This is our comprehensive list of things to bring on your Galapagos vacation. It includes tried and true brands that we have used for years as well as some of our Galapagos Surf Discovery apparel. Everything you may need should fit in one carry-on and one checked suitcase.
Important documents for travel to Galapagos
- Passport valid for at least six months plus one photocopy to carry as i.d.
- Official vaccination card – A yellow fever vaccination is obligatory when entering Ecuador from endemic countries such as Brazil, Dominican Republic, Congo, Uganda, etc.
- Proof of COVID vaccine – This is no longer mandatory, however we strongly encourage you to check the latest information on the official government website and remember that requirements for Galapagos may be different from Ecuador.
- Printed copy of your international health insurance policy – just the page showing your name and certificate of coverage as you may get asked for this at immigration in Guayaquil or Quito
- Proof of return flights – You may have to show proof of your flight back to the US when you arrive in Ecuador, and you’ll definitely have to show proof of your flight out of Galapagos when you pay for your transit control card at UIO or GYE.
- Printed cruise voucher (if applicable) or printed itinerary if on an island-hopping tour
- Sufficient cash for the first week of your trip. We recommend a minimum of $300 USD per person in bills no larger than $20, plus lots of smaller bills. Bring more if you’re going on a cruise, as you’ll be tipping and will probably have to settle your bar bill in cash.
- International debit card – We highly recommend Charles Schwab as they refund all ATM fees. Access to cash is important; read more in our Travel Tips post.
- Credit card – One (VISA is more widely accepted) is sufficient as you’ll only be able to use it at the most expensive restaurants and souvenir shops. Travel agencies charge an additional 12% or more to pay with a card. Also note that even though Ecuador’s official currency is the US Dollar, you’ll still be charged a foreign transaction fee unless you have a no-fee card.
- Diver certification card if applicable
There is no dress code anywhere in Galapagos and no reason to bring “fancy” attire. Focus on comfort, practicality, and sun protection. Lightweight, quick-dry items are best. Avoid bright yellow clothing as it can attract wasps. The three main towns have lavanderias with same day laundry service (wash and dry) that costs ~$1.50 per pound.
- 2 long sleeve shirts – we recommend the button-up Columbia-style travel shirts for easy layering; our Galapagos Surf Discovery long-sleeve tees are also perfect!
- 3 short sleeve shirts / tank tops
- 3 shorts / skorts
- 2 travel/hiking pants (leggings/athletic apparel work as well)
- 1 alternative to your day-to-day activity clothes – this is just to have something different for eating out at night or maybe to go out dancing with the locals
- 7 underwear
- 2 swimsuits
- 1 rash guard – a long-sleeve shirt for swimming
- 1 swimsuit cover up – sarong or whatever you might put on immediately after swimming if you’re at the beach
- 3 pair socks
- 1 pajamas
- Buff / bandana
- wide brim hat with chin strap
- ultralight water resistant windbreaker/jacket
- lightweight sweater or fleece – it can feel cool at night, especially if it’s windy
- Flip flops – for lounging around the hotel
- Tevas, Keens or similar supportive, comfortable walking sandals that will not be damaged if they get wet
- Closed-toe water shoes with non-slippery soles
- Tennis shoes or other thick-soled, supportive shoes for hiking on sharp, uneven lava rock; note that if you’re going to the highlands, these will probably get muddy
- Bring the standard stuff – Cruises & hotels will provide shampoo and soap. You will have to wash your hair every day so I recommend bringing a good conditioner.
- Waterproof sunscreen and good lip balm with SPF are absolute necessities.
- Hand sanitizer – most public bathrooms don’t have soap (or toilet paper for that matter!)
- While many prescription meds are available OTC here, there’s no guarantee they’ll have your dosage/formula. Basic meds like ibuprofen definitely cost more.
- Be sure you have all the eye care you need as well (prescription glasses, contacts, solution, etc.).
- It’s likely your stomach will get upset from any number of things. Bring whatever medications work best for you in this scenario.
- If you do get sunburned, what would you use to treat it? Bring that.
- Ear plugs to muffle the boat engines, roosters, dogs, music – If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll thank me for this tip!
- Whatever you have found works best for motion sickness, bring it as well as the acupressure wrist bands.
- If you had an allergic reaction to a food or an insect bite, what would you take/use? Bring it!
Miscellaneous items to bring to Galapagos
- sunglasses with leash
- microfiber travel towel
- headlamp or small flashlight – for unpredictable power outages and reading in bed at night; bedside lamps aren’t common here
- reusable water bottle – tap water is not drinkable anywhere on the islands so you’ll be refilling constantly from larger bottles
- waterproof/water-resistant day pack and dry bag for your phone & camera in case it rains and for a wet landing on boat tours (both are extremely likely)
- cellular phone (don’t forget to put it in airplane mode to avoid international roaming charges!), charger
- camera and/or GoPro with floating hand grip, charger, extra batteries, memory cards, accessories
- surge protector / power strip – the outlets are just like in the U.S. but wiring here is not up to standard and you’ll want to protect your electronics while you’re charging them
- electrical adapter – In Ecuador, the standard voltage is 120 V and the frequency is 60 Hz.
- Don’t plan on being able to upload or download anything while you’re here. Some places have high-speed Starlink internet now but not all, so be sure you have movies, music, games, etc. already stored on your devices and sufficient memory cards or offline storage options for all the photos & videos you may take.
- walking stick (optional – only bring if you already have one that you are accustomed to using regularly) – it’s a balancing act to walk across the lava rocks on many trails
- snorkel gear (optional – only bring if you have a mask you know fits your face perfectly and doesn’t fog; otherwise everything can be rented cheaply from most travel agencies); snorkel equipment and a wetsuit is included on most cruises and day tours
- zipper close bags – for snacks, wet clothing, organizing small items, etc.
The main thing that you can’t bring is fresh foods (meat, dairy, fruits or vegetables), live plants, etc. You also cannot transport fresh foods between islands e.g. from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz. For snacks, we recommend granola bars and trail mix. While most cruises and tour operators can accommodate dietary restrictions if you notify them in advance, you’ll have more limited options at restaurants and grocery stores. Plan accordingly!
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Be sure to read our Top Ten Galapagos Travel Tips for more helpful info!