Know Before You Go – Galapagos Islands

By Allie Almario

Traveling to a destination as remote as Ecuador’s Enchanted Islands, the Galapagos, is on the bucket list for many. We’ll provide you insider’s intel on what you should know about this fascinating archipelago so that you can make the right choices for the perfect wildlife adventure.

Travel requirements change often, so check in with our country experts to help you navigate the many different regulations, especially during COVID times.

Ecuador Entry Requirements:

 A valid passport, with at least six months remaining before expiration, is required to enter Ecuador.  Visas are not currently required for visitors from the USA for trips up to 90 days.  If you are arriving into Ecuador from another country other than the USA, please check that country’s departure / entry  requirements for Ecuador as it may differ from the above.

COVID REQUIREMENTS:  All international travelers will need to show proof of a negative RT-PCR COVID test within 72 hours of flying into the Galapagos. (Effective September 2021).  Finally, a negative COVID test within 72 hours of returning into the USA is also required. 

GALAPAGOS REQUIREMENTS: Upon entry in the Galapagos, you may need to show proof of mandatory travel and medical insurance (effective April 2021).

Time Zone:

Ecuador is in the Eastern Time Zone (GMT-5). Daylight savings time is not observed. Galapagos is one hour behind mainland Ecuador. Some, not all, ships, follow the time change.

Local Currency & ATMS on the mainland:

US Dollar is the monetary unit. Be sure to bring small bills ($1, $5, $10 are best). ATMS are found in most major cities.

Credit cards in the Galapagos:

Businesses in the Galapagos prefer cash whenever possible but many only accept smaller bills under $50. On Santa Cruz, Visa and Mastercard are accepted at many businesses. On San Cristobal and Isabela, cash is much preferred.  In general, AMEX is not accepted throughout most of Ecuador.

Flights to Galapagos: 

The airlines allow one checked suitcase (maximum 44-50 lbs.) and one carry-on bag per passenger.  Airlines are required to spray inside the aircraft with a special process once doors are closed and is preparing for take-off.  This is considered common procedure for flights bound to fragile island eco-systems that are susceptible to prevent any invasive species or virus being accidentally transported to the islands.  If you are flying on inter-island flights on small planes, you’re limited to 5 lbs  for carry on and no more than 20 lbs for check in luggage. Excess fees apply.

Galapagos Cruise Dress Code:

Most Galapagos cruise ships have a very casual dinner dress code. You can generally wear what’s called “resort casual.”  For men, no jackets or ties are required. For women, no heels or dressy shoes are necessary. If you are invited to join the captain for dinner, you’ll usually receive advance notice and you may want to dress up a bit for that because s/he’ll wear his uniform whites. As always, with any questions, we are happy to assist you with your travel plans.

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