The Galapagos Islands are one of the few places left on Earth where humans can witness evolution and nature up close and personal thanks to the Island's conservation and responsible travel practices.
From kayaking, biking, SUP paddle boarding, and multi-sport tours to snorkeling, it's important for you to know what to bring with you. After booking your Galapagos Islands trip, your next big step is getting prepared and packing for your trip. It might seems like the time to whip out your standard vacation packing list, but this trip requires some extra attention.
Let's dive into the essentials needed on this trip to one of the most biodiverse, incredible places in the world!
You could be a few weeks or days away from your departure! No matter how much time you have, use this guide below to help you prepare, pack, and relax.
Top 5 Clothing Packing Tips:
To preface our list of actual items to stash away in your suitcase, let's start at the very beginning. Pack light but smart. You're embarking on a very active vacation that will require everything from tennis shoes and hiking clothes to your Sunday best as you dine in your hotel's gorgeous ocean-front restaurant at sunset.
1. Opt for light clothing that isn't easily wrinkled.
Not only is the Galapagos a very warm climate (so you won't need your winter coat here!), but it's also a casual country that is welcoming to guests dressed in shorts, dresses, tank tops, and other light outfits.
2. Map out your outfits.
This isn't one of those vacations where you can throw it all in a bag and hope for the best. We recommend laying out your clothing ahead of time to see which pieces you can mix and match between days and nights, or beach trips and the flight home.
3. Anticipate humidity.
This is probably the most important tip we can give you regarding what to expect in the Galapagos! If you've guessed this could be the type of vacation where you can re-wear a shirt 2 or 3 times, think again. Between the sunny, hot days on an island trek and the balmy evenings by the ocean, you'll likely find your clothing makes it through 1 (or maybe 2) wears before it's time to wash it or pack it away until you get home.
4. Don't forget to leave room for accessories.
As you examine your carry-on limits and the bags you plan to bring, don't forget that you'll need to save space for accessories like hiking boots, a light day pack for excursions, sunglasses, swimwear, and a rain jacket.
Galapagos Travel Essentials:
To make this truly easy on you, we're going to break out our packing list into 3 tiers: "non-negotiable" (or the items you absolutely cannot forget as you depart), "important to remember" (or things that you hopefully bring along, but could scrap together replacements if necessary), and "you can always buy them there" (or the things that if you do forget them, it's hakuna matata).
The most important things you need to bring with you to the Galapagos aren't your sandals or your sunscreen (although those are important!) It's actually the few pieces of paperwork and planned items that will allow you to come into the country. Your passport, immunizations (and proof of them), travel insurance, any necessary visas, and some local currency will allow you to arrive at the airport knowing you'll make it through to your destination intact.
US Citizens, at the time of writing, do not need a visa to enter Ecuador. However, your passport must be valid for at least six months past your planned date of departure. You will need to show proof of your planned departure from Ecuador (in the form of a plane ticket, most likely) as you enter customs and immigration upon arrival. Note: you'll likely want to print this out ahead of time to avoid potential mishaps in technology like an unexpectedly low battery on your phone or poor cell signal in the airport.
If you have any medications or contact lenses, it's essential to pack more than you think you might need in case you need backups and aren't able to find a refill prescription locally. In addition to any regular medications, you should also pack:
some general ibuprofen,
motion sickness pills, and
backup antibiotics to wipe out any traveler's sickness you may encounter.
Important to Remember
Footwear is going to be a crucial part of your packing list for this active trip. Make sure you have comfortable walking sandals, water-resistant shoes like Chacos or Tevas, and hiking boots conducive to your level of planned activity. And don't forget proper socks!
Your clothing needs to reflect the type of trip you're taking in the Galapagos. If you're planning a multisport tour, make sure to pack plenty of light clothing that's easy to hike and bike in. But if you'll focus on the beach, a first and second swimsuit will mean you're always ready to hit the waves.
A light fleece or shell jacket is wonderful to have on-hand should you want to explore in the cool early morning hours or embark on an evening boat ride with the crisp breeze at your back.
A daypack is perfect for taking on excursions in the daytime, and a 15L should be the perfect size to stash your other important items:
reusable water bottle
You Can Always Buy Them There
You'll want to evaluate how "worth it" it is to bring some items along with you. For example, maybe you'd rather leave your expensive sunglasses at home, and swing by a souvenir shop to swipe a low-cost pair that you don't mind losing in the sea. And you might also want to only bring enough sunscreen to get your family past the first day or two, and get a larger bottle when you arrive.
Things like snorkeling equipment, life jackets, headlamps, hiking poles, and towels are probably best left out of your suitcase and just rented from your hotel or guides.
Let's Get Planning
If the above list has you inspired to book your trip entirely or to talk with us about other potential excursions you might join, contact us today. Our expert guides would love to host you in the Galapagos Islands and teach you about the beautiful flora, fauna, and culture that awaits!