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San Cristobal: A golden start of the Galapagos

Kicker Rock
Written by Renato Matiolli
After eight nights at sea we arrived in San Cristobal Island. I have to say straight away that this was my favorite island in the Galapagos. It has world class surfing close to the anchorage. The under water scene is hard to beat. In fact, the whole nature is extremely strong around this place. However I have to admit, what really touched me where the playful teenager sea lions. They are like dogs of the sea” and certainly a show on their own.

Giant Turtle  Marine iguana

To be able to visit Galapagos on your boat one has to go through a bit of an odyssey. All the paperwork is slightly expensive and bureaucratic. We started our process six months prior to our arrival. For this reason many sailboats give up from visiting the islands. It is a shame as Galapagos is undoubtedly a special spot. Looking closer the price was actually reasonable and the process not thatbureaucratic. We also felt the authorities do use the funds to keep the place well preserved. At the end of the day, the approval process and rules one has to follow all do make sense.

Since our arrival in San Cristobal we knew we had made the right decision to come to Galapagos. The sea was flat like a mirror and so easy to spot all the wild life around us. We could see tons of sea turtle just floating around. The same with sea lions, drifting around with fins and belly up, just relaxing and sun bathing. A playful group of these young chaps followed the boat for a bit. We took it as our welcome committee to the Baquerizo Bay.

By the way, on the way to the port, we spotted this beautiful rock from far. We pointed Ipanema towards it and soon enough we were close to this amazing rock formation. Later we learned, it was the famous Kicker Rock. This place was even more known for the underwater scene, a famous kick-ass diving spot.

More Kicker Rock

Kiicker Rock Kicker Rock 3

As soon as we dropped anchor at Baquerizo Bay, I heard someone calling my name. It was someone from a beautiful fancy catamaran right next to us. The glorious person was Davide Casanova. This guy was sailing with my guru (Daniel) when I visited him for the second time. This was in the Cayman island, late 2014. Just before we went to Croatia to start sailing with Ipanema. I had a deal with Daniel that I would spend a month with him and he would teach me about boat life. Since Davide was on the boat for the whole month and he is a dive instructor we did a combo deal. Daniel thought me how to sail and Davide trained me and issued me my Dive Master license. Now Davide is the captain of this fancy boat. Really cool stuff, right? Small world.

Davide's boat  Davide

Once we were out of the boat, Caio had already read all about the cool stuff we could do around the island. For some wild reason we let him convince us that cycling across the entire hilly island would be amazing. So we did it. A taxi droped us on the other side of the island and we rode the bikes back. The day started at a beautiful beach. We then paddled up to a center where they breed giant tortoises. We continued all the way up to a volcano, a pretty high volcano to my standards. On the way down we stopped on a small village that had a really cool tree house. Finally, we arrived at the port. It was a long and tiring day, but I am glad we did it.

 Bikes La Galapagueira

Bike Ride View

San Cristobal is one of the few places we have sailed to that has really good surf quite close to the anchorage. The whole time we were in San Cristobal there were good waves. It seems to be a very consistent spot. The waves were quite descent and the water was really clear. So, even though the Galapagos islands are very “sharky”, I wasn’t too much freaked out about it. The only problem is that the locals are nice, but young, fit and paddle a lot. Its hard to catch a good set wave if you are not in your best physical condition. I guess I am getting old. (On a side note, its a shame I don’t have good pictures of the waves on the better days).

Wave San Cristobal 1

Wave San Cristobal 2 Wave San Cristobal 4 Wave San Cristobal 3

Wave San Cristobal 5

Everyone talks about how the diving in Galapagos is so amazing, and it certainly is! We went back to Kicker Rock and dove around it. It was amazing! The water is cold, but not as bad as I thought it would be. The underwater scene is very different from the tropical places we are used to dive. You see a lot of stuff and a lot of descent size stuff. The schools of fish are thick with fat fish that are not scared of you. The sharks are everywhere and are not intimidating. Even the barnacles seem to be on steroids. We loved diving in San Cristobal and it was just the beginning of our underwater action in the Galapagos.

Diving crew

Sea turtle

Bump head Parrot fish Sea lion and diver

Galapagos shark

Then there was the highlight of San Cristobal and the Galapagos as awhole. The sea lions! They are everywhere and specially in San Cristobal. They try to climb up any boat. You need to create a barricade on your boat’s stairs, otherwise they will claim their territory. Feijão tried to scare them away but they couldn’t care less. You don’t want them on the boat. They are cute, but greasy and smelly. Its very hard to clean what they leave behind. They are not only on the boats. They are at the docks, main square, water fountains, at the beaches, surfing spots… everywhere. Its incredible.

Seals at the beach

Seal 2 Seal 1

Feijão with the seal

Seal 3 Seal 4

Seals at Ocean Lady

Tijeretas Bay. Its a place you can walk to from the village. Its very calm, it has really clear water and you can swim around them. In fact, they swim around you. If you chase them, they run away. If you run away, they will chase you. I had the feeling of playing with a puppy dog. The difference is that these are wild animals and its underwater. How cool is that? I just wanted to stay there forever.

Seal Tijeretas 4

Seal Tijeretas 1

Tijeretas Tijeretas (2)

Seal Tijeretas 3

Seal Tijeretas 2

Since our friends had a tighter schedule than ours, we had to move on from San Cristobal. However we wished we had stayed a lot longer.

About the author

Renato Matiolli

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