The Galapagos Islands are mainly considered as a costly destination. You can book 5-day cruises for 1,500$ and more or do one day-trip after the other. Sure there are tours, you should not miss like snorkeling at Kicker Rock. But there are a lot of opportunities on the islands to explore the Galapagos on a budget. On San Cristobal Island, you can visit two popular sites at no cost at all!
Interpretation Center & Tijeretas
Head down the port in the opposite direction of the airport until the end. Walk up these steps and follow the signs leading to Playa Mann. Pass Playa Mann and you arrive at the interpretation center of San Cristobal where you are able to learn a lot about the formation of the islands as well as the first settlements. The entrance of the Interpretation Center is free, you only have to register your visit in the beginning. If you want to learn more about the islands, that’s the place to go.
Now, when you finish your visit in the Interpretation Center do not leave again the way you came. In the end of the center, you’ll find a way through a lot of cactuses heading to a place called Tijeretas. During the walk you get a good view of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos Islands, from above.
At some point you’ll arrive at an intersection where you are able to decide whether you go to Punta Carola or Tijeretas. If you have enough time, you can easily do both. Punta Carola is a nice beach with a lighthouse to relax. The part I like most are the view points of Tijeretas. You walk up several hills and see the city from above and also Kicker Rock from afar. The short hike up there, is definitely worth it, so head up the stairs even though it’s hot and you’d prefer the beach.
If you keep going from the peak, you can even walk to the next beach (about 2 miles) Playa Baquerizo. If you do so, wear some proper shoes as the ground can be slippery.
If you on the other hand want to stay in Tijeretas, there are some more things to do. Head over to the huge Charles Darwin monument and take a picture with him or the turtoise next to him.
Bring your snorkelling gear with you. You can head down the lava rocks into the water and snorkel with sea lions and little fish. It was not my best snorkel experience on the Galapagos Islands but if you haven’t been to Lobos Island it’s a great opportunity to come closer to those cute creatures.
Depending on where you start your hike to Tijeretas, it takes about 30 minutes to get there.
The second free thing to do on San Cristobal Island is La Lobería. – A beach full of sea lions and marine iguanas. The beach is situated very close to the airport. You can either catch a taxi there for about $2 or walk there for about 30 minutes. If you want to catch a taxi, always tell the driver when he should come back as you won’t find a taxi there. It also might be that you tell him a time and he doesn’t show up anyway, but don’t worry, the way isn’t too long.
On the way to the main beach you are going to pass a lot of marine iguanas, so keep your eyes open to spot them. The beach itself is not very spectacular except for the heaps of sea lions laying lazily around. If you want to do a bit of hiking before heading into the water for your snorkelling activity, then just pass the beach. There is a hike on the lava rocks which is marked and can be easily done if you wear the right shoes (normal sneakers are enough).
Snorkelling is great at Lobería Beach. When I went snorkelling there, I was able to see a lot of giant sea turtles, sea lions, sea snakes and many exotic fish. Be careful as the current is a bit strong in some places there, so go there with a fellow snorkeller if possible.
Which place to choose?
I could answer this question very easily depending on your preferences. If you want to do more hiking and only little snorkelling, then go to Tijeretas. If you prefer snorkelling over hiking, visit La Lobería.
Which place would you prefer?
Due to my lack of a proper camera, the photos of the Lobería were not taken by me but by my friend Bernd.
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