How Do You Get to the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are located about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in South America. So how do you get there?

First you have to get to Ecuador

All international flights to Ecuador arrive in Quito or Guayaquil, the two biggest cities in Ecuador. Both of these cities have domestic flights to the Galapagos, so you can arrive in either place. Which city you fly into will depend on what else you may want to do in Ecuador, and international flight fares and times. For more information, see our blog post on Should I Fly Into Quito or Guayaquil? 

We don’t sell airfare, although we work closely with Exito Travel, a company that specializes in flights to and within South America, and they can take care of all of your flight needs. If you would like a quote, please let me know your home airport. You are welcome to arrange your own flights too. We can look over the flights you’r considering to make sure they work with your trip.

When to arrive in Ecuador

We highly recommend arriving in Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador at least 2 days / 2 nights before your Galapagos trip starts. This gives you a full day to explore, and gives you buffer time in case your international flight is delayed. This is rare, but when it happens, you’re usually delayed 24 hours. You don’t want to miss your flight to the Galapagos!

We can help you with hotels, transfers, tours, and even trip extensions to other parts of Ecuador.

Getting to the Galapagos from Ecuador to start your trip

You will to fly to the Galapagos from either Quito or Guayaquil on Day 1 of your Galapagos trip. The flight takes about 3 hours. All flights leave Quito between 6am and 9am.  All flights leave Guayaquil between 8am and 10am.

There are two airports in the Galapagos: Baltra Airport and San Cristobal Airport. Some trips start at one and end at the other. Some trips start and end at the same airport. Your itinerary or travel advisor can let you know at which airport(s) your trip will start and end.

All cruises and most land-based Galapagos trips begin with your guide picking you up at either Galapagos airport on Day 1. You normally arrive in the Galapagos between 9am and 12pm.

Most Galapagos trips will include a separate quote for your flight to the Galapagos from either Quito or Guayaquil. Most yachts require that you purchase this flight through them as they have allotments with the airlines to make sure all of their passengers can arrive in the Galapagos in time for their cruise.

Flights arranged by the company operating your trip will work perfectly with your itinerary, providing you a worry-free connection to and from your Galapagos trip. If you book your own flights (expect to pay a fee to a yacht company if doing this), you need to arrive in the airport by the time the other passengers arrive or you will be left behind.

Of course, you can stay longer in the Galapagos either before or after your tour, but inform your trip operator of this intent when you book your tour.

Leaving the Galapagos & Ecuador

On the last day of your Galapagos Islands trip, you will fly from one of the Galapagos airports to either Quito or Guayaquil on mainland Ecuador. You will get to Guayaquil between 1pm and 3pm on the last day of your trip. You will get to Quito between 4pm and 6pm on the last day of your trip.

From one of those cities, you can either continue to explore Ecuador, or you can catch your international flight home. If you are going to continue exploring Ecuador, most travelers will need to send a night in Quito or Guayaquil before continuing on since you usually get in too late to travel any where else.  If you are flying home, many international flights depart late a night (red-eye flights) from both of these cities.

We HIGHLY recommend booking your Galapagos trip BEFORE booking your international flights or flights to the Galapagos.