Getting around the Galápagos Islands

A golden colored iguana moves across a white pebbled beach.

A land iguana tromps along on North Seymour Island. Photo © Alan Davey, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Getting around the Galápagos is easier than it used to be. If you have booked a tour, you don’t need to worry about this because all transfers, shuttles, and cruises are prearranged.

By Boat

Traveling between islands is easier nowadays, with daily services on small launches connecting Santa Cruz with San Cristóbal and Isabela. All routes cost $25 per person one-way and take about two hours (2.5 hours for Isabela). There is only one service per day: The ferries leave Isabela at 6 a.m. and San Cristóbal at 7 a.m. and depart Puerto Ayora for both islands at 2 p.m. If numbers are large enough, two boats run; they can get booked up, so reserve one day in advance. There are kiosks on the dock in Puerto Ayora and Baquerizo Moreno. On Isabela, book with a tour operator in the center of Puerto Villamil. It can be a bumpy ride, particularly in the afternoon, so don’t eat a big meal beforehand.

By Bus

Bus services are very limited on the islands. The bus service on Santa Cruz runs between Puerto Ayora and the ferry jetty at the far north of the island to get to and from the airport. These services only run from the port in the early morning until 9:30 a.m., and return to the port mid-morning until around lunchtime, when the flights arrive. You could hop on one of these buses into the highlands. On San Cristóbal, there are several buses per day into the highlands from Baquerizo Moreno to Progreso.

Interisland Flights

If you’re in a hurry and can spare the extra cost, take an interisland flight with Emetebe, which has an office on Santa Cruz (Los Colonos and Darwin, top Fl., Puerto Ayora, tel. 5/252-6177). Small eight-seat planes fly half-hour routes among San Cristóbal, Baltra, and Isabela several times per week. Airfares start at $160 one-way, $260 round-trip. TAME (tel. 5/252-6527) has an office in Puerto Ayora at Darwin and 12 de Febrero, as does AeroGal (Rodríguez Lara and San Cristóbal, tel. 5/244-1950). In Baquerizo Moreno, book at the airport. On Isabela, Emetebe has a small office just off Puerto Villamil’s central plaza.

Camionetas and Taxis

In each of the three main ports, white camionetas (pickup trucks) are available for hire, and most destinations in town cost $1. Trips into the highlands by taxi cost from $30 for a half day, $50 for a full day.

Walking and Biking

It’s better for the environment to vote with your feet and either walk or rent a bike ($15 per day or $3 per hour, deposit usually required) rather than taking a taxi camioneta. Some higher-end hotels offer free use of bicycles.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Galapagos Islands.

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