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Casa Opuntia Galapagos 3.0

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Mid-range waterfront hotel in downtown Puerto Baquerzio Moreno 
  • Beautiful ocean views throughout the property 
  • Clean rooms with simple, tasteful decor 
  • On-site outdoor restaurant serves breakfast and dinner 
  • Two pools with a few lounge chairs  
  • Communal honor bar with beer, wine, water, and soda 
  • Free breakfast and free Wi-Fi in the lobby  

Cons

  • One pool and some rooms are next door at neighboring property 
  • Some guests complain of hot water issues in the showers 
  • No in-room TVs 
  • Wi-Fi is slow (common in the Galapagos) 

Bottom Line

Casa Opuntia, a 13-room waterfront property, is a solid mid-range option on San Cristobal. The hotel is located at the end of Puerto Baquerzio Moreno’s downtown boulevard, and is within walking distance of local shops, restaurants, and beaches. Casa Opuntia has two pools and an on-site restaurant, and offers free breakfast and Wi-Fi. However, one of the pools and some of the hotel’s rooms are located at an adjacent property, which may be a turn-off for some guests. Other minor annoyances include iffy hot water in the hotel’s showers, and slow Wi-Fi that only works in the lobby. Nearby Hotel Los Algarrobos is a more budget-friendly option with excellent Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, but the property isn't as nice as Casa Opuntia.  

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Scene

A quiet mid-range hotel in downtown Puerto Baquerzio Moreno 

Casa Opuntia is a simple whitewashed structure that resembles many of its neighbors. From a quiet side street, an arched entryway leads to an interior courtyard, which houses the hotel’s lobby and restaurant. The courtyard is meticulously kept, and has a garden-like feel with abundant succulents and shady pergolas. It also overlooks the harbor, and has excellent sunset views in the evening. The lobby is a simple space, with terra-cotta tile floors and a small front desk. There’s also a 24-hour honor bar with beer, wine, water, and soda. Many people congregate in the lobby throughout the day, because it’s the only area in the hotel where the Wi-Fi works.  

Casa Opuntia is popular with travelers on both land-based and sea-based tours. The majority of guests here are part of a group tour (REI Adventures, for example, has had some of its groups stay here), and only stay for a few days. Groups are varied though. During our visit, we saw American families with young children, a Canadian teachers association, and British couples on holiday.

Location

Located on Puerto Barquerzio Moreno's waterfront boulevard, within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and beaches  

Casa Opuntia is ideally located in Puerto Baquerzio Moreno — the capital of the Galapagos and the largest city on the island of San Cristobal. The hotel is within walking distance of downtown shops and restaurants, several beaches, and the ferry dock. It’s also about a five-minute drive from the airport.  

San Cristobal is the second most populous island in the Galapagos, with nearly 6,000 residents. Its largest city, Puerto Baquerzio Moreno, is also the capital of the Galapagos and the seat of its local government. Because of its status as capital city, Puerto Baquerzio Moreno has multiple educational institutions, a hospital, a naval base, and its own airport with daily flights to mainland Ecuador. Puerto Baquerzio Moreno has a beautiful waterfront boulevard filled with shops, restaurants, and tourist-oriented services. The city isn’t as busy as Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz, but has more access to goods and services than Puerto Villamil on Isabela. 

San Cristobal is home to the largest sea lion colony in the Galapagos, making it a must-visit spot for animal lovers. Here sea lions are so much a part of everyday life that travelers will encounter them swimming at local beaches, sleeping on the streets, waddling on the sidewalks, and even goofing around on playgrounds. Popular attractions on San Cristobal include Kicker Rock, Las Loberias, and the San Cristobal Interpretation Center.   

Rooms

Simple and well kept, with varying decor 

Like the hotel itself, rooms at Casa Opuntia are simple and well kept. While they’re not the most modern rooms on the planet, white walls, white tile floors, and white window treatments give rooms a bright, fresh feeling. Most rooms have two or three beds, making them suited for families or groups traveling together. Bedding differs from room to room — some have white sheets with bright orange bed runners, while others have light blue and chocolate brown tones. There isn’t much in the way of decor here, save for some scattered wall art or textured bedside lamps. Rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and safety deposit boxes, but lack amenities like TVs and mini-fridges. 

Bathrooms are a little tight and space, and slightly dated, with '90s-style countertops and fixtures. Bathrooms don’t have tubs, but have large walk-in showers. Temperature control in the showers can be an issue sometimes, but it wasn’t something we noticed during our trip (though we did hear other guests complain about it). It’s not advisable to drink the water anywhere in the Galapagos, so Casa Opuntia provides guests with pitchers of purified water in each room. The pitchers are refilled daily, and should be used for drinking and teeth brushing.  

There are two room types at Casa Opuntia — Ocean View Rooms and Pool View Rooms. Ocean View Rooms are the higher category and tend to be a little nicer, but otherwise feature the same decor and amenities as their Pool View counterparts. Both rooms have outdoor balconies or terraces, but Ocean View Rooms have gorgeous waterfront vistas and hammocks, while Pool View Rooms -- as the name implies -- do not. It should be noted that some of the Pool View Rooms are located in an adjacent building that’s accessed via a private walkway from the hotel.  

Features

Two pools, an on-site restaurant, and free breakfast and Wi-Fi 

For a mid-range Galapagos hotel, Casa Opuntia has several nice features, including two pools, an on-site restaurant, and a few freebies. The first pool is located in the hotel’s rear courtyard. It has a freeform shape and clearly shows signs of age, with peeling concrete patches and nicked tile work. The pool has a nice water feature, an attached whirlpool, and a swim-up bar, but none of the three features seemed to be functioning during our visit. There are a few plastic Adirondack chairs near the main pool, but they’re hardly ever used. Both pools remain quiet during the day, when most guests are out exploring the island with their tour groups. The second pool is located at the Casa Blanca building next door. Guests can access this pool via a private, covered passageway. Casa Blanca is the building next to Casa Opuntia, where some of Casa Opuntia’s rooms are located. Casa Blanca might have its own rooms and guests, but it wasn't clear during our visit. Either way, guests have access to this second pool, which is smaller but newer than its neighbor. The mosaic tile, freeform pool has inlaid dolphin designs and a separate hot tub.  

The restaurant at Casa Opuntia is located in the hotel’s gorgeous front courtyard, and serves breakfast and dinner daily. Breakfast is free for all guests, and is served in courses when guests arrive each morning. Breakfast courses typically consist of fresh fruit and bread to start, followed by eggs, coffee, and freshly squeezed juice. Hot items are prepared when guests sit down, so there’s no need to worry about cold eggs or soggy toast. As far as free breakfasts are concerned, Casa Opuntia’s ranks high on our list for taste, quality, and presentation. The restaurant is open for dinner, but rarely serves outside guests. Most dinner patrons are hotel guests, who, as part of a group tour, are served from a set menu allocated by the hotel. 

As far as freebies are concerned, the hotel offers free breakfast and free Wi-Fi for all guests. Wi-Fi only works in the lobby and can be slow when a lot of guests are trying to connect to it. However, the Galapagos isn’t known for speedy internet connections, so spotty Wi-Fi is a common problem at most hotels. 

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Address

Charles Darwin S/N, Playa de Oro, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno 179217, Ecuador

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