1. Isla Isabela in 5 days
Hikking and snorkelling
2. Isla San Cristobal in 4 days
Scuba diving and snorkelling
3. Isla Santa Cruz in 5 days
Scuba-diving and beaches
General Tips 👏
- It’s part of Ecuador, no need to pass the customs.
- There’s few ATMs so withdraw USD before is a good idea.
- The entry fee is 120$/person, to pay in cash at the airport.
- Take coins with you since all the small boat transfers cost 1$.
- You can ask to go with the captain at the top in transfer boats.
- Online tours and hotels are very expensive. It’s better to book onsite.
- The sea water is not that hot, so if you’re cold in general take a long wetsuit.
- Keep your immigration card with you, they check it when leaving the islands.
- It’s a very tourist friendly place, with curated cities and clean infrastructures.
- Internet is very bad and most of the time doesn’t work, even with a SIM card.
- Inter-islands boat can be very agitated. The best seats are in the middle row at the back, to avoid splash of water and sickness. Try to be the first in line.
We spent 2700£ in 16 days, which means 170£/day. We managed to do everything we wanted, including diving, but had to be a bit careful and eat at home many times. There was sadly no banks allowing withdraw without fees.
For moving in-between islands, we used speed boats. It took us usually around 2 hours between each islands depending of the way and the tide. It wasn’t possible to book online, but very easy to buy tickets at the pier the day before. There’s also flights between islands, but it’s way more expensive, around 150$/person/leg.
Inner islands, we mainly moved via bikes or vans when in touristic tours. There’s very few paved roads on the islands, usually only one. Renting a scooter could have been great too.
- Netflix: Perfect for rainy days.
- XCurrency: Offline and up-to-date currency rates.
- TravelSpend: Log and budget your expenses day by day.
- Maps.me: Free offline map of the world, including trail paths.
- FourSquare: Perfect to find the best restaurants in a very easy way.
- AirBnB and Booking.com: The best to find cheap accommodations.
Galapagos being part of Ecuador, the food was mostly the same. However, being an archipelago on the pacific, a lot of fresh fish and seafood dishes were available too. Here’s the specialities we loved:
- Tuna steak: Fresh fillet slighlty cooked with a pepper sauce on the side.
- Almuerzo del dia: Classic meal of the day for 6$ including soup, juice and main.
We kept our SIM card we bought in Ecuador with Claro. The internet speed was overall really bad, barely fine to check emails or messages but no way to stream anything. It costed 10$ for 3GB (including illimited Whatsapp and Messenger), very easy to top-up in any shops.
There’s no need for a VISA as EU/UK citizens, same applies as for Ecuador mainland. However, there’s a 120$ entry fee to get on the islands which might change soon to 400$ according to the locals.
We decided to arrive at the Guayaquil airport 2 hours ahead the flight time, to allow enough time to buy the immigration cards for 20$/person, get our luggages double checked for plastics and organic materials and check in. Note that the immigration card need to be bought before checking in.
We booked two stays on AirBnB and two on Booking.com, and we had no problems. We prefered the AirBnBs because having a kitchen and other facilities helped us to save some money. Most of the time the staff wasn’t speaking english much but was always very friendly and helpful.
It was overall very expensive for super basic places. By talking with felow travellers, we realized online prices were way higher and it would have been better to book once there. It’s always a gamble since the best spots can be sold-out, but seems to worth it.
The archipelago is world-wide famous for the natural diversity of animals, hence attracting a lot of people of all nationalities coming to observe the endemic species. The main activities on the islands are tourism and natural protection, no industrial activity whatsoever.
While it’s a super touristic spot, we didn’t found the sites too much crowded, probably because the immigration is regulating the amount of people allowed to stay within a period of time. The vibe is also very nice, with a lot of people including locals chilling around.
Packing List 📦
- Beach gear (towel, swimwear, flip-flops…)
- Snorkelling gear (mask, snorkel, wetsuit, rashvest and fins if possible)
- Rain jacket
- Foldable towel
- Moskito repellent
- Re-usable water bottle
- Hikking shoes
- Galapagos 3D: David Attenborough talking about fauna and volcanoes.
- BBC Galapagos Mini-Serie: Three episodes to learn how the islands got formed.
Overall Experience 🤓
We really had a good time in all the islands, and would highly recommend to visit. While the landscapes are gorgeous and the water warm enough to enjoy the beach, the most unique feature is the amount, diversity and behavior of animals. We saw so many big turtles, sea lions, sharks, sea iguanas and huge birds from very close without scaring them. We also found very friendly locals, working hard to preserve their wonderful islands.
The only thing to take in consideration is the budget. Everything is very expensive, almost same level as French Polynesia, most specifically the touristic tours and attractions. Regardless, save some money, bring your snorkelling gear and book your ticket!
Hope this was helpful, you can leave comments if you need extra informations or if you have any questions or suggestions! You can checkout our summary video below built with 1 second a day.
Read Next ⏭️
Our 5 days stay in Isla Isabela.