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Galapagos Islands were hands down one of my favorite destinations. The wildlife is like no other anywhere else we have traveled to. Ecuador has some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Even with breaking a leg in San Cristobal, I cannot wait to go back some day! We visited three islands during our trip. Santa Cruz, Isabella and San Cristobal. It seemed to FLY by but we saw a lot of amazing wildlife and nature.
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The islands of Galapagos have two seasons. December to May is considered the warm season and the cool season from June to November. The warm season has a mixture of warmth, rain, and sun. Temperates are on average from 80ºF to 90ºF. Water temperatures are about 70ºF to 80ºF. The cool season has temperatures from 70ºF to 80ºF with water temperatures cooler at 65ºF to 75ºF. The climate is more cloudy, cool and dry during the cool season.
The cooler and dry season supplies nutrient-rich waters, which in turn brings marine life close to the islands. This is a prime season for scuba diving. Even though we visited in the warm season, we were still able to scuba dive and see plenty of sharks, stingrays, manta rays, turtles and even Penguins and Sea Lions!
US dollars are widely accepted in the Galapagos Islands. We brought plenty of cash on hand as we heard a lot of places take cash only. While there was definitely a good amount that took credit cards and we used any chance we could get, we did need cash for taxis, entry fees, and payment to ferries and different tour groups. I would suggest bringing a wide arrangement of small bills as well.
Having to utilize medical attention on any vacation is never planned. However, one thing to note is if you do need medical attention while in the islands, it is free in Ecuador. With that being said, medical care on the islands is still limited. There is no acute cardiac or surgical care on the islands. If you have a serious illness however, you will be evacuated to Ecuador or the US on your own dime. Unless of course, you have your own travel insurance, which is always recommended.
If you are a scuba diver, having some type of dive insurance is recommended as well. The island of Santa Cruz has a privately owned decompression chamber. There is also a second decompression chamber located in Ecuador, operated by the Ecuadorian Navy.
10 day itinerary for Galapagos Islands
Day 1: Travel Day!
Buffalo NY to Quito, Ecuador
Accomodation: Quito Airport Shuttles Hotel – $44 for the night
- 24 Hour Shuttle ($5)
- 10-15 minutes from the airport.
Day 2: Santa Cruz – 2 days
Flying to the islands you must get to the airport 2-3 hours early. We actually were super close to missing our flight as the lines took a really long time. You have to pay $100 entry fee as well as have your bags checked.
Flight: Quito to Baltra 6:30-9:00 AM
Note: To get to Santa Cruz, you fly into Baltra Island. You then have to get on a bus to the ferry port which is $5 per person. At the Ferry port, it is $1 per person and that will take you over to the port at Santa Cruz. You can then get a taxi or bus to town. It will be about 45 minutes into Santa Cruz. A taxi will be about $25. The bus is $2 per person and you can get off at the ferry port in town.
Accomodation: Galapagos Morning Glory – we booked using Airbnb for about $55 a night.
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- Rancho Primicias
- Lava Tunnels
- Charles Darwin Research Station
Day 3: Scuba Diving Santa Cruz
- Scuba Diving at Gordon Rocks- Academy Bay Diving
- Tortuga Bay
- Make sure to walk down to the pier at night to see sharks, turtles, manta rays and animals swimming at night
Day 4: Isabella- 1.5 day
Accommodation: Hostal Jennifer Airbnb. $50/night
- Ferry from Santa Cruz to Isabella
- Taxi to the hotel was super quick as Ferry is close to the main town.
- Tour Los Tuneles
Day 5: Isabella/San Cristobal
- Kayaking Tour- Paddle to the Penguins – $150 for 2 people
- Walk to see Pink Flamingos
- Flight to San Cristobal at 1 PM- 45-minute flight. Planes only fit 8 people so book in advance! We paid $254.50/PP
San Cristobal 2.5 days
Accommodation: Galapagos Eco-Friendly – $116/night – seriously the best hosts and the place was great. You can even drink the water here as they have their own filtration system!!
- The hotel picked us up and gave a tour of the town – walked around and explored
- Muyu for dinner (SO good)
- Scuba Diving Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock) with Wreck bay Diving – $380.80 total
- Galapaguera Tour – We just hopped in a cab and did a tour did not book anything but the taxi driver knew where to go.
- El Junco Lagoon
- Tree House
- Puerto Chino Beach
- Charles Darwin Interpretation Center
- half a day before our flight back to Quito at 12:50-5:10pm.
- Packed and went to town in the morning.
Accommodation: Hotel San Francisco de Quito – Sucre Oe3-17 y Guayaquil
- Quito Day trip to cloud forest
- Cloud Forest
- Hummingbird Paradise at Reserva Alambi
- Minjoy Park Cable Car Ride
- Yumbos Chocolate
- Ecuador en la Mitad Del Mundo
- Museo Inti Nan (be sure to bring your passport to have it stamped!)
Day 10- Travel Home!
- Flights home UIO-BUF
Tips for Galapagos Islands
- USE a travel rewards card! Our Top Credit Cards are listed here. (We never leave home without our Chase Sapphire Cards for our travel cards).
- Sunrise to Sunset is typically 6am-6pm in April
- Entry to the islands is $100 per person when you land in the islands. Bring cash.
- Isabella has NO ATM. Be sure to bring cash from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal
- You can fly to Galapagos Islands from Quito or Guayaquil. Fly into Santa Cruz (Baltra Airport) or San Cristobal
- The Internet is useless. Literally we couldn’t use social media the entire week. Even with T-Mobile Service we had no data but could at least text.
- I recommend bringing some type of sun shirt. I had a great UV protectant shirt from our trip to Hawaii and it helped protect my arms after I got a little burned. It also kept me cool even though it was warm out.
- Sunscreen! You are right by the equator. It is very hot and sunny. We both got burned and were putting on sunscreen.
I’d love to hear down in the comments below or over in our 7,100+ Member Basic Travel Facebook Group!
Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions or any other tips to visiting Galapagos Islands! You will love planning a trip here and it will be an experience unlike any other place you have ever visited.
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