Cell phone use in the Galapagos Islands

Aug 24, 2017


For some people, going on holiday is a time to leave the laptop at home, switch off the cell phone and forget about the outside world. For others, the thought of being out of reach of friends and family while being away is terrifying. And sometimes the demands of the modern business dictate that you have to be available at the other end of a phone – no matter where you are.

Only a few years back, the idea of getting any kind of signal on a remote Galapagos Islands vacation would have been laughable. But that just shows how quickly technology has improved. That’s because these days, you can even get coverage on your Galapagos Islands vacation, with the following provisos.
 

Cell phone signal

There is an ever-increasing coverage of cell or mobile networks on the island, meaning that as well as CDMA, GSM and GPRS-EDGE signals, you will also pick up 3G.

The main coverage can be found in the towns of Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island), although it has to be said this is stronger for some networks than it is for others. Check the route of your Galapagos Custom vacations to see if and when you’re passing these islands. Verizon, the large US provider, claim to have good signal around these two islands but it really depends on your individual circumstances.

Roaming and connection

Of course, just because you can get signal, that doesn’t mean you can always use your phone. And if you can, it may be very expensive. Check with your service provider if you are covered for roaming in Ecuador and on your Galapagos Islands vacation, and find out how much it is to make and receive calls.

In some cases, it may be a better idea to buy a cheap phone and SIM card on arrival and use this for the duration of your Galapagos Islands vacation.

As it happens, there is a technical cell phone term named after the islands. Galapagos Syndrome is the term to describe technology developed in isolation, such as often the case in Japan. Just another thing to add to the list of the Galapagos’ contribution to science.

Cell phone or satellite phone

As cell phone coverage is limited in some respects, if you simply have to guarantee to stay in touch then a satellite phone may be an option. It’s worth asking if you can use your boat’s satellite phone for a flat rate charge, rather than renting or buying your own.

Cell phone signal

There is an ever-increasing coverage of cell or mobile networks on the island, meaning that as well as CDMA, GSM and GPRS-EDGE signals, you will also pick up 3G.

The main coverage can be found in the towns of Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal Island), although it has to be said this is stronger for some networks than it is for others. Check the route of your Galapagos Custom vacations to see if and when you’re passing these islands. Verizon, the large US provider, claim to have good signal around these two islands but it really depends on your individual circumstances.

Roaming and connection

Of course, just because you can get signal, that doesn’t mean you can always use your phone. And if you can, it may be very expensive. Check with your service provider if you are covered for roaming in Ecuador and on your Galapagos Islands vacation, and find out how much it is to make and receive calls.

In some cases, it may be a better idea to buy a cheap phone and SIM card on arrival and use this for the duration of your Galapagos Islands vacation.

As it happens, there is a technical cell phone term named after the islands. Galapagos Syndrome is the term to describe technology developed in isolation, such as often the case in Japan. Just another thing to add to the list of the Galapagos’ contribution to science.

Which SIM card should you get for Galapagos?

Movistar is the best option, Claro is the second best. Make sure you get your SIM card either at the airport or at any convenience store or phone shop if you get a chance to go to the city. One thing to notice, is that you have to make sure your phone is unlocked to use a foreign SIM card.

Can I buy a phone with internet in Ecuador before going to Galapagos Islands?

Of course, you can bu what is called a “burner” phone, anywhere in Ecuador for less than $50. The thing is most of them are only good for calling and texting but don’t have internet access. For a cheap android phone, you will probably need to spend about $100 and then you just need to load a package depending on how long your trip will be. For info about Movistar prepaid packages, check out this page.

Ready to book? Click here to choose your tour.
 



Take a look at these tour programs:

1. Galapagos Cruise Itinerary: Amazing Nine Days East & Central Islands Boat Journey
2. Cusco Tour: Cusco and Sacred Valley Tour
3. Inca Trails Tour: The Incas Trail Tour
4. Amazon River Cuise in Ecuador:  Amazon River Cruise Journey
5. Galapagos & Machu Picchu Tour: Galapagos & Machu Picchu 12 Days Voyage

 

Andre Robles
Andre Robles
Andre Robles is an expert in everything South America, his passion for the region and exploring off the beaten path makes his travel writing both useful and interesting. He has written for several mainstream publications and you can read his guides on Ecuador, Peru, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. Andre is also an accomplished photographer and has been recognized as one of the best wildlife photographers in the region, his photos have been featured in National Geographic and other journals. As a travel agent Andre specializes in curating unique experiences, crafting tailor made itineraries and helping visitors make the best of their vacation, always putting the experience first
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