San Cristóbal Island, Ecuador
The 195-square-mile, volcanic San Cristóbal, in the eastern Galapagos, is the second-most visited island in the archipelago after Santa Cruz. Cruisers follow in the footsteps of Darwin here, indulging in geology expeditions, snorkeling, and wildlife viewing — boobies, frigate birds, marine iguanas. The main settlement is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, also the provincial capital for the Galapagos. Cruise ship visitors are typically assigned to a fixed circuit of guided excursions such as hiking and swimming, though a little free time might be made for independent exploration, too.
What We Love
Hiking at Punta Pitt: This popular hiking site allows lucky visitors rare sightings of all three species of boobies nesting. Wander through volcanic landscapes with tuff cliffs that overlook the sea and the basking sea lions below.
Strolling in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno: Nature is San Cristóbal's raison d'être, but, time permitting, this peaceful port town's “malecón” (waterfront promenade) is worth a stroll for its smattering of eateries, bars, dive shops, souvenir stores, and even some visiting sea lions.
Best Known For
Snorkeling at Kicker Rock: This dramatic, split-in-two lava cone formation juts out from the midst of the ocean, making for a popular snorkeling spot. The company you might keep here includes Galapagos sharks, turtles, rays, and colorful schools of fish.
Tortoises at Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado: Part of a national park, this reserve has served as a sanctuary for island tortoises through conservation and breeding programs. Visit to view the giant reptiles in a seminatural habitat.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers: The volcanic isle's raw scenery, endemic wildlife, and teeming shores ensure nature lovers to have memorable encounters around every bend.
Photography Buffs: Don't forget your long lens. With exotic blue-footed boobies, soaring frigate birds, and colonies of plump sea lions, even the most novice of photographers will be clicking away nonstop.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Soggy Shoes: Like most of the excursions in the Galapagos, many excursions here are conducted via Zodiac, so be prepared for wet landings.
Elissa Garay is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.