Five things I wish I’d known before visiting the Galapagos Islands

by on 13th October, 2016

Before visiting the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands’ expert Tom Shearman gives his top tips about travelling to this fantastic archipelago.

Have a look at our own Galapagos photos on Facebook and Pinterest, plus our youtube videos.


He writes:

“Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime holiday, so you want to get the planning and kit right.

“I’ve lucky enough to experience hotel-based trips and cruises, so here are my tips.


Book the cruise first, then the rest

There are a myriad of boats, hotel-based tours and tailor made options for the Galapagos Islands.

All have different departure dates and lengths of stay. Do your research, ask experts like us and find the itinerary you wish.

Once you have that locked in, almost everything else can fit in around the Galapagos. I also recommend leaving Galapagos to the end of your tour if you can, as it’s such a highlight.

You’ll have to overnight in Ecuador – Quito or Guayaquil – before heading to Galapagos.

Guayaquil is a much more practical option if you are looking to get in and out of Ecuador quickly.

Quito and its surroundings demand a longer stay, as more tours and areas are accessible from here.

Eric sunset from deck Galapagos island cruise

Eric, sunset from deck, Galapagos


Be wary of the sun

Everyone will tell you it’s strong and to cover up, and it is. It really is. Everyone of every skin hue should be very careful in Galapagos.

Its equatorial position and tropical feel mean that even in cloudy weather, it’s very easy to do damage to your skin. Add in reflection from the sea, and perhaps an exposed back while snorkelling and you can get really burned.

Everyone should wear a sun hat, sun glasses (with polarised lenses if possible), wear a buff or scarf to protect your neck, and take lots of factor 50 sun cream.

Stay covered up as much as possible. Did I mention the sun is strong?


Don’t waste luggage space on posh clothes

The Galapagos is not a glamorous place. It’s hot, sweaty and humid. There is sand and salt, and iguanas on sand that spit salt.

You’ll be in and out of the water snorkelling, trekking on land getting your hair blown around all day.

Nighttime meals, no matter how luxurious the cruise or hotel, see almost everyone relax into adventurer mode. Don’t be surprised to see people at dinner in t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.

If you really want to dress up for dinner, take something light, easy to move around in – think about the stairs moving in the swells – and that doesn’t crease.

Speaking of shoes, you won’t need many. A good pair of Tevas, some low ankle hiking shoes or trainers and a pair of flip-flops will be all you need.

Fast-drying clothes are a real boon in the humid atmosphere, and for those who wear make-up, take the waterproof type.


Post Office Bay Floreana Galapagos

Post Office Bay, Floreana, Galapagos


Get an underwater camera, and practice

Snorkel as much as possible on your Galapagos holiday, and get an underwater camera to catch the action.

I’ve got a basic Fujifilm FinePix XP90 underwater camera, and have managed to compile these videos.


Green Turtle

Snorkelling highlights

General highlights

Eagle rays


For wildlife photographers thinking about bringing a lot of kit, it may not be necessary and super zooms could just bust your airline luggage allowance.

The animals are not afraid of humans and while you must respect their space, there will be plenty of opportunities to get up close

For more amateur photographers just hoping to get some good shots, if you do get a new camera, practice with it before you leave. There are tales of people mistakenly deleting a whole week’s images due to new user error.


Sea Horse Tangus Cove Galapagos

Sea horse, Tagus Cove,Galapagos


Buy seasickness pills

For a cruise of 4-8 days (or longer), having some pills to hand is a good idea.

Cruises do go further from the mainland than the hotel-based tours. I got caught out on day three but I was lucky that another passenger had some spares. If not….

Even on hotel-based tours, you can be on a boat for 2-3 hours daily, which can be enough to start off a reaction.

Most pills work within 30 minutes and mean you won’t have the risk of your holiday going a bit wobbly.

Contact us for more information about holidays on the Galapagos Islands.


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