Packing for the Galapagos Islands

How exciting off to the Galapagos….. that’s certainly how I felt, and had to keep pinching myself to believe that I was actually going. Here’s  our guide for what to pack for a cruise of the Galapagos.

First and best tip for a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands –  pack  lightly, but include LOTS of photo storage!

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Happy in the Galapagos!

The fewer things that you bring the more carefree and enjoyable your trip will be. It’s best to pack your clothes in two bags: one with warmer clothes and city clothes that can be left in your hotel in Quito. Most hotels in Quito will store your luggage for free. Then you should have a separate bag for the storage of your gear aboard the boat in Galapagos. You should ensure that your luggage is secured and locked regardless of where you are travelling.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Athala II – a beautiful cat!

Here are a few suggestions of things you may wish to consider taking on your trip to the Galapagos Islands:

Sun Protection – it gets very hot and tropical at times

  • Wide-brim hat
  • Light cotton scarf to protect your neck
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen (at least 30SPF)
  • Sun block
  • Lip salve or ointment
  • Long-sleeve light cotton shirt
  • Light cotton pants
  • Snorkel, mask (with prescription lenses if you require them) and fins
  • “Shorty” wetsuit (2mm thick is all you will need)

There is usually plenty of time for snorkeling for those who are interested.  For personal hygiene and to ensure that it will be there when you need it, we recommend that you bring your own gear. Snorkeling gear is provided aboard most of the yachts and ships. Some offer the equipment (mask, fins and snorkel) at no charge and some charge a nominal rental fee of up to $10 for 8 days. Whilst a wetsuit is not absolute necessity, but we suggest that you bring a 2mm “shorty” to help enjoy the longer spells in the water.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The perfect beach in the Galapagos…

Camera Gear (now for the important stuff) 

  • Waterproof bag for gear
  • Camera/ Underwater Camera
  • Video Camera
  • Flash
  • Telephoto Lens
  • Tripod
  • Lens Paper and Cleaner
  • Extra batteries
  • Extra film or memory cards

We would definitely recommend an underwater camera, as we were disappointed that we didn’t have one to capture the extreme underwater life. You will take hundreds if not thousands of photos, so lots of storage is essential too.


  • Passport
  • Copy of passport
  • Passport Pouch
  • Credit card(s)
  • US Cash
  • Money Belt

Most boats will have a safe in your cabin, but be aware that some boat cabins are not locked.

  • Travel Alarm Clock
  • Binoculars
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Toiletries
  • Shampoo
  • Insect repellant
  • Small day pack
  • Stuff sacks to organize your gear
  • 2 pairs of walking shoes (one to keep dry, the other for wet landings)
  • Light cotton socks
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 or 2 pairs of swimwear
  • 2 pairs of lightweight long pants or skirt / dress
  • Light short sleeve shirts
  • Light poncho, rain jacket or umbrella
  • Sweatshirt

First Aid and Motion Sickness

  • Candied Ginger or ginger tablets, good especially for mild symptoms
  • Pressure wristband – can stimulate acupuncture points in wrist to combat nausea.
  • Motion sickness patches- a longer slow release option.
  • Motion Sickness Tablets- antihistamines- try to get non-sedative ones. Can take 30 minutes to an hour to kick in.
  • Pepto Bismol for stomach upset and mild diarrhea
  • Immodium or Lomotil for more severe diarrhea
  • Band-Aids
  • Anti-biotic cream
  • Aloe Vera cream or gel for sunburn
  • Tylenol or other mild pain relief

From our experience it pays to have a few options for motion sickness if you are prone, because some just work different for different people. You can also be mindful of what foods you eat: dairy products, high protein and sodium foods, alcohol and strong smelling foods should be avoided (along with cigarettes), while light meals and ginger, chamomile or peppermint supplements or teas are deemed beneficial.

Pick a mid-spot section of the boat, stay away from other sick people (as the power of suggestion is strong) and focus on the horizon, don’t read or watch movies, but shutting your eyes and reclining can help. Fresh air is also soothing.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Human Blue Footed Booby!

You will need to find the right balance between being well prepared for a variety of situations, and circumstances and not being overwhelmed by unwieldy luggage and gear. We were well equipped for the trip, although our one regret was not taking an under-water camera. We were also not fully prepared cash wise for the USD $600 tip we were expected to make to the guide and crew on the last day (more on this in our other posts on cruise trips in the Galapagos…).

Have you visited the Galapagos? What was your highlight?

Share your experience and travel tips in the comments section below!

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2 Comments on “Packing for the Galapagos Islands

  1. I second your packing lists and the advice about leaving a bag of warmer clothes in Quito. We stayed at the Sierra Madre Hotel and they happily stored bags for us with no problems. I’d also recommend a long sleeve swim shirt and even board shorts if you plan to spend a lot of time in the water and don’t want to bring a wetsuit. The sun is BRUTAL and reapplying sunscreen every hour gets to be a drag.

  2. Extra good advice thanks Gypsy Queen, it’s so easy to spend lots of time in the water, even for me who is not a water person!

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