We loved that every island that we went to in the Galápagos had a different feel. San Cristobal, still a small island feel but busier than Isabela. The main attraction and it’s most well-known feature is that it is literally jam packed with sea lions every which way you look! They are lounging on the beach, playing in the water, taking up spots on the benches- it’s a pretty incredible sight.
The first night we arrived we went down to walk the main strip around the pier and came across this beach which was literally flooded with at least a hundred sea lions who had beached themselves and were all laying around in the sand as the sun was going down. It was a pretty unbelievable sight to watch them all lazing around, rolling in the sand, play fighting with each other or letting these weird noises out. We were lucky to see a whole range of sea lions from the small babies all the way up to the huge parents. I think that night I took about 20 videos because I just couldn’t get over how many there really were.
I think our favourite spot the whole time we were in San Cristobal was spent at La Loberia, a beautiful white sandy beach with the most amazing clear blue water. As if that wasn’t already amazing enough it has spectacular snorkeling where we not only got to see multiple small turtles we also got to snorkel with a group of sea lions. This was definitely a highlight for both of us as they just come up and swim all around you. They are the most playful animal that we have seen which is somewhat surprising when you see how lazy they are on land! They come up so close to your face and then at the last second they zip around the side of you, narrowly missing you. We had such an amazing time just watching them play in the water. They will relax and lay on their backs with their front fins resting on their stomach for a while until they decide they are ready to play and then they start zipping around you again.
It’s especially fun to watch when there are a couple of them playing together around you as they will almost do a dolphin dive out of the water when they get really excited. We were so lucky that we were able to experience a family of 4 playing around us with virtually no one else around us. We even got the opportunity to watch a sea lion and a turtle interact together. The poor turtle just wanted to relax and do his own thing but the sea lion had other ideas. He wanted to play so he swam around the poor turtle non-stop and he even bit the turtles foot!! This day was definitely an experience we will both be cherishing for a long time.
Cerro Tijeretas was the other day trip we took which is another snorkel place reachable by foot. It’s about a 30 minute walk from town so we left early in the day to get there before the sun started beaming down on us and in order to get one of the few spots with some shade before the other tourists got there. We found a great spot with a shaded area so we put our towels down and started to relax and watch this sea lion come playfully out of the water. He was pretty cute walking up the somewhat slanted beach hill when he started coming closer to us. So picture this, I’m filming this cute sea lion moving towards us when all of a sudden he starts moving a lot faster and charging at us a bit... wow did I move back as fast as I could. We weren’t sure if he was being cute and playful or what until he started moving directly towards our towels. We made a mad dash scramble to grab all of our personal belongings before the sea lion reached it. Apparently what the sea lion wanted was our shady spot because as soon as we moved he relaxed right into our spot and we were left to scour the beach for somewhere else to sit. We can now say we have been kicked out of our spot by a sea lion which many people cant! As you can tell by the photo below... he's acting pretty cocky even before he made his move!
On our last evening we headed to Playa Mann, a great beach spot located just a quick 10 minute walk from town with an awesome view to watch the sunset. We grabbed a beer (or two) and joined both locals and tourists to relax and watch the sun come down.
Just after the sun had set we had a group of local high school boys approach us asking if we would do an interview with them for their school project. So we said sure why not and so they gathered right in around us. It was pretty funny because Piet decided to just take photos of the whole thing while this group of boys sat around practicing their English with me. It is amazing how well the students speak English on all of the islands.
We stayed at Hotel Mar Azul which is located just a couple of blocks from the water. The rooms are cozy and clean and even came with a fridge to keep our beer (and water) supply cold and well stocked. The best part about staying here was definitely the friendly and helpful service from Claudia at the front desk. She recommended an amazing burger restaurant “Cris” that we’d have to say has the best burgers we’ve tasted since we left Canada. It was so good that we had to come back for a second time before leaving the island!
The Boat Ride
Now for those of you wondering how I did with the last few boat rides... Well let’s just say the 2nd and 3rd boat rides were easy and comfortable that I thought I was in the clear. Unfortunately, on our last boat ride back to Santa Cruz the water was a bit rougher, ok the water was A LOT rougher than we’d experienced previously. It was so bad that they had to close up the back area because everyone was getting wet and even the top “sunroof” which allowed fresh air to flow because water was coming up over top and into the cabin. Needless to say I spent the whole time monopolizing the bathroom. And as I finally thought we’d arrived at our destination I stumbled out of the bathroom, groggy and green in the face, when Piet looked at me and told me the motor had died and to get back in the bathroom because we weren’t there yet. I’m pretty sure everyone saw the look of horror and devastation on my face as I heard that news. Thankfully we were only about 15 minutes out but it felt like a lifetime in the tiny non ventilated bathroom. I’m sure as anyone could guess I am more than excited that this is our last and final boat ride for a while.
All in all we would definitely recommend trying to visit San Cristobal for a totally different wildlife experience than Isabela. I really don’t think there’s too many other places in the world where you will find there are more sea lions than there are people!
Next Stop: Santa Cruz- Galápagos