San Cristobal Island is one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos chain, with a population of about 6,000 people. It is the capital/governmental center for the Galapagos. The main town here is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (named after the first Ecuadorian president to visit the islands), which sits on the edge of the harbor. It is also the only island other than Baltra to have an airport. It is the least touristy of all the main inhabited islands, but still has quite a few tour shops and souvenir shops along the main, harbor-facing street. San Cristobal was an organized settlement with a governor when Darwin first came to the Galapagos in 1835 – This was the first island on which he landed. Also, this island is the only one with a permanent source of fresh water in the islands, at El Junco, a crater lake near the top of the islands volcanic mountains.
It is also home to the Galapagos Islands Interpretation Center, which has a nice museum and boarded walkways leading to several nice nature trails.
It never ceases to amaze us how the local wildlife generally ignores the presence of people.
One of the main features all along the harbor and beaches here is a large colony of sea lions, who always seem to be lounging around on the rocks, in the water, on sidewalks and benches, and generally stinkin’ up the place! I had heard that they stink, but there’s just no way to describe their overwhelming stench accurately – Wet dogs smell like lilacs in spring compared to them.
We walked along a main beach where many of them were hanging out, even with the smell and the biting black flies (I still have a bump from one of the bites on my legs), seeing and hearing them was so great; the big bulls with their harems, the mothers and their young, the rambunctious teenagers, and the sleepy bachelors resting on any flat surface, even docks and stairs. We saw a dock worker with a large broom shooing and poking some of them before boats docked. The sea lions were not impressed, but slowly moved on, only to return a short while later when the man with the broom had moved on to another section of the dock.
However, it should also be noted that they are awesome and fascinating to watch AND they don’t give off a noticeable smell while in the water, so we were able to just stop and observe them for quite a while that way.