based on its inhabitants, it is the second-largest island, and it offers many different activities, especially for nature lovers.

Here, you can enjoy the most fascinating views, go surfing and snorkeling in the sea or rest on the beach, joining the sea lions. The official capital of the Galapagos Islands is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a fishing village in the heart of San Cristobal Island.

San Cristobal

Self Guided Program: Things To Do

During your trip to San Cristobal Island, you have can do some nice self-guided activities. Rebecca Adventure Travel will help and give you important information about the must-see places and how to get there.

San Cristobal Interpretation Center

Here you can learn a lot about the history of the Islands, including the fascinating flora and fauna. The visitor center explains the natural processes that have made the Galapagos Islands such a unique place, delineates efforts to protect and preserve the islands, and serves as an education center for park personnel and naturalist guides. The three exhibits inside are Natural History, with illustrations of natural events and information on how different species arrived at the islands; Human History, covering events related to the discovery and colonization of the islands; and Conservation and Development, an introduction to the struggles of the ecosystems and preservation efforts underway.

After viewing the exhibitions, take a walk along winding paths leading from the Interpretation Center to Playa Punta Carola (about 35 minutes), a favorite spot of surfers, or on to Playa Mann for a swim and to Frigate Bird Hill, a nesting place for frigate birds. Along the way are plants, lava lizards, and other animals endemic to this area. The Interpretation Center is located 2 km southwest of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. From Hotel Galapagos Planet, it will take about 20 to 25 minutes to walk to the interpretation center and taking a cab will take approximately 10 minutes and costs 2 USD max.

Interpretation center Interpretation center - San Cristobal Island

Punta Carola

Punta Carola is one of the best places to go snorkeling, surfing or diving. Even without going underwater you can see sea turtles in this place. The best of all, is the convenient location, visible from the wharf at Skipwreck Bay. To get to Playa Carola, you can get a boat taxi to drop you off for 1-2 USD, or you can walk to it in 20 – 25 minutes, going around the bay and through the mangroves via paved trail you pick up at the Interpretation Center.

Punta Carola Punta Carola - San Cristobal Island

Las Tijeretas

It is really easy to visit Las Tijeretas from the Interpretation Center. Hiking over a designated path, you even get the chance to spot the frigatebirds. Please make sure you go there when the tide is low, otherwise, there will be big waves. Tijeretas means ‘scissors‘ in Spanish, this name was given by Charles Darwin who thought that the frigatebirds look like scissors, based on tales.

*From the Interpretation Center, there is a path leading to Punta Carola and Las Tijeretas which is very easy to find. This path includes signs showing the way and takes about 20 minutes.

Tijeretas Tijeretas - San Cristobal Island

Playa Mann

Leaving the Islands without having seen many sea lions? Impossible! Go to Playa Mann, and you will see innumerable sea lions. Sometimes, there are even more sea lions there than there are people. This beach is easily reachable from the town, as it is very close to the main road. When you go there, you use the same road as to the San Cristobal Interpretation Center. The path will take about 20 minutes.

Playa Mann Playa Mann - San Cristobal Island

La Galapaguera Tortoise Habitat De Cerro Colorado

This place was built to help the tortoises on the island since the population has been shrinking. It is located in Cerro Colorado, where you can also spot the Calandrinia Galapagos plant (an endangered species) if you are lucky.

The best times to go to La Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the morning. On these days the tortoises are being fed. During the afternoon, the temperature rises, so they want to stay in shade. You can get to La Galapaguera by taking a cab or a bus since it is located on the other side of the island. The bus takes about 40 minutes. On San Cristobal Island, there are several buses per day going into the highlands, from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno to Progreso.

Galapaguera Cerro Colorado - San Cristobal Island Galapaguera Cerro Colorado - San Cristobal Island


During your trip to San Cristobal Island, you have the opportunity to explore the island by yourself and enjoy some free time. You will also have time to enjoy a delicious Galapagos meal on your own, with some locals or with your friends. Rebecca Adventure Travel did some research for you. Whether it’s a bistro for a memorable night with friends, a grab-and-go lunch spot, a legendary junk food fix, or o one-off treat for your taste buds, we have compiled a list of the best restaurants in town.

Golden Bay Hotel

One of the highlights of San Cristobal Island. It is a very exclusive hotel which also has a great restaurant, called Muyu. Here, you can enjoy various types of food in creative combinations, and they always try to use only products from San Cristobal. The price for the main course ranges between 20 – 30 USD per plate. It is definitely the perfect place to enjoy dinner with a gorgeous sea view.

Golden Bay Golden Bay - San Cristobal Island

El Descanso Marinero

This restaurant is close to Playa Mann and famous for its cozy surfer atmosphere and seafood. The menu depends on the day’s catch and the price ranges from 15- 25 USD for the main course.

El Descanso Marinero El Descanso Marinero

Mockingbird Cafe

This restaurant is perfect for you when you are looking for a regular lunch menu which includes usually soup, juice, and the main course with rice for about 5 USD.

 Mockingbird Cafe Mockingbird Cafe - San Cristobal Island


This is a great little place for lunch or dinner and it is very popular with locals and tourists. They offer an extensive menu with includes various types of food, but the burgers are the specialty here. The prices are very reasonable in comparison to other places.

*Photo below was taken from Cri’s Facebook page.

Cri's Cri's - Photo from Cri's facebook page

Giuseppe’s Restaurant

This place is a little bit expensive but worth the money. It is very famous for its delicious pizza, large portions, and amazing service.

Giuseppe's Giuseppe's - San Cristobal Island

Contact Numbers 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:

  • 24/7 General & Sales Enquiries Phone: +593-(0)980051675
  • Office in Quito: +593-(0)2-6007590

On behalf of the whole Rebecca Adventure Travel Team, we wish you the happiest, joyful and beautiful time at San Cristobal Island!

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