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How to Plan a Trip to Galapagos Islands: Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: August 10, 2022

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Sea lion underwater in tidal lagoon in the Galapagos islands

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands’ ecological diversity, although fragile, immerses you in the wonders of wildlife reserves or shimmering volcanic beaches.

From hiking to snorkeling, sharks, birdwatching, iguanas, and sea lions, the Galapagos are a destination of natural charm and endless wonder.

With the following information, based on the most frequently asked questions about a Galapagos trip from travelers, we can help you plan your perfect vacation.

  1. Can I travel to the Galapagos?
  2. What is the best time to visit the Galapagos?
  3. How many days should I spend in the Galapagos?
  4. What are the most popular destinations in the Galapagos?
  5. What should I do on my trip to the Galapagos Islands?
  6. Where are the Galapagos?
  7. What are the Galapagos?
  8. How can I travel around the Galapagos?
  9. Is there wildlife in the Galapagos?
  10. Is the Galapagos a good destination for families?
  11. Is the Galapagos suitable for senior travelers?
  12. Is the Galapagos suitable for couples or honeymooners?
  13. Is the Galapagos safe for travel?
  14. What language do they speak in the Galapagos?
  15. What vaccinations do I need to travel to the Galapagos?
  16. Which airports should I plan for?
  17. Do I need a visa for the Galapagos?
  18. What currency does the Galapagos use?
  19. How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to the Galapagos?
  20. Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Can I travel to the Galapagos?

The Galapagos is open to American travelers.

American travelers planning a trip to the islands are welcome without restrictions. Entry conditions are contingent upon decisions pronounced by the Ecuadorian government, but a Zicasso travel specialist helps you understand the latest information should anything change during the planning process.

Our guide on Where Americans Can Travel Right Now can give you more information on places you can visit with few to no restrictions.

Learn more: Plan Your Trip to the GalapagosHow to Plan Your Trip to the Galapagos

What is the best time to visit the Galapagos?

The best time to visit the Galapagos is between December and May. Winter and spring provide more pleasant conditions to discover the wildlife on active tours, such as hiking or kayaking. These months also represent better sea conditions for those who want to take a cruise.

The climate may vary depending on the season, but while the temperatures may not change drastically, the seasons can range from cool and dry to warm and wet.

Learn more: Best Time to Visit the Galapagos

How many days should I spend in the Galapagos?

Seven days is the perfect amount of time to visit the Galapagos.

Whether enjoying a multi-island cruise or island hopping for a more land-based experience, a week-long trip can give you carefully planned excursions, while also allowing you a more leisurely pace to explore and enjoy the wildlife, views, and ambiance.

More days in the Galapagos will give you more time to discover the famous wilderness and more remote islands. Planning with a Zicasso travel specialist will maximize your time by tailoring the details of the trip to your timeline, needs, and goals.

What are the most popular destinations in the Galapagos?

Here is a list of the five most popular islands in the Galapagos:

  • Santa Cruz
  • San Cristobal
  • Floreana
  • Isabela Island
  • Santiago

Each island offers a different perspective of the wilderness, landscape, and geographical evolution, from blue-footed boobies to penguins, volcanic beaches to curious seals. You can learn more about these destinations and more with our 7 Best Places to Visit in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

What should I do on my trip to the Galapagos Islands?

Alongside our Galapagos travel specialists, we have created a list of our favorite highlights. Below is a short list of must-see destinations, with various experiences you can enjoy while traveling through the islands.

  • Visit the impressive underground tunnels that represent over half a mile of solidified molten lava flow
  • Enjoy a private wildlife reserve that immerses visitors in local biodiversity
  • Experience Las Tintoreras Islet as it rises out of the turquoise water
  • Kayak through still waters for a chance to engage with marine life
  • Glimpse the sheer variety and colors of birdlife
  • Search for sea turtles and giant tortoises.
  • Explore the unique heritage of the Galapagos Islands that feels simultaneously connected to and removed from the greater cultures of Ecuador.

Learn more: Top 8 Things to Do in the Galapagos Islands

Where are the Galapagos?

The Galapagos is located in Ecuador approximately 620 miles from the mainland within the Pacific Ocean. The remote islands have some of the most diverse and captivating wildlife in the world, untouched for millennia, due to their remote location. Over the years, its isolation has made it more enticing for travelers eager to witness the protected wildlife and national park area.

What are the Galapagos?

The Galapagos is an archipelago of 127 islands, islets, and rocks. Thirteen major and six smaller islands are known for hosting some of the world’s most unique wildlife, while only four of the major islands are inhabited. In 2012, the Ecuadorian government passed new laws that require a grace period between remote site visits to protect the fragile ecosystems and allow them to regenerate after visitors.

How can I travel around the Galapagos?

The best ways to travel around the Galapagos include scenic flights, multi-day cruises, boat excursions, and bike tours. Each option offers a unique way to visit the islands and view the wildlife. A cruise can take you to multiple islands over a series of days, while other options may not provide access to remote areas of the archipelago.

Depending on your goals and expectations, you can find the right option for your Galapagos trip with our guide to The Best Ways to Travel Around Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.

Is there wildlife in the Galapagos?

The Galapagos is a diverse ecosystem spread across more than 100 protected islands with much marine and terrestrial life, including iguanas, tortoises, lava lizards, sea lions, and penguins. Below, we list some of the wild or marine animals you can find during your trip:

  • Galapagos penguin
  • Blue-footed booby
  • Marine iguana
  • Galapagos tortoise
  • Galapagos sea lion
  • Magnificent frigatebird
  • Sally lightfoot crabs
  • Galapagos green turtles
  • Scalloped hammerhead sharks

Is the Galapagos a good destination for families?

The Galapagos is a perfect destination for families of all sizes and generations. Whether traveling with small children or grandparents, everyone can enjoy a wildlife safari while in a contained, safe space, whether during a multi-day cruise or on day excursions from a single island.

You can experience the culture in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal or dive in search of whale sharks close to the islands of Wolf and Darwin. From speed boats and volcanic beaches to finding fur seals on the coastline of the main city, you can enjoy a breathtaking family trip to the Galapagos.

Is the Galapagos suitable for senior travelers?

The Galapagos is a safe and captivating destination for senior travelers who wish to explore wildlife and wilderness in comfort. The combination of untouched scenery and evolution in action creates an eye-opening experience for those who wish to discover the remote islands at their own pace while island hopping or on a luxurious multi-day cruise.

Easy walkways around the main islands such as San Cristobal offer access to marine life whether walking or cycling, as well as introductions to local culture. Pathways on more popular remote islands make exploring leisurely.

As a senior traveler, you can experience the best of the Galapagos at your pace with guides who share digestible information on the ecosystems, wildlife, and changes in the local life over time. You also have access to accommodation representatives who can tend to your needs for the duration of your trip.

Is the Galapagos suitable for couples or honeymooners?

The Galapagos exudes passion and romance on its remote islands and in its unique beauty. To visit the region is to commit to unending romance surrounded by pristine islands, marine, and terrestrial life.

Is the Galapagos safe for travel?

The Galapagos is very safe for travelers. The majority are over the age of 60 and most often in the hands of a travel planner. The inhabited islands that span the archipelago feel like small towns.

When in Quito it is important to remember that it is a capital city where common sense must be applied. The city and greater country are generally safe, but issues such as petty theft can occur.

What language do they speak in the Galapagos?

Spanish is the official language of the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos is a highly popular tourist destination which makes English widely spoken across the major islands and with guides on excursions or cruise ships. Guides can also help navigate language barriers in the rare moments where barriers may exist.

What vaccinations do I need to travel to the Galapagos?

Vaccination requirements in the Galapagos are the same as those for Ecuador and depend on where you visit and what you do. The CDC Ecuador Vaccination Information has information that clarifies the requirements.

Your Zicasso travel specialist is available to provide further understanding of any vaccinations you may need if you have any concerns or additional questions.

Which airports should I plan for?

There are no direct flights to the Galapagos. The majority of flights depart from Quito or Guayaquil and arrive at San Cristobal Airport (SCY). The Galapagos Islands have two airports:

  • San Cristobal Airport (SCY)
  • Seymour Airport Baltra (GPS)

Do I need a visa for the Galapagos?

As an American citizen, you do not need a visa to enter the Galapagos Islands and you are subject to the same travel rules that accompany entering Ecuador.

If there are any changes to visa requirements, your Zicasso travel specialist will inform you.

What currency does the Galapagos use?

The official currency of the Galapagos is the US dollar ($).

You should carry small bills when traveling around the islands as items such as meals, art, or souvenirs are generally inexpensive and purveyors may not have change for large amounts. That said, many vendors in bigger towns have electronic banking that makes payments simple, with most establishments accepting Visa and Mastercard. However, it is always best to carry small bills in case of emergencies or for tipping.

How can Zicasso help me plan my trip to the Galapagos?

Our Galapagos Islands Vacations & Tours are a collection of curated trips from which you can get a better idea of what your itinerary may look like.

You can select a sample trip that aligns with your ideal vacation, be it one for family, a honeymoon, an adventure, or more. These sample trips are often a stepping stone from which our travelers create their own unique itineraries.

When you are ready, you can complete a Trip Request to begin planning your vacation. We ask for more information on where you would like to go, how long you would like to spend in the Galapagos, the size of your party, and traveler ages to help streamline your planning.

You can also provide additional ideas and set a travel budget, after which our Travel Care team will contact you to match you with a top Ecuador travel specialist. Our Ecuador travel specialists will use their expertise and understanding of your preferences to curate your dream vacation.

Learn more: How to Plan Your Zicasso Trip in 4 Easy StepsHow to Plan Your Zicasso Trip Budget in 3 Easy Steps

Where can I find recommended itineraries for my trip?

Albatross flying near volcano on Isabella Island, Galapagos

Isabella Island, Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are an inspiring vision of the natural world. With a near-mythical reputation, the natural beauty can unveil the charm of blue-footed boobies or the marvels of ancient tortoises, with each new perspective immersing you in the splendor and progress of nature.

Our sample Galapagos Islands Tours & Vacations itineraries have plenty of inspiration for your trip and you can find helpful hints and insights with Zicasso’s Galapagos Travel Guide.

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