San Cristóbal Island – Galapagos

San Cristóbal was the last of the islands I visited on this trip to the Galapagos and, for chilling out, it is by far the best.  There are numerous and different eating options in town (I can highly recommend eating breakfast at the small café outside the Hostal Galapagos, and the Sabor Cuencano Bakery on Av. Alsacio Northia), and it’s a nice level of activity vs chilled-ness.  In fact, it was kind of hard to move from the Hostal Galapagos café each day… 

Given that I was still trying to get over my seeming-never-ending illness, I didn’t actually get up to that much on my three days on the island, but I did do a little exploring.

Playa Mann

This is just on the outskirts of town and a good place for watching the sunset surrounded by lots of sea lions!  I came out here my first night and loved watching all the small sea lion pups playing what looked to be “chase” in the water.   You’d see them rolling and diving in the water, then they’d flop out onto the sand and chase each other up the beach, before returning to the water to do it all over again.   Really magical!   Great pinchos (meat on a stick) just across the road after sunset for US$2.50 as well 😊

Sea lions on Playa Mann - San Cristóbal Island - Galapagos

Sea lions on Playa Mann. The young ones really don’t mind getting very, very sandy

La Lobería

One of the few independent longer excursions you can do on the Island is a visit to La Lobería beach – a breeding ground for sea lions.  It’s only about a 3km walk along 2-sides of the un-fenced airport

San Cristóbal airport - Galapagos

Yes – you see that correctly. It is a gate without any fences on either side of it

before you get to a fairly small beach with some sea lions.  The day I went, there were far fewer sea lions than what I saw at Playa Mann, but that was probably just unlucky.  I did get great views of some of the Galapagos Finches though 🙂

Galapagos Finches at La Lobería - Isla San Cristóbal - Galapagos

Galapagos Finches are not shy at La Lobería

Not being an ocean/beach person, I have to admit that the highlight for me was actually walking out to the cliffs a little further along from the beach.  

Cliffs near La Lobería - Isla San Cristóbal - Galapagos

There you can sit and watch the birds come and go from their cliff-homes while catching a nice cool breeze from the ocean.   The majority of the birds seemed to be a kind of petrel, but there were also some Swallow-Tailed Gulls, a few Blue-footed Boobies, and I even got to see a red-billed tropic bird – a beautiful white bird with a long tail.

Birds nesting on the cliffs near La Lobería - Isla San Cristóbal - Galapagos

Birds and a marine iguana nesting on the cliffs near La Lobería

My favourite moment was when a group of 10 Frigatebirds appeared.  They came right up to where I sat as they soared around the cliff face.  So graceful, even if a little menacing in my mind.  I suspect it is the shape of the wings that make me think this, as they remind me of a vampire for some reason??!!   Unfortunately, they moved on pretty quickly, but I enjoyed another 1.5 hours of solitude and silence watching the other birds.

My focus was on the marine iguanas on my walk back to the beach.  They do this weird head-bobbing thing and then expel salt from their nostrils to clear their system.  I remember this from my first visit to the Galapagos, and it really is bizarre to watch.

Tijeretas

This is a short walk from town through the Interpretation Centre.   There is a path leading to a lookout which has fantastic views over Tijeretas Bay, and it is a great spot to watch the Frigatebirds for which it is named (the spanish name for a Frigatebird is Tijeras).

Path up to the viewpoint of Tijeretas (top) and Tijeretas Bay (bottom) - Isla San Cristóbal - Galapagos

Path up to the viewpoint of Tijeretas (top) and Tijeretas Bay (bottom)

The Bay itself was a fantastic place to snorkel independently, and again, I just followed the Green Sea Turtles for ages, watching them go about their business.

On the way back to town, I made a loop via Playa Punta Carola, which is another fantastic place to watch the sunset and the sea lions.  I actually liked it more than Playa Mann as it felt like you were more in nature and was less crowded with people.  It’s amazing how the young sea lion pups insist on sleeping with their head on a rock.

Sea lion pups resting their head on a rock at Playa Punta Carola - Isla San Cristóbal - Galapagos

How can they sleep like this?

There were quite a few nursing while I was in the Galapagos this time.

Sea lion pups nursing at Playa Punta Carola - Isla San Cristóbal - Galapagos

Recommendation

If you want to chill out – San Cristóbal is definitely the best island for it.  There are handful of independent excursions you can do, but a lot of others as well if you are prepared to fork over the cash.

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