Planning a vacation to the Galapagos? Then it might be interesting to know a bit more about getting there. First, you must get to Ecuador, for flight information to Ecuador please see our Ecuador section. Make sure you arrive in Ecuador at least 1 night before your departure to the Galapagos, there are no direct connections with international flights. Flights to the Galapagos Islands depart from mainland Ecuador only in the mornings.
We can assist you with your Galapagos pre and post tour arrangements around Ecuador (trip extensions, hotel bookings, airport transfers, etc.). If you are booking a cruise your space on the flight to the Islands is automatically booked with your cruise space on your boat. for more information please contact us and we will assist you with your arrangements.
Getting there: Important to know
- There are two airports which receive flights from mainland Ecuador, but no international flights to Galapagos. The most frequently used airport is at Baltra, across a narrow strait from Santa Cruz, the other at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal. The two islands are 96 km apart and on most days there are local flights in light aircraft (Cessna planes) between them, as well as to Puerto Villamil on Isabela. There is also irregular boat service between Puerto Ayora, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Puerto Villamil, and Floreana.
- All flights originate in Quito and make a long stopover in Guayaquil (see flight info page for pricing). Same prices apply regardless of whether you fly to San Cristobal or Baltra; you can arrive at one and return from the other. The ticket is valid for 21 days from the date of departure. Independent travelers must get their boarding pass (pre-cheque) for outward and return flights 2 days before departure. This is especially critical during high season and from San Cristobal at all times.
- Airport transfer: Two buses meet flights from the mainland at Baltra: one runs to the port or Muelle (10 mins, no charge) where the cruise boats wait; the other goes to Canal de Itabaca, the narrow channel which separates Baltra from Santa Cruz. It is 15 mins to the Canal, free, then you cross on a small ferry for US$0.70, another bus waits on the Santa Cruz side to take you to Puerto Ayora in 45 mins, U$ 1.50. If you arrive at Baltra on one of the local inter-island flights then you have to wait until the next flight from the mainland for bus service, or you might be able to hire a taxi. The airport in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is within walking distance of the town, but those on pre-arranged tours will be met.
Getting there By Plane
Getting to the Enchanted Islands from mainland Ecuador is easy, with daily Galapagos flights from both Quito and Guayaquil arriving into the main airports of Baltra and San Cristóbal. From both of these airports, public transportation to the main settlements and tourist spots is easy to find.
The island of San Cristóbal hosts the capital of the province of Galapagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and public transport connects the two by road, whilst getting from Baltra airport to the largest town of Puerto Ayora (on the island of Santa Cruz) by public transport is also possible by road and by ferry, taking little over an hour. The public transport is inexpensive and well-suited to tourists.
TAME, Avianca and LAN Airlines are the three main carriers serving the routes, and their prices vary depending on the season. Flights during the peak months of July, August and December are more expensive but not especially costly, with the price of a return flight hovering in the region of $450-590, whilst flights during off-peak months can be anywhere between $400 and $510 return.
The airport at Isla Baltra closes every couple of years for renovation and updating and during this time flights are operated from the San Cristóbal airport but this doesn’t affect flight availability. It’s often cheaper to fly from Guayaquil than from Quito, although going to Guayaquil when you’re closer to Quito could end up costing you more than the difference in the fare anyway, and it’s worth taking into consideration the ease of flying straight from Quito rather than traveling to Guayaquil first.
Ecuadorians get around a 50% discount on fares, and Galapagos Islanders get nearly half price fares on top of that. Students who hold an ISIC card can get a 15% discount on flights with TAME and 20% discount on flights with Avianca. When buying your ticket, be aware that you must have booked return transport from the island in order to be allowed through border control.
Island-hopping at the Galapagos by plane is really easy, as the company Emetebe flies between the islands of Isabela, Baltra and San Cristóbal daily, in both directions. Foreign tourists pay $158 one way, or $260 return, and have a very reasonable luggage allowance of 10kg. The company requests that you book your tickets at least 48 hours in advance.
Contact us by phone 1-866-725-3255 if you need assistance with your Galapagos flight reservations
Getting there By Boat
Boats navigating to the Galapagos archipelago regularly depart from Guayaquil. It takes 3 or more days by sea to reach the Islands. The boat sailing to the Islands from mainland Ecuador usually lacks the comforts found on cruise ships and touring yachts, most likely it is a cargo boat.
Finding boats or a cruise to the Galapagos islands from the mainland is about as tricky as it comes. There are cargo boats that go to the islands, charging about $150.00 one way, making it just as expensive or more than a flight, remember 3 days at sea imply other expenses as food and drinks. If you’re in for the romance of it, great! If you don’t have much time or money, take a regular flight – and enjoy cruising from one Island to another when you get there.
For information on sailing to the Islands from mainland Ecuador call Acotramar (04-401-004, 04-401711) or Transportes Maritimos and Fluviales (04-566-449) for more information regarding schedules and costs.