🐒 The PERFECT 5 Day Galapagos Itinerary for First Visits (2024)

5 Day Galapagos Itinerary blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying an image of a marine iguana basking in the sun on a white sand beach.

Establishing your ideal 5-day Galapagos itinerary is perhaps the most important step in planning the vacation of a lifetime.

This guide is primarily intended to help people planning to visit the Galapagos islands for the first time on a self-guided trip, as we did for 2 weeks in April 2023.

You will find a well-organized daily schedule that allows some room for flexibility, as well as information that is important to understand prior to arrival.

In addition, we have also included advice on who should perhaps consider a cruise or land tour as a better option instead.

Be sure not to skim ahead too quickly; there are some essential things to know about the Galapagos islands first that will help to avoid confusion further along.

🏝 5 Day Galapagos Itinerary Overview

Day 1β€’ Arrive on San Cristobal island & swim with sea lions.San Cristobal
Day 2β€’ Explore all of San Cristobal on a 360Β° Tour.San Cristobal
Day 3β€’ Hike Cerro Tijeretas & snorkel Darwin’s Cove.
β€’ Ferry to Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz
Day 4β€’ Day trip to your choice of uninhabited islands.
(Isla Bartolome is our top choice!)
Santa Cruz
Day 5β€’ Meet Galapagos tortoises
β€’ Depart from Santa Cruz.

Things to know before you go

⚠️ There are a few things you need to be aware of before you dive into planning your 10-day Galapagos itinerary.

🏑 Only 4 of the approximately 20 islands within the Galapagos archipelago are inhabited: Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela, and Floreana

✈️ Only San Cristobal and Santa Cruz have airports that service mainland Ecuador.

🏨 Each inhabited island has one town where you will find accommodation & services.

πŸ’΅ Bring cash! Cards are rarely accepted and ATMs are unreliable.

πŸ›« Be cautious booking flights from Ecuador to Galapagos as there are β€œresident-only” fares that are not indicated!

🎟 You will need to buy your INGALA tourist card at the airport prior to departing for Galapagos and have $100 cash ready upon arrival for entry.

⏱ The Galapagos Islands are in a different time zone to mainland Ecuador. The islands are one hour behind Ecuador.

Our Personal Experience Visiting Galapagos in 2023

The We Dream of Travel team crouch behind a pair of blue footed boobies at Los Tuneles on Isabela Island in the Galapagos.
Mom, Adam, and Sophie watching a blue-footed booby mating dance in Galapagos.

As passionate photographers and wildlife lovers, the Galapagos islands had been at the top of our travel bucket list for as long as we could remember, but we thought you had to be a scientist or wealthy to visit.

Upon learning how affordable a trip to the Galapagos is and that ANYONE can visit, we (Sophie, Adam, and his mother) coordinated a self-guided trip in April 2023.

We spent two weeks exploring the Galapagos islands as much as we could. This included stays on all three major inhabited islands as well as fast boats to several uninhabited islands and other various day tours.

Having experienced so much of the island first-hand, we realized how unfortunate the lack of clear information is for independent visits to this remarkable place.

Accordingly, we decided to write the most up-to-date travel guides, such as this 5 day Galapagos itinerary, to help others enjoy the archipelago as much as we did.


πŸ—ΊοΈ Map of the Galapagos Islands

A color coded map of the Galapagos Islands showing inhabited islands and those accessible by day trip or cruise, plus ferry routes custom made by We Dream of Travel.

The map of the Galapagos Islands above shows the archipelago in its entirety.

It has been color-coded to indicate the islands that are inhabited and can be stayed on, those accessible by day tour, and those that are accessible via cruise ship only.

In addition, ferry services and airports are indicated by the appropriate symbols.


5 Day Galapagos Itinerary Map

An interactive Google map showing all the best places to visit with 5 days in the Galapagos, color coded by day.

The interactive map of Galapagos above shows all of the points of interest recommended in this 5-day itinerary, color-coded by day.

Click on the image above or here to open the map in a new tab.

🦎 The Perfect 5 Day Itinerary for Galapagos

With 5 days in the Galapagos islands, we recommend exploring two of the main islands; San Cristobal and Santa Cruz.

Each of these islands has an airport to connect you to mainland Ecuador. This will allow you to fly into one and out of the other, with a ferry between the two islands.

While we’ve set up this 5 day Galapagos itinerary to fly into San Cristobal and out of Santa Cruz, it can easily be reversed.

Additionally, those of you who prefer a slower pace of travel can simply decide which island looks more appealing and amend this itinerary to include just one of them.


✈️ Day 1: Arrive on San Cristobal

You will likely be tired after your flight to the Galapagos so we recommend you take it easy on Day 1.

Enjoy a stroll through town to get your bearings, book all necessary tours and ferries, then hang out with some sea lions and take in a sunset on the beach!

Day 1 Breakdown

  • Fly into San Cristobal
  • Explore Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
  • Book the 360ΒΊ Tour & Santa Cruz ferry if not done already
  • Walk along the many beaches
  • Sunset at Playa Mann


Fly into San Cristobal

We recommend booking the earliest possible flight to San Cristobal to make the most of your time on the islands. This will typically get you into San Cristobal at around 10am, giving you plenty of time to explore on your first day.

Upon arrival to the Galapagos, you will need to pay a $100 per person national park fee. Be sure to have this ready in cash to speed up the process.

Once you’ve paid the entry fee, you will have to wait for your checked luggage. Unlike typical airport baggage claims, all luggage from the flight will first be loaded into the hall and sniffed by police dogs before you’re allowed to collect your bags.

From the airport, it is only a 5-minute drive or 10-20 minute walk to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the only major town on San Cristobal island.

If you need a lift, look for the white pickup trucks waiting outside the airport. These are the local taxis and a trip into town should cost $3-$4.

⭐️ Pro tip: Be sure to arrive at the airport with enough time before your flight to get your INGALA Transit Control Card ($20 cash only) and to have your bags scanned.


Explore Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

San Cristobal Galapagos sign in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

Once you’ve checked in at your accommodation, it’s time to start exploring! We recommend beginning with a walk through Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of the Galapagos province.

Despite being the capital, the town is small and easily discovered on foot. The main street, MalecΓ³n Charles Darwin, runs along the waterfront and is where you’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops, tour offices, and hotels.

Expect food prices to vary greatly, with local lunches available for $5 including soup, a main, and juice, while American and European fare can set you back upwards of $15-25.

As you may expect, restaurants along the waterfront are pricier than those a block or two back.

⭐️ Pro tip: If you’ve not booked it in advance, stop by a tour office to organize your 360Β° Tour for the next day.

Book Your 360ΒΊ Tour & Santa Cruz Ferry

If you have not done so in advance, you will definitely want to book your seats for the 360ΒΊ Tour and, most importantly, for the ferry to Santa Cruz.

Both the tour and the ferry fill up early and often. While you could choose to skip the tour if necessary, you absolutely want to have a seat on the ferry secured as there are only two that go out each day.

We absolutely recommend you book your ferry seats for 3pm as soon as your dates are fixed; it is only $5 more to book online than it is in person. If ready, you can book your ferry here.

The 360ΒΊ Tour and reservations will be discussed in-depth in the Day 2 section.


Hit the Beach(es)

San Cristobal has a handful of sandy beaches easily accessible from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, all of which are typically teeming with sea lions!

We recommend starting from Playa de Los Marinos (the southernmost beach near town) and working your way north. This will allow you to end Day 1 with a magical sunset at Playa Mann.

Starting at Playa de los Marinos, you will likely find 10s to 100s of sea lions lounging on the beach and on docked boats.

From here you can follow MalecΓ³n Charles Darwin north past the main dock to Playa de Oro. This is a great spot to relax on the beach or snorkel with sea lions.

⭐️ Pro tip: National Park rules specify a minimum distance of 2m (6.5ft) from wildlife. As the animals don’t know the rules, they may head straight toward you if you’re in their way! Always give them space to pass and absolutely never touch wildlife.

Sunset at Playa Mann

Two sea lions playing at the waters edge at sunset on Playa Mann, San Cristobal, Galapagos.

End your first day in the Galapagos at Playa Mann; a popular beach for both tourists and sea lions!

Playa Mann is the perfect place to grab a beer at one of the beachside huts and watch the sunset while sea lions frolic in the waters and lounge on the beach. There are also local restaurants serving $6 lunches and dinners.

Alternatively, grab your mask and snorkel and join the sea lions in the water for a magical experience swimming with these playful creatures as golden light spills onto the beach.


🦈 Day 2: 360° Tour

Of all the day tours in the Galapagos that we did, the 360Β° tour was our favorite!

As the name suggests, the tour takes you all the way around the entire island of San Cristobal. Along the way, guests will stop at multiple picturesque beaches, as well as at Kicker Rock for unbeatable snorkeling.

The 360Β° tour typically starts between 7:00-7:30am and returns around 4:00-5:00pm. Snacks, lunch, towels, and all snorkeling equipment are included.

The stops on the 360ΒΊ Tour will include:

  • Kicker Rock (snorkeling)
  • Cerro Brujo (photo opportunity)
  • BahΓ­a Sardina (Sardina Bay) (snorkeling)
  • Punta Pitt (photo opportunity)
  • Rosa Blanca (snorkeling)

Kicker Rock (known as LeΓ³n Dormido in Spanish) is known for being one of the best places to spot Galapagos hammerhead sharks.

Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to see hammerheads on our visit, but we did get to see turtles and sea lions in some of the clearest water we would swim in.


Arranging Your 360Β° Tour

At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any bookings made using the links below.

This is one of the most popular tours on the island and can often sell out!

With just 5 days in the Galapagos, we would typically recommend booking your tour online in advance, particularly if you’re visiting during peak season.

However, this isn’t quite so simple in the Galapagos islands. Booking a tour online will cost you around $220-$260, compared to just $170-$180 at a local tour office on the island.

Additionally, most tour companies don’t have websites, and even the ones that do will not typically offer online bookings. Instead, you’ll be directed to a local WhatsApp number to arrange your tour or be redirected to book through Viator.

You will, therefore, need to decide on the best option for you:

  1. Arrange the tour once on the island for a cheaper rate, but risk the tour being sold out.
  2. Book online through Viator for an easy and guaranteed tour at a higher price.
  3. Reach out to tour operators directly, but navigate complicated systems and pay a slightly higher price.

🧐 Our personal experience
We traveled with a group of 3 in April 2023. We were unable to find a next-day tour with space for all 3 of us (though some operators had availability for 1-2 people).

After visiting seven or eight tour offices, we found a tour with space for 3 people for the day after tomorrow.


πŸ¦… Day 3: Cerro Tijeretas & Ferry to Santa Cruz

We recommend you get an early start on Day 3 to allow you to make the most of your last morning in San Cristobal before catching the 3pm ferry to Santa Cruz.

Day 3 Breakdown

  • Hike Mirador Cerro Tijeretas (Frigate Bird Hill)
  • Snorkel at Darwin’s Cove
  • Visit Playa Punta Carola beach
  • 3pm Ferry to Santa Cruz
  • Check-in and explore Puerto Ayora

Hike to Mirador Cerro Tijeretas (frigate Bird Hill)

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno seen from Cerro Tijeretas Viewpoint

After breakfast, begin the day with a hike to Mirador Cerro Tijeretas (which translates to Frigate Bird Hill viewpoint).

This beautiful vista provides sweeping views back over Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, as well as out towards Kicker Rock.

As the name suggests, it is also a great place to spot frigate birds as they nest in the nearby cliffside and soar overhead.

The hike starts from the Charles Darwin Interpretation Center near Playa Mann. The trail is completely pathed, winding through a lava rock and cactus-filled landscape. However, there is little to no shade so bring plenty of water and sun protection.

The total hike time is only about 15-20 minutes. However, you’ll want to factor some time in to stop at the Interpretation Center and snap some photos of all the views!

Snorkel at Darwin’s Cove (Muelle Tijeretas)

View of Darwin Bay from Cerro Tijeretas viewpoint San Cristobal

After viewing Darwin Bay from above, it’s time to explore its underwater world.

From Mirador Cerro Tijeretas, you will head back the way you came but keep right at the first fork to get to Darwin’s Cove.

Darwin’s Cove has the clearest and calmest water on San Cristobal for snorkeling. In its impossibly turquoise waters, you may encounter some of the most iconic Galapagos residents including sea lions, turtles, sharks, and an array of tropical colorful fish.

This is one of the best snorkeling spots on any of the Galapagos islands that can be discovered without a guide or boat tour.


Playa Punta Carola (Point Carola Beach)

A sea lion posed amongst lava rock with a red and white striped lighthouse in the background at Playa Punta Carola on San Cristobal Island Galapagos.

After you have finished snorkeling and are leaving Darwin’s Cove, take the first sharp right you encounter to walk over the headland for about 10-15 minutes to Punta Carola Beach.

Along the way, you’ll pass by a statue of Charles Darwin and a World War II gun stationed at a lookout.

Playa Punta Carola offers a beautiful sandy beach for relaxing in the sun, spotting wildlife, and snorkeling.

It is worth noting that shade here is limited (and often already occupied by iguanas!) and there are no kiosks or supplies, so be sure you have ample water and snacks with you.

3pm Ferry to Santa Cruz

Ferry from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz Galapagos.

As previously mentioned, you will want to have booked your ferry ticket well in advance. There are only two per day and they fill up quickly.

If you have not done so already, you can book your ferry tickets here (3pm recommended).

You will want to arrive at the main pier by 2:30pm to catch the ferry to Santa Cruz. The ferry to Santa Cruz takes around 2-2.5 hours.

With this in mind, ensure you have time to grab some lunch before boarding the ferry or bring something with you. After a busy morning, you’ll have time to rest on the ferry ride to Santa Cruz!

You will take a small taxi boat from the pier to the ferry which will cost $1 per person, so keep some cash to hand.

Once on the ferry, keep a look out to your left as you will pass by Santa Fe island.

⭐️ Pro tip: The ferry is more of a large speedboat and can be very bumpy, as well as warm and stuffy if you’re sat inside. If you’re prone to motion sickness, you may wish to take a motion sickness tablet or use acupressure bands.

Check-In and Explore Puerto Ayora

Mercado Artesanal (arts & crafts market) in Santa Cruz at night as seen during 5 days in the Galapagos

Upon arrival, you will need to take another water taxi to the pier which will cost another $1 per person, then you will have to pay yet another $1 entry fee per person on the pier. As always, keep some cash handy.

From the main pier at Puerto Ayora, you can either walk or take a taxi to your hotel. A taxi shouldn’t cost more than $2-$3 and there will be plenty waiting by the pier.

You’ll immediately notice a difference in the vibe and atmosphere of Santa Cruz compared to San Cristobal. The main town of Puerto Ayora has almost double the population of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal.

In town, you’ll find an array of amenities catering to tourists from boutique shops, art galleries, and jewelers to tour operators, dive shops, restaurants, and bars.

Take some time to wander around the town, grab some dinner, and enjoy the more energetic atmosphere on the islands.

In the evening, stroll along the main pier to spot small black-tip reef sharks, as well as occasional turtles and rays swimming in the waters below illuminated by lights from the pier.


🚀 Day 4: Day Tour to an Uninhabited Island

From Santa Cruz, you can take a number of different day tours to your choice of an uninhabited Galapagos island.

Each island offers unique opportunities for spotting wildlife, which will also vary depending on the time of year you visit Galapagos.

While we personally recommend Bartolome Island (seen above), the best day tour for you will depend on your interests, budget, and the season you’re visiting.

For example, North Seymour is one of the best islands for birdwatching, Pinzon provides some of the clearest water for snorkeling, and Bartolome features the most spectacular landscape and is the best place to see the endangered Galapagos penguins.

You may want to consider booking your tour in advance if there is one you are specifically set on doing. However, as with the 360ΒΊ Tour, this will typically be more expensive than waiting to book it in person on the island.

Whether you book online or in person, ensure you know what is included within your tour as this can vary!

Some tours to the same islands will include landings and multiple snorkel stops, whereas others may not land on the islands and have fewer options for snorkeling.


Popular Day Tours from Santa Cruz

Blue footed booby seen on a day trip from Santa Cruz as part of a 5 day Galapagos itinerary.

Below are some of the most popular islands for day tours from Santa Cruz.

  • Bartolome Island features the most iconic viewpoint in the Galapagos islands and a chance to swim with penguins. This is often fully booked as one of the most popular tours. We booked ours with GalaTrails and couldn’t have been more impressed with the service.
  • Pinzon Island offers some of the clearest waters for snorkeling and you’ll often encounter sea lions, turtles, rays, sharks, and many tropical fish. During the cold season, you may even get to see penguins swimming.
  • North Seymour is the best island for birdwatching. Here, you’ll see many different nesting birds (depending on the season) including frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
  • Santa Fe has the largest variety of endemic wildlife species of any Galapagos island, including two species of land iguana. It also provides a blend of picturesque landscapes and turquoise waters, which offer some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos.


🐒 Day 5: Explore the Santa Cruz Highlands & Depart

For your final day, we recommend booking the latest flight out of Santa Cruz (Baltra airport), which is typically around 3:30pm.

Be sure to get an early start to the day so you have enough time in the morning to visit the Santa Cruz Highlands and El Chato Ranch tortoise sanctuary on the way to the airport.

At El Chato, you will come face-to-face with one of the most iconic residents: the Galapagos tortoise.

Day 5 Breakdown

  • Meet giant tortoises and explore lava tunnels in the highlands.
  • Depart Santa Cruz

Meet Giant Tortoises & Explore Lava Tunnels in the Highlands

A giant Galapagos tortoise in the foreground with two people stood behind it in the background.

What better way to end an incredible 5 days on the Galapagos islands than by witnessing the iconic giant Galapagos tortoises in their natural habitat?

Rather than taking a taxi directly to the airport, we recommend you arrange for a driver to take you via one of the highlands tortoise reserves.

There are a few tortoise reserves in the highlands of Santa Cruz where you can meet wild Galapagos tortoises and explore lava tunnels, remnants of the island’s volcanic origin.

The best one in our opinion is El Chato Ranch as it is privately owned and allows wild tortoises to roam freely.

The entrance costs $10 and includes a naturalist guide, rubber boots for use, and access to lava tunnels. It is no longer possible to do a self-guided tour, so if you visit without a tour you will be provided a naturalist guide upon arrival.

You can decide whether you want to just visit El Chato, or pair it with a visit to the popular Los Gemelos (Twin Craters).

A taxi to the highlands will cost you around $40-$50 and includes waiting time at the ranch and Los Gemelos. Expect to pay a little more than this to include an airport drop-off.

⭐️ Pro tip: Weather in the highlands can be unpredictable so bring a rain jacket along with sunscreen. Also, bring socks to wear with the rubber boots you’ll be given at El Chato!


Fly Out of Baltra Airport

View of the Itabaca Canal flying out of Baltra Airport Galapagos.

After your stop at the tortoise reserve, you will want to continue onward to the airport.

Note that the airport for Santa Cruz is actually on the neighboring island of Baltra!

This means you will need to continue by taxi to the Itabaca Canal, which is approximately a half-hour drive from El Chato Ranch. From here, you will board a ferry to cross the channel which costs $1-$2 per person, depending on which ferry you are able to catch.

Once across the channel, you will board the airline direct bus to the airport terminal. The bus costs $5 per person and takes around 10 minutes.

⭐️ Pro tip: Keep an eye out for land iguanas at the airport and on your bus ride there. We saw several on the way and hanging around just outside the airport!


πŸ›³ Best 5 Day Galapagos Tours and Cruises

For those of you that prefer to have the planning taken care of, you will find a variety of land-based tours or cruises with pre-arranged 5-day itineraries for the Galapagos.

Each of these tours and cruises will offer different experiences. They range in terms of the islands you visit and the activities available on each, as well as the type of accommodation and food provided.

While our 5-day Galapagos itinerary includes staying in San Cristobal and Santa Cruz, you’ll find that most of the 5-day tour options visit Santa Cruz and Isabela.

For a self-guided tour, we highly recommend San Cristobal over Isabela for a variety of reasons. Besides the fact it was our favorite island, the airport eliminates the need and lost time for multiple ferries.

Also, there are more places to explore independently on San Cristobal than Isabela.

Conversely, the best places to visit in Isabela require guided tours so if you’re already considering a pre-arranged 5-day tour, including Isabela is a great option.

Top-Rated 5-Day Galapagos Tours

A tour guide for Inspiring Ecuador teaches her group about the endangered Galapagos tortoise they are seeing on a visit to El Chato Ranch.

Inspiring Ecuador

We did half of our visit to the Galapagos as self-guided and half through a tour with Inspiring Ecuador and would highly recommend them for inexperienced and non-Spanish speaking travelers.

Don’t just take our word for it though, you can check out their incredible 5-star TripAdvisor reviews here too!

Inspiring Ecuador offers two different 5-day Galapagos land-based tours; Active Expedition and Island Hopping on a Budget. Both tours are based from Santa Cruz and Isabela but vary in the itinerary and price.

Other Tours

Below are some of the best-rated Galapagos land-based tours available to book through Viator or TourRadar. Keep in mind that there are many more tour companies and options out there, but as with day tours, many websites don’t allow for direct booking.

Instead, you will need to reach out to them via email or WhatsApp to arrange your tours. This will typically be a bit cheaper than booking through Viator and allows you more options, but requires a bit more work and technical savvy.

5-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: 4.5/5 ⭐️
This budget-friendly 5-day guided tour stays in tourist-class hotels on Santa Cruz and Isabela islands.

Galapagos Intensive 5 days: 5/5 ⭐️
On this tour, you will stay on Santa Cruz and Isabela, with tours to explore both, as well as a tour to a third island, such as North Seymour or Bartolome.

5 Day Galapagos Multisport Tour: 5/5 ⭐️
Based on Isabela island, this small group tour includes biking, kayaking, and snorkeling for the more active travelers.

5-Day Galapagos Luxury: 4.5/5 ⭐️
Explore Santa Cruz and Isabela in luxury, including an inter-island flight between the two plus a day tour to another uninhabited island.

5 Day Galapagos Cruises

Pinnacle Rock, Bartolome Island, with a cruise ship anchored nearby.

The Galapagos islands are one of the few places in the world where taking a cruise can in fact be the best option for seeing the most!

Cruise ships can reach islands that you are unable to get to via day tours and can travel any time.

Additionally, they are typically all-inclusive, making your 5 days in the Galapagos as stress-free as possible and eliminating time lost with hotels and restaurants!

You can find a variety of cruises available on Cruise Direct.

🏨 Where to Stay with 5 Days in Galapagos

Looking down at a young woman in a hotel pool with palm tree leaves overhanging it.

If you follow this 5-day Galapagos itinerary, you will want to book two nights in San Cristobal and three nights in Santa Cruz.

The main town in San Cristobal is Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and in Santa Cruz is Puerto Ayora. These towns are where you’ll find all accommodation options for a variety of budgets.

Below are some quick recommendations, but you may also want to read our Complete Where to Stay in Galapagos guide for more information.

Recommendations for Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal

You will find ample basic hostels to mid-range hotels, which can start as low as $15-$20 per night.

Surprisingly however, there are relatively few options for luxury accommodation and no 5-star hotels in San Cristobal.

The most high-end luxury available is the newly built Hotel Indigo Galapagos, an IHG Hotel. However, unless money is truly of no concern, we wouldn’t recommend this hotel as it is typically 2-3 times more expensive than any other hotel on the island.

Below are some of the top-rated hotels for different budgets:

Recommendations for Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has an even wider range of accommodations to choose from than San Cristobal, but similarly, you’ll find a greater selection of budget and mid-range hotels than luxury ones.

With that said there are a few luxury hotels on Santa Cruz.

The most notable are Angermeyer Waterfront Inn and the Finch Bay Hotel. Both of these highly-rated hotels offer unique stays with their own private piers from which the hotel water taxis can take you to the main pier in minutes.

Below are some of the top-rated hotels for different budgets:


🧳 Packing for 5 Days in Galapagos

Disclosure: At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any purchases made using the links below.

Well Traveled compression packing cubes are a great packing hack and a must on any packing list

For the complete rundown, we have created the COMPLETE GUIDE TO PACKING FOR GALAPAGOS with downloadable and printable checklists, as well as 25 items you probably haven’t thought of (or didn’t know existed) to bring with you.

If you just want the essentials, here are some things that you will want to consider packing for your 5 days in Galapagos:

  • Camera: The Galapagos is a truly photogenic place and you’ll want to capture many memories. We use the Sony a7riii and love it. However, beginners may wish to consider an entry-level DSLR to start with.
  • Waterproof camera: With some of the world’s best snorkeling, you may find yourself taking more photos underwater than on the land! We highly recommend a GoPro which is what we used for most of our underwater Galapagos photography.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: Galapagos is a wildlife sanctuary and regular sunscreen is extremely damaging to marine life. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reef-safe and most of their bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
  • Beach towel: You will want to take a towel with you for use at the beach. We always have a travel towel with us. Although Galapagos is really safe, we still love this one with a hidden zipper pocket.
  • Hiking shoes: Galapagos has some great hikes!  Hiking sandals are the ideal choice as they keep your feet cool, protect them from lava rock, and can also be worn in the water.
  • Reusable water bottle: We don’t travel anywhere without a reusable water bottle. Remain hydrated without wasting single-use plastic bottles! Most restaurants and hotels will refill bottles for you.
  • Snorkel gear: It will typically work out cheaper and easier to bring your own snorkel and mask and fins than renting them each day. You can also buy these items as a snorkel set which works out cheaper still.
  • Mini first aid kit: Whether out hiking or just on the beach, we always have a mini first aid kit in our bag just in case.


πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ FAQs About 5 Days in the Galapagos

Is 5 days enough for Galapagos Islands?

5 days is the minimum amount of time you will want to spend on the Galapagos Islands. This will give you enough time to see the highlights and stay on 1-2 major islands.

As with most destinations, the more time you have the better!

How many days do you need for Galapagos?

7-10 days on the Galapagos Islands is the ideal amount of time, with 5 days as the minimum you would want to spend there.

How many Galapagos islands should I visit in 5 days?

With 5 days in the Galapagos, we recommend staying on two different islands and taking a day trip to one of the uninhabited islands. This allows you to visit 3 different Galapagos islands in 5 days.

How far in advance do you need to book Galapagos?

It is best to book a trip to the Galapagos 6 months to a year in advance. This will typically allow you to find the most availability and best rates for flights, hotels, and tours, which are all limited.

However, if you are flexible with dates and plans, it is possible to find some good last-minute deals on Galapagos cruises and packages.

πŸ“š More Galapagos Islands Travel Guides

The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

Hopefully, this guide has answered all of your questions, now it’s time for the rest of your planning!

These guides will help you through the process step-by-step, providing insight on everything from finding flights to top activities and so much more.

Planning Guides

Local Guides

Things to Do Guides

πŸ’¬ Final Thoughts

A land iguana with a bright yellow head and its mouth open tucked under shrubbery on Baltra Island, Galapagos.

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Written by
Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

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