Is it Expensive to Visit Galapagos Islands?

One of the most asked questions of people planning to go to the Galapagos is, “How much does it cost to travel there?”

It is a fact that it can be expensive to visit the Galapagos Islands. But, how you plan your trip to the Galapagos Islands can significantly impact the expense.

Fortunately, you can manage many variables to help decide whether to take a budget or a luxurious journey to the Galapagos Islands.

There may be some attractive package deals available. However, you should add a little more to your budget to truly transform throughout your journey and experience true peace of mind.

The Reason Behind the Cost of a Galapagos Trip

El Chato Tortoise Reserve on Santa Cruz Island

Galapagos is not a cheap place to visit (but so worth it). Due to their location, the challenges of sustainable tourism there, and the need to support local development, the Galapagos Islands are more expensive than the mainland of Ecuador. While budget travel is feasible, the trip can still cost you a lot. 

The substantial logistical expenditures for transporting food to the islands and other necessities are one of the main factors why a Galapagos trip is expensive.

Another reason is that the crew and employees are native to the Galapagos, and official regulations determine salaries and pay to ensure a decent living wage.

Over $100 is paid by foreign visitors every person because The Galapagos National Park, which includes the islands, depends on park entrance fees (paid upon arrival in the archipelago) to pay for its conservation and protection initiatives.

Due to logistics, workforce, and equipment, activities, trips, and lodging frequently have higher than usual expenses.

How Much Money Will I Spend to Travel to The Galapagos Islands?

I am swimming in Las Grietas, Galapagos

The cost may depend on the experiences, services, tours, and ways to travel around the islands.

Only airplanes are available for travel to the Galapagos Islands, and for international passengers, economy-class flights cost between $500 and $550 per person. Three airlines offer service to Galapagos: Avianca, Latam Airlines, and Tame Airlines.

You must purchase the Transit Control Card ($20 per person) and the Galapagos National Park entrance charge ($100 per adult and $50 per child) in cash at the airports of Guayaquil or Quito.

In Galapagos, there are numerous cruise alternatives. The cost varies based on how many days you spend on the boat and what category it is, with a four-day cruise starting at $2.529 per person. The travel assessors at Latin Trails might also request additional cruise options that are more affordable.

Playa Mann beach on San Cristobal Island (Galapagos)

In Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz), San Cristobal, and Isabela Island, first-class lodging may run about. $450-$650. All inhabited Galapagos islands provide first-class tourist lodging starting at $160 per night for a twin room with breakfast for two.

Top-rated Galapagos hotels offer breakfast; however, if you choose to eat breakfast in town, a local restaurant will likely charge $10 or more per person on average. Lunch is typically included in our daily tour itineraries. As such, our food expenses were very reasonable, so it averaged out to about $20/day. You can easily spend more or less in this category.

The average cost per person for daily navigation excursions is $250. This rate includes snorkeling equipment, lunch, and a guide. It does not include any tips or beverages. For land tours, the prices may go from $220 per person, including lunch, guide, entrances, and transportation.

Malecon at San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

We found the most reasonably priced service on the islands, with an average taxi fare costing $3 for an SUV seating up to 4 persons. A taxi to/from Puerto Ayora to the highlands is often between $20 and $25. For the inter-island boat ride, we spent an average of $45-$50 per person for a speedboat.

Travel Options to Galapagos Islands

Galapagos by Cruise

cruise vs island hopping Galapagos

You can visit the Galapagos Islands by boarding a cruise ship. Personally, this is my dream travel. But since it is costly, we opted to do the land-based trip. The cost is insane but you can save over 70% by taking a last-minute cruise deal while on Galapagos.

The best way to observe a variety of wildlife when traveling is on a cruise. Since the boat cruises at night, you can reach a wide variety of islands, including the farther-flung, more secluded islands with distinctive prospects for animal viewing that are inconveniently inaccessible on a land-based excursion.

Even while you’ll see Galapagos tortoises, sea lions, and iguanas wherever you go in the Galapagos, a cruise is simply the most excellent way to properly appreciate the variety of species that the Galapagos has to offer.

Sealions at Floreana Island Galapagos

On a cruise, you spend most of your time traveling at night. As a result, you will have more time during the day to explore and less time spent traveling between locations when you could be snorkeling with sea lions.

The Galapagos consists of seven smaller islands in addition to thirteen larger islands. You’ll typically see three to four islands while traveling on land.

On a cruise, you’ll visit five to eight distinct islands, with at least two unique tourist attractions daily. You can then have a more thorough knowledge of the archipelago’s size and biodiversity.

However, do not feel disappointed if you can’t visit Galapagos by cruise, because a land-based trip has its advantages and it was a blast and way cheaper for us.

Galapagos by Land

Getting to Pinzon Island Galapagos

A land-based vacation may be the best option for visiting the Galapagos Islands if you dislike being bound by a rigid daily schedule. Children may benefit most from land-based activities because they will have greater flexibility to run around and explore whenever they choose.

Land-based excursions are the only option to enjoy a completely private Galapagos experience, sometimes for a similar price as a cruise, unless you have the money to charter your cruise.

Speedy boat ride from Santa Cruz to Isabela Islands on Galapagos

Longer treks, biking, paddleboard, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and other activities are all available on land-based excursions. You can customize your land-based vacation to fit your travel preferences and Galapagos bucket list.

Tips on How to Go to Galapagos Islands on a Budget

There is no need for such an expensive Galapagos tour. Traveling the Galapagos on a tight budget while still feeling at ease is possible.

Trip to Galapagos Islands featured image

I’ve just created my own inexpensive Galapagos island-hopping itinerary with enough planning.

In our case, a budget double room is $30–$40, but a single private room costs only half as much. We spent about $20 on food per person for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We advise finding nearby “comedores.” Delicious cuisine is served here, and the restaurant is intended for residents to eat lunch or dinner. It will always be the least expensive choice, but it won’t be the most pleasant one.

Eating at Isabella grill, Galapagos

Tours can be costly, but it depends on what you decide to do. To visit each island on foot, we went on day trips, rented a cab for an hour with another couple, went on walks, and used water taxis to get to other parts of the island that were not reachable by car or foot.

Boat schedule on Santa Cruz island (Galapagos)

Boat schedule on Santa Cruz island

Ferries are an excellent way to travel between islands without paying for a tour. The cost per person ranges from $20 to USD 150. The most expensive excursion is always scuba diving (USD 150).


The Galapagos Islands have long been on many tourists’ bucket lists as a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. However, only a handful of individuals can afford to visit the enchanted islands because it is a pricey location.

Nonetheless, with proper tour planning, you can still visit the Galapagos and enjoy what the islands offer on a budget. Planning everything beforehand will save you a lot of money.

The primary factor to consider when planning your budget for a trip to the Galapagos is the tour company you’ll select for your excursion. Keep in mind that this firm will be responsible for making your trip worthwhile and handling every aspect so that you can concentrate on making the most of your time in the Galapagos.

The most crucial thing to remember is that a land-based itinerary will significantly reduce the expense of your Galapagos Islands trip. Your trip is still a once-in-a-lifetime journey, even if you did it on a budget!

About the author

Oleg Galeev

Made a road trip throughout Ecuador and explored the Galapagos Islands.

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