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How to Get to Galapagos Island Destinations

Are you wondering how to get to Galapagos from Ecuador? I have all the need-to-know information about how to get to the Galapagos Islands. In this guide to how to get to Galapagos Island destinations, I’ll help you plan a stress-free travel experience.

If Charles Darwin did it in the 1800s, we know it’s possible! Luckily for us, today’s route includes less seasickness and nutrient deficiency. Your arrival time will also be more accurate, give or take a few minutes, rather than days or weeks.

Times have changed, but the magic of the Galapagos largely remains. There are more amenities on the main islands today, but that doesn’t detract from the landscape’s raw, natural brilliance. If you’re planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, I’m excited for you—expect a once-in-a-lifetime experience that most only dream of. Now, let’s talk about how to get to Galapagos from Ecuador.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Galapagos Island ToursClick here to check out the top Galapagos Island tours
Best Galapagos Island Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Galapagos Island
Best Galapagos Island Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Galapagos Island

How Do You Get to the Galapagos Islands?

There are three main steps to consider when planning how to get to the Galapagos Islands:

  1. Travel to Ecuador (through Quito or Guayaquil)
  2. Choose your Galapogas arrival airport
  3. Hop on a flight

Of course, there is more to it than that—keep reading for the full lowdown!

1. Travel to Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and don’t operate international flights—to get there, you must first travel to Ecuador. 

This isn’t an issue as Ecuador is easily accessible, with two major international airports: Quito and Guayaquil. If you’re planning how to get to Galapagos from Ecuador, you will fly from one of these airports, as they offer direct island flights.

Galapagos flights from Quito and Guayaquil take around two hours. The flight from Guayaquil is slightly shorter, but it isn’t significantly different.

Those interested in seeing mainland Ecuador should go through Quito. The city has a beautiful historic center (designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978), the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas, a cable car into the surrounding mountains, and the famous “middle of the world” monument at the equator.

If you have time, you won’t regret spending a few days in Quito before heading to paradise on Earth. As a bonus, you’ll get to sample traditional Ecuadorian food you won’t find on the islands. Guayaquil isn’t as nice a city as Quito, and there are safety concerns for solo travelers—I don’t recommend flying there.

How to get to the Galapagos Islands | Galapagos Islands

2. Choose Your Galapagos Arrival Airport

Now that you know how to get to Galapagos from Ecuador, you must decide where to arrive on the islands.

You can land on Baltra Island at Seymour Airport or San Cristobal Island at Airport Isla San Cristobal. The Seymour Airport (Baltra) is a short and straightforward ferry ride from the main island of Santa Cruz. Most travelers arrive through Baltra, which offers direct flights from Quito and Guayaquil.

San Cristobal Island only has direct flights from Guayaquil. If you are coming from Quito, there’s a 45-minute layover in Guayaquil before heading to San Cristobal.

If you already have a Galapagos Cruise planned, find out which island it departs from and arrive there to reduce logistical hassle. Chances are, your cruise will leave from Baltra Island, where the Seymour Airport is located. Your tour guides will meet you at the airport and lead you to the port to embark on your Galapagos journey. 

To save money on a last-minute cruise, try booking one in Quito or Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Talk to several tour agencies for a sense of prices and the type of cruises offered. Different itineraries accommodate various budgets, from bare-bones to ultra-luxury cruises. Going this route usually saves a few hundred bucks, but it might add a bit of stress to your journey.

Plan on doing a DIY Galapagos tour, where you arrive on the islands and hop around, finding your own adventures. You’ll have to do more research, but you can tailor your arrival and departure airports to best suit your itinerary.

How to get to Galapagos Islands | Galapagos Islands | Map of South America

3. Hop On a Flight

Now that you’ve figured out how to get to the Galapagos Islands, you’re ready to hop on a flight! I have several essential tips for traveling to and around the Galapagos Islands, so keep reading for more critical info.

Looking for a place to stay in the Galapagos Islands?

Galapagos Verde Azul
Hostal El Pinzón
Ikala Galapagos Hotel
Royal Palm Galapagos

How to Get to Galapagos Islands: What to Know

1. Bring Cash

One of my top tips for anyone wondering how to get to Galapagos Island destinations is to bring plenty of cash. There aren’t reliable ATMs, and paying with a card won’t be an option in most places—in Galapagos, cash is king.

In Ecuador, the official currency is the United States dollar. This is helpful if you’re coming from the States, and dollars are easy enough to get if you’re coming from elsewhere.

If you’ve paid for your cruise online, you’ve already saved a lot of hassle. Budget at least $1,000 per person for a last-minute cruise, plus enough to cover additional travel costs.

Remember, it’s customary to tip the crew at the end of your tour. While your food and drink will be covered, you’ll likely have to pay extra for alcoholic beverages. You must also account for the $100 Galapagos Islands park entrance fee.

Getting cash in the Galapagos is possible, but it isn’t easy. I suggest assuming you won’t be able to withdraw some money and bring enough with you to cover your expenses.

How to Get To Galapagos

2. TCT Registration Form

You bought your flights, booked your cruise, and are ready to explore the Galapagos Islands, right? Almost, but not yet—there are several administrative things to sort out at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil before you can visit the islands.

You must obtain a transit control card (TCT) to enter the Galapagos Islands. This can be filled out at the airport, or you can do it online in advance to save time by clicking the following link:

TCT Pre-Registration Form

Navigation options are on the left side of the screen—click “Pre-Registro TCT,” then “Pre-Registro Individual,” and fill out your details.

The card costs $20, but before you get it, the airport authorities will check your bag to ensure you’re not bringing prohibited items to the park. Most restrictions revolve around animal and plant products, but here’s a complete list of the restricted products.

After the authorities are satisfied, you’ll be given your TCT card. Make sure you don’t lose it! You must show this card upon arrival to the islands and departure, so put it in a safe place.

How to Get To Galapagos

3. Galapagos Entry Fee

There’s one last matter to consider before you can enjoy the islands. Once you arrive, you must pay the park entry fee. For most, it will be $100 and can only be paid in cash, so factor it into your trip budget.

If you’re traveling with someone under 12, the entry fee is $50. Ecuadorians pay only $6 to enjoy their country’s natural wonders, while citizens of other South American countries receive a 50% discount on the foreign price.

There’s no negotiating these prices or asking why some people pay more than others—have your cash ready and hand it over with a smile.

You’re now ready to enjoy the Galapagos Islands!

How to get to the Galapagos Islands | Galapagos Islands | Ecuador wildlife

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

The Best Time To Visit Ecuador

Ecuador has a lot of microclimates like its neighbor Colombia. So there is no bad time to visit Ecuador. That being said, November to May is the best time to visit Ecuador if you are gonna visit the beaches.

The reason for that is during the other times it’s the dry season and the beaches are generally gloomy. If mountains are your thing, best time to visit Ecuador would be from May to November.

Galapagos Island Travel Guide Planning

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Galapagos Island?

I strongly recommend using Bookaway. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Galapagos Island?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

How to Get to the Galapagos Islands: Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide on how to get to Galapagos from Ecuador will help you plan an incredible vacation. While the Galapagos Islands aren’t the most accessible destination, they’re worth the effort. You must travel to the islands from Ecuador, so take the opportunity to explore the mainland, too. Bon voyage!

Travel guide cover featuring the Galapagos Islands with a title about how to get to the Galapagos, attributed to Claire's Itchy Feet.

Writer’s Biography: Andrew Kaminsky

Andrew is a full-time writer who specializes in travel articles and sustainable development. Born in Canada, he travels the world, learning about people, their land, their culture, and their history. His interest and curiosity in travel and humanity supplement his passion for sustainable development. In his free time, he loves to relax, share light-hearted laughs with family and friends, or engage in all things sports-related.

How to Get To Galapagos,how to get to the Galapagos