Month visited: April 2-5 Islands visited: Isla Baltra, Isla Santa Cruz, Isla Pinzón
Flying into Galapagos Islands
Preservation of the Island
There are strict policies on what you can bring into the island. No foreign plants, seeds or fruits. There is also a list of items prohibited from leaving the island like rocks and sand. Doing so disrupts their ecosystem. They take this very seriously. Even when you fly into the island and walk from the Turmac to the airport, you’ll walk across a mat that has cleaning solution for your shoes.
Galapagos Entrance Fee
There is an entrance fee of $100 for adults and $50 for children. This fee helps conserve and protect the island. This is purchased at the airport before you go through security and can only be paid in cash (Yes, security before you enter).
INGALA, the island’s government agency requires tourists to purchase a $20 Transit Control card. This helps regulate and keep track of who is entering the island. This is paid in cash at the airport upon entering.
Security takes conserving the island very seriously. They will thoroughly search every bag you bring in. I had brought over passionfruit (silly me) from Quito, Ecuador but had to throw it away.
The S U N
This is so important that it deserves it’s own category. Since Galapagos is on and near the equator, the sun is hotter than heck. I stuck to wearing t-shirts around town and wetsuits in the water. But once I wore just my swimsuit and I got second degree burn on my shoulder. Despite the amount of aloe I put on it, the pain was unbearable. Try to cover up your shoulders and back often and religiously put on high SPF sunscreen.
Must See Attractions
Tortuga Bay is located in Isla Santa Cruz. It’s known for its white sand and turquoise blue water and offers the utmost relaxation and satisfying sites. The walk to Tortuga Bay takes about 45 minutes to get to and is by foot only.
A giant sinkhole.
El Chato Tortoise Reserve
Visit this park if you want to be face to face with giant turtles. They are native to the Islands and live to be over 100 years old. You can find them hanging around in the water or on land.
While you are there check out the lava tunnels! The underground tunnels are less than a mile long so you don’t need a guide for this. It’s also lit up so you can walk around without getting hurt.
The main town in Santa Cruz. It’s the most populated town in the Galapagos Islands. Considered very touristy with several shops, restaurants and hotels. I spent most of my nights after a tour walking around this town.
There’s so much incredible Marine life from schools of fish to the playful sea lions in the water. It’s frowned upon to not Scuba or Snorkel. Okay not really but I highly recommend it. The activity centers have daily dive sites.
Blue Footed Boobies- Birds with (you guessed it) blue feet.
Crabs (Grapsus Grapsus)- Illegal to catch and eat. You can find these bad boys aaalll over the volcanic rocks.
Turtles- Mind-blowingly large turtles. They age up to 100 years old.
Sea Lions- Commonly mistaken for seals, you can find them swimming everywhere. They are very friendly and get pretty close but just barely out of reach from you.
Iguanas- They can be found all over the island. They like to sleep in groups for safety and warmth.
Dolphins- Sooo I swam with dolphins. Kind of. They swam past me and I chased them but that still counts.
Sharks- Sooo I also swam with White Tip Sharks. But really though. They were harmless and swam past me.
If you only have a limited amount of time, it might be beneficial to book activities beforehand. But even if you chose to wait and book when you get there, there is no shortage of tour and activity centers. One thing to note is that tours to other islands leave early in the morning and return after 5 pm.
Last but not least… Vaccinations
I suggest visiting a travel doctor to get recommendations based on your planned activities but you can also check out CDC’s recommendations.
Personally I got the Hepatitis A and Typhoid shot to protect against contaminated food and water. Two other vaccinations recommended are against Yellow Fever and Malaria, which protect against a virus mosquitos carry. I didn’t see many mosquitos in the areas I went but I got both shots since I was visiting the rainforest in Baños, Ecuador beforehand.