Visiting San Cristobal island in the Galapagos
Red, Blue and Nazca Boobies – birds that is. Male Red Frigate birds with their bright red chest ballooned out. Green, Grey and Leatherback turtles. All just a few of the amazing wildlife I saw during a day tour around San Cristobal.
Having wasted a few ‘organisation’ days in Santa Cruz, I had a few days to spare before the cruise I’d booked. Having opted not to spend an extra $400-500 on a cruise up to Genovesa to see the red footed boobies, I decided to check out the only other place where they can be seen – Punta Pit in San Cristobal.
Punta Pit was part of a day tour around San Cristobal. The island is very varied in landscape, from green highlands to rocky shores and volcanic rocks sticking up from the sea. I was able to snorkel along the way (slowly getting used to it) and see 4-5 turtles in a cove that they were trapped in at low tide. I kinda felt like I was in their way so didn’t snorkel for too long.
This is when I started to wonder how much damage tourism and people are doing to the islands of the Galapagos. These animals are so peaceful, snorkelling nearby isn’t hurting them, but I can bet loads of tourist torment them and try to touch them.
Onwards up the coast of San Cristobal you see plenty of blue footed boobies along the rocky shores. There are some pristine white sand beaches that look untouched and some beautiful clear blue-green waters. Near the top of San Cristobal was the highlight: Punta Pit.
Sea lions relax on the shore, while a vast amount of blue and red footed boobies are on display all along the rocks. Little white babies pop up from the nests and the red and blue feet of the parents stand out from afar. If that wasn’t enough, the boat cruised over to a large rock in the sea nearby, where more of the birds nested and flew around. Here the nazca boobies were also on display and the stunning male red frigate birds with their big red chests ballooned out to attract females.
I felt like I was on cloud nine, so lucky to have seen all the boobies birds, let alone the red frigate birds!
Continuing around San Cristobal the landscapes and water became rougher. Luckily I’d taken a sea sick pill that morning, after feeling horrible on the boat from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal the day before. We went to the second snorkelling spot, but even in a wetsuit it was too cold and rough for me to enjoy. Instead I opted to get sunburnt since my sunscreen was back on the boat.
Onwards to one of the best snorkelling and diving spots (sadly this tour didn’t do either, just a visit here): Kicker Rock. The waves were very rough so I was glad I’d opted just for the 360 boat trip rather than a specific snorkel trip for that day. Kicker Rock is a volcanic rock where more blue footed boobies and other birds nest and sharks and turtles roam the waters below.
On our way around the rock we were surrounded by dolphins jumping through the waves. As if the day could get any better.
Rough seas took the boat back into port. I’d had a fantastic day, only wished the weather was a bit better and the boat was a bit bigger.
San Cristobal was a great island to visit. The day before I’d visited the Interpretation Centre and tried my first snorkel next to some lazy sea lions and also snorkelled at Loberia Beach.
The main waterfront of San Cristobal was covered in sea lions and rocks so you can’t swim there, but it does provide some excellent viewing opportunities with the young sea lions that play in the water jumping over each other or teasing the older sea lions. Then out in the sea you’ll see the odd sea lion just floating on its side with its fin up in the air – like it’s trying to imitate a shark.
The island of San Cristobal was a great way to start my trip in the Galapagos. Having a few days there was great to really experience what it had to offer. If I had time for one more day I would have tried to snorkel out at Kicker Rock with the sharks, but I had hope to see them on my upcoming cruise instead!
Your pictures are beautiful!
And what a day!!!
Thanks for posting about San Cristobal! I had it on my list from what I’ve heard other people say about the island, but your pictures really sold me on the place!
Did you sleep on San Cristobal or do a day trip?
I stayed 2-3 nights on San Cristobal. You can take the 7am or 2pm boat from Santa Cruz to San Cristobal. Keep in mind the day you arrive you won’t have time to do a tour because the boat there takes 2 hours. So you’ll want 1-2 full days to do any day trips you want to do. Then leave the following day. North Seymour is also meant to be great for a day trip.