Key Visitor Points
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
On the western tip of the island sits Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos and the port city and traveler’s hub of San Cristobal. Most of the island’s permanent residents live here; it’s the second-largest community in the archipelago. The laidback city is also one of the few places in the Galapagos Islands where travelers can actually spend a few nights. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, as well as dining and nightlife spots.
Ecuadorians and other South Americans hail Puerto Baquerizo Moreno as a fantastic surfing spot. Surfers often head to Tongo Reef and Punta Carola Beach, both within walking distance of the port city. Notable sights include the coral beach of the Sea Lion Rookery (El Malecón Rookery). Visit the Interpretation Center for a complete history of the Galapagos Islands, from its volcanic roots to modern times.
Roughly 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) east of the capital, El Progreso was established in 1869 and is the oldest surviving human settlement in the Galapagos Islands. It sits at the foot of Cerro San Joaquin; while the village used to be a penal colony, it’s now a quiet farming community.
Frigatebird Hill (Tijeretas Hill)
A 45-minute trail from the Interpretation Center, Frigatebird Hill is a birder’s favorite. It’s the only place where the magnificent and great frigatebirds inhabit the same colony.
Punta Carola Beach
Follow the same trail as Frigatebird Hill to Punta Carola, a sandy beach frequented by surfers for perfect waves. With a reef break for beginners and a point break for experienced surfers, this is the ideal spot to hang ten for wave riders of all levels.
La Loberia Beach (Playa Loberia)
A beautiful stretch of beach near Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, La Loberia is named for the sea lions that have made a home on its scenic shores. Besides watching the sea lions frolicking or napping, the beach is a popular spot for swimming and surfing. At low tide, travelers can snorkel with sea lions and turtles in a protected lagoon. Keep an eye out for other animals like iguanas and frigatebirds.
A horse-shaped cove around 30 minutes from the capital by boat, Ochoa Beach is a rocky beach with a thriving colony of Galapagos sea lions. Ghost crabs, hermit crabs, and sea urchins are common on these shores, along with birds like herons, pelicans, and blue-footed boobies. Clear, shallow waters make it an excellent snorkeling site for travelers who prefer exploring underwater.
Lobos Island (Isla Lobos)
Isla Lobos translates to Sea Lion Island, so it’s not surprising that this white-sand islet is teeming with playful sea lions. Snorkeling is a popular activity, with the sea lions joining in the fun and swimming with the travelers. Rays, turtles, and tropical fish are a few of the other marine life snorkelers will glimpse underwater. Travelers may also embark on the 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) walking trail across the island to spot wildlife like blue-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Lobos Island is an hour-long boat ride from P