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What to Pack for a Trip to the Galapagos

Have a trip planned to the Galapagos? Lucky you! These Ecuadorian islands are some of the most beautiful and well-preserved nature sites in the world. During your time on the islands, your days will most likely be filled with long hikes, boat rides, and water activities. Keep your eyes peeled for marine iguanas, sea lions, giant sea turtles, and Darwin’s famous finches. With such a variety of possible activities, it can feel overwhelming when trying to pack for this destination, especially if you have never been! To ensure a stress-free packing experience, here is a list of suggested items to bring with you, which will help you make the most out of your adventure:


Good news! Temperatures in the Galapagos are pleasant year-round. Weather ranges from 77°F during the cool season of July-December, and 86°F during the warm season of January-May. This weather is equivalent to t-shirt and shorts year round. If you are visiting during the cool season, you may want to pack a light fleece or sweatshirt for mornings and evenings when the temperature is more likely to drop. During the warm season, short rain falls are frequent, so it is recommended you pack a raincoat or poncho. No matter what time of the year you may be visiting, odds are you will be in the water for more than one day in a row, so pack two swimsuits that will be used on alternating drying schedules. Whether you will be hiking or riding in boats to explore new beaches, you will want a waterproof and durable dry bag for your belongings to prevent any water damage.


In regard to shoes, make sure to have a pair of water shoes or sturdy sandals on hand. Many islands do not have docks to let passengers off the boat, so be prepared to wade through some water before reaching shore. Some islands are surrounded by a lot of underwater rock, so wear feet protection to prevent any bruised or cut feet. Also a good pair of walking shoes or sturdy closed-toed boots should be sufficient for any active hikes you have planned. Although the hiking is not strenuous, the ground may be rocky or unleveled, so choose a pair with good traction. To avoid blisters, throw in a pair of breathable hiking socks, too!


Although the waters are usually quite calm, you can never completely control the weather on an open body of water. Even when calm, some speedboats get extremely bumpy when zipping passengers between nearby islands. If you are prone to motion sickness, make sure you bring along some medication to prevent any avoidable discomfort. Some over-the-counter motion sickness medicine can cause drowsiness so make sure you read the bottle before sleeping away your day at sea. If you are into natural remedies, ginger is a very popular option to treating motion sickness.

Of course, it is always important to stay hydrated, especially when spending long days in the sun. Tap water in the Galapagos generally is not potable. Bring a reusable water bottle so you do not have to buy multiple plastic ones. The environment and the islanders will thank you too! It’s never any harm to pack some water purification tablets so you have the ability to filter your own water. There is no real hospital on any of the nearby islands, so make sure you have some sort of travel insurance that will cover any medical evacuation expenses if any unexpected situations arise. Soap and toilet paper often are scarce or run out on the islands, as well, so bring your own to avoid any unwanted situations! Bugs are not a huge issue in the Galapagos; however, the outgoing tides sometimes form temporary mangroves, which are great breeding grounds for mosquitos. So, bring bug spray as a preventive measure, just in case!

Sun Protection

Given that your Galapagos trip most likely will include long days in the hot sun, sun protection is an important factor to consider while packing for your upcoming trip. You will want sunscreen that is waterproof and at least SPF 30. Remember to apply it a fair amount of time before entering the water and even when it is cloudy. You are close to the equator in the Galapagos, so the sun is incredibly strong: avoid turning into red lobster! Yet, it’s important to not that the Galapagos Islands are extremely environmentally conscious, so look to pack sunscreen that is biodegradable to prevent harming the surrounding wildlife and habitat.

In addition to sunscreen, a rash guard or swim shirt is a great extra layer of protection if you are planning on spending the entire day outside. Although this is not commonly known among all, UV rays can penetrate water and give you a burn even when you are swimming or snorkeling. As with any vacation, sunglasses are a necessity. If you are choosing between what pair to bring, choose ones with polarised lenses. They will help minimize glare on the water and help you spore more marine life swimming below you. Pack a hat as well with a wide brim for an extra layer of protection for your ears and beck.


With the Galapagos providing an abundant amount of biodiversity, you will want to bring a pair of binoculars, which will come in handy when spotting a blue-footed boobie or some whales from afar. Once you locate these awesome sights, make sure you have a good camera on hand to capture the images and look back on your findings. An extra battery and memory card always come in handy as well—it is never fun to stumble upon the perfect shot and realize your battery is at 0% or your memory card is full. Although you will have the option to rent them on island, bring your own snorkel and mask to save some extra money and ensure that it will fit you properly. If you have the ability, bring an extra duffel or smaller bag to bring home any souvenirs you may collect while on island.

With these essentials, you are ready for your Galapagos adventure!

Post written by: Kirsten Cusack