How to get to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador?

Ericka & Stefano

There’s no doubt that Ecuador’s most popular tourist destination, and the reason why people recognize our nation, is the Galapagos Islands.

In this article, we’ll try to answer the most common question “How to get to the Galapagos Islands?” in a clear and simple way.

Here, you will learn about the airlines that travel to the archipelago, the entry fees, and the best way to avoid getting lost during your journey to the islands.

You must first reach mainland Ecuador

There are no direct flights to Galapagos if you are traveling from outside of Ecuador.

You must first enter mainland Ecuador, either by Quito or Guayaquil, and then proceed to the islands.

Make sure you meet Ecuador’s entry requirements.

It is also worth mentioning that all domestic flights to Galapagos depart from Guayaquil. In other words, if you landed in Quito, the plane would first make a stop at Guayaquil before continuing to the archipelago.

So, plan your trip carefully using this information.

If you come to Ecuador and want to explore more than only the Galapagos Islands, I recommend that you first visit Quito before purchasing your ticket to the Galapagos.

But if you want to go straight to Galapagos, it’s best to buy an arrival ticket to Guayaquil (if you can) and then go from there. It will cost you less this way.

Guayaquil Aeropuerto Jose Joaquin de Olmedo

Airlines flying to Galapagos

Only three airlines offer direct domestic flights to Galapagos, departing from either Quito or Guayaquil:

Equair is a national airline that has the cheapest fares to the Galapagos Islands. All fares include a backpack, carry-on, and a 24-kg bag.

It is always best to buy in advance and compare the prices of each airline.

Personally, I recommend that you avoid purchasing from Avianca, especially given their troubles with lost bags, missing flights, delayed flights, and so on. There are usually issues with that airline.


Galapagos airports

Galapagos has two airports where visitors can land:

  • Seymour Airport (IATA: GPS, ICAO: SEGS), located in Baltra Island.
  • San Cristobal Airport (IATA: SCY, ICAO: SEST), located in San Cristobal Island.

*Although there is another airport on Isabaela Island, it solely serves local inter-island flights.

Baltra Island is near to Santa Cruz Island, so it is common to refer to Seymour Airport as the Santa Cruz Island airport.

Most visitors to the Galapagos Islands arrive at this airport, making it the busiest one in the archipelago.

San Cristobal Airport, on the other hand, has few flights, hence it is nearly empty.

We can get to the Galapagos Islands more cheaply through San Cristobal Airport. Choose this option only if you want to also visit this island for tourism.

Otherwise, take a direct flight to Baltra’s Seymour Airport and make Santa Cruz your home base.

The majority of ferries and excursions to other Galapagos islands and islets depart from this island (Santa Cruz).

Aeropuerto de Baltra Galapagos

Galapagos travel requirements

To enter Galapagos, you must meet the following requirements:

  • A valid passport issued at least six months before the date of entry into Ecuador.
  • Transit Control Card (TCT). It costs $20 USD for all visitors. It is only available at Guayaquil or Quito airport and must be paid in cash.
  • Provide an affidavit stating that you are not carrying any prohibited items to the Galapagos Islands. This form is given to you on the plane; fill it out, sign it, and deliver it when you arrive in Galapagos.
  • Pay the entry fee to the Galapagos National Park. It is also paid in cash upon arrival on the islands.

You can fill out the Galapagos TCT pre-registration online on your own. You just have to provide where you will be staying, your arrival and departure dates, and the airline you will be flying with.

If you don’t do it, it’s not a big deal, but you’ll have to give this information when you pay for the TCT at the airport.

You must also go through luggage inspection before departing. The inspection is done next to the office where you get the TCT.

Galapagos National Park Entrance Fees

You have to pay an entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park if you want to stay on the islands.

Only cash is accepted!

The price depends on the type of traveler:

TravelerEntrance fee
National or foreign tourists residing in EcuadorOver 12 years: $6
Under 12 years: $3
Non-resident foreign tourists in Ecuador under the age of 12$50
Non-resident foreign tourists in Ecuador over the age of 12$100
Non-resident foreign tourists under the age of 12 who are members of the Comunidad Andina de Naciones or Mercosur$25
Non-resident foreign tourists over the age of 12 who are members of the Comunidad Andina de Naciones or Mercosur$50
Tourists, non-resident foreign students who are enrolled in national educational institutions $25

Arriving at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island

To get to Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz from Seymour Airport in Baltra, you must do the following:

  • You have to buy a “Lobitos” bus ticket outside the airport. The cost is 5 USD dollar per person. This bus will take you to the Itabaca Channel dock.
  • From the dock, you will take a boat across the Itabaca Channel to the dock on Santa Cruz Island. The price is 1 US dollar.
  • Once you get to the dock on Santa Cruz Island, you can take another bus “Lobitos” to Puerto Ayora for $5 USD, or you can take a taxi. Taxis cost between $25 and $35, but you can split the fare with up to three other passengers.
Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Arriving at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island

If you land at the San Cristobal airport, it’s easy to get to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Specifically because the airport is only 15 minutes away.

You can easily take a cab for $2 to $3 USD and tell the driver the address of your hotel.

Rocky Shoreline and Boats, Bahía Baquerizo Moreno, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristôbal Island, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

And that’s it! Welcome to the Galapagos Island 🙂

About the author

Hey there! We are Ericka and Stefano. As longtime citizens of this amazing country, we are honored to serve as your tour guides and offer our firsthand experiences, insider advice, and must-see attractions in Ecuador. So be prepare for an exciting journey through Ecuador’s unique treasures.

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