Let me preface this with the fact that I’m by no means an expert on traveling to the Galapagos Islands. I just wanted to share some lessons that I learned and include some resources you could use if you’re ever planning a trip to the islands.
1) Packing list –
* A light bag – We were lugging our bags on and off of boats several times a day and also had to walk to several hotels. I took a duffel bag and a backpack and that was perfect. Some people had large wheely bags and they were very challenging to lift onto the boat taxis and onto the boats that took us between the islands.
* Pack A LOT of sunscreen – I thought I packed plenty, but I didn’t consider the fact that I’d have to reapply often since I was always sweating and in the sun. Luckily our guide suggested getting some on the mainland because sunscreen on the islands was at least $30 for a very small bottle!!
* Bug spray with DEET – Trust me, there are bugs everywhere!
* Hat & sunglasses- Most of the boats we were on were open with very little places for shade. These saved my face from getting super sunburnt.
* Raincoat – I actually used my raincoat to protect my backpack more than myself from the rain, but it was nice to have one.
* The obvious shorts, tank tops, short sleeves.
* Pair of long pants & long sleeve shirt – I ended up wearing these to protect my skin from the sun on the boat.
* A few pairs of high socks – We wore rubber boots on some of our tours and people were getting really bad blisters and cuts from wearing low socks with them.
* Plastic baggies – My day pack was not waterproof, so I had to stuff everything into plastic baggies to keep them from getting wet.
* Motion sickness medicine – The boats aren’t very big and you’re on them in the open ocean for 1.5-2.5 hours at a time.
* Shoes – I packed a pair of sneakers, flip flops, and Toms. I wore all of them and never wished I had packed something different. My sneakers did get pretty smelly after all the hiking, so you may want to pack some odor eaters or baby powder!
* 2 bathing suits – I probably could’ve gotten away with one, but it was nice to have an option.
* 1st Aid Kit – I used lots of Bandaids and Neosporin on the trip. I wish I had packed anti-itch cream for the bug bites as well!
* Snorkel & face mask – If you have room, pack your own! My first snorkel had a hole in it and was pretty useless. I wished I had just packed my own!
2) Money – Ecuador uses the US dollar. Most islands don’t have easily accessible ATM’s, so make sure you have plenty of cash before leaving the mainland. It costs $100 just to get into the national park! It was also recommended that we tip each guide $3-$5 a day. I had $500 in cash for my entire week in Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands and that was just enough. Also, most places on the islands only accepted cash. No credit cards!
3) Tour group or alone? – Honestly, I would go with a tour group. It’s more expensive, but less stressful than having to find boats to take you from island to island. The boats aren’t ferries, they’re smaller fishing boats. If you liked the itinerary that my group followed, here’s the link to the Contiki website – CLICK HERE! They also have a bunch of other tours that include the Galapagos Islands as well as tours around the world!
4) Water Bottle – Even if it’s just a plastic water bottle. All the hotels have water coolers to fill up your water bottle for free. It helps protect the environment and keeps you hydrated!
5) Weather – I learned quickly that mid-70’s along the equator isn’t the same as mid-70’s back home. It was very hot and humid. I wish I had packed more tank tops and lighter colors! Also, if the weather looks stormy, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will storm all day. It would rain for a few minutes and then stop.
6) Cameras – I used 3 cameras on my trip and thought they all took great photos.
* For my underwater pictures, I used the Olympus Tough TG-850. Some of the videos didn’t turn out the best, but I knew that was an issue with the camera going in. It did, however, take really great underwater photos!
* For quick pictures, I just used my iPhone 5S. It amazes me how my cellphone can take pictures and videos almost as good as a normal point-and-shoot camera!
* I also took my Canon Rebel T4i. I was a little nervous about taking my really nice camera on the trip, but was glad I did. There were times I wished I had even taken it on some of the day trips we took. The photos always turn out great!
7) Travel Guide – I used Lonely Planet’s Ecuador & Galapagos Islands book for some of my planning. I saw at least 3 other people with the same book while traveling, so it seems to be pretty popular and useful. I’d highly recommend it!
If you think I missed anything or have any questions about the Galapagos Islands, feel free to ask!