How much cash should I take to the Galapagos Islands?

INGALA Migration Control Fee: Before you check in for your flight to the Galapagos, you will need to purchase your INGALA Migration Control Card ($20 per person, subject to change). This needs to be purchased in cash at the Quito or Guayaquil Airport. For some trips, this has already been pre-paid and included in the costs of your trip. Please double check your trip details to find out.

Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee: Everyone must pay the National Park Entrance fee. This is done upon arrival in the Galapagos. The cost is $100 per adult and $50 per child under the age of 12 (subject to change).  This must be paid in cash (the US dollar is the currency in Ecuador) and in $20 bills or less. Officials are wary of larger bills as there are issues with counterfeit bills in Ecuador. You will need to carry the cash for this fee on your person during the flight to the Galapagos. This is because there is not an ATM in the Baltra airport and it’s a huge pain to fish it out of your checked baggage (we have made this mistake and can speak from personal experience!). For some trips, this fee has already been pre-paid and included in the costs of your trip. Please double check your trip details to find out.

Wetsuit Rental: If you would like to rent a wetsuit for snorkeling, the cost is approximately $35 – $50 per person for the week. On some cruises, the use of wetsuits is included in the cruise rate.

Snorkel Gear Rental: On some trips, the snorkeling gear needs to be rented in person; this is approximately $15 per person for the week. Snorkel gear is included in the rate of most Galapagos cruises and land-based trips.

Tipping: We recommend that each traveler tip their bilingual naturalist guide $8 – $15 per day.

  • Cruise: If you’re on a cruise, we recommend that each traveler tip the crew $8 – $15 per day (the crew will divide the tip up among themselves) in addition to the tip for your bilingual naturalist guide (above).
  • Land-Based Trip: If you’re on a land-based trip, you will have a bilingual naturalist guide (recommendation above), but you will not have a crew to tip. However, you will have a few different drivers and boat captains. We recommend that each traveler tip these folks about $5 per day. For hotel staff, we recommend a few dollars a day.
  • How to Tip: Tips need be made in cash. Tips are usually paid at the end of the trip and an envelope is usually provided to travelers for this purpose. If you don’t have the same guide with you for your whole trip, you will want to tip your guide at the end of the day, or at the end of your last day with him or her.
  • Please remember that tipping is voluntary. These are guidelines to give you an idea of how much cash to bring with you. Ultimately, you will decide how much you tip based on the level of service.

Meals: Some meals may not be included on a land-based trip, so make sure to have enough cash on you to cover these meals. Meals can be anywhere from $5 per person to $30 per person. Credit cards are accepted in some restaurants, but make sure you also have the cash on hand.

Beverages: Beverages (aside from the water, coffee, & tea at the meals) are not included in your trip cost. Alcoholic beverages are not included at all in your trip cost. Make sure to plan on a little extra for these items. Beers are about $5 each, cocktails and wine are about $7 to $10 each, sodas are about $3 each, and juices and smoothies are $3 to $5 each.

Extra Day Tours: If you are spending a few extra days in the Galapagos after your cruise or land-based trip, and you have some free time, you might decide to book a day tour on your own. These can vary greatly in price. Some day tour companies accept credit cards, but not all of them. So if you are planning on doing this, make sure to bring plenty of cash. These day-long tours usually include lunches, transportation, a bilingual naturalist guide, and any necessary equipment.

  • Day Sailing Tour to an uninhabited island: about $200 to $300 per person
  • SCUBA Diving Day Tour: about $300 to $350 per person
  • Day Tour to another part of the island you are staying on: about $150 to $250 per person

Apart from these costs, make sure to have some extra cash on hand for personal expenses. You may want to buy souvenirs or buy your guide a beer.