Guide to Day Trips on San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

by on 13th May, 2019

Planning on visiting San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands?

Read our quick guide to the best full-day tours for your holiday.

Discover what to expect to see and do while staying in hotels on San Cristobal.


The 360 tour

This is the way to see as much as possible in one day on San Cristobal.


  • Kicker Rock
  • Sharks, sea lions turtles and sea birds
  • Complete tour of San Cristobal

snorkeller comes ashore Galapagos

On this 360 tour, you will visit different places in San Cristóbal Island such as: Rosa Blanca, Sardine Bay, Kicker Rock or Punta Puccuna and finish the tour with fishing near Punta Pitt.

The trip begins with a sail across the wide ocean until you get to a beach or snorkel area where you may see sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, blue footed boobies and pelicans.

Our first stop, Rosa Blanca has two beautiful lagoons where you can find small sharks, sea turtles and other species. In Rosa Blanca, there is snorkel for those who wish.

Then we head to our next stop, Sardina Bay. There are two beaches whose main attractions are the small white sand dunes and crystal-clear waters.

Next – Kicker Rock. Kicker Rock is made up of remnants of a remainder of an ancient volcanic cone. It is a favourite place for various seabirds like blue-footed boobies, frigates, and more.

This rock formation consists of two vertical walls with a canal in the centre that offers a paradise for sharks and other fish species, such as barracudas, rainbow fish, octopuses and many sharks as Hammerhead shark, white-fin reef shark and Galapagos sharks. You can also find other marine creatures like turtles, stingrays and sea lions.

This tour includes a short time of fishing near Punta Pitt enjoying a beautiful view of Punta Pitt and different kinds of boobies flying over. You do not need to have previous experience to fish here.

There is always the chance to see dolphins and other sea creatures throughout this tour, so keep your eyes open!


Activities: Snorkelling (open sea), swim, beach walk

What to bring: Bathing suit and towel, camera, hiking shoes, cap/hat, sunglasses, insect repellent and biodegradable sun cream, water, waterproof jacket or jumper to keep warm during the crossing

Wildlife you may see: Sharks, sea lions, sea turtles, Blue-footed Boobies, Pelicans, stingrays, sea lions, barracudas, Frigates, various fish species, dolphins

Departure time: 07.30

Return: 16.30 approximately


Kicker Rock

Combine one of Galapagos’ most iconic snorkels at a stunning rock formation with a visit to a beautiful beach.


  • Chance to snorkel with sharks (including Hammerheads), sea lions and manta rays
  • Visit on of Galapagos’ most bio-diverse areas
  • Beautiful volcanic rock formation, great for photographs
  • Spot Sally Lightfoot crabs and many sea birds on a pristine beach

Sun lit Kicker Rock Galapagos

We meet at the dock and head off in a speedboat to Kicker Rock. This trip usually takes around 90 minutes – keep an eye out for dolphins, whales and manta rays as we cut across the waves.

Get your camera out ready to take pictures of the famous Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock) as we approach, and where we can watch the high-flying boobies and frigate birds swooping around this amazing formation. This is one of Galapagos’ most exciting and famous snorkel sites.

Nazca boobies, Blue-footed boobies, Frigate birds and Tropicbirds inhabit the two towers, and welcome us with a flying show. The two walls that thrust out from the seas are connected below the surface via a 60ft deep channel running between them, making it a really rich place for marine wildlife.

We jump into the clear water for some more snorkelling and will have the opportunity to swim with rays, seals, iguanas, multi-coloured fish, and much more. Hammerheads, sea turtles, Galapagos sharks inhabit the area, too.

Then it’s on to Puerto Grande with its beautiful white sand beach to enjoy a well-deserved rest and a box lunch.

Note: Depending on conditions, the trip may go to Cerro Tijeretas Bay for a snorkel, or the beach. Lunch may be on the beach or on the boat.

After dining and relaxing, we head back into the boat and retrace our steps to San Cristobal.


Activities: Snorkelling (open sea), swim, beach walk

What to bring: Bathing suit and towel, camera, sandals, hiking shoes, cap/hat, sunglasses, insect repellent and biodegradable sun cream, water, waterproof jacket or jumper to keep warm during the crossing

Wildlife you may see: Variety of sharks (white-tip, Galapagos and with luck, Hammerhead), turtles, reef fish, puffer fish, Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, Frigate birds, Sally Lightfoot crabs

Departure time: 07.30

Return: 16.00 approximately



Fantastic snorkel and hike to an uninhabited island – one of the oldest in Galapagos – rich in sea birds including the Albatross, plus iguanas, turtles and more.


  • Watch the curious Española Albatross mating ritual
  • Wonderful 2-hour hike to see some of Galapagos’ iconic bird species
  • Large sea lion colony, great fun while snorkelling
  • Visit the white sands of Gardner Bay and snorkel with sea lions and hopefully turtles

Gardener Bay on Espanola Galapagos

It takes about 2 hours to reach this remote outpost of the archipelago from San Cristobal, but the rewards more than make it worth it.

Our first call is Punta Suarez, where we disembark. You will need your hiking shoes ready because we start with a 22-hour walk across this fascinating island.

Along the way we hope to catch sight of some of Galapagos most Iconic wildlife. There are Galapagos Albatross (during mating season March to January),  Blue-Footed Boobies and also Nazca Boobies which nest at Española. The island is also home to its very own type of iguana – the colourful Española Iguana.

With many photos captured, we head back to the boat and sail across the north of Española to Garner Islet. The day will no doubt be warming up by now so a dip into the refreshing water will be very welcome.

The snorkel here gives you the chance to swim alongside pup sea lions, Galapagos Sharks, fish and, hopefully, marine iguanas. Española is uninhabited and so after the swim, we hop aboard the boat for a boxed lunch, so we don’t contaminate the land. As we reflect on the day, the boat takes us back to San Cristobal.


Activities: Hiking (2 hours, uneven terrain), snorkelling, swim, beach walk

What to bring: Bathing suit and towel, camera, water shoes, hiking shoes, cap/hat, sunglasses, insect repellent and biodegradable sun cream, water, waterproof jacket or jumper to keep warm during the crossing

Wildlife you may see: Galapagos (Waved) Albatross, Blue Footed Boobies, Nasca Boobies, Red Billed Tropicbirds, Galapagos Hawks, Sally Light-foot Crab, sea lions. Española Iguana, sea turtles, hammerhead sharks, rays.

Departure time: 07.30

Return: 16.30-17.00 approximately


El Junco Lake, Interpretation Centre, Tijeretas, Playas Mann and Carola

Mix and match lakes, history and beaches to get to know San Cristobal better.


  • Visit the Highlands, the source of the San Cristobal’s water and home to spectacular views
  • History of Galapagos and wildlife at the Interpretation Centre
  • Wonderful views from Tijeretas Hill
  • Fantastic foliage at Playa Mann plus chance to swim with surfing sea lions at Playa Carola


San Cristobal has many little nooks and crannies waiting to be explored. We can tailor a half or full-day tour from the following options, to help you make the most of your time.

El Junco is a freshwater lake, the only one to be found in all Galapagos. It provides the water supply for the islanders of San Cristobal. Located in the highlands of San Cristobal, we can observe Frigate birds and Pelicans, sometimes we get to see Boobies. On clear days the views are spectacular, and we spend a couple of hours exploring this area.

The Interpretation Centre is an essential stopping off point to help learn about history of the islands, in their natural, human and conservation contexts. Your guide will take you through the ages, from Galapagos’ volcanic origin to the discovery and colonization of Galapagos.

Tijeretas Hill is located a short distance from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. There are three viewpoints from where you can appreciate spectacular views, as well as two different species of Frigates nesting at the same site.

Playa Mann is a stunning coral sand beach from where we can observe sea lions resting on the rocks and sand. This is also a great place to see many plants white mangrove to chala, palo santo cotton and other flora species. Lazing on the rocks, we can often see marine iguanas, too.

Playa Carola is famous for its lighthouse and is also a good spot to swim with sea lions or just relax in the sun, after a day’s visits to the islands. Many sea lions share waves with local surfers, and Carola is also home to a variety of birds.


Activities: (varied) Hiking, option to add on swimming at Playa Carola

What to bring: Camera, hiking shoes, cap/hat, sunglasses, insect repellent and biodegradable sun cream, water, waterproof jacket or jumper, towel and swim wear if heading to the beach

Wildlife you may see:  At El Junco: Frigate Birds, Blue Footed Boobies, Nasca Boobies, Pelicans.

At Playa Mann: Sea lions, mangroves, marine iguana.

At Playa Carola: Swim with sea lions + various birds.

Departure time: Varied

Return: Varied (depends on activities)


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