Most of the designated Visit-Sites are accessible only by water on a licensed boat in the company of a Naturalist Guide. Boats vary in size and comfort, depending on their origin: some were once commercial fishing boats while others were purpose-built for tourism. There are two categories of boat:
Vivencial Fishing Boats
Daily Tour Boats
Vivencial Fishing Boats:
These boats are operated by fishing families where the owner has relinquished his or her artisanal (commercial) fishing licence in order to take tourists on excursions to fish and visit several exclusive sites.
Vivencal Fishing boats combine several sites, including Kicker Rock, in the very popular “360 Tour”.
Vivencial Fishing boats take a maximum of 12 passengers and vary considerably both in size (8.5m to 11.5m) and level of comfort, depending on their origin: some started life as working fishing boats while others were purpose-built for tourism.
Vivencial Fishing boats carry a bilingual Naturalist Guide and offer snorkelling at various sites including Kicker Rock. You also have the opportunity of a bit of fishing.
Daily Tour Boats:
The Daily Tour boats have always been purposed for tourism but also vary considerably in size and comfort with some trading speed for additional space. They are limited to 12 or 16 passengers depending on the destination
Daily Tour boats also visit Española, 32 miles due south of PBM, about the same distance as Punta Pitt.
Daily Tour boats carry a bilingual guide and some offer diving as well as snorkelling at various sites including Kicker Rock.
Kicker Rock is known locally as Léon Dormido, so named for its alleged resemblance to a sleeping lion. This remnant of a volcanic tuff cone, eroded into twin peaks, rising 140m above water, is the icon of San Cristóbal and one of the most popular attractions in the Galápagos.
The spectacular view above water is matched by the scenery and abundance of life below. Here you will see turtles, rays, reef-fish of all types, sea lions (of course) and several species of shark including hammerheads which sometimes congregate in the 100’s. Numerous guests have told us they experienced their best ever dives and snorkels there.
Kicker Rock is 40 to 60 minutes from port (depending on the boat). There are no landings on the rock itself but tours also visit a beach were guests can walk, swim and snorkel..
While some cruise boats continue to send their zodiacs through the gap, local boats have for years voluntarily ceased this practice for the sake of the creatures below.
Vivencial 360 Tour
Rosa Blanca, on the SE side of the island, is one of the most fascinating sites on San Cristobal. It features:
A bay full of turtles and rays
A gorgeous beach with powder-fine, white sand
A pool in which sharks and turtles swim in circles waiting for the next high tide
A lagoon where you can snorkel among the turtles and sharks
Rosa Blanca is exclusive to the Vivencial Fishing boats and is featured on every 360 Tour It can also be visited alone or in conjunction with a fishing excursion.
Daily Tour & Vivencial 360 (offshore)*
Punta Pitt, 1½ to 2 hours from port, is truly a geological wonderland.
The tour starts with a wet landing on one of the World’s very few green (olivine) beaches where sunlight sparkles off the crystalline granules. As on many of San Cristóbal’s beaches, you will need to give space to a sizeable sea lion population.
The walk, which takes about 2 hours, features some challenging sections but at all times spectacular scenery.
* The Vivencial 360 Tour includes a pause at Punta Pitt to see birds nesting on the rocks. You may also fish in the vicinity. But the landing and tour is exclusive to the Daily-Tour boats.
Isla Lobos is a small island just offshore and about 30 minutes from port.
The short hike, which takes about an hour, leads you past nesting blue-footed boobies and frigate birds.
The crystal clear waters, in the channel between Isla Lobos and San Cristóbal are ideal for a check-dive or snorkel with sea-lions, rays and turtles.
Daily Tour & Vivencial 360 (offshore)*
Cerro Brujo features a beautiful, long, coral-sand beach, interspersed with tidal pools and excellent snorkelling opportunities.
Kicker Rock is visible on the horizon and some extraordinary eroded tuff formations are visible on tours that include a panga-ride.
* Vivencial Fishing tours may include a shoreline view of the extraordinary rock formations at Cerro Brujo - But no landing.
This 5km (each way) hike can be challenging in any season, either for the heat or muddy passages in the rains, but the reward is a rare opportunity to observe turtles in their natural environment.
The beach is used by nesting turtles and makes a very pleasant spot for a refreshing swim or snorkel.
Española is one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos and, due to its isolation features several endemic species, including the waved albatross and Española mockingbird.
Española is 30nm from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and the crossing takes around 1½ hours. The tour features 2 landing sites: at Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay.
The excursion on Punta Suarez passes nesting sites of blue footed boobies, masked boobies and 97% of the world’s entire population of waved albatross. You will also see mockingbirds, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, tropic birds and lots of sea lions. Another highlight is the blowhole: El Soplador.
Gardner Bay features 1.3km of white sand beach with an opportunity to relax or snorkel with sea lions and sea turtles.
Vivencial & Daily Tour Boats
Most daily tours include a visit to one of San Cristóbal’s many beautiful and isolated beaches, including: