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San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

One of the most important islands in the Galapagos, San Cristobal was the first that Charles Darwin visited in 1835. The island’s Visitor Interpretation Center is integral to understanding the human history on the island, including conservation efforts and research. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the island’s central hub, is a stopping point for many travelers and the nearby reserves, lagoons, and islets provide unique opportunities to see blue-footed, red-footed, and Nazca boobies. The mighty frigatebird also calls San Cristobal home.

Pitt Point – At the northeastern-most point of San Cristobal, a trail makes its way up and down the side of a volcano until it reaches a coastal point with striking views. Pitt Point, or Punta Pitt, is one of the only places in the world with all three types of booby – blue-footed, Nazca, and red-footed. Frigatebirds live amongst the surrounding trees and sea lions frequent the beach.

Wizard Hill – Wizard Hill, or Cerro Brujo, is an eroded hill on San Cristobal’s northwestern tip with one of the most picturesque beaches in the Galapagos. This white-sand, almost powder beach is filled with sea lions, pelicans, and boobies, and provides a great view of the island of Kicker Rock in the distance. You can also catch sight of the endemic Chatham mockingbird and the Chatham lava lizard.

Kicker Rock – A remote and majestic outcropping rising out from the sea off the northwestern tip of San Cristobal, Kicker Rock’s unique slopes and mysterious isolation make for an interesting visit. Although landing on the island is prohibited, circling the rock is an experience in and of itself and the surrounding waters are great for snorkeling.

Frigatebird Hill – Frigatebird Hill, or Cerro de las Tijeretas, is just a short walk from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal. The viewpoint from the hill includes the shoreline on one side and the town on the other. As the name implies, Frigatebird Hill is an excellent places to see both magnificent and great frigatebirds. Cacti and red mangroves flank the beach.

Interpretation Center – The Interpretation Center, which opened on San Cristobal Island in 1998, embodies efforts to conserve and celebrate the natural setting of the Galapagos by way of tourism, environmental education, and conservation. Informational placards and natural exhibits give an overview of the natural and human history of the Galapagos, with particular attention paid to the things visitors can do to help.

Lobos Island – Named for the sea lions that roam this small island in droves, Lobos Island is just off the western coast of San Cristobal. Nazca boobies and blue-footed boobies share the shores as well.

El Junco Lagoon – The only freshwater lake in the Galapagos, El Junco Lagoon is a volcanic crater in the upper highlands of San Cristobal that is now permanently filled with rainwater. At 600 feet above sea level, the lagoon is a sight to behold at 900 feet wide and 15 feet deep. White-cheeked ducks and seven different kinds of Darwin finches call the area home, and frigatebirds come to the fresh water to wash the salt from their feet.