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... the most expensive zoo ever visited.

These islands are part of the UNESCO national park. Because of this, the whole procedure to get in needs some paperwork and have high costs (see fees at the end of this page). Only 3 islands are authorized for cruisers, San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz. And only one anchorage per island. The entry laws/rules changes regularly.

Today it’s not possible to visit these islands with your boat without the help of an agent. You need to start the procedure with him at least 1 month before your arrival.

Our buddy boat and we asked offers by several agents. We did not receive a final price, just lists with prices, every agent naming similar points a bit differently and the prices was on some points the same, on some others totally different.

It has 3 different entry options:

  • Multiple islands: you need an Autografo (Entry permit). The fees are approx. 2’000 USD (see fees at the end of this page).

  • One port stop over:  no need of Autografo. The length of your stay depends on the Maritime Authority allowance, which is maximum 7 days. The only port of entrance, since November 2018 is Wreck bay, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristobal, so this will be where you go by choosing this option. The entry fees are similar, except of the Autografo and islands changes.

  • Emergency stop: no need of Autografo. You will need a special arrival authorization and you can stop only in the port assigned by the Maritime Authority. In this case, make sure that your last port clearance is stating that the vessel was not heading to Galapagos! By arrival, the authorities will inspect your damages. We heard from cruisers who asked this option to refuel, they were informed that the entry fee will be approximatively 1’000.00USD.

No matter which option you choose, you will need to have a fumigation certificate.

As the prices doesn’t vary a lot, and that we did not wanted to be kicked out after some days, we choose the multiple islands entry option.


Our conclusion:

We consider our visit as “the most expensive zoo ever visited”. The islands are beautiful, it have many animals that we can see close. But for people who travelled with their boat around Caribbean like us, except of the sea lions and penguins, we did not see animals we didn’t encounter before.

We think it may be good to calculate if a visit from Ecuador by plane would not be a cheaper solution.

As you need to book a lot of tours to see around the islands, we think that a live aboard tour may be interesting to look for. For divers, I would consider seriously about a live aboard tour. The day dives tours costs between 150-200 USD, and don’t forget the costs of changing islands, as the good spots are around every island.

The whole entry procedure is meant to protect the islands of new invasive animals and plants. But the way it is done by cruisers arrival (more details hereunder) looks like to be more an occupation for personal as it changes from authority-person to authority-person and from boat to boat. Many things make no sense to us:

Hull control: not every boat is checked and we doubt that they do the same procedure theatre for the ships bringing food and fuel from the mainland.

Changing islands papers and control: why organising Zarpe between islands which costs and why making controls that was already done on the other island? It gave us the impression to change country!

Medical control: not every boat is checked and we’re asking us on which law they can take medicine out of date away. Cruisers cannot replace them easily there and may need them during the crossing to French Polynesia.

Garbage separation: we totally agree with this, but doubt of the efficacy on how they do it. In San Cristobal we had to leave our trash by the agency, nobody asked which kind of trash it was. In Isabela we saw a truck taking all the trash together. In Santa Cruz it had separated trash, but people just fill it like they want.

Need of black water tank: we agree with this except of the fact of not allowing the rare cruisers who has no black water tank. When you see the thousands of sea lions hanging around in San Cristobal and knowing the mess they can leave on your boat, some boats without black water tank is nothing!

National Park fees paid several times: We paid 100.-/person by entrance, which you pay also if you come by plane. By booking tours, a certain amount of the price is for the National Park fees! That’s the reason why kids pay the same price than an adult, and why a ½ day snorkelling tour costs 100$. A park ranger’s coming on the pier controlling all the tour boats, and they have to pay per Person, no matter if kid or adult.
The positive at it, every tour we made, we had a national park person on board which explained us many thinks about the animals, vegetation and the formation of the place we went.

We was told about the reason of the changes of entry rules and prices. Galapagos has more and more tourists visiting them each year and they try to minimize this. A person working in a tour agency since 19 years told us that the problem isn’t the cruisers, but the tourists from the mainland that has tripled!
Next to the Ecuadorian tourists, we saw a lot of backpackers, what really surprised us. It looks like that it may be a cheap destination from mainland.

With the food/animal/plant restriction, we heard that here the problem isn’t the cruisers, but the locals!



Inspection at your arrival:

A lot of people (8-12) will come on board to check different things, fill in some papers, everyone and everything on the same time.

Hull: You will need to have a clean hull (no alga, no barnacle…), a diver will come to check it. It is recommended to make a last cleaning on the way. Don’t forget the thruster tube if you have one. We stopped at the equator and did a last clean as it had no wind/waves. We cleaned it well in Las Perlas and was surprised to see that during our passage, the hull covered itself by green alga.

Garbage: You need to have it separated and well designed. I’ve read once something about different coloured bags and did not find it any more. We did not receive any information about this from our agent. So I put coloured bags in several buckets and tape a paper mentioning which garbage it is. It was fine. In Santa Cruz I saw 3 garbage buckets: green for organics, blue for recyclable and black for not recyclable.

Engines: Somebody will have a look at them and see how you do, if you have oil leaking. We had baby diapers under it and they said it was the best.

Black water tank: you need it to be allowed in these waters. They will have a look at it and ask you about the capacity.

Food: we heard many thinks about the food accepted and not. It’s a bit difficult to know, as it seems that it depends of the person who’s processing your inspection. For sure, no oranges, chilies, berries and passion fruits are allowed. We heard about bananas as well, but friend of us could keep their. No fresh meat, frozen looks like ok, but I heard they took frozen beef away (not the whole lot!). No fresh cheese… By the inspection, they asked us if we have seeds, this looks like not to be allowed. They also asked if we have pasta from Panama, they said it may have bugs in it.
I was concerned about the food, as I do not keep everything originally packed. My flour and rice in PET bottles was OK. They appreciate to see that I put originally packed stuffs in additional Zip-Bags to avoid bugs contamination.
Some information may be find under

Medicine: a doctor comes on board to check the board medicines. We had none.
By two friends, the doctor sorted out the medicines out of data. By one of them, the boat lady said that they are ok and she’ll keep them, then the doctor lost interest in it. By the other boat, as the boat people was buzzy with the other authorities, the doctor filled a bag with the old medicines and, as she left the boat, said that it has to be thrown away and she’ll take care of it!

Animals: No alive animals are allowed. Friends of us had no problem as they registered their dog as a service dog. But only one agent (Bolivar) was OK with it.

Plants: No alive plants are allowed.

They will control the bilge, your security equipment, go more or less thoughtfully through your boat to find any dead insect.

The whole check is to preserve the national park of the entry of new animal species. So I was really surprised to see a lot of cockroaches, cats and dogs running through the streets.

The check varies up to who comes on board and how motivated they are.


Inspection in Isabela:

When we arrived in Isabella, we had a small inspection. They wanted to see our security equipment and made some pictures of it. It gave the impression as the same inspection in San Cristobal had no importance.


Departure inspection:

We left Galápagos from Santa Cruz, in order to avoid the fees to let the officials coming to Isabela. These fees are 140.00$ and we learned too late that you can organise the departure between different boats and share these fees.

2-6 persons come on board to inspect your vessel. They look everywhere to make sure you haven’t token illegal stuffs from the country (f.ex. turtles).
The funny part is that they open everything, without really looking into it. They asks about drugs and cigarettes. They lift our matrass, I had plastic bags under it (big sea maps) which they saw, but did not ask what it was. So why lifting them? They asked if we’ve turtles or drugs, like if dealers would answer yes!



San Cristobal: Wreck bay, Puerto Bequerizo Moreno
It has many sea lions, they love to come on board to rest. They are cute, but noisy and smelly! They can jump pretty high. You can try to put fenders to close the entry.

Isabela: Puerto Villamil
Be careful of the reef between the anchorage and the dock which can be covered by high tide. It has a lot of stones between the reef and the anchorage, so don’t go more left and more in front than the anchored boats. We anchored on the back between the yellow buoys, it rolls a bit.

Santa Cruz: Puerto Ayora
It’s the most rolling anchorage we ever had as the boats turns during the night and we get the swell from the side. Some boats put an additional stern anchor. We left Santa Cruz tired because of the bad swell, that’s not a good start for a long crossing.



The use of dinghies are not recommended. In San Cristóbal the sea lions love to get into them to sleep, in Isabella you need first to know where to go through the reef, in Santa Cruz it has no safe place to let your dinghy.

Watertaxis are organised on every island and respond on VHF 14. At night you’ll have to ask how long they work because it may change from one day to another. In San Cristóbal our agent told us that they work till midnight but one day they stoped at 7pm, another on 9 pm. In Santa Cruz they work 24hours per day.
 Prices per ride:   San Cristóbal1.- /adult 0.50/child
  Isabela:2.-/adult 1.-/ child
  Santa Cruz:

-.80/adult -.40/child at daytime, 1.-/adult 0.50-1..-/child at night time

Sometimes they charge children with adult prices, it depends on the driver. The best to do is to give the exact amount, so they know that you know the price!


On the 3 weeks we was there, we (2 adults + 3 kids) mostly, but not only, used watertaxis. We spent about 140$ for watertaxis, (unexpected fees).


Internet / local sim card:

You can buy Claro Sim card which costs 8$ then you pay 5.- for 1GB valid for 2 weeks.
We never used as much GB as there, 5GB in 3 weeks. We found this strange, as we had the same devices and habits. It looks like the counting of data may not be correct.


Shopping / eating:

It has fruits and veggies markets on San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz (La fería in Santa Cruz on Saturday is best, go with a taxi 1.50/ride). It has a supermarket in Santa Cruz near the dock. The prices varies, some stuffs are normal price and some others are expensive.

On the 3 islands you’ll find local restaurants with local prices (not on the waterfront). They offer menus for 4.- to 8.- USD. Usually it contains a soup, a main plate and a juice.


Visits on the islands:

It is not possible to visit the whole island by yourself. Many places you need to book tours, which are expensive. It has many tours operators, prices may vary a little bit, but not a lot. The last minute prices panels are just to get you, we didn’t see any price difference, and sometimes, they was already booked!



It looks like that each agent has his island to refuel. Ours did it in Santa Cruz, he organized a taxiboat which came to pick up our jerricans and brought them back a bit later. We heard from other cruisers that it was complicated on this island because it’s far away.

We also organised through our diving center some fuel in San Cristobal. We went with them to the station with our boat papers. We was told that cruisers has to go through agent, the fuel is not for tourists! We’ve got our fuel, but the guy was not happy.

Some agent ask a 50.- for the fuel permit, some agent it’s part of the agent fees. Anyway, you won’t pay the fuel price indicated on the fuel pump but the tourist price which is nearly 4 times more expensive.


San Cristóbal island:

Activities you can do without a tour:

  • Centro de Interpretacion: museum about the Galápagos islands

  • Tijeretas Hill: hike which starts by the Centro de Interpretaction. It brings to a few view points and to Playa Baquerizo. On half way you can go to Las Tijeretas.

  • Las Tijeretas: you can go snorkelling with the sea lions. It has no beach, so be careful of the waves splashing you on the rocks.

  • Carola Beach: nice beach close from las Tijeretas

  • Playa Mann Beach: close to the city

  • Lobería Beach

  • Highlands (Lago Junco, Galapaguera, Puerto Chino Beach), for this you’ll need to rent bicycles or/and a taxi. We went by bike (25km, 600m in the high) and came back by taxi (they are pick-ups and take bikes). The road to get from Lago Junco to Galapaguera/Puerto Chino closes at 6pm!
    Lago Junco: crater lake on 650m over the sea level. You can hike around it and see frigates birds.
    Galapaguera: Tortoise Center
    Puerto Chino Beach: nice walk to the beach. It has no restaurant, don’t hope to find taxis easily there.

Tours we made:

  • Kicker Rock (León Dormido): big rock which emerges from the sea. It is a cleaning station for fishes, so you may see nearly everything over there. Sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Manta ray, Eagle ray, sea lions and even whale sharks.

  • Punta Pitt: nice snorkel/diving with sea lions. The hike is beautiful, in April the boobies (blue & red footed) are nesting, so you can see them very close.  


Isabela Island:

Activities you can do without a tour:

  • Centro de Crianza : Tortoise Center and its nice 1.5km wooden pathway over the lagoons (you may see water iguanas and flamingos)

  • Flamingos Lagoon

  • Muro de las Lágrimas : the taxi can bring you till 5km from the wall. It may be better to rent bikes as you can use them on the trail. The first half of the trail has small trails left and right bringing you to nice places as El Estero and Tunel del Estero.

  • Beach next to the main dock

  • Concha de Perla which you reach from the main dock by passing the wooden pathway. It is an aquarium where you can snorkel with many fishes, some reef sharks, turtles…

  • Sugar caves: it is lava tunnels, take a torch with you. As it is far from the town, take a taxi to get there.

We met a nice “taxi truck” driver that was very helpful. His truck has places for 18 people and his prices are OK. He speaks only Spanish: Octon: +593 96 864 70 94, he has Whatsapp.

It has a kayak tour bringing near to the anchorage to see penguins (Tintoreras). We are not allowed to go by our own. We were told to pass by with the dinghy early morning or late afternoon when no tour is there. It’s nearly on the way to the main dock by low tide. You’ll see some buoys near the island, just next to the fishing boats anchorage. The penguins are on the rocks.

Tour we made:

  • Los Tuneles: snorkelling ½ day tour. After 45 minutes boat ride, we could swim with the biggest turtles we ever saw, could go under some lava arches to see white tip sharks resting. We also saw sea horses twice as big as the ones we saw till there. It had also penguins.
    It has a small hike over the lava arches where you can see blue footed boobies nesting.
    Take an USB Stick with you, as many guides take underwater pictures and share them at the end.


Santa Cruz:

Activities you can do without a tour:

  • Tortuga Bay

  • Charles Darwin Station: tortoise center, biological station…

  • German Beach

  • Playa Punta Estrada

  • Las Grietas: nice swim between 2 cliffs

Don’t miss:

Have a look at the fish market. We made the funniest video, as sea lions, iguanas and pelicans try to get fish from the market ladies.

Go on the dock at night time and look in the water on both sides. You’ll see plenty of juvenile sharks and may see some rays, turtle and sea lions.

Tour we made:

  • Gordon’s rocks dive tour: should be a nice spot where many different big sharks hangs around. We went by full moon, the visibility was poor. We saw sharks, but not as it should be by good visibility.



Agent: Antonio Seamasters


2 adults / 10 tons boat

2 adults, 3 kids (one 12+) / 13 tons boat

Entrance to National Park Adult (100.-/Pers)



Entrance to National Park Child -12 years (50.-/Pers)



Inspection Dept. Tourism (50.-/Pers)



Inspection Biosecurity Agency



Migration fee, offer 30.-



Migration fee departing



Magapagos Migration Card (20.-/Pers)



Authorization Government Council



Armada of Ecuador (reception, lighthouses, buoys, anchorage) about 7.-/gross tonnage



Service Professionals (Agent)



entry Permit up to 30 days (Autografo) (300 USD)



entry Permit up to 60 days (Autografo) (400 USD)



Total of the offer






Unexpected fees:



Arrival Port Capitaincies



Entry Isabela Adult (10.-/Pers), to be paid by arrival on the dock



Entry Isabela Child -12 (5.-/Pers), to be paid by arrival on the dock



Zarpe San Cristobal – Isabela



Zarpe for Isabela – Santa Cruz



Departing fee (week-end, double fee)



Total unexpected fees






Additional fees



Fumigation (to be done in Panama)



Watertaxi (approx.)



Total additional fees












Tours: count 100-200.- per person per day






Prices for 30 days multiple island, we calculated with the lists of other agents



Rony Sanches info(at)



Bolivar Pesantes



Javier Yachtgala agent_01(at)




Electronical sea maps can be displaced!
left: Navionics OK, right CM93 (2005 & 2012) displaced on OpenCPN
Up: Santa Cruz, down: Isabela
Information: April 2019
Are these information useful? Thanks to offer us a drink!