The Galapagos Islands are an insanely magical place, with crystal clear blue waters, sea lions roaming around everywhere and some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. But unless you’ve done a tonne of research into Galapagos travel tips or know someone who’s been there, it can be really tough to know what to expect.

I recently spent three weeks chilling out on three of the islands. Exploring everything they have to offer. And realised there were a huge amount of things I wish I had known before I’d boarded my flight out of Ecuador. So in order to help YOU maximise your Galapagos experience, here’s 11 things I wish I had known before visiting the Galapagos. You ultimate Galapagos Islands travel guide.

1. It’s not as expensive as everyone says

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A blue footed boobie spotted on our Los Tunneles tour.
While a return trip to the Galapagos Islands does cost about $300+ USD. If you travel the Galapagos land based rather than taking a cruise you can save a tonne of money. I have a whole article that covers exactly how you do this – How I Travelled The Galapagos for $26 a day. But in short; you can find accommodation for as little as $15 per night; You can eat menu del día for as little as $4; and most activities are free – you can check out my guide to DIY adventures in San Cristobal here. Where you will need to invest a bit of money is on the tours that leave from each of the islands. They usually start at around $100 and Kicker Rock on San Cristobal and Los Tunneles from Isabella are the only two I’d take if you’re trying to stick to a budget.

2. However, It will cost you $120 USD before you set foot out of the airport

In order to maintain the national park and surrounds you need to pay two fees before visiting the Galápagos Islands. $20 USD at the airport before you leave mainland Ecuador. And then $100 USD at the airport once you arrive on the Galapagos.

3. Bring a snorkel

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A sea Iguana sunning himself
I would have saved a big chunk of money had my bought my own snorkel from the main land. As snorkeling is one of the main activities on the Galapagos Islands you really want to have one on you most days. Hiring a snorkel costs between $3 – $5 USD a day. So it will add up and constantly walking to the hire shop morning and night can get annoying and expensive… Galapagos travel tips level Expert!

4. Bring hiking stuff

One of the main things I didn’t get from reading Galapagos islands travel guides was that there are a tonne of awesome walks to do. I thought it was all about snorkeling and lying on the beach. However many of the awesome things to do in the Galapagos can only be reached by a short hike. So make sure you bring your runners and exercise gear.

5. It’s not just about the beaches

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While it’s not all about the beaches. They are pretty incredible.
If you thought my Galapagos travel tips would be all about the beaches. Think again. And yes, while the beaches are some of the most stunning I’ve ever seen. There are actually plenty of activities to do in the highlands of the islands as well. From tortoise breeding centers to incredible volcanos. So don’t don’t count the highlands out.

6. Bring repellant and sunscreen from the mainland

While you can find affordable food and accommodation on the islands, sunscreen and insect repellant are super expensive. And there are a tonne of bugs. So make sure you pack plenty.

7. Check Expedia for cheaper flights

I spent about a week searching for my flights to the Galapagos. And I don’t usually use Expedia. But for some reason checked it on a whim and the flights were half the price. The cheapest flights also leave from Guayaquil so check that route as well as Quito.

8. If you’re low on cash there are plenty of volunteer positions

One of the incredible views from San Cristobal
One of my biggest Galapagos travel tips would be to look at volunteering there. The only way I was able to afford a visit to the Galapagos was by volunteering at one of the many hotels. My accommodation and breakfast were both covered in exchange for about 3 hours of work a day. That same accommodation would have cost me $50 USD a night. So, winning!

9. Bring some motion sickness tablets

The water between the islands is some of the roughest I’ve ever been in. And I love boats and have never suffered from seasickness. But on those 2 – 3 hour ferries between the islands I felt really sick the entire time. So I can’t imagine what I would have felt like if I suffered seasickness. To avoid feeling horrible for two hours, just take the tablets, you won’t regret it. It’s nuggets like this that you’re reading a Galapagos Islands travel guide. So take the advice!

10. If you can get your hands on an under water camera. Bring it!

The snorkeling when traveling the Galapagos Islands is some of the most incredible in the entire world. Sea lions will swim up to play with you. Turtles are feeding a mere metre away from you. And the sea iguanas don’t even look twice when you get close. I really regret not having some sort of camera to capture all that underwater magic with.

11. the water can be really cold

Depending on the season. The water can be really cold. So you might want to look at packing a small wet suit or rashie vest. Just to keep you a bit warmer. And allow you to stay in the water snorkeling for longer.

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    • Emma

      Hey Sash,

      Oh so glad I could be of help. Enjoy you’re going to have an awesome time!



  1. This post was so awesome!! I’ve never been to the Galapagos but I would love to go! ! You are amazingly talented at blogging. Your talent is so inspiring and your hard work and success makes me want to keep growing my blog. Even though I’m a kid, blogging is something very important to me and I work so hard to try to grow my blog. When it gets hard and I don’t think I can make it in the blogging world, your blog reminds me of what I aspire to be and keeps me going. Thank you so much for being an inspiration to me! I’m so glad I found your blog and I look forward to more from you in the future. This is now one of my favorite blogs. There is a lot to admire about you! ❤️

    • Emma

      Wow thanks so much for your kind feedback.

      You are so kind.

      Good luck with everything. Do your research and keep trying and you’ll achieve whatever you want!



  2. Gabrielle

    Great article and so informative! Thank you!! May I ask when you were there? My family and I are traveling there in December. I’m trying to gage if there will be a difference in the water temperature. Also, my husband and I want to extend our stay and visit Isabela Island – any tips?

    • Emma

      Hi Gabrielle,

      Thanks so much for getting in touch. I was there in June which is on the cusp of the rainy season I’m pretty sure. So not sure what the weather would be like in December. Definitely extend and stay on Isabela. It’s lovely. I believe I’ve included some to-do’s for Isabela in another Galapagos article I have But basically. Take the Los Tunelles Tour. It’s really good. There’s a chance of seeing sharks, turtles, boobies and seahorses. Ride to the wall of tears, visit the flamingo estuary and the tortoise breeding centre. There is also a really cool beachside bar on the road along the path to the wall of tears 🙂

      Hope that all helps!



  3. Are wet suits available for hire? Would it be worth it to buy our own before the trip? We have snorkel gear already that I plan to bring. Thanks for the tips.

    • Hey Suzy,

      When I was there, the water was pretty warm so I didn’t need one. But there are plenty of dive hire places so I’m pretty sure you could. Re whether you should buy one. If you take a tour they should provide one for you. But if you’re going to be doing your own thing, I guess it’s just thinking about how much you’d be wearing them v the daily cost to hire. In some places a snorkel was $10 for the day. So I’m assuming a wetsuit would be a fair bit more than that! Hopefully that was helpful? Haha.

      Let me know if you have anymore questions!