Visiting the Galapagos Islands is an absolutely unforgettable, bucket list-worthy experience that’s well worth the trek to this special spot off the coast of Ecuador. Once you’ve decided to go and booked all the logistics, the final item to tick off before this trip of a lifetime is a packing list for Galapagos.
From reef-safe sunscreen to the best shoes, here are some tips for what you’ll want to include in your suitcase.
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You may be surrounded by water, but chances are you’ll be walking a lot so good footwear is key.
Conditions on the islands vary greatly, with everything from soft, white sand beaches to volcanic pathways. Make this easier on yourself by bringing a good pair of water shoes with a solid sole, which are great for both wet and dry landings on the beach. A good option are KEENS which are supportive, quick drying and allow water to flow through.
KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal Water Shoe
KEEN Women’s Whisper Sport Sandal
A long camera lens
Sure, the camera on our smartphones have come a long way, but they still don’t compare to the crystal clear images you’ll get from shooting with a DSLR (I use this mirrorless camera from Canon which is nice and light). The key is to bring along a nice telephoto lens when packing for Galapagos to be able to zoom in on the animals, and as a bonus it also doubles as a pair of binoculars!
Sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen.
It gets extremely hot in the Galapagos Islands, and since its so close to the equator it’s extremely important to always wear sunscreen as the sun is very strong. Bring along reef safe sunscreen like this top-rated one from Reef Repair or Sun Bum Original SPF 50 which is vegan and reef friendly.
Environmental responsibility is huge undertaking in the Galapagos, as it helps protect the fragile surroundings and the incredible species that call the area home. As such, it’s a good idea to bring biodegradable products (ones made of beeswax are a good start) that won’t harm anything if traces of them end up in the water.
Some tour operators provide soap, shampoo and conditioner to their guests on board, so check with them before leaving to see if you need to include any on your Galapagos packing list.
While bugs aren’t a major issue in the islands, you may find yourself in some spots where there are insects—and they won’t leave you alone!
It’s a good idea to have some organic bug repellent on hand, but remember to watch where you spray it so it doesn’t impact the surrounding environment. Try spraying it on your hands before rubbing it on your body, instead of just spraying it haphazardly.
A couple of swimsuits
A typical cruise itinerary will build in lots of time in the water, and some days could see you having to slip into a wetsuit at least twice. Be sure to pack more than one swimsuit, so you’ll always have a dry one to put on.
One of my all-time favourites for women is this one-piece V-neck swimsuit from CUPSHE which is universally flattering and comes in more than a dozen prints. Bellecarrie also sells it in additional colours.
An underwater camera or GoPro is pretty much as mandatory as bringing your passport!
There is a stunning amount of life found underwater, including sharks, turtles, brilliant tropical fish and sea lions. As a result, there are endless photo opportunities during every dive or snorkeling excursion, and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t have an underwater camera to take advantage of it.
All that time spent on boats while hopping from island to island can make even those with iron stomachs queasy, and it’s common for people to feel seasick at least once during their trip.
Stock up on anti-nausea medication at the pharmacy before you leave: Dramamine pills and Gravol are popular (make sure to get the non-drowsy kind), as well as bands you can wear around your wrist. I always pack Transderm-Vs, which are little nude-coloured stickers you put behind your ears that last for three days each.
Finally, there is one important thing to remember: this is not a fashion show!
The sea lions do not care if you’re wearing a designer outfit. Exploring the Galapagos is all about adventure, so bring a lot of comfy active wear/lounging clothes as opposed to dressy outfits. Here’s a great guide with more information about what to wear in the Galapagos Islands.
Also, most people visit the islands on a cruise ship, which means your room likely won’t have a lot of extra space to house two huge suitcases, so try and squeeze everything into a carry on.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
- A guide to Bartolome island and Sombrero Chino in the Galapagos
- Luxury Galapagos cruise: A week onboard a Ecoventura yacht
- The crazy adventure of delivering a Galapagos Islands postcard
- Exploring the Galapagos Islands: Tortoises in the Santa Cruz Highlands
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A good packing list. I didn’t have a waterproof camera at the time (the trip was a very last minute decision!) so didn’t get any shots of the underwater wildlife we saw, which is a shame.
Oh too bad! By the way, I can’t imagine a last-minute trip to the Galapagos! How did that happen?
Good tips! I think my bag would mostly be full of photography gear 😉
Absolutely, it’s amazing just how much there is to see everywhere you look! The running joke was that on the first day we were all so excited to see the sea lions, then by day three it was like ‘yeah yeah, just another sea lion.’
This article will come in handy when I visit the Galapagos in a month or so. So, no stilettos to see the sea lions, you say? 😉
Haha exactly! Have a fantastic time in the Galapagos–I’m jealous and want to go back! 🙂
Sun Bum original is not reef safe. It is missing one of the bad ingredients but it has a few others that are harmful. However, Sun Bum Kids sunscreen is reef safe because it has limited ingredients. I have written to Sun Bum about this and they did not disagree.