40 Facts You Need to Know About the Galapagos Islands

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in Countries, Ecuador | Comments Off

Summary: Are you planning a trip to the Galapagos? Here is a post that will give you valuable information about the archipelago and make your stay easier. It contains 40 facts about the Galapagos and in different aspects. If you liked that so far, follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook Page.

You may want to consider buying Lonely Planet Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands (Country Guide)

After two months in the Galapagos (mainly on Santa Cruz Island) we thought we’d share our experience of the islands. You will find in this post some basic information about the archipelago.

  1. There are three local airlines that go to the Galapagos: LAN, Tame, and Aerogal.
  2. There are two airports: Baltra (for Santa Cruz) and San Cristobal.
  3. You have to pay a $10 visa for the Galapagos and $100 on arrival for entrance into the national park. They only accept cash and US dollars.
  4. A taxi ride costs $1 in town.
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A taxi in Puerto Ayora

  1. Speedboats and ferries to go from one island to another cost $25 or $30 (according to the standard of the boat).
  2. It will cost you $25/ $30 to rent a taxi to visit sites or beaches on the island. This price includes the time the driver will spend waiting for you.
  3. Santa Cruz is the most populated island, with variety of restaurants, bars and shops.
  4. The weather is quite unpredictable (though temperatures do not change too much). This can affect sea conditions as well.
  5. You can see a lot of wildlife around the piers.
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A sting ray in the pier

  1. Each island has its own specificity and ecosystem, and is independent from the other islands.
  2. There are $5 entrance fees on Isabela Island.
  3. You will find a lot of fish and seafood in restaurants.
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Coco Fish in a restaurant

  1. If you want to visit all the islands, you will have to take a cruise, as only 4 of the 18 islands are inhabited.
  2. Sea conditions are unpredictable.
  3. An “almuerzo” (set lunch) costs between $3.50 and $4.
  4. Most of the locals don’t speak English. However, this typically doesn’t apply for people who work in the tourism industry.
  5. There are designated bins for recycling plastics and paper almost everywhere.
  6. We spotted a lot of oil, paper, plastic, etc. in the sea, especially around the piers. We felt that the area should be cleaner, as the archipelago is a marine reserve, a national park and a world heritage site!
  7. Despite conservation and protection programs, most of the endemic species (fauna and flora) of the islands are still being threatened by human activities.
  8. The cheapest hotel we found in low season was $20 for a double room with private bathroom.
  9. The best time to book last minute tours is around closing time.
  10. You can check with speedboat captains directly for cheaper deals. Find them around the main pier near the supermarket.
  11. On Santa Cruz, big marine iguanas are best found in Tortuga Bay.
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A marine iguana

  1. We couldn’t use our MacBook Air because it wasn’t compatible with the local routers. This only applies to certain versions, as a lot of tourists were able to use their MacBooks without problems.
  2. Internet is slow in general, even in Internet cafes. One hour costs around $2
  3. In Santa Cruz you can visit most of the sites without a guide. Very few beaches actually require one.
  4. There is a camping site in Garrapateros Beach.
  5. You can rent a bike for an hour or a full day. Full day rentals range between $15 and $20. New bikes cost $120 and you can typically sell them before your departure.
  6. Classified ads can be placed near supermarkets and in the main fish market. There are boards for this.
  7. You can find vacation apartments and rooms for rent on classified boards.
  8. There are different supermarkets around the island. The most well known is the one near the main pier.
  9. Once in Santa Cruz you can take a $15 taxi or the $1.80 local bus to reach Puerto Ayora, which is located on the opposite side of the island. The ride takes around 45 minutes with the bus.
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Sunset at Puerto Ayora.

  1. ATMs and banks are available on Santa Cruz—not sure about the other islands.
  2. You can withdraw money from inside the bank using your credit card. They will ask for your passport or a copy.
  3. Santa Cruz and the Galapagos are safe places in general. According to locals, crime rates are very low. However, caution is always recommended.
  4. You can’t drink the tap water in the islands. Although it is purified, it is still salty.
  5. You can buy purified drinking water in different bottle sizes. The cheapest is the full gallon, while the smaller ones are more expensive.
  6. It is difficult and expensive to find a mask and a tuba so bring your equipment if you can.
  7. You luggage will be checked for ecological reasons upon your arrival at the airport, as well as at the piers when leaving or arriving at each island.
  8. Water taxis cost $0.60/person.
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Yellow water-taxi