You finally arrived in the Galapagos Islands, you got there!… Now what? How do you get around from one Island to another…?
If you arrived by plane (99% of the visitors do) you will either be on Santa Cruz or San Cristobal Island. By far the best way to see the Galapagos Islands is on a small cruise ship or on a tourist-oriented yacht. A cruise around the Islands allows you to wake up every day at a different visitor site, a different trail. You save travel time, you enjoy sailing and the life onboard. If you are planning to cruise the Islands, we recommend making your reservations well in advance.
Not everybody can afford a cruise around the Islands. There are many alternative ways of getting around the Galapagos Islands and its visitor sites. A great option is to book an Island hopping itinerary.
Getting around the Galapagos Islands is easy to do — bicycles, cargo boats, airplanes, buses, taxis, and other public transportation is available. If you are staying on one island, before you go anywhere, make sure you don’t need a Naturalist Guide with you.
Most places in all the islands are prohibited for tourists and travelers who are not accompanied by a Certified Naturalist Guide. There are some transportation systems in place. Santa Cruz has a bus that takes travelers to the airport and up to the sinkholes in the center of the island. There are regular ships that transport travelers to islands (check at the docks for arrival/departure times as they vary). The most important thing to keep in mind while you’re getting around during your holidays in the Galapagos Islands is that they are all protected. Keep on set paths and respect the islands.
The only places you can go on your own are the towns located on the Islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana… and some of the beaches of these same Islands.
Getting around : Means of Transport
Getting around: Inter-Island Flights From one Island to Another
EMETEBE, a local airline, flies a small aircraft (Cessna plane) between the islands. It flies 3 times/week between Baltra and Isabela (Puerto Villamil) as well as between Baltra and San Cristobal. Last we heard, fares were a little over $120.00 one way. If you have the money and not the time, this is a great way to get from island to island.
You will be restricted to luggage of 30 lbs or less (non-negotiable). Emetebe Avionetas. You can also charter hourly planes between US$450 and US$ 600.
EMETEBE has offices in Puerto Ayora (526177), San Cristobal (520036) and Puerto Villamil (529 155). Contact them for details.
Getting around: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana ground transportation
Thanks to their remote nature and precious ecosystems, ground transportation on the Galapagos Islands is a unique experience.
On all of the unpopulated islands, you’re required to travel with a guide at all times in order to prevent any damage or pollution to the environment. Your guide should show you exactly where the official paths are around each island and help you to stay within the prescribed boundaries.
As the natural habitat is so delicate, staying on the paths is incredibly important. Any rubbish, debris or clumsy footsteps could have damaging results for the environment. On the larger, inhabited islands like San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela you’ll have a bit more freedom to wander around and explore the landscape.
Most of these islands have hiking trails that don’t require any official guide so you can get out and discover the countryside yourself. However even on these islands, it’s important to pay careful attention to where you can and cannot go, and if you’re ever unsure, it’s always best to ask.
On San Cristobal and Floreana, the main forms of transport are by bus and on foot. On Isabela and Santa Cruz, you can rent horses and bikes, a great way to see the islands and give your feet a well-earned rest. For hiking and trekking, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz are especially accessible, with trails and paths crisscrossing the landscape and fantastic vistas at every turn.
Though the beauty of the Galapagos islands will make it incredibly tempting to wander off by yourself and discover the unique habitat, traveling with guided groups will give you a much more in-depth and concise understanding of the islands and their environment.
And as mankind still has so much to learn from this extraordinary place, conserving them for future generations to discover is more important than ever.
Getting around: Ferries and speedboat transfers between ports
The best way to see the majority of islands is through an 8-day cruise. People often opt for the 5 or 4-day tour to either the southern islands or northern islands. Because each and every island is so unique and interesting, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we recommend you go for the 8 days.
Most of the tours begin at Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. It’s a fantastic way to see most of the islands and what they have to offer. Plus, there is always a naturalist guide on every ship ready to explain the ways of the islands to you. Learn and enjoy.
Bigger and more expensive cruise ships often go all the way up to Genovesa and hit the west side of Isabela, visiting Fernandina as well. Because the route is so far, the ships are larger, carrying more passengers, and are also more expensive.
If you’re an advanced diver, ready to visit the underwater world in search of marine life, we offer charter and individual dive trips all the way up to Darwin and Wolf, two rocks surrounded by amazing sea animals: whale sharks, hammerheads, white-tipped sharks, whales and more. Diving in the Galapagos is only for advanced divers because the currents are strong, waters are cold, and immersions are deep.
Visit our Galapagos yachts, cruise ships and diving pages for more information. Other ways of getting around the Islands are:
Day Tour Boats
There are several options departing from Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal. Make sure they are authorized by the Galapagos National Park to go to the visitor sites. These are short 1-day cruise adventures to nearby Islands. Prices can range from $50 – $90 per person. Best negotiate.
There are some cargo ships running from Santa Cruz to Isabela or San Cristobal that charge a minimal fee ($7.00/passenger) to transport people from island to island. They are erratic, however, and we don’t guarantee that you’ll get one in the first week on the islands. The trip will generally take 7-8 hours, and so bring a little bit of food and a sleeping pad for the night ahead.
Ask at the Capitania de Puerto (port Captainship), the office right off of the boat docks in Puerto Ayora, past the park on the Avenida Charles Darwin. They can tell you when boats are leaving for Isabela or San Cristobal. The captains of the boats don’t have to register until 24 hours beforehand, and so you might not know until the very day. Just be patient and ready!
Private Speed Boats
To move from Santa Cruz to Isabela or San Cristobal, you can also pay a private speedboat to take you to the other islands. They usually charge around $30.00 – $60.00. Try to negotiate, especially if there are several of you. Ask at the boat docks and the restaurant Salvavidas(lifeguard) in front of the docks in Puerto Ayora. That’s usually where the captains hang out, and they would know who is leaving for another island.
You can also charter these boats to take you to other islands nearby; however, because the distance between Floreana and Santa Cruz is so long, it’s very difficult to get a private boat to go there. The best way to get to those islands is via a cruise or by reaching San Cristobal or Isabela first and then hiring a boat at the docks from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno or Puerto Villamil to Puerto Velasco in Floreana.
There is a boat service at the Capitanía del Puerto that travels between different islands. Other boat services are offered by Estrella del Mar from Puerto Villamil (Isabela) to Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz). Check days and times as well as prices. The trip takes about 6-1/2 hours. The other is Galamar from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristobal) to Puerto Ayora on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, returning on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (5 1/2 hours), US$40 one way; this boat can also be booked for visits to Floreana and Isabela.
Will transport you from your own yacht to the wharf when required.