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The Galapagos Islands are special. They make up one of the most bio-diverse places in the entire world and are a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. A trip this unique archipelago will fill both your camera and your memories with unforgettable images of sea lions, iguanas and the other wildlife that inhabits them. 

If you want to make the most of your time in the Galapagos Islands, you’ll want to arrive prepared. And, given that there’s almost nowhere to stock up on supplies, packing is especially crucial. 

Choosing the right clothing for the Galapagos will make a world of difference to your experience. Given how isolated these magical islands are, though, you might not have much to go on when it comes to choosing your outfits. 

Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Here’s what to wear in the Galapagos Islands to make the most of your trip.

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GALAPAGOS PACKING LIST

 

 

Planning your Galapagos outfits  

The clothing you’ll want to pack for the Galapagos will depend on a couple of factors.

First – and most importantly – of all, your packing list will depend on what kind of Galapagos trip you’re planning. 

Most people who visit the Galapagos travel around by yacht. It’s the most common and most sustainable way to visit, so I’d recommend booking a Galapagos cruise if you can. 

It’s also possible to stay on land, especially if you’re visiting the Galapagos on a budget.

This Galapagos Islands packing list will include what to wear on the yacht, on land and in the water, so you’ll be covered for all scenarios.



The second deciding factor will be the time of year you visit. 

Given its equatorial location, Ecuador enjoys pretty consistent weather all year round.  However, there are differences between what is known as the wet season and dry season, and you’ll want to be prepared for each. 

The seasons in the Galapagos aren’t necessarily the same as those in the Amazon or other parts of Ecuador. While it’s wet in the jungle, it can be peak dry season out in the Galapagos. 

 

 

 

The wet and warm season in the Galapagos runs from December to June, while the cool and dry season falls from June to November.

If you’re travelling during the wet season, make sure you pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho. It’s best to choose one you can throw in your day bag so you never need to worry about getting caught in a sudden shower.

Apart from that, the weather in the Galapagos is pretty consistent all year round.


Infinity Luxury Yacht in the Galapagos Islands parked in front of a booby
Staying on a yacht is the best way to see the Galapagos Islands.

 

 

Packing for your Galapagos excursions and activities 

Most people spend 4-8 days in the Galapagos, and almost everybody stays on a liveaboard yacht

While the clothing you wear on the yacht won’t really vary, the clothing you need for your time off the yacht will.

There are lots of things to do in the Galapagos Islands. As well as the different activities on offer from one yacht to the next, there are also different things to do on each island.

 

 

 

One thing is for sure: the Galapagos Islands are a destination for nature lovers. There are multiple ways to enjoy the great outdoors, though. 

From hiking trails and sandy beaches, to snorkelling and photography, every island can be enjoyed in numerous ways. It’s one of the things that makes the Galapagos Islands as special as they are.

You’ll need to pack clothing based on your own itinerary, but I would come prepared for all of the following:

Walking trails

As we quickly learned, a 1.8km trail in the Galapagos can easily turn into a 3-hour walk. There’s just so much to see!

That’s why a good pair of walking shoes is essential. Some sandy walks can be done barefoot, but many of the trails have uneven – and sometimes rocky – ground. 

You don’t need specialist hiking shoes, but make sure the shoes you have offer good support. I took an old pair of Nike running shoes that I didn’t mind getting muddy (and get muddy they did!). 

There’s also very little shade on most of the trails, so make sure you pack lots of high factor sunscreen and stick to long, loose layers where you can. A hat and sunglasses will also be your best friends.


A marine iguana in the Galapagos Islands
Many of the walking trails are rocky, with wildlife on the path!

Beaches 

If you prefer lazing on a white sand beach to hiking, there will be plenty of opportunities for that in the Galapagos too. And you may even be joined by a sea lion or an iguana – or both!

Most cruises stop in at least a couple of spots per day,  and many of them have incredible beaches. Unless you’re okay with slipping into a wet swimsuit, make sure you have at least two sets of swimwear to see you through the day. 

You’ll also want swimwear for the many snorkelling spots all around the Galapagos Islands. Wet suits, snorkels and flippers will usually be provided, but you may want to wear water socks inside the flippers.

When you’re not walking far, flip flops or water shoes would be your best choice of shoe.


What to wear in the Galapagos 

When it comes to packing for the Galapagos, you’ll want to have clothing that’s suitable for the warm climate. It’s best to focus on the essentials and then fill in the gaps.

At the very least, make sure you have all of the following: 

Long, loose clothing

It can get seriously hot in the Galapagos Islands. Even when it doesn’t feel hot, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can burn. 

The best way to protect yourself is to wear long, loose clothing. It will be easy to move in while protecting you from the sun. 


Short trousers for wet landings

Every time you go to land in the Galapagos, you’ll be taken from the yacht to the shore by zodiac (or panga, as they’re known locally).

Landings fall into one of two categories: wet or dry. 

Dry landings mean the zodiac can take you all the way to land, while wet landings mean you’ll have to walk through the sea for the final couple of metres. The sea usually only comes up to knee height at most, but you’ll want to wear shorts or shorter trousers if you don’t want to be exploring in wet clothes.


Easy to dry clothing

With so much time spent out in the sun, you’ll burn through clothes pretty quickly. It’s best to pack lightweight clothing that can be rinsed in the shower and hung out to dry if you want to stay within your airline’s weight allowance!

If you want to pack light, choose fabrics such as polyester or nylon so they’ll dry out quicker.


Water shoes/sandals 

It’s possible to go barefoot on most wet landings, but I’d recommend wearing a pair of water shoes in most places. 

Alternatively, you may want to “land” barefoot and slip on a pair of flip flops for walking around the beach.


Layers  

In the evenings, it can be pretty chilly out on the open seas. Add in air conditioning, and you’ll want at least a lightweight jacket to throw on, especially if you have an open deck to hang out on.

I wore jeans, a t-shirt and a lightweight sweater most evenings, but some people stuck to shorts. It depends how much you feel the cold, but it’s best to be prepared!


READ NEXT: My favourite travel resources (from a full-time traveller)


Slippers/socks

Similarly, don’t forget to pack something for your feet in the evenings! Most yachts have a no shoes policy, so you might want to pack a pair of slippers or socks to wear on board.


A rain jacket 

It rarely rains for long in the Galapagos, but you’ll want to be prepared when it does. Make sure you have a lightweight rain jacket handy at all times, especially if you visit in the wet season.


Sun hat 

With the harsh equatorial sun, you’ll definitely want to pack a hat for the Galapagos. Yes, even if you hate them and usually avoid them at all costs! You’ll thank me later, I promise.


Sunglasses 

Sunglasses aren’t quite as essential if you have a hat, but you’ll want to make sure you have a pair. The light in the Galapagos can be incredibly bright, even when the sun isn’t shining. 

Don’t take any  chances and protect your eyes with a quality pair of sunglasses.


Lounge wear 

Between landings, you’ll have at least several hours to relax on the yacht every day. If you decide to skip landings or snorkelling sessions, you’ll have even more free time on board!

Pack something comfy for relaxing on the yacht. You’ll be glad you did after a long, hot walk or morning spent out in the sun.

I generally wore gym leggings and a cosy t-shirt while chilling out on the yacht between landings. 


Beach cover ups 

If you plan on snorkelling or spending time on the beach, consider packing something to throw over your swimwear. 

You’ll need to take the zodiac back to the yacht, so you might want to cover up for the journey. You’ll be given a wet suit, but you may want to get out of it before the zodiac picks you up.


Galapagos Infinity yacht luxury suites
Inside the Galapagos Infinity yacht

Suitcase or backpack for the Galapagos?

Once you have your Galapagos clothes ready to pack, it’s time to decide what to pack them in. Suitcase or backpack? 

If you’re only travelling to the Galapagos, there isn’t really any difference between the two. You won’t need to transport your own luggage most of the time. Plus, once you’re on board the yacht, you’ll be able to unpack. 

 

 

 

I took a 4-wheeled hard shell Samsonite suitcase to the Galapagos and it was great. Other people took duffel bags or backpacks, and seemed to have no problem either. 

So, all I would say is this: it really comes down to personal preference. Choose whatever you’re most comfortable with. If you’re travelling elsewhere before or after your Galapagos trip, base your luggage choice on your other destinations. 


Your Galapagos day bag 

More important than your choice of luggage for the Galapagos is your choice of day bag. 

All landings involve short trips on the zodiacs, and you’ll need to be hands free when getting in and out of them. That means you need a day bag that fits all of your things in for the day. I recommend the Berghaus Freeflow backpack – read my full review here.

At the very least, you’ll need a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent and plenty of water. 

A small backpack would be an ideal day bag for the Galapagos. If you want to keep everything extra secure, choose a waterproof backpack or a dry bag. It really won’t be an issue if you don’t have one, though. 

 

 

 

If you’re travelling to the Galapagos for photography, your camera bag is probably the best choice. I took my Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II and it was perfect for fitting all my camera gear and some extra essentials. 

Whatever camera bag you choose, make sure you have space for a telephoto lens (I took a Sigma 120-400mm on myCanon EOS RP). You’ll also want to make sure there’s space for sunscreen, water and other daytime supplies. If your bag doesn’t have a built-in rain cover, you may also want to consider packing a detachable one like this


Don’t forget insurance 

Before you visit the Galapagos Islands, make sure you have travel insurance. It’s a small price to pay for such a pricey trip, and will make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong. 

I use World Nomads for all of my trips. As well as having a super easy claims process that I can personally vouch for, they’re happy to insure activities and scenarios that other companies won’t. Those include short hikes, snorkelling and yacht holidays, among others, meaning you can travel to the Galapagos with complete peace of mind. 

Click here to get a free, 30-second quote or use the box below.

 

Other Galapagos essentials

While your yacht will usually provide most of the things you need, there are a few essentials you’ll want to bring with you. 

There aren’t loads of things to remember, but make sure you pack them. There’s nowhere to stock up once you get out on the sea!  

 

 

 

Laundry detergent 

It’s pretty rare to find laundry facilities on board the Galapagos cruise yachts. And, even if your yacht does offer laundry, you probably won’t need to do a full load.

It’s more likely that you’ll want to rinse your clothes after several hours of walking and sweating under the Galapagos sun. 

Even if you don’t usually take any, pack some laundry detergent just in case. These ones come in small sachets, so it’s easy to rinse a small amount of clothing in the sink or shower. 

Insect repellent 

There aren’t loads of bugs in the Galapagos Islands, but you may come across some – especially near sea lions. Espanola Island, in particular, had many little flies buzzing around the rocks when I visited. 

Pack a small insect repellent like this one just in case the bugs decide to show themselves.


 

 


Galapagos snorkelling and what to wear in the Galapagos


What you don’t need to pack for the Galapagos

Snorkelling gear: Snorkels, wet suits and flippers should be provided by your yacht. Save space in your luggage and borrow or hire them while you’re there.

Warm clothing: It can get a little windy in the Galapagos, but you can leave the bulky warmer clothing at home. It’s better to pack things that you can layer. 

Other shoes: If you have one pair of shoes for walking, one pair of sandals or flip flops and water shoes, you don’t need anything else.


 

 

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WHAT TO PACK FOR THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS ECUADOR