Galapagos Islands | How Much Does It Cost To Visit? (2022)

It’s just one of those places. A magical destination so far flung from most of us, it remains a place just a little out of reach, both in terms of cost and accessibility, meaning the archipelago remains firmly on the bucket list and off your camera roll. 

That’s until you leap. Taking the leap and visiting the Galapagos Islands is a commitment both for the wallet and in the time it takes to get here. But once you arrive, that all fades away into meaninglessness as you are welcomed with unrivaled beauty and an experience that will stand out in both your memory bank and when scrolling back through your Instagram feed. 

The landscape is a cross between the Atlantic’s moonlike Canary Islands and Hawaii in that the landscape is arid. Still, it gives tropical hints through its scattered palm trees and greenery in the higher altitudes. The beaches are stunning; crystal clear blue waters lick at sand so white that it hurts your eyes. Oh, and for the wildlife, you’ll share those beaches with sea lions, turtles, marine iguanas, and Galapagos sharks. 

So how much does it cost to visit? The place is synonymous with luxury cruises and guided tours, but what if you could check it out without all that fuss? I was intrigued, so I found out for myself. Disclaimer alert – I did cheat, as I was currently in Ecuador when I decided to go. However, I will break down the costs based on my experience in July 2022. 

I hope this sheds light on how affordable a Galapagos trip can be when visiting independently. We have a ton to get through, so let’s dive in. 

Table of Contents

Playa Mann, Galapagos

Getting To Galapagos

Despite being a 2 hour flight and 1000km from Ecuador’s mainland, getting to Galapagos is relatively straightforward. Over 120 islands make up the archipelago, and the chain is part of Ecuador, with 13 main island-only four being inhabited.  

From Ecuador

From Ecuador you can fly to the islands via Ecuador’s two largest cities, Quito or Guayaquil. Avianca and LATAM airways are the main carriers serving the islands, just head to Skyscanner or Kayak to discover the cheapest flights from Ecuador to the Galapagos. 

Something to note – When I booked my flight through Skyscanner, I was told upon check-in that I had reserved an Ecuadorian-only rate, a special price the airline offers only for Ecuadorians. This is the first time I have experienced this with an airline. Say what you will, but it seems pretty unfair to me. I paid $400 instead of $200 for return flights. 

Prices vary depending on when you book but are typical $300 – $600 from Quito or Guayaquil. On Galapagos, you fly to either San Cristobal or Santa Cruz.

 

From North America

Most well-known American/Latin American airlines will get you to Ecuador, and you can fly directly to a major city or connect through a city in Mexico or Central America. Then fly to the Galapagos on a domestic flight. You cannot fly from North America directly to the Galapagos. 

From Europe 

From further afield, getting to the islands becomes more of a mission. It’s a long old slog from Europe, and you’ll need to catch a flight to the US or a destination in Central America or even directly to Ecuador. Then a domestic flight from the mainland.  

Galapagos Wildlife

Conservation Fee & Taxes

The additional costs for the Galapagos can be off-putting. However, these fees contribute to keeping the national park pristine. First, you’ll need to pay $20 for a TCT form, which you do before you check in at the airport in Ecuador. 

 

The form is so staff can check your bags for plastics and substances banned on the islands. Biosecurity is taken extremely seriously in the Galapagos, and you won’t be able to get through without this. So arrive at the airport early! 

 

Upon arrival to Galapagos, you’ll need to pay a conservation fee in cash as you pass immigration. Note they only accept cash, and the closest ATM is in town, so make sure you bring $100USD in cash before you get on the flight.

Activities & Tours 

Across the two main islands, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, Puerto Ayora, are relatively large towns, both offer a ton of tour offices, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a street without one. 

 

All the companies vary in the tours they offer, so that the price can vary massively. Some tours involve a circumference trip around the islands, whereas some head to a spot and back again. Your best bet for finding a tour that suits you, is book when you get there. This way, you can go and speak to the operators and get more information, as online, it can be tricky to find out exactly where you should do each tour. For example, one that’s located on the same island you want to stay. 

 

I did my tour with a company called Tour 360 (no affiliation), which was pretty awesome. They had a great guide to Jorge, and the boat was complete with coffee, toilets, snacks, and lunch. The tour was from San Cristobal to Kicker Rock, and we stopped off at the most pristine stretch of sand, turquoise waters, bright white sand, and best of all sea lions were playing on the shoreline. A dream. Check out the photo and see for yourself… 

 

At Kicker Rock, we snorkelled for an hour and saw Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, and more fish species than you could ever hope to remember the names of. The tour cost $120USD. 

Accommodation

Budget 

For budget options, accommodation for your room with A/C, toilet, and Wifi (wifi is terrible all over the islands) sets you back $17-20, which is pretty reasonable if you ask me. 

Mid Range 

Like anywhere, when you start paying $30 upwards, you’ll get slightly more luxurious rooms. For a mid-range trip, I recommend checking the higher-priced options for hotels and rooms on Booking.com or even Airbnb. 

High End 

Book the best hotels on the islands for the ultimate luxurious trip to the Galapagos. Check out Angermeyer Waterfront Hotel or Galapagos Habitat by Eco Luxury Group. Or you can book one of the best Galapagos Tour holidays available. 

How Much Does It Cost To Eat? 

Although prices can vary greatly depending on the type of food you eat, I found the seconds o be very reasonable in terms of eating at a restaurant. While on the mainland of Ecuador, you can find meals between $5 and $10, most meals on the islands will set you back $10 – $20. 

This was for standard meals, for example, a traditional Ecuadorian breakfast, a burger washed down with a coffee or beer. Many places only accept cash, so keep this in mind; cash-based venues are typically cheaper than more established places that accept cards. 

Depending on where you’re staying, you could also cook your food. I was too lazy during my stay to cook, but if you’re on a tight budget, you could buy some basic ingredients and knock up a meal for around $5. 

Also – Coffees typically cost between $2-3, beers $3-4, and ice creams around $3. San Cristobal has fantastic ice cream. 

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Galapagos Islands? - Summarized 

Without a doubt, the Galapagos Islands are a spectacular and unique spot to visit, the wildlife, the beaches, the water, the weather, and the times. It’s all worth it. So wherever you’re coming from, whether it is a legendary long-haul mission from Europe or a quick hop over as part of your Ecuador trip, you won’t regret the mission. Here’s a little economic snapshot of the islands:

 

•Flight from Ecuador $400 (Return)


•TCT Form $20 


•Conservation Fee $100 (Cash Only) 


•Private Room With A/C $20 Per Night 


•Breakfast Out $10 


•Black Coffee $2 


•Ferry San Cristobal – Santa Cruz $60 (Return) 


•Kicker Rock Snorkel Trip $120 


Galapagos Cost Breakdown - For All Budgets

For a Shoestring Trip 

Stay

On booking.com, you’ll find a wide variety of rooms in San Cristobal Ayora. On average, you’ll pay $20 for your room with A/C and free wifi. However, wifi is painfully slow throughout the islands, so I recommend disconnecting completely or buying mobile data. (Claro have the best signal). 

Eat

If your accommodation has the facilities, I highly reckon cooking your food. You can grab a bunch of basic ingredients as you would from any supermarket in the main towns and knock something up that fills your appetite just fine for a day of exploring.

Explore

From Cristobal and Ayora, you can check out beaches and wildlife within a short walk. You don’t need to splash out on a tour or guide if you’re on a budget. Just grab a coffee and take a walk… you’ll see sea lions, sea turtles, rays, baby sharks, and china-white beaches. 

For The Best Trip (But Still Affordable)

Stay

Find a decent private room on Booking.com or Airbnb for between $30-100usd per night. One thing to note is that because you’re going to be out exploring all the fantastic things the islands offer, you’re not going to spend much time in your accommodation anyway. 

Eat

Both San Cristobal and Santa Cruz have an abundance of great restaurants. You can easily find a great breakfast, coffee, lunch, or dinner in any of the main towns. I would highly recommend trying a Typical Ecuadorian breakfast, which is essentially a ball of dough with cheese and often served with beef in a sort of stew; although it sounds strange for breakfast, it’s a tasty way to start the day. 

Explore

While walking around, you’ll be able to see extraordinary wildlife and get a real sense of the islands. I am usually opposed to tours as I love exploring independently; however, I recommend splashing out on a tour. 

 

However, the snorkeling and beach tour I went on was incredible and well worth the $120 tours. The tour at the Darwin Research Center is also super interesting and will only set you back $10.

For The Ultimate Luxury Trip

Stay

Stay in one of the more luxurious 4-star plus hotels on the islands. While you’re not going to have the luxury as you may find in the Maldives or Tahiti, you certainly won’t have to slum it if you’re looking to send a bit more and make this a trip of a lifetime. 

Eat

There are many fantastic restaurants, from seafood to Sushi, and let’s just say the fresh fish is top-notch across the islands. And you should take full advantage! 

Explore

Book an all-inclusive luxury cruise, or indulge in one of the best, most immersive tours available on the island; you can check them out here, or if you feel like making your mind up when you get there, simply walk around town and check out which tours work best for you. 

Galapagos Costs - Final Words

I never like to boast when I visit places and try and paint a destination in a better light than it deserves. However, the Galapagos does offer an experience you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll never forget its stunning beaches, tranquil waters, and super high concentration of wildlife. We are talking about stepping off the ferry, glancing down at baby sharks swimming below you, seals sleeping on benches (no, we’re not joking), sea turtles and manta rays, and that’s only in the harbor. 

 

If you have any questions regarding the Galapagos islands, please send me a message, and I’d be happy to help you. If you want to explore the islands in more detail, check out my Youtube Channel for a real-life look at what it’s like to visit. 

Dan Harmon

Dan Harmon

Hello! My name's Dan Harmon and I am a full time content creator and copywriter working freelance as I travel and surf my way around the globe. This blog is where I show you how to do the same.