Galapagos for backpackers: low cost guide

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Galapagos for backpackers: low cost guide

To be honest, Galapagos wasn’t in my plans. But I met some nice people going there. They told me if I didn’t go to Galapagos I would regret it. Then I decided to go to Galapagos in a budget.

Islas Galápagos

Honestly, it was the best decision: Galapagos is  without a doubt, one of the most astonishingly beautiful places I’ve ever been.
However, going to Galapagos as a backpacker is not cheap. My recommendation is going to Santa Cruz and Isabela on your own, spend a couple of nights there and also take day trips.

There are some expenses you cannot skip:

Plane ticket: Minimum between $350-500. It’s cheaper for Ecuatorians and residents in Ecuador. Tickets didn’t look that expensive when I was checking skyscanner, but then I realized they were the prices for Ecuatorians. When you are about to pay and write your nationality, the price increse.
Visas: $120 for entering the National Park of Galapagos. Ecuadorians don’t pay it.
Accommodation: Minimum 10-15$ a night (breakfast not included)
Trips between islands: 30 dollars from one island to another, 55 if you buy roundtrip
Islas Galápagos

Expenses you could avoid /reduce:

Bring your own sunscreen. You will need lots of it and probably still get burn. It costs around 25 dollars!

Snacks and canned food. Food is very expensive here since they have to import everything. Bring snacks and canned food if you can (you cannot bring fresh food, it’s very controlled because of the insects and plagues).

Don’t drink too many sodas (2 dollars for a can of coke),

Cook your own breakfast (5 dollars for a breakfast) and cook your own food (menu for lunch can get as low as (3,5 dollars) $3.50, dinner for $5 is the cheapest we found).

Islas Galápagos

Book all your daily trips in the same place. If you negotiate you can get a good deal. Some excursions cost around 130 or 150, if you book 3 of them  at the same agency you will pay as little as 300 for 3 trips. My recommendation is spending a couple of hours talking to the different agencies and trying to get the best deals.

My favorite tours in Galapagos:

Los Túneles in Isabela 85 – 90 Dollars, we swim with sea turtles there. We saw sharks.

Santa Fe, it was amazing swimming with sea lions

Isla Pinzon: Nice snorkeling, swimming with turtles and sea lions

Floreana tour in my opinion wasn’t that good. The snorkel wasn’t that good and we visit a place with huge tortoises, but you can see tortoises in other places for free.

All the tours normally include lunch on board and snorkeling

Where to Sleep in Galapagos

Where to sleep in Santa Cruz: Hospedaje Brattle, 15 dollars a night with a kitchen and hot water

Isabela: Posada del Caminante, 15 dollars a night, with a kitchen too. Free laundry!

Islas Galápagos

Free things to do in Galapagos.

Santa Cruz:

Darwin Research Center –15 minute walk from the center of town. You can see the breeding process of tortoises and iguanas

Ship Ports At Night –  With the lights on, you can see many animals swimming, rays, sea lions, sharks, fish… And probably some sea lions hanging out in the benches!

Tortuga Bay – Around 40 minutes walking from Puerto Ayora, you will find iguanas and turtles, if you are lucky, wandering around this beautiful beach of white sand. Bring water and something to eat since there are not stores around.


Playa y Concha, next to the port you will find this place for snorkeling. You can rent the equipment there for 5 dollars the whole day.

Wall of tears, Really cool walk where you can see many tortoises on the way. You can rent a bike and get there stopping in all the beautiful spots.

Islas Galápagos

Please, don’t skip Galapagos because it’s too expensive. You can make it for around 900-1000 dollars if you are money wise. You won’t regret it, it’s a place that doesn’t disappoint anyone. It’s worth it every single penny!

Pictures taken by Diogo Guerra with a Go Pro