The Galápagos Islands are one of the premier surf destinations in the world, with several “world-class” breaks. But Surely there is no more extraordinary, exciting and geographically blessed location for surfing than San Cristóbal Island!
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Helena’s Garden are in the SW corner of the island, amidst a cluster of breaks which take advantage of both north and south swells. If there is a swell (which means most days of the year) then there is good, surfing within walking distance of Helena’s Garden. And when the big swells roll in, the waves cab be truly spectacular.
Most of the breaks are reef or a combination of point and reef. The one beach break is at Puerto Chino: an ideal spot for learning.
The San Cristóbal breaks are not only entertaining but exclusive. Many times, your only company will be the pelicans (overhead) and a few sea-lions (at your side) showing you how it’s done and occasionally pulling on your leash.to see if you are paying attention.
You will find the locals both friendly and happy to share their knowledge. Be courteous and you will be making new friends in no time.
Here we provide a brief description of the primary San Cristóbal breaks. But first: a few photos to whet your appetite....
Surf’s Up? North Swell? South Swell?
Where am I going to surf today?
The Galeodan Suites all face West, towards El Cañon where you can see for yourself the size and direction of the swell.
Then you’ll know whether to turn left at the gate and head for Carola or turn right and make for Cañon or Tongo and Valero, maybe even Loberia.
Carola features a right \ point break at the Point and left \ reef breaks in the Bajo (good for beginners) and the aptly named Suicidio (not for beginners)..
With a north swell, best from November through May, Carola features fast waves of 1 to 3m, occasionally more, with a good chance of catching barrels. The Point surfs well with most tides.
Carola is just 15 minutes walk from Helena's Garden. Or you can take a water-taxi from the nearby fishermen's pier.
El Cañon is a reef break for intermediate to experienced surfers. The waves are medium to fast, 0.5 to 3m, breaking mostly left with occasional barrels. Winds are mostly cross or off.
El Cañon surfs with either a south or north swell but the north swell tends to generate bigger waves, arguably best at high tide, from November through May.
El Cañon is 20 minutes walk from Helena's Garden, passing through the Navy base, which generally entails you leaving a passport at the gate. Or you can short-cut across the bay in a water-taxi.
Tongo & Valero
Tongo presents a range of reef breaks for beginners (Bajo) through intermediate (Medio) and advanced (Pico). Waves are medium speed from 0.5 to 2.0m with occasional barrels at the Medio, more at the Pico. The waves break mostly left with some right and even split peaks (L&R). Winds are cross.
Tongo needs a south swell, best from November through May, good at any tide.
Tongo is 30 minutes walk from Helena's Garden (10 minutes beyond El Cañon) which means going through the Navy base or taking a water-taxi.
Valero is another reef break, for intermediate and advanced surfers, fed by south swells, 5 minutes walk beyond Tongo (see above). Waves are slow, 0.2 to 3.0m, breaking left and right, about evenly, best at high tide. Winds are mostly cross.
La Loberia (so named for the sea-lion colony) is a reef with left and right breaks and split peaks for intermediate and experienced surfers. Waves are medium speed with mostly on wind (sometimes unsurfable).
La Loberia needs a south swell, best at high tide, any time of year.
La Loberia is a 5 minute land taxi ride (just beyond the airport) followed by a 5 minute walk.
Puerto Chino is San Cristóbal's only accessible beach break with slow moving 0.5 to 1.0 m waves for beginners, breaking left and right. Winds are on or cross.
Puerto Chino needs a south swell and is surfable at all tides, any time of year.
Puerto Chino is 30 minutes away by taxi or bus. It's a beautiful place to hang out, with or without waves.
Playa Mann is not generally identified as one of San Cristóbal's better breaks. But with a strong north swell and a hight tide, the surfing can match some of the better known breaks. And it's right next door.
The reef breaks right on the north side of the beach and left on the south. It's a great spot for beginners and intermediates.
Manglecito & Punta Pitt
Manglecito and Punta Pitt are two highly regarded but difficult to access breaks fed by north swells. Manglecito is 30 minutes by boat; Punta Pitt, at the far end of the Island is 1.5 to 2 hours away for which you will have to rent a panga or fishing boat.
Manglecito is a point and reef break, left with a cross wind, for intermediate and advanced surfers It needs a north swell and is best from November through May.
Punta Pitt also for intermediate and advanced surfers, has an exposed offshore reef, breaking right, with sometimes strong off winds. There are good waves most months but better in November through May.