We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure.

There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

Jawaharial Nehru


Another group of Pacific islands: the Galápagos. A quite expensive place to visit. Since I am rather at the end of my trip and I still had the budget available, I decided and booked my flight last minute (2 days before) which was cheaper than expected. The return-ticket had the same price as the one way ticket to Easter Island. If you book more in advance, it’s cheaper. In order to provide a rough guide on the budget, I’ll start with a short overview on the different cases they charge you. Afterward, I have some stories and pictures to each of the three big islands that I visited. These are Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Isabela.


Traveling as the “running dollar”

Getting to and from the Galápagos

In order to get to the Galápagos Islands, you need to fly from either Quito or Guayaquil in Ecuador. Since there is not really a big difference in the price, you should consider whether you find a direct flight. Guayaquil has only direct flights, whereas many flights from Quito have a stopover in Guayaquil. I found direct flights from and to Quito. Since both Guayaquil and Esmeraldas are currently known as very unsafe places, I was happy to fly from Quito. I didn’t even check flights when I was in reasonable distance to Guayaquil (possible to reach from Cuenca without too long bus rides).

You should also consider how much time you want to spend on the islands and which islands you want to visit. Some flights arrive on Baltra Island (next to Santa Cruz by a short boat ride), others land on San Cristóbal. If you only spend a few days on Galápagos, either only go to San Cristóbal or fly to Baltra/Santa Cruz and take the ferry to Isabela. I suggest this because Santa Cruz is the most boring island of these tree with respect to wildlife and animals. If you have more time available, you may visit the three big inhabited islands and maybe even touring to another one.

At the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, you need to pay $20 just to get this paper for entering Galápagos (therefore you only need to show your flights in and out, no accommodation). Then, as soon as you arrive on the Galápagos, they charge you $100 as the national park fee. Both in cash, so you need to bring enough cash. There are ATMs on the island, but all have a fee, and you need to literally pay everything in cash.

The ferries, taxi-boats, entry fees or island tax

Whenever you take a ferry, you cannot board the ferry directly from the pier, you always need to take a taxi boat which is $1 each way. This means, visiting not only one but different islands is not only the $30 ferry ticket (only from/to Santa Cruz → Isabela to San Cristóbal are two ferry rides and as such $60). It is also $2 for two taxi boats and the $1 for using the harbor on Santa Cruz or “island tax” of $10 to enter Isabela. 


The Islands

I spent 12 days on the Galápagos in total. I heard of many people staying for only a few days because of the costs. However, if you spend fewer days, the “cost per day” is even higher considering all the fees. Even if you don’t stay super long, one week is the minimum I recommend. Moreover, if you want to go diving (expensive but really cool), you need some time for that.


Isla Santa Cruz

This island is the most touristy one in my opinion. I assume this is also why there is not only one town but actually 3 towns: Puerto Ayora, rather a city, Bellavista and Santa Rosa. I stayed in Puerto Ayora where the huge majority of tourist accommodations, tour providers, restaurants, and the port are located. You can visit Bellavista and/or Santa Rosa by a local bus ($1).


On this island, I visited the beaches Tortuga Bay and Playa de los Alemanes ($1 by taxi boat from the port and a short walk). In order to get to Tortuga Bay, you need to walk for approximately 2 km (free) or take a water-shuttle ($10 one-way). Moreover, from Playa de los Alemanes, you can walk to Las Grietas, an inland stretch of crystal pure emerald green water located at the bottom of an earth fissure. They charge $10 entrance fee, which is still cheaper than going on a tour ($30 minimum).


There is a spot to watch turtles close to Puerto Ayora but there, the turtles are rather young and enclosed. The bigger and much older ones are on the highlands (center) of the island, close to Santa Rosa. So I took the bus to Santa Rosa and walked to one of the farms. They charge $10 entrance fee as well. If you don’t want to pay this, you may as well enjoy the turtles on the way, next to or on the road. Therefore, I didn’t visit any turtle breeding centers on one of the other islands. It would have been an enclosure with entrance fee (like a zoo).


Isla San Cristóbal

To me, San Cristóbal had the best mix of town-life and nature. This island has no island tax and doesn’t charge for visiting beaches or turtles. However, there is no public bus, so wherever you go, you either need to walk or pay for a taxi. The only town of the island is called Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and the airport is even close enough to be in walking distance. I passed its runway on the way to La Loberia beach.


There are beautiful beaches which you can reach by walking. La Loberia, where you can snorkel with many turtles and even some sea lions and other fish. Playa Mann, where you’ll find many sea lions. From the Centro de Interpretationes, you can walk to the tijeretas viewpoint, a snorkeling spot where you can swim with sea lions and the Playa Punta Carola.


Then, I did a “360°-Tour”. San Cristóbal is small enough to circle the island in a one-day trip. We stopped at different beaches, the crew went fishing, and we went snorkeling, even at Kicker’s Rock. I really recommend this tour, even though the boat ride was quite bumpy (waves). Apart from that, there are not really other tours you would need to do on this island.


I also went diving on Kicker’s rock, because this is the spot to encounter Hammerhead sharks. We’ve indeed seen some hammerheads, among many other fish, rays, sea lions, sea stars and some coral.


Isla Isabela

This island is the biggest of the three, having the tiniest village (Puerto Villamil). Nevertheless, Isabela is the only one of these three islands where you may also see flamingos and the Galápagos penguins. Therefore, it’s worth visiting Isabela for its animals.


I did a tour to “Los Tuneles”, former lava tunnels which have cooled down. This is a great area for snorkeling. We saw rays, sharks, turtles, a seahorse, and penguins. Apart from that, Concha Perla is a great snorkeling spot where you can walk to.


Puerto Villamil also has a long beach, for swimming, relaxing, chilling in a restaurant and watching the sunset. Both the Laguna Salinas in town and some other lagunas along the way until the Laguna de Flamencos are the habitat of the flamingos. I spotted them on the first and last laguna and the whole walk including spotting them is for free.

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