bird in the Galapagos Islands

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands [From Anywhere]

Here's everything you need to know about how to get to the Galapagos Islands. Whether your flying in from the US, Canada or the UK, or travelling through mainland Ecuador, this guide has all the information you need so you can successfully get to the Galapagos Islands

Contents

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands (From Ecuador)

There are no international flights directly to the Galapagos islands, so if you want to visit them, you’ll have to fly into Ecuador first. 

 

From Ecuador you can take direct flights to the Galapagos Islands from two major cities: Quito (the capital) and Guayaquil. 

Find the cheapeast flights to Ecuador with Way Away:

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From Quito

Quito is the main travel hub of Ecuador and most international visitors will travel to the Galapagos Islands from here.

 

To get to the Galapagos Islands from Quito, you’ll need to fly. 

 

Flights to the Galapagos Islands leave daily from Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO)

 

Airlines that commonly operate flights to the Galapagos Islands from Quito include Avianca, and LATAM Ecuador.

 

You can fly into:

 

  • San Cristóbal Airport (SCY) which is on San Cristóbal island or;
  • Seymour Airport (GPS) which is Baltra Island. Baltra Island is a small island to the north of Santa Cruz Island. Once you land, you need to take a short ferry and a 45 minute taxi to reach Puerto Ayora, the main town. 

Find cheap flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands:

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From Guayaquil

You need to fly from Guayaquil to get to the Galapagos Islands. 

 

Guayaquil’s main airport is José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE) and flights to the Galapagos Islands leave daily. 

 

A flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands takes around 2 hours.

 

You can fly into San Cristobal Island (SCY) or Baltra Island (GPS). 

Find cheap flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands:

How to get to the Galapagos Islands

How Much Does It Cost To Get To The Galapagos Islands From Ecuador?

Flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands cost around $300-400 dollars depending on time of year and which day of the week you book. 
 
 
On top of this, you also have to pay an entrance tax ($100) and purchase a transit card ($20).
 
 
So in total, it should cost around $400-$500 to get to the Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador
Tortuga Bay, Isla Santa Cruz (Galapagos Islands)

What Airport Do You Fly Into For The Galapagos Islands?

There are three main Galapagos islands that you can stay on: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabella.

 

However, only two of the islands have airports.

 

So you can fly from the mainland to:

 

  • San Cristobal (SCY)
  • Baltra Island (GPE) which is a tiny island attached to Santa Cruz.

You can’t fly to Isabella directly from the mainland but there are internal flights once you are on the islands, however, most people take the ferry crossing.

How Do You Get To Baltra Island (GPE) From Quito

Flights from Quito to Baltra Island take around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

 

There are direct flights but some may stop in Guayaquil adding to the journey time.

 

Once you land on Baltra Island you need to:

 

  • Take a bus to the Itabaca channel (5 minutes)
  • Take a ferry to Santa Cruz Island (10 minutes).
  • Take a taxi ($15) or bus ($1.80) into Puerto Ayora town which will take around 40 minutes. 

Check out flights from Quito to Baltra here:

How Do You Get To San Cristobal (SCY) From Quito

Flights from Quito to San Cristobal Island take longer as you have to stop in Guayaquil. 

 

San Cristobal airport is right next to the main town of Puerto Baquerizo and only a 5 minute taxi ride away. 

Check out flights from Quito to San Cristobal here: 

Is It Better To Fly Into Quito Or Guayaquil for the Galapagos Islands?

It’s better to fly into Quito if you want to spend a couple of days in the capital and/or explore the rest of Ecuador.

 

For example, you can visit popular places such as Cotopaxi National Park and Mindo from the capital. Or simply stay an extra couple of days and enjoy fun activities in the city such as climbing Volcano Pichincha and visiting the Equator line.

 

It’s better to fly into Guayaquil for a more efficient flight to the Galapagos.

 

Most flights from Quito stop off in Guayaquil. So if you fly into Guayaquil, you’ll save yourself the additional journey.

 

However, as of 2024, crime has been on the rise in Ecuador and many countries have issues warnings for travelling to Guayaquil. So you may want to go to Quito instead. However, a simple overnight stay is fine, especially if you stay near the airport. 

 

I recommend this hotel which is opposite the airport and a 5-minute walk.

For more great tips for visiting the Galapagos Islands on a budget, check out the post below:

 

 

STOP SIGN IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

What's The Easiest Route To The Galapagos Islands From Ecuador?

The easiest and most efficient route to the Galapagos Islands depends on where you are in the country. 

 

  • If you’re in Quito, fly to Baltra Island (GPE)
  • If you’re in Guayaquil, fly to San Cristobal Island (SCY)

What's The Easiest Route To The Galapagos Islands From Quito?

  • Journey Admin: Flight > Bus > Ferry > Bus
  • Total Journey Time: 3.5-4.5 hours 

If you are flying from Quito then the easiest route is to fly direct to Baltra Island and then take the ferry/bus to Santa Cruz. 

 

This is easiest route as you’re taking a direct flight.

 

If you wanted to go to San Cristobal Island first, you’d need to stop off in Guayaquil which adds time and admin to your journey.

What's The Easiest Route To The Galapagos Islands From Quito?

  • Journey Admin: Flight > Taxi
  • Total Journey Time: 2.5-3 hours 

If you are in Guayaquil, then the easiest route to the Galapagos Islands is to fly to San Cristobal Island.

 

This is because you can take a direct flight from Guayaquil.

 

Then you can take a 5-minute taxi to the main town on San Cristobal.

 

This is an easier route than flying to Santa Cruz as you avoid the extra 45-minute journey from the airport to town that you have to do on Santa Cruz.

TOP TIP: If you are looking to fly in and out of the same island, I would recommend flying to San Cristobal. This is because the airport is a 5 minute drive from the main town, saving you money and time, especially compared to Santa Cruz 

However, flying into one island and out of another one is ideal if you want to maximise your time on the islands. This will save you having to take a ferry back to the island you flew in to. However, it will cost more.

Views From Mirador Cerro Tijeretas, San Cristobal Island (Galapagos Islands)

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What Are The Galapagos Islands Airport And Entry Requirements?

Here’s a quick breakdown of everything you’ll need to do at the airport before flying to the Galapagos Islands:

 

  • Step 1: Buy your Transit Control Card (TCC) costing $20. Bring cash
  • Step 2: Have your bag checked at environmental controls
  • Step 3: Check-in to flight and drop your bag
  • Step 4: Get out at least $100 cash for the entrance fee which you pay when you land. This can’t be paid by card.

TOP TIP: Arrive at least 3 hours before your flight to the Galapagos Islands complete all of this in time.

When I arrived at the airport, there was a large queue to buy the Transit Control Card which took around 45 minutes. It then took an other 10 minutes for them to check my bag at the environmental controls. I then had to go and check my bag in. Yes, these are all separate areas which is why it takes so long.  

Step 1: Before Check-in / Transit Control Card (TCC)

Before checking in you need to complete a pre-check of your travel documents, complete the entry form/declaration, and pay for your transit card.

 

Before travelling to the Galapagos islands make sure you have a return ticket booked to the mainland. The immigration office will check this before you’re able to proceed.

 

You will need to pay $20 to the INGALA (Galapagos immigration office) for a Transit Control Card (TCC).

 

This is a small fee that authorises you to visit the Galapagos Islands, and ensures that you return at the end of your trip. You have to hand the card back in when you return from the islands so make sure to keep it. 

 

YOU MUST DO THIS STEP BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. 

Step 2: Environmental Controls

After the office check your documents and you pay, they will scan your bag to satisfy the environmental controls of the Galapagos Islands.

 

Make sure before that you:

 

  • Don’t have any food (including snacks) or organic matter, including wooden carvings in your bag/ You will be made to remove these before travelling.
  • Clean your shoes (especially hiking boots if you have them) as they may well be checked before you leave and if they’re dirty with mud it will raise concerns for environmental control.

 

After the scan, a tag will be placed on your bag to show that It’s been checked, and you shouldn’t put anything more into your bag after that.

Step 3: Check-In

Once you’ve completed the pre-flight checks you are free to complete the normal check in and security procedures.

 

The airline will check all your documents including your TCC and the environmental control tag.

 

Finally make sure you keep all the documents safe for your arrival as these are checked again once you land.

Step 4: Arrival / Entrance Fee

When you land on the islands, you will join another queue for checking your travel documents and to the pay the $100 environmental fee (going up to $200 in August 2024).

 

It feels steep but as this goes to good causes such as contributing to the sustainability and protection of the islands you feel less aggrieved. 

 

There were card machines available in the airport on the mainland, but none once you land so make sure you withdraw enough before you leave.

CRABS IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

How To Get Around The Galapagos Islands

The best way to get around the Galapagos Islands is by ferry.

 

You can take ferrys in between San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Isabella Island.

 

Each ferry costs around $30 and is between 1-2 hours long depending on which journey you are taking.

 

Similar bag checks occur when travelling between the main islands. Your bags will be checked for organic material such as food, plants etc and your shoes will also be checked.

 

These checks weren’t that rigorous, just a slightly bored looking official opening the top of my bag and giving it a quick once over without any digging around.

 

Once the officials are happy a tag will be placed on your bag as before.

TOP TIP: Word of warning here, the word 'ferry' isn't exactly an accurate description. The ferries between each island are more like speedboats, taking around 30 people each.

The journey can be very bumpy if the sea is rough so if you are prone to sea-sickness we would suggest looking into flying. 

For a list of free activities on each of the islands, check out our post:

 

 

Giant Tortoises In The Highlands of Santa Cruz (Galapagos Islands)

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From The U.K

Here’s how to get to the Galapagos Islands from the U.K:

 

  • Take an international flight from London to Ecuador (this may include a connection in somewhere like Bogota). You can either fly into Quito or Guayaquil
  • Fly from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. 

Several airlines operate international flights from London, UK, to Ecuador, with common routes typically involving one or more stopovers or connections.

 

Here are some of the main airports involved in these routes:

 

London Heathrow Airport (LHR):

 

  • Airlines: British Airways
  • Stopover/Connection: Common stopover locations for flights from London Heathrow to Ecuador include cities like Madrid (Spain) or Miami (USA) depending on the airline.

London Gatwick Airport (LGW):

    • Airlines: Avianca, Iberia
    • Stopover/Connection: Common stopover locations for flights from London Gatwick to Ecuador include cities like Bogotá (Colombia), Madrid (Spain), or Miami (USA) depending on the airline.

Check out flights from London, UK to Ecuador with Way Away:

Pinnacle Rock, Galapagos Islands

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From The U.S

Several airports in the United States offer direct flights to Ecuador. You’ll need to fly into Quito and then take another flight from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.

 

The most common routes are typically from major international airports such as:

 

  • Miami International Airport (MIA). Common Airlines: American Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Eastern Airlines
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Common Airlines: JetBlue Airways
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston. Common Airlines: United Airlines
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York City. Common Airlines: Avianca, LATAM Airlines
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Common Airlines: Delta Air Lines
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Common Airlines: LATAM Airlines
  1.  
Pinnacle Rock, Galapagos Islands

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From Peru

To get to the Galapagos Islands from Peru, you’ll need to:

 

  • Get to Lima first. This is the the only international airport with flights to Ecuador
  • Fly to Guayaquil or Quito. I’d recommend Guayaquil as it’s nearer and therefore a cheaper flight
  • From either Guayaquil or Quito, take a flight to the Galapagos Islands

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From Cusco

To get to the Galapagos Islands from Cusco, you’ll need to:

 

  • Fly from Cusco to Lima. Lima is the the only international airport with flights to Ecuador. 
  • Fly to Guayaquil or Quito. I’d recommend Guayaquil as it’s nearer and therefore a cheaper flight
  • From either Guayaquil or Quito, take a flight to the Galapagos Islands. 

To see a fully planned Machu Picchu and Galapagos Islands itinerary that follows this route, head to the post below:

 

 

Sealions on Galapagos Islands

How To Get To The Galapagos Islands From CANADA

Here’s how to get to the Galapagos Islands from the Canada:

 

  • Take an international flight from one of the major cities such as Vancouver or Toronto to Ecuador (this may include a connection in somewhere like Bogota or the US). You can either fly into Quito or Guayaquil.
  • Fly from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. 

Several airlines operate international flights from Canada to Ecuador, with common routes typically involving one or more stopovers or connections.

 

Here are some of the main airlines and airports involved in these routes:

 

  • Air Canada: From Canadian airports such as Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), or Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Common stopovers include Miami, Houston, Atlanta.
  • American Airlines: From Canadian airports such as Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), or Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Common stopovers include Miami, Dallas/Fort Worth, Charlotte.

     

  • Delta Air Lines: From Canadian airports such as Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), or Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Common stopovers include Atlanta, New York (JFK), Salt Lake City.

Playa Mann, San Cristobal (Galapagos Islands)

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