Is it Expensive to Go to the Galápagos Islands?

April 5, 2024

The Galápagos Islands are a true bucket list destination. They’re the very definition of unique. Their remote location and world-famous wildlife-viewing opportunities stir an inherent sense of adventure in anyone visiting them. Given all these ingredients, it’s only natural to ask, “Is it expensive to go to the Galápagos Islands?”

Well, the short answer is yes, to some extent. Of course, “expensive” is a subjective term. But, generally speaking, the Galápagos Islands are considered as a somewhat expensive place to visit. But fear not — your trip doesn’t have to break the bank!

In this Academy Bay Diving blog, we highlight some of the costs involved in traveling to this volcanic archipelago, and why they are worth every penny. This is the perfect companion piece to our previous post What is the Cost of a Trip to the Galápagos?

As a leading provider of Galápagos diving packages, daily Galápagos land tours, Galápagos Islands tour packages, and more, we know our incredible home inside out! Scroll down to find out our local insights on the cost of a trip to the Galápagos Islands.

If you have any questions for the Academy Bay Diving team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Galápagos Islands are Remote and Not Easy to Access

First things first, let’s talk about getting here. The Galápagos Islands are located about 600 miles (around 965 km) off the coast of Ecuador, which means getting here typically involves multiple flights. The last of these will depart from mainland Ecuador, usually Quito or Guayaquil.

The total number of flights you need to take before you reach our islands will depend on where your journey starts. However, for many people, it’s between two and three. This immediate first step can seem like a big one, which perhaps goes someway to creating the exaggerated idea that the Galápagos Islands are overly expensive to visit.

However, if you have flexibility with your travel dates and some patience when searching, you can find round-trip flights similar in cost to reaching other popular island destinations around the world. And, needless to say, if you travel during peak seasons — typically Easter, July and August, and the Christmas and New Year period — your trip will cost more.

But when you know what is so special about the Galápagos Islands, the journey time and cost will feel more than worth it!

An orange and black iguana on rocky ground. Photo: Andreas Uhlenbrock


All Visitors to the Galápagos Islands Must Pay Certain Fees

In addition to the usual travel costs, visitors to the Galápagos Islands must pay additional fees. However, the money generated is used to manage the effects of tourism and conserve the islands and their fragile, unique ecosystem. It’s a small price to pay to be able to immerse yourself in the countless natural wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So, what are the fees? First, there’s the entry fee to the Galápagos National Park, the boundaries of which cover around 97% of the entire archipelago. At the time of writing, the entrance fee structure is due to change in August 2024. This is the first increase since 1998! The higher fees will raise much-needed funds for ongoing conservation efforts and the local community.

Effective from 1 August 2024, the national park entrance fees will change as follows:

  • International visitors must pay US$200 per person, up from the previous US$100
  • Visitors from CAN/MERCOSUR countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) must pay US$100 per person, up from US$50
  • Ecuadorian nationals must pay US$30 per person, up from US$6

Children aged 12 and under and Ecuadorians aged 65 and over or registered as disabled can pay a reduced fee. There is no fee for infants under 2 years old.

Before arriving in the Galápagos, you will also need to pay for a Transit Control Card (TCC, TCT in Spanish). You may also see this referred to as the INGALA fee; INGALA is the Ecuadorian government department that administers the Galápagos Islands. In short, you must visit the INGALA booth at whichever airport in Ecuador you are flying out of. You then pay a fee ($20 at the time of writing) to receive your Transit Control Card. You will then turn this card over at the end of your trip.


Accommodation Costs in the Galápagos Islands

Accommodation options in the Galápagos range from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts. Depending on your preferences and budget, you can find something that suits your needs. Keep in mind that accommodation costs can be higher than on the mainland due to the remote location and limited availability, but the experience of waking up surrounded by the natural beauty of the islands is priceless.

Again, the amount you pay for your accommodation will depend on when you visit and your personal travel style, so we can’t put a specific figure on the total here. However, you may be pleasantly surprised at how affordable some of the options are. For example, staying in a hostel can cost as little as around $20 per night.

Continue your trip-planning reading when you have finished here with our blog How to Spend a Week in the Galápagos Islands!

Boat Tours and Trips are the Main Transportation in the Galápagos

Once you’re here, you’ll need to get around, and that usually involves boat trips to and from different islands. In most cases, these will be part of arranged tours and experiences. For example, our guided, multi-day Isabela tour takes you out to the best spots on this beautiful island.

But the same applies to our daily Galápagos land tours, Galápagos Islands tour packages, and Galápagos diving packages. Whatever kind of adventure you want to go on, we can take you there!

Of course, these transportation options and guided experiences come with costs that add up over multiple days. But each journey offers its own unique experience that you simply can’t find anywhere else. From diving with hammerhead sharks to exploring volcanic landscapes, the Galapagos is home to truly unforgettable experiences.

Ultimately, it’s these adventures that attract people to the Galápagos Islands in the first place. The chance to get up close and personal with the incredible wildlife and natural beauty of such a remote, iconic location is worth every penny.


Tips to Keep the Cost of Your Galápagos Trip Down

  • Stay in budget accommodation: Look for hostels or guesthouses that offer affordable rates without compromising on comfort.
  • Eat at local restaurants in less touristy areas: Look for eateries away from the beaches and waterfronts — they’re probably better quality and cheaper too!
  • Prioritize activities that mean the most to you: Focus on the experiences that align with your interests and passions to make the most of your time and budget.
  • Travel outside the peak tourist seasons: Visiting during quieter times of the year can lead to lower prices on flights, accommodation, and tours.
  • Look out for last-minute deals on tours: Keep an eye out for special offers and discounts from tour operators, especially during quieter times of the year.


Feel the Thrill of Diving in the Galápagos Islands with Us!

So, is it expensive to go to the Galápagos Islands? Compared with some other destinations, yes. But those other destinations don’t deliver the kind of awe-inspiring experiences you can find here. Our amazing archipelago features on so many bucket lists for a reason!

Once-in-a-lifetime trips to dream destinations tend not to be budget vacations. But it’s the magical memories they create that make them worth it.

Are you ready to start planning your adventure? Browse our range of Galápagos diving packages, Galápagos Islands tour packages, and daily Galápagos land tours to find out more about the exciting experiences waiting for you.

Do you have any questions for the Academy Bay Diving team? Please contact us for all the answers you need.

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