This post is part 16 of 20 in the series Galapagos Islands Travel Guide

We’ve visited the Galapagos Islands three times and spent nearly six weeks in total in this spectacular archipelago that is Ecuador’s most famous destination and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1978. Here are a few crucial but unexpected things you should pack for your Galapagos Islands trip.

How to pack for the Galapagos

We are going to assume that you have the basics covered–you know, swimsuit, binoculars, sturdy shoes, raincoat, sunglasses, sunscreen, clothing for hot weather, clothing for cool weather, your passport, etc. Most Galapagos tour companies provide a basic pre-trip packing list as well. But you may not have thought of these 7 items, all of which we found to be extremely useful in the Galapagos. Here’s how to pack like a pro for the Galapagos.

sunday afternoons adventure sun hat

  1. A sun hat with a chin strap. We’ve seen way too many caps and hats fly off way too many heads as zodiacs or tour boats speed toward the next destination. Karen likes her Sunday Afternoons Unisex Ultra-Adventure Hat (pictured above) because it provides sun protection, has a chin strap for security, and the top is designed with a slit that you can slide your sunglass arms into when you’re not wearing them.

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  2. A rash guard shirt. When water temperatures are colder, a wet suit will be provided for you to wear during snorkeling excursions. However, when water temperatures are warmer or you’re off for a bit of kayaking you may want to skip the bulky wet suit. A lightweight rash guard shirt is the best source of protection while kayaking or snorkeling in warmer water. Karen swears by her UV SKinz (pictured above).

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    SeaBands seasickness relief

  3. Seas are generally calm and boat captains take great care in choosing protected anchoring spots. However, if you’re prone to motion sickness, bring some Dramamine with you. Karen also swears by Seabands (pictured above) which use acupressure to curb nausea. Prescription sea sickness medications like scopolamine patches work well too, though scopolamine can cause drowsiness. Note that scopolamine is generally not available for sale in Latin America.

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    sea to summit dry bag

  4. Galapagos travelers spend a lot of time on boats and rain showers can occur at any time in the Galapagos. To keep your electronics and personal items protected from splashing and wet conditions on boats and from getting caught in the rain, bring a dry bag that’s large enough to hold your personal items, cellphone, camera gear, etc., and use it during all excursions to keep everything dry. We like Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks (pictured above).

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  5. Visitors to the Galapagos Islands are frequently surrounded by wildlife…and their poop. If you’re sensitive to smells, dabbing a bit of Mentholatum (or any type of strongly-scented ointment) under your nose will help handle any bad smells.
  6. If you have fins, a mask, and a snorkel that you love, bring them with you. Snorkeling gear is available, but quality and cleanliness vary.
  7. There are ATMs on Santa Cruz Island and San Cristóbal Island, but they sometimes run out of cash so bring enough cash to cover tips and any purchases where credit cards are not accepted. Remember that the official currency of Ecuador is the US dollar, so there’s no need to exchange currency.

What NOT to bring to the Galápagos Islands

The introduction of non-native plant species is considered a top environmental threat to the Galapagos Islands, so do not bring any fruits, vegetables, or plants of any kind with you. Anything that might have seeds or spores clinging to it, like the soles of your shoes and any outdoor gear or camping equipment, should be washed and inspected thoroughly before being brought to the islands. The threat of invasive plant species is so great that visitors arriving to the Galapagos Islands have to sign an affidavit swearing that they’re not bringing in any food, animals, seeds, or dirty camping gear.

Also, selfie-sticks and drones are not allowed in the Galapagos.

And check with your airline about luggage weight limits on your flight from mainland Ecuador out to the Galapagos Islands. When we were there, there was a 44 pound (20 kilo) weight limit on luggage per passenger.

More Galapagos travel tips

Use our Galapagos Islands Travel Guide index post to quickly navigate through the entire series, or choose specific posts below.

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Here’s more about travel in Ecuador

Here’s more about Island Travel

Here’s more about Galapagos Travel


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