A journey to the Galapagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that requires certain items in your suitcase. Make your trip a comfortable and satisfying one by adding these critical items to your bag. Remember that the Galapagos Islands is an isolated archipelago where finding shops and stores is not possible on every island; only four islands are inhabited and these may not necessarily match your itinerary. Therefore, please remember to pack generously and with the thought of staying self-sufficient.
If you want a more comprehensive guide of what to pack for the Galapagos Islands, check out our Galapagos packing list.
One of the most unique places on Earth is the Galapagos Islands. Although only about 200,000 people visit this area every year, it still holds the concept of being pristine, remote, and well isolated with very few man-made resources, such as big shopping malls, gift shops, etc. Because the Galapagos remains a nature preserve, you must pack every item that you’ll need. Take a look at some of the most useful items that you’ll need to make your Galapagos vacation a memorable one.
Aside from your suitcase, you’ll want to bring a small day bag. This item can be a small backpack or even a fanny pack that can hold all of your items for day trips onto the islands. Fill it with the basics, such as water and sunscreen, and you’ll always be comfortable as trying to carry too many items in your jacket or pants pockets can quickly become bothersome. For added comfort while embarking/disembarking you will be required to have free hands, and here’s where a backpack comes really handy.
The Galapagos Islands is located along the equator, and although there are two markedly different seasons, tropical weather can change at a moment’s notice. As you gain altitude on the islands, you’ll reach the highlands, areas that are normally subjected to cooler temperatures and at times drizzle. The islands’ hot season can bring sporadic downpours that quickly vanish, but could get you all wet. Therefore, a lightweight waterproof jacket or a rain poncho will keep you dry while exploring. Make sure these jackets can be easily folded and stored in your day bag when the sun finally peeks through the clouds.
A major attraction of a Galapagos Islands cruise is exploring the surrounding waters. You may have one favorite swimsuit, but be sure to bring an extra one as well. Some vacation days offer several chances to get in the water, and a damp or soggy swimsuit might make you feel uncomfortable, making the extra one a simple solution. Wet suits are available on board your vessel. Some cruises offer these clothing items as part of the travel package, but you’re welcome to bring your own for convenience and comfort. Just remember that packing a wet suit is not too easy.
The sun’s energy is the most powerful at the equator. As you walk out onto the ship’s deck, you’ll feel the ultraviolet energy pouring over your shoulders. To avoid heat exhaustion and sunburns, pack a collapsible hat. It should have a wide brim with a chin strap, creating a shaded area across your face and neck. As the sun warms the area throughout the day, you’ll appreciate the cool breeze from underneath your hat.
You’ll want to take a lot of pictures throughout your Galapagos Islands cruise, but some of the best shots may be underwater. Before you even leave for your vacation, purchase an underwater camera. Many of these devices are disposable and relatively inexpensive, giving you the option to capture some of the turtles and penguins frolicking in the water. For more quality results please consider the idea of investing on a specific underwater housing for your camera or purchase a camera specifically designed for underwater use. They are quite popular at electronics stores and have become very affordable over the years.
Perhaps sunscreen is going to be your islands’ best companion. The equator receives the brunt of the sun’s energy, and your skin may not be used to the intensity. Remember that equatorial sun rays are perpendicular, powerful, and can cause serious skin burns. Spread sunscreen all over your exposed skin each day, and reapply it every two hours as sweat and physical movements can wear the sunscreen away. If you hit the water, apply sunscreen after you emerge and dry off. A sunburn isn’t a souvenir that you want after leaving the Galapagos Islands. We recommend sunscreen at least SPF30 and, if available in your area, purchase reef-safe sunscreen for lowering your personal environmental footprint on reefs.
There are a few established pathways across some of the Galapagos Islands, but otherwise the area is largely untouched. Consider medium hiking boots or another type of sturdy shoe when you’re preparing for a day out on the islands. A good pair of tennis shoes will do the job too. Because the islands are volcanic, shoes must have good tread for added traction on irregular terrain. Uneven ground and loose rocks can make walking difficult if you don’t have the right footwear, so select shoes that are sturdy and water resistant since you’re bound to get wet as you move between the ship and land. Certain walks may be easy to deal with, and therefore a pair of water shoes, open-toe exploring shoes, non-fashionable sandals, etc, will work fine.
Your cruise will offer you plenty of food and drinks on board, but you’ll want to pack your own water for the day trips. Bring a sports bottle with a strong cap and carrying strap that will allow you to sip on water throughout the day to avoid any dehydration. It’s important to keep drinking water even if you aren’t immediately thirsty since the sun is very strong most of the year in the Galapagos. Bringing your own refillable bottle also keeps our planet from generating more plastic solid waste.
The wildlife in the Galapagos = is often curious about you, and they’ll come very close for a good look. However, there are other Galapagos islands fauna that you may not be able to see from a few feet away. To discover birds and other animals that are farther off, pack a small pair of binoculars. A pair of 8×20 binoculars will work well for the type of wildlife spotted in the Galapagos both on land and at sea.
Keep a close eye on your day bag as you explore each of the Galapagos Islands. Ideally, you should leave as little of a mark on the land as possible, so whenever you stop for a picture and leave the area, make it a habit to look around you. Don’t leave anything behind, including trash, because these items will negatively influence the environment. Remember, the islands have no lost and found section. The Galapagos Islands continues to be a preserve that’s dedicated to distinct species that live their lives without much human influence.