How to get to the Galápagos Islands
The recommended means of getting to the Galápagos Islands is by plane, with getting to Galápagos from Ecuador relatively easy. It is impossible to fly directly to the islands internationally, so typically a layover on the mainland of Ecuador is included in your travels.
Most flights are around a 2-hour transit from Quito (Mariscal Sucre International Airport – UIO) or Guayaquil (Jose Joaquin del Olmedo International Airport – GYE) airports, which both have international airports, and depart multiple times each day.
While possible, it’s not recommended as this journey can take up to 3 or more days and is likely to lack your normal comforts.
How to get around the Galápagos Islands
The best way to get around the Galápagos Islands is by boat, as they are the most extensive mode of transportation in the Galápagos. There are a few other ways to traverse the islands, should you wish.
If you have pre-booked a Galápagos Islands cruise, all travelling will be taken care of for you. With their advanced navigation systems, ability to travel greater distances, and special permission to access certain visitor sites within the Galápagos National Park, cruises can take you to the most remote islands of the archipelago, such as Fernandina, Española, and Genovesa.
Please note, though, that not all islands are accessible, some being strictly off-limits to tourism for research and protection purposes.
If you aren’t booked on a cruise, to travel between the Galápagos Islands your next best option is island hopping using the island of Santa Cruz as your central hub. You can island hop between eight of the islands, the four inhabited islands (Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela and Floreana) and four uninhabited ones close to Santa Cruz (Seymour, Bartolomé, Plazas, and Sante Fe).
Should you wish to visit one of the other inhabited islands you have the option of three transportation methods, a small-seater plane, ferry, or speedboat. Your choice will depend on time constraints, as well as budget and personal preferences.
Compared to boating, flying is a faster (albeit more expensive) way to explore the Galápagos’ main islands. This is a great option for those attracted to the independence that island hopping offers, but who also want to save on time, as well as have that bit more comfort.
Keep in mind the carrier’s luggage restrictions: Each bag must weigh less than 9 kg (20 lb).
Numerous inter-island ferries (known locally as lanchas or fibras) travel between Santa Cruz Island and San Cristóbal Island, and Santa Cruz Island and Isabela Island.
Public ferries, which are operated by multiple private boat owners, sail from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island and Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island, once or twice daily.
Private companies also offer speed boat transfers, with a higher price and faster journey time to the public ferries. The boats are quite small so if you’re susceptible to motion sickness we’d recommend taking some tablets beforehand. You may also want to take a waterproof or poncho as the ride can get quite wild and bumpy. Accessing some islands will also require taking a short water taxi ride to a pier as boats stop just short of the shore.
Taxis, water taxis, and bike
On the inhabited islands themselves, you can use public transportation to get around. There are taxis, water taxis, and bike rentals available, and the towns are all easy to navigate on-foot.
Taxi and water taxi services are available in Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Villamil
Buses are not readily available on most of the islands, but to get from Seymour Airport to Puerto Ayora, you can take one to a ferry before reaching Santa Cruz Island and climbing aboard another bus
Biking and walking are easy and affordable means of getting around tourist areas