How to get to the Galapagos Islands?

How to get to the Galapagos Islands?

san cristobal galapagos liveaboard

Photo Credit @ Panoramio

Galapagos Islands has limited connections with the rest of the world. A small percentage of the tourist arrive on luxury cruise ships or smaller expedition ships that occasional visit. The majority arrive by air from mainland Ecuador.

The population and tourist centers of the Galapagos Islands are restricted to four islands. There are two airports, the one Baltra Island and the primary airport on San Cristobal. Guest traveling to Galapagos Islands need to insure they select the right one as there is no air transfers between them and no direct sea connections. The Baltra Island is primarily a military base with no hotels. Ferries take guest to the nearby islands that do have tourist facilities. A few Galapagos liveaboards depart from the island.

The two airports have about 20 flights a week total going to the mainland either to Quito or Guayaquil. Generally the planes leave the mainland airport in the morning for the three hour flight and has a return leg in the afternoon. Flights to and from Quito are the ones most favored by international guest. Quito has the majority of the international connections and all of the long haul connections. (long haul are flights over 6 hours). International guest will need to make plans for an overnight stay in order to make the flights to Galapagos.


The Embassy of Ecuador to the United States provides this information on their website:

“Ecuador welcomes people from all over the world who wish to visit for a short period of time or to establish permanent residency. If you come to Ecuador as a tourist or on a business trip, you do not need a visa for a stay up to 90 days on a 12 month-period (chronological year), unless you are a citizen (passport holder) from one of the following countries:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia.”

Transit Control Card

All individuals traveling to the Galapagos Islands are required to obtain a “Transit Control Card” or TCT (in Spanish, tarjeta de control de tránsito, ). It is recommended by the government to preregister for the pass online. However, the website is not always reliable and you can obtain the pass at the airport in just a few minutes. Guest are limited to a total of 90 days stay in a year. The TCT cost is $20, however, be advised that upon arrival at the islands visitors are required to pay $100 environmental fee. That fee is payable only in cash and only in United States dollars.

baltra airpoprt galapagos liveaboard

Photo Credit @ Mountains of Travel


When it come to safety there are a few different approaches to consider. The crime rate in the Galapagos Island is low with no indication that tourist are targeted for crimes against them. Guest should exercise normal precautions. While en-route, guest should be aware of their surrounding at all times in Quito and Guayaquil. These big cities have the same problems of other major cities around the world.

Tourist to the islands should prepare themselves for the level of activities they will partake while in the Galapagos islands. Scuba divers will be exposing themselves to high stress diving sites that will require a good level of fitness. Those visiting the naturalist sites may find themselves hiking distances in conditions they are not use to.

The medical facilities and hospitals are very limited, with just two hospitals. The best equipped is in Puerto Ayora and has the island’s only hyperbaric chamber. Major surgery requires evacuation to the mainland. Travel and dive insurance is highly recommended. Tourist requiring medications should bring an ample supply with them.

galapagos liveaboard hotel accommodation

Photo Credit @ CNN Travel

Hotels / Accommodation

While there are only a few dive liveaboards, there are about 80 other liveaboards that travel the islands visiting the land sites of the National Park. The liveaboards account for nearly 1/3 of the accommodations used by tourist. Many tourist will arrive at the airport transfer directly to the boats and spend their visit onboard.

Divers that stay on land will have a range of places to stay. Small bed and breakfast facilities will suit those on a budget, while those looking for luxury accommodation will find resorts to meet their needs.

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