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Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

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Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the Galapagos Islands, on San Cristóbal Island.

Understand[edit]

In Galapagos people often use the name of the island to refer to the towns. And so you will barely hear anybody mentioning the towns by name and probably will join the trend. After all, the official names of the towns are quite long and mostly honor past political figures like in this case former Ecuadorian president Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno.

Get in[edit]

San Cristobal (SCY), like Baltra (GPS), can be reached from mainland Ecuador by regular scheduled flights from Quito (UIO) and Guayaquil (GYE). Flights usually originate in Quito and make a short stop (passengers stay on board the plane) in Guayaquil before continuing (see Galapagos Islands Get In for more info). Avianca [1] flies every day. TAME [2] flies on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. LATAM [3] flies on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The airport is just over 1km from the center of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a 15 minute walk or $1.5 taxi ride as of April 2018.

Special arrangements have to be made if traveling to the islands aboard a private boat. Customs can be cleared in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno although arrival preparations have to be made 60 days prior under the representation of a local agent.

Small speed boats (apx. 25 passengers) depart both in the morning (07:00) and in the afternoon (14:00) from Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz to San Cristobal. Technically a connecting ferry trip from Puerto Villamil in Isabela Island (06:30) via Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz (14:00) is possible. During the dry season (May-December) the two to two and a half hour boat ride can be particularly rough due to choppier seas, this in combination with the high speed of the boats (~20kts) makes trying moving around in the boat unadvisable or impossible since most boats have barely enough space for all passengers to sit down (take sea sickness medication half an hour before embarking if needed). Most boats offer only partial sun cover so dress accordingly, pre-apply sun cream and bring plenty of water as the small plastic water bottle that you get handed over half way through the trip might not be enough. Inter island transportation is a government sponsored oligopoly and so all one-way tickets cost $30 independent of which company you buy from. As you embark and disembark via aquatic taxi you might be required to pay an extra $0.50 to the taxi driver. Unlike on Isabela there is no landing fee or "pier tax". Starting in 2018 ferris arrive and depart at the central "Hammerhead Shark Pier" located across the street from the Police Station on the water front.

EMETEBE Airlines[4] and Fly Galapagos[5] are non-schedule air-taxi services that offer flights from Baltra, (one hour north of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island) and Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island . These air services make up tentative schedules for which you can buy tickets for. And so, schedules can be modified so as to fit more flights in case of high demand or worst case scenario flights might be cancelled or re scheduled. This is definitely a more comfortable transportation option despite not being the most reliable and still it is more expensive. Travel times from Puerto Ayora are as long as by ferry (if you take into account the long transfer to Baltra airport) and much faster from Puerto Villamil (around 35 minutes direct flight or 2 to 4 hours via Baltra).

Get around[edit]

The island is small enough that unless you want to go to Puerto Chino, El Junco or La Galapaguera for the day or don't feel like hiking to El Progreso, you can walk wherever you need to be. From one end to the other Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is about a 20-30 minute walk.

If you don't feel like walking, hail a taxi (hold your hand out, palm sideways and point your arm towards the ground). It should be $1 anywhere in town (including the airport). El Progreso, Puerto Chino, La Galapaguera, and El Junco cost more and official prices have been established by the local government, check the board on the Tourist Pier for information on costs to these places. Since official prices have been established, no additional tax are allowed and Ecuadorians and foreigners are charged the same.

See[edit][add listing]

From town you can walk to Playa Mann, the beautiful local beach, although it can be quite crowded on weekends with locals and the occasional sea lion. It's right across from the campus of GAIAS, the Galapagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences of Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Just up the road is the Interpretation Center, with some great displays on the environment and history of the Galapagos. From there you can walk to Punta Carola, another popular beach, or hike the trail up to Las Tijeretas (Frigatebird Hill), which has a gorgeous view of the island and overlooks the bay where Darwin first arrived in the Galapagos. The bay has excellent snorkeling, but be careful, it can be dangerous depending on the tide and waves.

Do[edit][add listing]

There are several tour agents offering boat trips and snorkeling to Kicker rock, Isla Lobos or other visitor sites. You can rent equipment to hike, camp, bike, or snorkel at many of these places. It's also possible to do scuba diving. There are three scuba shops on the island; GalaKiwi, Chalo Tours, and Galapagos Expeditions. GalaKiwi is better for experienced divers, the guide tends to swim fast and not point out too many things. Chalo Tours speaks English, Spanish, Danish, and German. They have reasonable prices and all the guides are great. The main guide for Galapagos Expeditions is trained by Chalo Tour's main guide.

Renting a mountain bike is also possible and cost around $10 per day. Most bikes are not mountain but are sufficient for around town and on the roads up to El Progreso (the other town on the island).

A taxi (pick-up truck) can be rented to drive to Puerto Chino, one of the best beaches on the island. It will cost between $40-50, but you can always grab a crowd and split the price. This is a gorgeous beach with soft white sand and is the furthest point into the island that one can go without naturalist guide.

While you're in the highlands, you may want to stop by the Galapaguera to see the breeding center of the San Cristobal variety of tortoises, which is right near Puerto Chino. El Junco, the only large freshwater lake in the Galapagos, is also a popular site.

There are several excellent places to surf around the island as well. During off season there are frequently waves at Punta Carrola and Tonga Reef. As the season picks up, El Canyon and a few other places have "buenas olas". Check with the locals about where the waves are daily and to ask for directions. IF there are waves, someone is almost guaranteed to be going surfing and most will invite you to follow them!

Buy[edit][add listing]

As in most of Ecuador, you can pay by cash or by credit card in most major places, although cash is preferred at most small shops and transportation. There is a Banco de Pacifico with ATM. Depending on your banknet, it may or may not accept your bankcard. If not, walk in the bank and talk to David about a Visa advance. He's a nice guy and speaks English. There is also a CPN ATM in town which supposedly accepts all the major card types.

There are many souvenir shops on the Malecón (Av. Charles Darwin) and the surrounding side streets. Galapagos coffee is always a popular item with prices ranging from $6.50/lb for vacu-packed coffee to $15/lb if you want it in a cute tin or box. Several talented local artists have a gallery in the upstairs of Casa Blanca, also on the Malecón.

Remember, never buy handicrafts made with local natural resources, it is forbidden by the Galapagos law, it is a National Park!

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are several excellent restaurants in town, and many smaller eateries that serve a good setmeal, typically around $3-5.

  • For breakfast, brunch and lunch, check out Fresco Cafe[6] in front of the Fishermen Pier. Free WiFi and the best coffee on the islands while overlooking the harbor.
  • Restaurant Calypso (Plaza Civil), has more western food like pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches and delicious desserts. Not cheap though.
  • Miconia is popular with tourists, upstairs and with a great view. Offers a variety of traditional and western dishes and has a good salad buffet, although prices are on the higher end.
  • Mi Grande, (a.k.a. "The Happy Man") has decent breakfast for $2.50, delicious fruit juices and batidos and real espresso. It's opposite of the Hotel Leon Dormido on the first floor.
  • Several places offer a set meal with a choice of chicken, beef, or fish along with juice, menestra (beans), rice, and the daily soup for $3. It's quite a deal, especially at Albacora or Bambu.

Drink[edit][add listing]

There are three main bars on the island; Polo's Bar, Iguana Rock, and Voqui Bar. Generally people start at Polo's (directly up the street from Calypso) and then head to Iguana Rock to dance (up the street from Polo's, hang a left when you hit the market). When Iguana's closes, head to Voqui for some late night pool (located in the back room of Calypso) or the sole Discoteca of the island, above Calypo's.

Instead of a discoteca above Calypso, there are now two discotecas in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno: La Isla (the island) and Neptune. Both are located on the main road and will sometimes charge a $1-3 entrance fee on the occasional Saturday.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

It is generally easier to find cheap accommodation in Puerto Baquerizo than in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. A/C rooms not too far from the pier can be had for $15 (maybe less) as of March 2016.

  • The Orca Hotel is clean, comfortable, and quite popular with tourists (so long as you're not on a tight budget). It's located right on the beach, you will often find a friendly sea lion napping on the front porch.
  • Mar Azul, Av. Alsacio Northia. Rooms are clean and have fan, private bathroom with hotshower and television. Price $20 pppn.
  • Hotel San Francisco, Av Chales Darwin, This hotel is conveniently located at the Malecón and is a cheap option if cleanliness isn't your highest priority. Uninviting rooms have television, fan and private bathroom with cold shower. Price $10-15 pp.
  • Hotel Albatros, right next to hotel San Francisco is about the same price, but the conditions are worse.
  • Leon Dormido has good rooms for $15-20 pp.
  • Casa de Nelly has a beautiful garden, plenty of hammocks and is popular with foreign volunteers. Price about $15 pp.
  • Casa de Luis is just a few blocks from the pier and one block from the boardwalk. $15 A/C rooms. Free wifi, water (hot & cold), microwave.
  • Hotel Northia has A/C rooms for $15. Green building on the road in from the airport, about 5-8minutes walk from the pier.

Camping[edit]

Camping is permitted in three locations on San Cristobal - Puerto Grande and Manglecito beaches on the west coast are only reachable by boat and a guide is required to camp with you (!) - Puerto Chino is the only place on the island where camping is possible without a guide. Permits ($10 per person) need to be obtained from the Park HQ near Playa Mann at least 24hours in advance (it says 48hours online but a friendly park ranger can be persuaded to issue a permit at 24hours notice).

Get out[edit]

To see the rest of San Cristobal Island, a taxi (pick-up truck) can be hired. A "tour" taking in the highland sites as well as Puerto Chino beach should cost $40-50 per vehicle. There is a bus on Sundays to Puerto Chino.

There are daily ferries to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, one early morning, one in the afternoon.

Daily flights to Guayaquil from the airport, which is a short walk from town (10-15minutes) or a $1 taxi.

Stay safe[edit]


This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!