Planning a trip to the Galapagos and wondering what to pack? In this post, we share a free Galapagos packing list.
Download your free PDF Galapagos packing list or keep reading for more detail.
When you’re heading to the Galapagos it’s best to pack light. It can be stressful sorting out what to bring, but if you use this Galapagos packing list as a checklist, the task will be a lot easier.
Where you’re staying (land or sea) can change what you should bring. Check with the sales staff for suggestions, especially regarding footwear and snorkel gear.
Packing for Your Galapagos Trip
Deciding what to bring on your Galapagos trip could seem pretty straight forward, after all it’s always warm in the Galapagos, right?
While it’s true that the Galapagos Islands have a tropical climate, it changes according to the season (dry/rainy) or your location. For example, it could be clear and sunny on the beach, but overcast and rainy if you’re hiking up a volcano.
Depending on which Islands you’re visiting, you may not be able to pick up some common travel items as easily as you would in other locations. It’s best to be prepared.
With the Galapagos seasons and landscape in mind, here is your free Galapagos packing list.
- Sturdy luggage. Your luggage will probably be transported by bus, boat, van, and maybe even a chiva. It could get jostled around a bit. If it’s good and sturdy, you won’t have anything to worry about. Remember to pack light, airlines traveling to the Galapagos allow one carry-on bag at 7 kg (15 lbs) and one piece of luggage at 20 kg (44 lbs) per person. You can also carry a small purse or camera bag.
- Day pack. Day packs are great for excursions when you want to bring a few things and still travel light.
- Camera and camera gear. Don’t forget extra batteries, memory cards, or a flash drive to store your images.
- Waterproof bags. When traveling by boat, it’s a good idea to protect your electronics by sealing it in a waterproof bag.
- Waterproof camera. This is not a necessity, but once you’re swimming with Galapagos sea lions, penguins and sea turtles you might regret not having one.
- Extra batteries. You might consider a power bank to charge your phone, tablet, and other camera batteries.
- Binoculars. When you see animals from the boat, binoculars will help you get a much better view.
- Reusable water bottle. You’ll be able to refill this and bring it on excursions.
- Your personal snorkel gear. Mask, snorkel and fins are provided but some guests prefer to bring their personal set along. You may also want a light shorty wetsuit if you get cold with extended time in the water. Or you can rent one for $15-20.
- Spanish phrase book. While your tour guide will speak English, but if you don’t know much Spanish a phrase book is always a good idea. Even if you can’t pronounce the words, you can hold the book and point to what you want to say. This is very helpful in Ecuador because English is taught as a second language in school. Many times, if a Spanish-speaker know what you’re trying to say, they can either speak or write a little English to help you out. This could come in handy at restaurants, shops, and other locations.
- A journal.
- Cash: USD in small bills, 20’s or smaller. Depending on your location in the Galapagos it may be difficult (or impossible) to find an ATM. Cash is always a good idea. Many locations will not accept anything above a $50, smaller bills are best. You may want cash for souvenirs, personal items and tips.
- Credit card. Most locations accept Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express.
- Passport and a copy of your passport.
- Travel / Medical insurance information.
- Transit Control Card. This card (Spanish: Tarjeta de Control de Transito) is commonly known as the TCT. You’ll be given a TCT card as you travel to the Galapagos. Hold on to it because you’ll need to show it as you exit the islands. We purchase this document in advance so you can avoid the lines and save time. Cost is USD $20.
- Quality sunblock and a wide-brim sunhat. The sun is strong on the equator and you don’t want a burn to ruin your trip. Make sure to bring or buy broad spectrum, waterproof, high SPF sunblock. You probably won’t want to resort to a mud bath like the Galapagos Tortoises.
- Medication. Make sure to bring enough of whatever prescription and non prescription medication you need. This may be hard or impossible to come by in the Galapagos, and if they do have it you may not recognize the Spanish equivalent. Along with your prescription medication, you may want to pack pain medication, motion sickness pills, and Pepto-Bismol.
- Extra eye glasses/sun glasses (with a strap) and contacts. It can be windy on the boats, and you may want to lean over to see what’s swimming by. If you lose your eyeglasses, it would be great to have an extra pair. If your eye-wear has a strap, you may never need to use your spare.
- Band-aids and antibiotic cream. A small basic first aid kit is always a good idea.
- Lip salve.
- Bug spray/insect repellent.
- Toiletries. Toothpaste, toothbrush, razors, sanitary napkins, comb… You may also want headbands and hair elastics, you’ll be in and out of the water a lot. If you plan on wearing makeup, waterproof would be the best choice.
- Long-sleeve shirts and lightweight travel pants/skirt/dress. These items will help provide sun protection.
- Shorts and light weight T-shirts. Quick-dry active wear is best.
- Sport sandals and sturdy hiking boots. You may be hiking over lava and gravel paths, you’ll need something with a good tread for sure footing and to protect your feet. Sport sandals are good for entering and exiting a boat, you may need to step in water. Too bad our feet are not as well suited to life in the Galapagos as the blue-footed booby’s.
- Comfortable sandals or flipflops. These will be great when your lounging around at your hotel. If you’re staying on a boat ask what they recommend for lounging.
- Swimsuit. Bring two swimsuits. That way you can hang one to dry while you’re wearing the other.
- Light jacket (windbreaker/waterproof shell) and sweaters. It can be cool and breezy in the evening. It can be rainy at any time in the year (more so December – June) and hikes in the highland areas can get misty or rainy all year round.
- Cotton scarf. This will help protect your neck from the sun.
- Comfortable socks.
- Comfortable underwear.
There you have it, your Galapagos packing list. Download your free Galapagos Packing list as a printable PDF
What Not to Bring to The Galapagos
As you think about what to bring, it’s also important to think about what not to bring. Try to remove the extra packaging from toiletries and gear (like extra batteries, memory cards…). The less garbage you bring to the islands the better. And if you can pack out any that you have to bring, all the better.
Your luggage will be checked (before you travel to the islands) for seeds or other organic materials. Making sure you don’t have any will save you time and hassle at the airport.
Have a great trip and enjoy your vacation!
Have a question or maybe something to add to the list? Join me in the comments!
Read more about Ecuador nature and wildlife expeditions.