The beautiful bay and lighthouse of Punta Carola, San Cristobal Galapagos Islands.

Punta Carola: a Galapagos Beach you’ll Love!

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One of the best beach within easy walking distance of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal is Punta Carola.  It’s a pretty horseshoe-shaped bay protected by lava rock and offers the chance to mix with much of the local wildlife.

The emblematic red and white lighthouse sits at the end of the rocky point at the far end of the sandy beach, Playa Carola.

Want more information on the Galapagos Islands?  Check out these posts below:


How to Get to Punta Carola

The quickest route is to follow the waterfront north towards Playa Mann and the Interpretation Centre.  Continue past these and the road will soon turn to dirt.  Eventually, it ends and there is a gap in a stone wall to your right.  Follow that trail to come out right on the beach.  If you prefer, you can take a taxi as far as the wall, but have to walk the rest of the way.


Our suggested route, however, is a little longer.  We think Punta Carola is the perfect final stop after hiking to Cerro Tijeretas and Darwin’s Cove.  This will require entering the Interpretation Centre and following the trail that begins behind it.  You can find more detailed instructions on our Cerro Tijeretas post here.  Instead of retracing your footsteps to return, take a right turn to come out at Playa Carola.  Then take the path straight to Playa Mann when you’re ready to leave.

A blue footed boobie sitting on black rocks with large blue waves crashing behind at Punta Carola, Galapagos
An adorable blue-footed boobie on the rocks at Punta Carola with a large surf wave forming behind him.


What is there to see and do at Playa Carola?

This beach has something for everyone!

Wildlife watching:   On our first visit to Playa Carola, we hit the jackpot!  We encountered the usual sea lions, marine iguanas and pelicans but also saw a group of blue-footed boobies up close and a sea turtle that came ashore.  Make sure you scramble out to the lighthouse.

Surfing:   There is a great surf break off the Punta Carola rocks.  While it’s not a beginner spot, this one required less experience than some others such as La Lobería.

Snorkelling:   The same rocks that create the awesome surf break also provide some protection within the bay.  It can still be tricky to get in past the break, especially as it is so rocky, but once you are in the snorkelling is great and there is a lot to see.  I’d recommend trying to time it with low tide.  Definitely pack some water shoes along with your snorkel gear.  We prefer to travel with waterproof sandals like Tevas or Keens so we can hike in them too {his and hers}

A sea turtle coming ashore on Punta Carola beach in San Cristobal, Galapagos.

Relaxing:  Playa Carola is one of the few beaches in the Galapagos Islands where it is relatively easy to find some shade.  Just check carefully before settling to make sure you’re not sharing your space with a sea lion or iguana.

Watch the sunset:  Given its orientation, this is a great place for sunset watching.  Just don’t stay too long or the uneven path back to the road will become a challenge.  Bring a flashlight to be safe.


How much time do I need to visit Punta Carola?

The walk from town, if done directly, is approximately half an hour to 45 minutes.  Once there you will want a minimum of an hour to allow for walking the length of the beach, navigating the rocks out to the lighthouse and perhaps a snack in the sand.  However, you could stay for as long as you like!

We found that combining Cerro Tijeretas, Darwin’s Cove and Punta Carola was a great way to spend a relaxing final day.



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[columns] [span6]Turtle and sea lions on Punta Carola beach, Galapagos Islands.

[/span6][span6]View across the beach to Punta Carola lighthouse, San Cristobal, Galapagos.



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