Located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands remained untouched for millions of years where exotic animals and plants thrived. The Islands became Ecuador's first national park in 1959 and since then, over 270,000 tourists visit every year. 


But before you swim with whale sharks and drink in the dramatic landscape, you must decide how to get to the Galapagos Islands.

Things to Consider Before Your Trip

Before you figure out how to get to the Galapagos, factor in:


You must decide whether you want to be based on one of the inhabited islands or stay on a live-aboard boat. In terms of cost, a trip to the Galapagos can be expensive and the cheaper option is to be land-based. However, you will miss out on other islands and time marveling the wildlife.


If you choose a land-based vacation, you will spend most of your time between the boat and your hotel. Live-aboard boats, however, travel through the night so you can wake up in a new location each day.


When deciding how to get to Galapagos, remember that land-based explorations are limited whereas cruises have the flexibility to take you to more islands. 

How to Reach the Galapagos Islands

Not sure how to travel to the Galapagos Islands?

You can fly from Quito or Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador. Flights from the U.S. are frequent to both cities but Quito is a more interesting city to explore. 

When is the Best Time To Visit?

Each season is unique and there isn’t a bad month when visiting Galapagos Islands. June through to December are cooler and dryer although light rain is still possible.

January to May are warmer and wetter but the rain creates brilliant blue skies between showers, great for photography. March and April are the hottest and wettest while August is the coolest.   

Land-Based vs. Cruise

When getting to Galapagos, know that both options have their ups and downs. Most of the islands are inhabited yet many hotels exist on Santa Cruz Island and San Cristóbal Island which offer many days-boat trips. Book a hotel near the harbor so you’re close to where you’re boarding. 

Cruises, on the other and, offer five- to eight-day itineraries with set routes and departure dates. The routes are directed by the National Park officials to prevent crowding and environmental stress. 

Your cruises and tours will offer a north or southern itinerary which includes excellent land excursions and many opportunities to see famous flora and fauna of the Galapagos. 

If there are a certain species you’d love to see, talk to the tour operator and pick the month and itinerary to give you the best chance of spotting. Some species are seasonal and many exist on specific islands. 

Now You Know How to Get to the Galapagos Islands

It's essential to know how to get to the Galapagos Islands and when to go. There are many advantages of both land-based excursions and taking a cruise but if you're short on time and want to maximize your experience, try a cruise. Happy traveling!

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