How to get to Galapagos?

Quito Tour Bus

How to get to Galapagos?

How to get to Galapagos?
How to get to Galapagos Map

Many people have concerns about how to get to the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador and other places in the world. In addition, they seek to know the means of transportation to get to Galapagos, how long it takes to get to this destination, and what is the best time to visit these paradisiacal islands. In this post, we want to help you clear up these concerns and show the most used and comfortable methods to get to Galapagos.

How to get to Galapagos by boat?

The Galapagos Islands, also known as the Enchanted Islands, are an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean located about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) off the coast of Ecuador. Because of the distance of the archipelago from the mainland, people who want to visit the Galapagos Islands can only do so by plane. There are no boats or cruise ships that travel from mainland ports to the islands. There are also no bridges connecting the mainland with the Galapagos Islands for land transportation.

How to get to Galapagos by plane?

Quito and Guayaquil are the only cities in Ecuador and the world with access to the Galapagos Islands. That is, there are no direct international flights to Galapagos. Regardless of whether you are in NYC or the UK, you must first arrive in Ecuador, the cities of Quito or Guayaquil, and then you must take a connecting flight to the islands. You should not forget that due to the fragile ecosystems and the extremely high ecological value of the islands, the Galapagos National Park has strict requirements that airlines must meet. Similarly, outbound flights from the Galapagos Islands are only available to the cities of Quito or Guayaquil. From any of these airports, you can take the necessary international flights. 

How many airports are there in the Galapagos Islands?

In the Galapagos Islands there are two main airports. These are located on San Cristóbal Island (San Cristóbal Airport in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno – Airport Code: SCY) and on Baltra Island (Seymour Airport – Airport Code: GPS). All passengers flying to the Galapagos Islands arrive at these airports. There is an airport located on Isabela Island, although “it is only conditioned to receive small planes or small planes for local connections between islands” (Galapagos National Park, 2022).

What airlines fly to the Galapagos Islands?

The airlines that fly to the Galapagos Islands from the Ecuadorian continent are:

Any of these airlines can take you from the cities of Guayaquil or Quito to San Cristóbal Island or Baltra Island. 

You will likely find that TAME, an Ecuadorian airline, flies to the Galapagos Islands. In fact, this airline made flights to the Galapagos Islands in the past. As of now, this airline is in the process of liquidation, that is, it no longer makes these flights to the enchanted islands.

How to get to Galapagos from Quito?

From the beginning, it is important to know there are two international airports in Ecuador. These are the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (Airport Code: GYE), located in the port city of Guayaquil, and the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (Airport Code: UIO), located in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

If you have decided to travel to the Galapagos Islands from Quito, you must take a flight to San Cristóbal Island or Baltra Island from Mariscal Sucre International Airport. This airport is located in the Tababela area, about 45 kilometers from the Historic Center of Quito. Depending on traffic conditions, the transfer to or from the airport may take approximately 01h00 (1 hour). For more information, we recommend you read our note: How to go from the Quito airport to the city center?

How to get Quito Airport Galapagos
Quito Airport to Quito center

Normally, the flights that leave for the Galapagos Islands from Quito make a stopover in Guayaquil to later arrive in the Galapagos Islands. Domestic flights to the Galapagos Islands regularly depart early in the morning, so it is required to spend the night either in Quito or Guayaquil. This way, you will not risk missing your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Also, there are hotels in the vicinity of the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, which is why we recommend you read our note: 6 best areas to stay in Quito.

Tourists who come to Quito to get to know the Galapagos Islands also do so with the desire to visit the capital of Ecuador, which is recognized for having the largest and best preserved historic center in Latin America. The Historic Center of Quito was declared the first Cultural Heritage of Humanity on September 8, 1978, by UNESCO, along with Krakow in Poland. 

From Quito, several tours go through the main attractions of the Sierra and Amazon. In addition, there are many tour options for one day, so we recommend getting to know the capital of Ecuador if you arrive in the country. 

How to get to Galapagos from Guayaquil?

The José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil is the closest airport to the Galapagos Islands. From there, the flights departing can take you to either Baltra Island or San Cristóbal Island. If you take a flight to the enchanted islands from this airport, you will make a non-stop trip to this destination. This way of getting to the Galapagos is quite popular for travelers with less time. It is worth mentioning that the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport is approximately 20 minutes from the best-known and most popular hotels in Guayaquil. 

What requirements exist to enter the province of Galapagos?

To find out what the requirements are to enter the province of Galapagos, we suggest you review the information issued by the Government Council of the Galapagos Special Regime at the following link: Frequently asked questions and answers – Immigration Control (TCT). There you will find the new guidelines for entering Galapagos by air. So that you do not suffer delays in your trip, we recommend that you arrive at the airport two or three hours in advance before the departure of your flight.

Once in the Galapagos Islands, you must pay an entrance fee to visit the Galapagos National Park. Park rangers at the Baltra and San Cristóbal airports collect the tax for tourists to enter the protected areas. To find out the prices of the entrance tax, we recommend you read this link on the entrance tax.

What to do after arriving in the Galapagos Islands?

If you have decided to take a flight to Baltra Island, once you land at Seymour Airport, you will need to cross a waterway that runs through the two islands, Baltra Island and Santa Cruz Island. This waterway is called the Itabaca Channel, and to make the internal transfer, you must take a ferry that crosses between the islands. Once the transfer on the ferry is over, you should go to Puerto Ayora, the cantonal head of the Santa Cruz Canton, as well as the largest and most populated city in the province of Galapagos. This transfer can be by bus, taxi (vans), or private transportation from your hotel. The complete transfer from Seymour Airport to Puerto Ayora takes around 90 minutes. 

Otherwise, if you decide to take a flight to San Cristóbal Island, you will arrive at the San Cristóbal Airport. This is to the west of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the cantonal head of the San Cristóbal canton. San Cristóbal Airport is a few minutes from the town center, and you can go to your hotel by bus or taxi. San Cristóbal is the political and administrative center of the archipelago, it consolidates the majority of government agencies, and is the second most populous city in the Galapagos Islands, after Puerto Ayora. 

If you are going to get to know the Galapagos Islands through a cruise, you should not forget that they depart from the Baltra airport, San Cristóbal Island, or Santa Cruz Island. Hence, your choice of flight depends on the schedule of your cruise. On the other hand, if you have decided to get to know the islands without taking a cruise, you can choose to stay on an island or simply visit the islands little by little throughout your trip. Planning your itinerary will help guide you and help you understand the best options for your trip.

How to get to Galapagos Islands Mantarayas
Photo by the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador.

How long does it take to get to the Galapagos Islands?

As we have mentioned, if you take a flight from the Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito, either to go to Baltra Island or San Cristóbal, you usually make a stopover at the José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil. This flight lasts approximately 01h00 (1 hour). Once in Guayaquil, you must make a connection, change planes, and leave for Baltra or San Cristóbal. If you fly to Baltra, the flight lasts 2h00 hours (2 hours), and if you fly to San Cristóbal, it will take approximately 01h50 (1 hour and 50 minutes). 

How to get to Galapagos Sea lion
Galapagos sea lion. Photo by pen_ash on Pixabay.

In conclusion, the way to get to the Galapagos Islands is through a flight from the cities of Quito or Guayaquil, to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, or Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island.  We suggest choosing your destination based on your planned activities and all the places you want to visit during your stay on the islands. If you take a cruise, don’t forget that most of them depart from Santa Cruz Island.  

What is the best time to travel to Galapagos?

Now that you know how to get to the Galapagos Islands, we recommend reviewing our note on the best time to visit the Galapagos. This will help you discover the ideal time to make that long-awaited trip to the second largest marine reserve on the planet, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1978 by UNESCO.

How to get to Galapagos - Blue footed booby
Blue-footed booby. Photo by peterstuartmill on Pixabay.

What is the cheapest way to get to the Galapagos Islands?

The only way to get to the Galapagos Islands is to fly from the Ecuadorian mainland, either from Quito or Guayaquil. When visiting the islands, keep in mind the cost of airfare depends on your chosen airline and season. For this reason, we recommend looking for tickets well in advance to any of these cities, along with the Galapagos. We also advise you to be aware of the promotions from airlines that fly to the islands so you can find the best price.

Now that you know how to get to Galapagos, you can check the cost of the tickets on the airlines that fly to the famous islands: LATAM Ecuador (www.latamairlines.com/ec/es), Avianca Ecuador (https://www.avianca. com/ec/es/), or Equair (www.equair.com.ec).

How to get to Galapagos Turtle
Galapagos Tortoise. Photo by Alexas_Photos on Pixabay. 

In conclusion, the only way travelers can get to the Galapagos Islands is by air. Travelers must fly to the islands from the mainland of Ecuador, either from Quito or Guayaquil. You cannot travel from the mainland by boat, and there are no ferry services or land routes built for this purpose. 

As a tourism company with more than ten years in Ecuador, we highly recommend you visit this unique destination and enjoy its flora, fauna, and landscapes.  Write to us and we will provide you with personalized information so that you know how to get to Galapagos, and we will help you plan your next trip to these enchanted islands. 

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