Galapagos Islands Travel Guide: Costs, Top Things to Do and Everything You Need to Know

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The Galapagos Islands are easily one of the most beautiful places on earth. Dramatic landscapes and friendly (read: not afraid of humans) animals make it easy to forget where you are. Most visitors don’t want to leave after they’ve arrived and it’s not uncommon for those with more time to book one-way flights and worry about how they’ll leave later. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to spend time with wildlife that not only tolerates your presence but actively engages with you, you might want to check Galapagos out.

And before you do, you definitely have to check out my complete guide to this amazing wonder. In today’s article, we are going to talk about costs in Galapagos Island so you can easily budget for a trip there, as well as the top things to do and see. So let’s get this started, there’s a lot to read!

Galapagos Islands Costs & Budgets

Accommodation: although it is possible if you search long and hard to find a place that’s USD$15 per night those places are slowly disappearing. For one person in a private room you should expect to pay USD$20 per night. They don’t do dorms here.

Food: Prices can vary greatly from island to island. The cheapest I found was a local place on San Cristobal a Menu (drink, soup and main) for USD$3. Isla Isabella is around USD$7-$10 for the same thing and Santa Cruz is around $USD8.

Transportation: Once you are on the islands the towns are pretty small so taking a cab isn’t really an issue. To move between islands though it’s USD$30 per ferry ride. It’s best to book one-way tickets and just leave the islands when you’re ready. Ask at the dock or travel agencies what time ferries leave and book your trip same-day.

Activities: The Galapagos is more expensive with every passing year and as more visitors see that on-land touring is cheaper and suits them more than cruise ships, prices for accommodation and land-based touring go up more and more. Day trips can be anywhere between USD$40-$80 with diving easily being the most expensive thing to do on the islands at a few hundred dollars for a day trip.

Money Saving Tips

Book your cruise on the islands: if you decide to take a Galapagos cruise, book it after you’ve arrived as you will get a far better deal on last moment cruises than you would from home or even from mainland Ecuador.

Haggle: ask for a cheaper price and you will normally get it. Try to remember when you’re doing this however that the islands are generally quite expensive to live on so local’s need to make a living too.

Don’t book accommodation ahead: I found a room after I arrived in the Galapagos for $20 per night whereas a girl in the same place paid $45 because she booked online before she got there. Same thing, different prices.

Eat at the night market: there is a night market on Santa Cruz island, not only is the produce fresh but it’s cheaper to eat here than in some of the restaurants by the water and the atmosphere can be much better.

Go direct whenever possible: I booked my snorkel trip to Los Tunnels for around $20 cheaper than everyone else on my boat had paid because I booked direct with the hotel who ran them rather than through an agent or from home.

Eat like a local: ask locals where they eat their dinner and eat there. I found the most wonderful places this way and only spend a few dollars on a meal. I’d walk past the tourist places with lower quality food at four times the prices to get this food too.

Things To See And Do In the Galapagos Islands

Los Tuneles Snorkel Tour: A great way to spend a day! Remember to get your wetsuit in the price as the water is VERY cold in the Galapagos. You’ll see all sorts of marine life, on mine I saw my very first sea horse which was really exciting for me!

Kicker Rock: I dived here and had the most wonderful experience! Plenty of sharks here but also turtles, big fish and friendly sea lions.

“Highlands Tour” in Santa Cruz: I actually didn’t know this was a thing. I’d read another blogger talk about how awesome this was and recommended people go to three sites. Then when I was approaching taxi drivers, one told me I wanted the highlands tour. You can either book this through an agent or find a willing taxi driver. The tour takes you to a site to see turtles, some lava tunnels and some cliffs. A good morning or afternoon out!

Sierra Negra: A half-day hike of the volcano is really popular for the views.

Charles Darwin Research Station: The scientist’s delight this is a great spot filled with wildlife and information. Former home of the late Lonesome George it’s interesting to see his two ex-wives (not so lonesome after all) and learn about conservation efforts on the islands.

Playa Mann: Although all the beaches on the Galapagos are beautiful, this one sticks in one’s memory as being especially pretty. If you love beaches or have some spare time it’s worth checking out.

Santa Cruz Fish Market: Loved visiting here! The food’s nice but it’s great to watch the resident sea lion demand his dinner. Like a woman feeding her dog under the table, the local fish monger will slip him a little bit every now and then. Apparently he forgets that he is a big, fearsome predator who could easily take the food he wanted from the bench with no arguments from the people around him.

Darwin Bay: If you’re a lover of science you can’t go past a hike the Darwin’s Bay. Also great for swimming and snorkeling in the spot where the Beagle first made ground on the islands.

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