Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Icaro just started flights to the islands.
EMETEBE has flights to Baltra-airport and Isabela if there is enough demand.
The island is small enough that unless you want to go to Puerto Chino for the day or don't feel like hiking to Progreso you can walk wherever you need to be. From one end to the other Cristobal is about a 20-30 minute walk.
If you don't feel like walking, hail a taxi (hold your hand out, palm sideways and point your arm towards the ground). It should be $1 anywhere in town or $2 to the airport. Progreso and Puerto Chino will cost more, negotiate prices before you leave. There is frequently a "gringa tax" and foreigners are charged more then locals. Most prices cannot be bargained down.
From town you can walk to Playa Mann, the beautiful local beach, although it can be quite crowded on weekends with locals and the occasional sea lion. It's right across from the university. Just up the road is the Interpretation Center, with some great displays on the environment and history of the Galapagos. From there you can walk to Punta Carola, another popular beach, or hike the trail up to Las Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill), which has a gorgeous view of the island and overlooks the bay where Darwin first arrived in the Galapagos. The bay has excellent snorkeling, but be careful, it can be dangerous depending on the tide and waves.
There are several tour agents offering boat trips and snorkeling to Kicker rock, Isla Lobos or other visitor sites. You can rent equipment to hike, camp, bike, or snorkel at many of these places. It's also possible to do scuba diving. There are three scuba shops on the island; GalaKiwi, Chalo Tours, and Galapagos Expeditions. GalaKiwi is better for experienced divers, the guide tends to swim fast and not point out too many things. Chalo Tours speaks English, Spanish, Danish, and German. They have reasonable prices and all the guides are great. Galapagos Expeditions wasn't open very often when I was there so I don't know much about them. The main guide for Expeditions was trained by Chalo Tour's main guide.
(The guide and I had troubles with the valves on two tanks belonging to Chalo 1/1/08 firstname.lastname@example.org)
Renting a mountain bike is also possible and cost around $10 per day. Most bikes are not mountain but are sufficient for around town and on the roads up to El Progreso (the other town on the island).
A taxi (pick-up truck) can be rented to drive to Puerto Chino, one of the best beaches on the island. It will cost between $40-50, but you can always grab a crowd and split the price. This is a gorgeous beach with soft white sand and is the furthest point into the island that one can go without naturalist guide.
While you're in the highlands, you may want to stop by the Galapaguera to see the breeding center of the San Cristobal variety of tortoises, which is right near Puerto Chino. El Junco, the only large freshwater lake in the Galapagos, is also a popular site.
There are several excellent places to surf around the island as well. During off season there are frequently waves at Punta Carrola and Tonga Reef. As the season picks up, El Canyon and a few other places have "buenas olas". Check with the locals about where the waves are daily and to ask for directions. IF there are waves, someone is almost guaranteed to be going surfing and most will invite you to follow them!
As in most of Ecuador, cash is the currency on San Cristobal. There is a Banco de Pacifico with ATM. It may or may not accept your bankcard. If not, walk in the bank and talk to David about a Visa advance. He's a nice guy and speaks English.
There are many souvenir shops on the Malecón (Av. Charles Darwin) and the surrounding side streets. Galapagos coffee is always a popular item with prices ranging from $6.50/lb for vacu-packed coffee to $15/lb if you want it in a cute tin or box. Several talented local artists have a gallery in the upstairs of Casa Blanca, also on the Malecón.
For a snack or internet, check out the Mockingbird Cafe. Diana, the owner, speaks English and makes a mean batido (milkshake). It's a family run place with great service and fun conversation. Find the GalaKiwi sign and turn up that street. Mockingbird is across the street from Chalo Tours.
There are several excellent restaurants in town, and many smaller places that serve a good setmeal of soup, rice and chicken, typically around $2.
- Restaurant Calypso (Plaza Civil), has more western food like pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches and delicious desserts. Not cheap though.
- La Playa is also a favorite with great shrimp and seafood dishes and a good variety of food offered.
- Miconia is popular with tourists, upstairs and with a great view. Offers a variety of traditional and western dishes, although prices are on the higher end.
- Tropic Bird is a little harder to find but well worth the walk! They are usually only open for lunch, ask a local, it's located just past the local hospital.
- Mi Grande, has decent breakfast for $2.50. The fruit juices here are delicious.
- Several places offer a set meal with a choice of chicken, beef, or fish along with juice, menestra (beans), rice, and the daily soup for $2-3. It's quite a deal, especially at Albacora or Bambu.
There are three main bars on the island; Polo's Bar, Iguana Rock, and Voqui Bar. Generally people start at Polo's (directly up the street from Calypso) and then head to Iguana Rock to dance (up the street from Polo's, hang a left when you hit the market). When Iguana's closes, head to Voqui for some late night pool (located in the back room of Calypso) or the sole Discoteca of the island, above Calypo's.
- The Orca Hotel is clean, comfortable, and quite popular with tourists (so long as you're not on a tight budget). It's located right on the beach, you will often find a friendly sea lion napping on the front porch.
- Mar Azul, Av. Alsacio Northia. Rooms are clean and have fan, private bathroom with hotshower and television. Price $15 pppn.
- Hotel San Francisco, Av Chales Darwin, This hotel is conveniently located at the Malecón and is a cheap option if cleanliness isn't your highest priority. Uninviting rooms have television, fan and private bathroom with cold shower. Price $8 pp.
- Hotel Shijomar, right next to hotel San Francisco is about the same price, but a bit better.
- Casa de Nelly, Popular with foreign volunteers. Price about $10 pp.
To see the rest of San Cristobal (Galapagos), island, a taxi (pick-up truck) can be hired.
This page was last edited at 20:21, on 20 August 2008 by Wikitravel user Morph. Based on work by David, Evan Prodromou and Todd VerBeek, Wikitravel user(s) Ronald and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.