A trip to the Galapagos Islands is, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime. But as departure day draws near and your excitement grows, paying attention to your Galapagos packing list is important.
As you prepare for your trip to this highly remote destination, it’s essential to have a thorough Galapagos packing list to ensure you don’t forget any essential items because the Galapagos Islands are not around the corner.
Being adequately prepared matters, not just because of the terrain you’ll be visiting but because you’ve only got one chance to get your packing right.
Most of the islands in the Galapagos are uninhabited and located miles from civilization—needless to say, there are no stores in these pristine spots.
It’s wise to plan carefully and pack carefully, which is all part of the fun!
First, where exactly are the Galapagos Islands?
The Galápagos Islands are a group of 19 major islands that belong to Ecuador, northwestern South America.
The 13 main islands are Baltra, Española, Fernandina, Floreana, Genovesa, Isabela, Marchena, Pinta, Pinzon, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, and Santiago.
It takes approximately 2 hours via airplane to get to/from the Galapagos from Ecuador’s mainland.
Pro Tip: Do not book your flight until you know how you want to visit the Galapagos.
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Whether you’re going on a Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise or exploring the islands on a land-based trip, I’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide on what to pack for Galapagos.
So, let’s dive in and ensure you have everything you need for an unforgettable journey.
Understanding the Galapagos Climate and Packing Accordingly
The Galapagos Islands’ climate will determine what you pack. With its location near the equator, the islands experience warm temperatures throughout the year.
However, the climate can vary depending on the season, so it’s important to pack accordingly.
Also, when preparing your packing list for Galapagos, it’s essential to understand the difference between wet and dry landings.
These terms refer to how you will disembark from your boat when visiting the various islands.
During a wet landing, your boat will anchor near the shore, and you will have to step into the water to reach the land.
This means you’ll need to pack water shoes or sandals that can get wet and dry quickly. You may also want to bring a waterproof bag to protect your electronic devices, including your camera gear and cellphone, or you can purchase a waterproof phone case.
On the other hand, a dry landing means you can step directly onto the ground without getting your feet wet.
This is not the time for light or flimsy walking shoes.
Both wet and dry landings are common in the Galapagos Islands, so it’s essential to be prepared for both.
By including appropriate footwear for wet and dry landings on your packing list for the Galapagos, you’ll be ready to hike and explore the islands quickly.
TOP 5 ESSENTIAL ITEMS
|The bag allows you to store iPhone 7 Plus, power band, etc., with several separate small compartments inside; it can effectively keep small items like makeup, tissue, keys, and so on.
|Water bottle *
|By the way, you’ll receive a reusable water bottle when you board the Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise.
|Ziploc-style baggie with your medication
|Even though our Galapagos cruises feature an onboard medical officer available 24/7, please remember to pack any specific and essential prescription medication.
|This item keeps your valuables dry as you hop on and off the dinghy, or panga, on your way to and from aquatic and land activities.)
|Waterproof, see-through phone pouch
|This item is helpful for taking photos underwater or aboard a panga, as it keeps your phone dry and protected.
Galapagos Packing List
Lightweight Walking Shoes
You’ll scramble over spiky lava and along rocky trails in the Galapagos. Therefore, high heels and flip-flops should stay at home.
It’s too hot for heavy-duty mountaineering boots; in any case, you can’t leave the marked trails, so they’re unnecessary. Opt for sturdy, lightweight hiking shoes, or tennis shoes, and add some thin, wicking hiking socks in there, too.
2. Water Shoes
A pair of lightweight water shoes is a helpful addition to your packing; you can also use these for walks on some gentler hikes. Again, don’t bank on stepping off the Zodiac in flip-flops. Chances are, they’ll get washed away, or you’ll topple gently into the shallows.
If you can, dress in plain khakis and beiges and save your more creative dressing for evenings. Avoid anything white for daywear, too, as there’s a lot of dust from the volcanic rocks and soil. Don’t pack too much black; you may overheat under the intense sun.
Choose lightweight hiking pants and shorts or pants with zip-off legs. The Galapagos is on the equator, so it’s always warm and often hot and humid. On hikes, you’ll most likely be more comfortable in shorts, but for activities like a sunset Zodiac ride through the mangroves, long pants will protect you against mosquitoes.
long sleeve shirt
A T-shirt or lightweight shirt that covers your shoulders offers better protection than a tank top. Cover kids as much as you can, too, as nobody wants to be dealing with sunburns when they should be out enjoying the adventure.
Also, pack a few short-sleeved shirts because it does get relatively warm especially if you are on a Galapagos cruise.
While it does rain in the Galapagos, it’s almost always warm; temperatures range from around 75F to a balmy 86F. January through June is the wet season, particularly March and April, so pack a light rain jacket or something waterproof to keep yourself dry on hikes, especially if you’re visiting the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, where a cool mist can hang in the air.
If you’ve got space, pack more than one swimsuit. You could be in the water in the morning and again in the afternoon, and it’s always nice not to have to pull on a soggy bathing suit or wet suit as you prepare to hang out at some of the most beautiful Galapagos beaches.
Insects aren’t a problem in the Galapagos. Mosquitoes are rare in a marine desert environment like this and even rarer when you’re at sea. If you’re concerned, though, or plan to travel further on mainland South America, pack a small roll-on of bug repellant.
TOP 5 WEARABLE ITEMS
|Wide-brimmed hat or cap with strap *
|A strap keeps your hat from flying off as you travel along in the dinghy.
|Short-sleeve cotton T-shirts
|Hop on and hop off without changing shoes! Don’t worry about getting wet or slipping. Use these on expeditions and aboard the ship.
|Long-sleeve expedition-style shirts *
|Long sleeves protect you from the firm and direct sunlight along the equator. As an extra layer, being able to roll your sleeves up or down gives you the ability to adjust to the elements and remain comfortable.
|Convertible cargo pants *
|Similar to long-sleeve expedition-style shirts, these lightweight pants with removable lower legs allow you to remain comfortable and cool or warm and dry, whether hiking along the coast or hanging out on one of the ship’s outdoor decks.
|Water-resistant, closed-toe sport sandals with non-slippery soles
|Hop on and hop off without changing shoes! Don’t worry about getting wet or slipping.
Even on cloudy days, you’ll need a strong sunblock for the equatorial sun. Consider a mineral-based, ocean-friendly brand, and never assume that sunscreen is 100% waterproof. Should you be prone to burning, aloe vera gel is a beautiful, natural after-sun remedy, while pure lavender essential oil is excellent for a particularly sore sunburn.
Quality snorkel gear is provided on Galapagos vacations, so there’s no need to bring your own. But if you usually wear contacts and are worried about putting your face in the water, or if you use glasses and have a strong prescription, consider investing in a prescription snorkel mask.
Sun protection for your head is essential on the equator. The Galapagos can get pretty windy, and if you’re riding around on a Zodiac, there will always be a breeze. Therefore, choose a hat that won’t blow away. A wide-brimmed hat or visor will help protect your face against the sun; children need decent sun hats, too. Add a bandana to your luggage if your neck is prone to burning.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED ITEMS
I also recommend bringing the following:
|This is an excellent item for protecting your neck when it gets too sunny or while traveling aboard the dinghy.
|Back on board the ship, you may want to change into something more comfortable.
|It can get a little windy out at sea, particularly during the Galapagos dry season.
|Warm sweater or fleece
|It can get a little chilly at night; an extra layer can provide you with just the right amount of comfort and warmth.
|Casual pants, shorts, dress, or skirt
|Wear neutral-tone pants, shorts or skirts to blend in with the background.
|It’s a good idea to bring two (2), in case you want to change suits between aquatic activities
|You’ll be glad you brought some extra footwear when your sandals are still drying.
|Sandals and/or comfortable shoes
|When your sandals are still drying, you’ll be glad you brought some extra footwear.
You’ll undoubtedly need sunglasses in the bright light of the islands. If you’re buying a new pair, go for polarized glass, as it’s easier to spot sea turtles and rays in the water that way. Invest in a neoprene strap to hold onto your glasses; it’s too easy to lose them when jumping off a Zodiac or not paying attention during a hike.
You’ll be ashore for hikes most days. Therefore, a small day pack to stash your camera, sunscreen, and water bottle will be handy. On some more challenging hikes, a backpack will be more beneficial than a shoulder bag as you’ll want your hands free.
You’ll need extra storage capacity for images and video. You’ll always take more photographs than you expected, and nobody wants to run out of storage space in the middle of an epic trip, so please make sure you bring extra memory cards.
Perhaps the most important item to bring to the Galapagos is your camera. Nowhere else in the world has such incredible opportunities for photographing wildlife that is entirely unafraid of you and will pose obligingly, if unwittingly, for photos.
A zoom lens can make pictures all the more dazzling. A GoPro, too, is great for snorkeling in the Galapagos or action shots like zooming along in a Zodiac or recording sea lions frolicking in the water.
One item that should be on your Galapagos packing list is a reusable water bottle. Galapagos does not play about the environment and plastics.
Not only will a reusable water bottle help you stay hydrated during your adventures on the islands, but it also has the added benefit of being eco-friendly.
By bringing a reusable water bottle, you can reduce your use of plastic water bottles and help minimize plastic waste in the Galapagos Islands.
The tap water in the Galapagos Islands is safe to drink, so you can easily refill your bottle wherever you go, especially on cruise ships.
So, pack a reusable water bottle and do your part to protect the Galapagos.
PORTABLES AND GEAR
|Keep in mind that we provide eco-friendly amenities in every cabin.
|Waterproof sunblock * and lip balm (SPF 50+)
|The sun is exhausting, so please don’t forget the sunblock
|Insect repellent *
|You won’t encounter many mosquitos in the Galapagos, but it never hurts to have some on hand.
|Don’t forget to bring your binoculars especially for birdwatching
|Camera, plus extra memory cards and batteries
|If you have a nice camera you want to use on this trip, bring it!
|Device chargers and adapters if necessary
|There is very little wifi so be prepared to have your battery drained
|Prescription snorkeling mask or specialized snorkel equipment
|Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling mask
Personal Care Items to Pack for the Galapagos Islands
When packing for your trip to the Galapagos Islands, don’t forget about personal care items!
These essential items will help you stay fresh and comfortable because it will sometimes be hot, tired, and uncomfortable because of the weather and lots of hiking.
First and foremost, bring a good sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from the intense equatorial sun. In addition to sunscreen, you will also need a rash guard because you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, so it’s crucial to keep your skin protected from harmful UV rays.
Don’t forget a travel-sized deodorant to stay odor-free throughout the day because you will be funky after all of the hiking!
If you’re prone to motion sickness, bringing motion sickness medication or wristbands is a good idea.
The waters around the islands can sometimes be choppy, and having these items on hand will ensure you won’t throw up during or after the boat rides.
Lastly, pack any prescription medications you may need during your trip. Bringing a basic first aid kit with essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and any personal medications or medical supplies you may require is also a good idea.
Top Tips for Light and Eco-Friendly Packing
When packing for your trip to the Galapagos Islands, it’s essential to consider the impact of your choices on the environment because Galapagos does not play a role in protecting the environment and marine wildlife.
Here are some top tips for light and eco-friendly packing that will help you minimize your carbon footprint and positively impact the islands.
Firstly, try to pack light. Opt for multi-purpose items that can be worn or used in different ways to save space and reduce the weight of your luggage.
This will make it easier to navigate the islands and decrease your transportation’s fuel consumption.
Next, consider bringing eco-friendly toiletries and personal care items.
Choose biodegradable or natural alternatives to minimize the use of chemicals that can harm the delicate ecosystems of the Galapagos.
Look for products free from harsh chemicals, microplastics, and excess packaging.
Additionally, bring a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic waste. The tap water in the Galapagos Islands is safe to drink, so you can easily refill your bottle throughout your trip.
Remember to also bring a reusable shopping bag for any souvenirs or snacks you may purchase, avoiding the use of single-use plastic bags.
Common Packing Mistakes to Avoid
Avoiding common packing mistakes can make a big difference in your Galapagos adventure.
One of the most common mistakes is overpacking, precisely what I did 😩😩😩.
It can be tempting to bring tons of clothing options for every possible scenario, but remember that the Galapagos is a casual and relaxed destination so it is unnecessary to have a million outfits.
Stick to lightweight and versatile clothing items that you can mix and match. Focus on essentials and leave behind unnecessary items.
Another mistake to avoid is forgetting to pack essential documents. Make sure you have a printed copy of your passport, visa, travel insurance, and any reservations or confirmations.
Having these documents readily available in case of unforeseen circumstances is always a good idea.
Lastly, don’t forget to pack a reusable water bottle and shopping bag.
These items reduce waste and come in handy during your excursions.
By avoiding these common packing mistakes, you’ll be well-prepared and ready to make the most of your Galapagos adventure.
Last but not least – travel insurance. It’s not just a safety net; it’s a smart move.
From unexpected flight changes to unforeseen medical issues, having that extra layer of protection ensures you can focus on soaking in Ecuador’s wonders worry-free.
It’s also important to carry a printed copy of your travel insurance policy, covering medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and any potential evacuation from the islands.
So, pack your bags, grab your passport, and prepare for an unforgettable journey in this South American gem!
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Must-Have Travel Documents for Your Galapagos Trip
As you prepare for the Galapagos Islands, ensuring you have all the necessary travel documents is crucial.
These documents are essential for a smooth and hassle-free trip to this remote and unique destination.
First, ensure you have a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining.
The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador, so if you’re not a citizen of Ecuador, you’ll need a passport to enter the country.
In addition to your passport, you’ll need to obtain a tourist visa upon arrival in Ecuador.
This visa allows you to stay in the country for up to 90 days. Be sure to prepare your return or onward flight ticket, as immigration officials may ask for proof of departure.
Travel Credit Card: We book international trips on our favorite travel credit card, the American Express Platinum Card.
Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card also offers fantastic travel perks, like no foreign transaction fees, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, all of which helps protect us on our travels.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your itinerary and any confirmations for accommodations or tours you’ve booked in advance.
These documents can be handy in case of any confusion or if you need to provide proof of your plans to authorities.
Best Galapagos Tours
If you’re planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, you’re probably looking for the best Galapagos tours to make the most of your time, whether San Cristobal Islands, Santa Cruz, or Española.
I suggest booking with Metropolitan Tours to explore the Galapagos Islands, where you will discover unique wildlife and learn about the island’s fascinating history and conservation efforts.
Another popular option is a Hurtigruten Cruise, which allows you to experience daily activities on multiple islands and experience a range of activities, from snorkeling with sea turtles to hiking through volcanic terrain.
These tours typically provide all-inclusive packages with meals, accommodation, and guided excursions, making it a convenient way to explore the Galapagos. It is how I experienced the Galapagos Islands.
For those who prefer a land-based experience, tour options offer staying in eco-friendly lodges and hotels on the islands.
These tours often include guided day trips to various sites, such as the Charles Darwin Research Station or the famous lava tunnels.
No matter which type of tour you choose, it’s essential to research and book with a reputable company that prioritizes sustainable and responsible tourism practices.
Ultimately, the best Galapagos tour depends on your preferences and interests. Whether you choose a cruise or a land-based tour, select one that allows you to fully immerse yourself in the unique beauty and biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands.
And don’t forget a comfortable day pack to carry your essentials during your outings.
Conclusion: Everything You Need For Your Galapagos Adventure
In conclusion, crafting the perfect Galápagos adventure starts with smart packing. From lightweight, breathable clothes to sturdy hiking shoes, the Galápagos packing list is your key to comfortable excursions.
Pack your curiosity and sense of adventure as you prepare to set foot on these islands. Ready to dive into the Galápagos experience fully prepared?
Click here to access my Amazon packing list, ensuring you pack everything you need for an incredible island escape. Your adventure begins with the right gear—let’s ensure you’re ready for the Galápagos experience of a lifetime!
Also, click here if you need my Travel packing List. You can find everything from drones, Snorkeling Gear, Hiking, Back packs, Cargo Pants, and more for your Next Trip.
HOW DO I GET TO GALAPAGOS?
Visiting the Galapagos Islands is a dream for many travelers, and getting there is easier than you might think. To travel to the archipelago, visitors must first fly to one of two major international airports on Ecuador’s mainland: Quito’sMariscal Sucre International Airport(UIO) or Guayaquil’s José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE).
These two airports offer numerous daily domestic flights to the Galapagos Islands, most of which depart from the mainland early in the day.
This is why you must spend at least one night in Quito or Guayaquil on your way to the Islands.
Flights to the Galapagos arrive at either the Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on the island of Baltra or the San Cristóbal Airport (SCY) on the island of San Cristóbal.
GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR: KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- ✈️ Airport: Seymour Galapagos Airport, Baltra Island (airport code: GPS)
⏰ Time Zone: GMT -6.
- 💰 Currency: USD
- 🗣 Language: Spanish, though English is quite common
- 🎫 Ecuador Visa: The vast majority of travelers do not need a visa for the Galapagos — this includes Americans, Canadians, Japanese, and most Europeans.
- 🔌 Electricity Socket: You’ll mostly find Type A (two-prong) and Type B (three-prong) — the same as used in the United States. For visitors from other countries, you’ll need this universal travel adaptor.
- 📲 Galapagos SIM Card: Wondering, Do I need a SIM card for Galapagos? The answer is yes; every traveler will need one.
- 🚙 Car Rentals: The Galapagos rental car. The rental process can be a bit daunting, and many people are apprehensive about driving in a foreign country. I get it!
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I hope my Galapagos Packing list for a Hurtigruten Expedition relieved the stress of preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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