San Cristobal Galapagos is the fifth-largest island in the Galapagos archipelago, but one of the more popular stops on a tour of the islands. The reason for this is because Isla San Cristobal is relatively well-developed and is home to the second largest-town next to Puerto Ayora in the Galapagos Islands: Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. It also has one of two domestic airports in the archipelago, and many tour agencies, hotels, restaurants, and bars are based in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Although it is still a small town, and far less is happening there than at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, it can be a good option for travelers who are not seeing the islands with a tour, and prefer to book their own accommodation in a quieter spot.
You can get to Isla San Cristobal by domestic plane from the mainland, by a boat tour or cruise, or by ferry boat from Santa Cruz. San Cristobal Galapagos has many attractions to offer the visitor, among them the only freshwater lagoon, El Junco, in the Galapagos. This freshwater lake is located at 2,300 feet above sea level, and it takes a bit of a hike to gain access to it. Nevertheless, the walk is truly worth it as this perfectly round crater filled with fresh water is a splendid sight. Surrounding the crater are low-growing bushes and ferns, among them the Galapagos miconia, a purple flower that is unique to this island. Located in the center of the island, hiking up to El Junco also offers beautiful panoramic views of the island and the ocean.
Isla San Cristobal, like most of the Galapagos islands, has several endemic species of wildlife that are unique to the island. You will likely see the blue-footed booby in other areas of the Galapagos, but San Cristobal is one of the few places in the Galapagos where you have a chance to see the smaller red-footed booby. The Chatham mockingbird, one of the island's many beautiful bird species, is found only on San Cristobal Galapagos.
If you are staying in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, several areas of interest are within easy walking distance. La Loberia is a rocky beach located about twenty minutes' walk south of town by way of a dirt path. Here you can see marine iguanas, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, and canaries. Cerro Tijeretas, also known as Frigatebird Hill, is also located close to the town. Here you can view the amazing and unique frigate birds, the black-feathered males boasting huge red pouches on their chests under their bills—these red pouches inflate when the males are trying to attract females.
On the east side of the island, you can take a bus to access Puerto Chino, a quiet beach connected to Puerto Baquerizo by the island's only road. This is one of the few beaches in the Galapagos where visitors are allowed to camp on the beach. If you’re interested, ask about this option at the National Park Information Center near town.
If you want to go snorkeling at San Cristobal Galapagos, you'll want to hire a boat to take you to Isla Lobos nearby, a rock island jutting out of the ocean where sea lions love to gather and where many species of marine animals can be seen in the clear waters.