How to Get to the Galapagos Islands

September 26, 2021 • Todd Smith
How do you get to the Galapagos Islands? Learn from our experts’ insights and advice on Ecuador arrival and departure, Galapagos airports, airlines, flights & costs.
2 women walk a covered concrete path towards a loading jet plane, rolling suitcases past cacti on a sunny day in Galapagos.

The Galapagos Islands are on every nature lover’s bucket list. But most travelers don’t know how to get there. This guide outlines everything you need to know about how to get to the Galapagos Islands.

A male traveler in a hat kneels beside a Galapagos giant tortoise in bright green grass

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IN THIS POST – How to Get to Galapagos:
Where Are the Galapagos?
How to Get to Galapagos
Can I Fly Direct?
Flights to Ecuador
Flights to Galapagos
Galapagos Airports
Galapagos Flight Timing
Flight Costs & Arrival Fees
Biosecurity for Getting to Galapagos
How Will You Get to Galapagos?

Where Are the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, right on the equator in the Pacific Ocean. This location makes them very isolated. This is part of their appeal and one of the reasons why some Galapagos wildlife is endemic. Many animals are found only here and nowhere else in the world. But this also makes it tricky for travelers to get to the Galapagos.

Map of the Galapagos Islands and west coast of South America showing Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. Red dotted line with red airplane icon shows flight path starting in Quito, Ecuador and ending on Galapagos islands.

How to Get to Galapagos

The only way for travelers to get to the Galapagos Islands is by air. Travelers must fly from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Island. It is not possible to cruise from mainland on a tourist-class ship, and there is no road or ferry service.

When planning how to travel to Galapagos, you must decide first how you plan to explore when you get there: by land or sea. Galapagos cruises and Galapagos land tours are the primary means of exploration. Both typically require specific arrival dates and often group flights, so knowing your itinerary will help guide you in your discovery of how to get to the Galapagos Islands. And secondly, you must choose whether to depart from Guayaquil or Quito to Galapagos. Read on for extensive details on all these options and much more about Galapagos Islands flights.

Infographic detailing the three steps about how to get to the Galapagos Islands. 1. Fly to Ecuador 2. Stay in hotel 3. Fly to the Galapagos Islands

Can I Fly Direct to the Galapagos?

Direct international flights do not exist, so you cannot fly directly to the Galapagos. Travelers must first arrive at mainland Ecuador prior to their flight to the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos National Park has strict requirements that airlines must fulfill. Therefore, is it unlikely there will ever be an international flight to the Galapagos.

Flights to Ecuador

While planning how to get to Galapagos you must first decide which mainland Ecuador city you want to land in. International flights arriving in Ecuador will land at either Quito or Guayaquil. There are some nuances to understand with this choice, so read on:

Quito | Mariscal Sucre International Airport | Airport Code: UIO

Quito’s airport is located outside of town. Airport hotels are available. Travelers wanting to experience historic colonial Quito should note that a private transfer takes about 1 hour, depending on traffic. Quito is highly recommended for a Galapagos pre- or post-trip extension.

Guayaquil | José Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport | Airport Code: GYE

The Guayaquil airport is located close to town with a quick 20-minute transfer to most hotels. Guayaquil is popular with travelers proceeding straight to and from the Galapagos in the least amount of time.

Timing Your Ecuador Arrival Flights

Since flights from Quito and Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands depart in the morning, a hotel overnight is almost always required.

We highly recommend travelers arrive in Ecuador at least 2 nights prior to their flight to the Galapagos Islands.

Most flights from North America arrive late in the evening, between 8:00pm and 11:00pm. Without an extra day you may miss your flight to the Galapagos if your Ecuador flight is delayed or cancelled.

Arriving early also provides time to enjoy Quito or Guayaquil. In deciding how to get to the Galapagos Islands, this should be a key consideration so you aren’t rushed or missing out on seeing something you could have easily explored. See our Quito & Guayaquil Galapagos Travel Package for an easy, cost effective pre and post travel package.

Flights to the Galapagos Islands

When planning Galapagos Islands flights, travelers need to consider the route and timing. Flights to the Galapagos are available from the same two airports in Quito or Guayaquil described above. Your trip itinerary will dictate which Galapagos airports you will need to fly in and out of. Some cruises and tours will arrive at one Galapagos airport and depart from another, so review your itinerary carefully.

Flights to Galapagos are usually arranged in conjunction with your small ship Galapagos cruise or tour package. Typically flights are not included in the price. Cruise and tour operators block flights in advance to ensure there is space for all travelers on the trip. This also ensures the best price. Airlines that service the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador are LATAM and Avianca.

Galapagos Airports

Other common questions are “Is there an airport in the Galapagos Islands?” Or “Where do you fly into to visit the Galapagos Islands?” Many folks imagine the Galapagos is a pristine wilderness. For the most part it is, with 97% of the islands protected and uninhabited. But there are communities and there are Galapagos Island airports.

Flights to Galapagos Islands land at one of two airports. Seymour Airport is on Baltra Island, adjacent to Santa Cruz Island. San Cristobal Airport is in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. All travelers flying to the Galapagos Islands will arrive at these airports.

The tin-roofed Baltra Galapagos airport seen from an airplane stairway with the engine and wing in the foreground

Seymour Airport, Baltra | Airport Code: GPS

Seymour Airport (airport code: GPS) is on Baltra Island. Travelers with cruises and tours embarking in Baltra or Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island, should choose the Seymour airport. The small island of Baltra doesn’t house much more than the airport, but it’s a noteworthy airport for its history and eco-friendly accolades. During World War II it was known as the Seymour Island Airfield and was used by the Unites States Air Force to defend South America and the Panama Canal from Japanese submarines. After a rebuild in 2012, the open-air Seymour Airport became the world’s first green airport running solely on solar and wind power. It holds a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, with roughly 80% of the materials recycled from the old airport.

After arriving at the Seymour Airport, travelers will embark their cruise or begin their trip in one of two places:

  • Travelers embarking their cruise in Baltra will transfer by free shuttle bus from the airport to the Seymour Passenger Dock. The transfer takes about 10 minutes.
  • Travelers embarking their cruise or beginning their trip in Puerto Ayora need to get to Santa Cruz Island. A bus transfer from Seymour Airport to the Baltra Ferry Terminal takes about 10 minutes. A short 5-minute water taxi takes guests to the Santa Cruz Ferry Terminal on Santa Cruz Island. From here, buses and taxis transfer travelers across the island of Santa Cruz to Puerto Ayora. The entire transfer from Seymour Airport to Puerto Ayora takes about 90 minutes.    

Rocks and a tree in foreground looking downward at the embarkation dock on Baltra Island
Sign that says Welcome to the Baltra Dock with a small boat sailing behind it.

San Cristobal Airport | Airport Code: SCY

San Cristobal Airport (airport code: SCY) is on the island of San Cristobal. It services cruises and tours embarking in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. The San Cristobal Airport is only a few minutes from town. Travelers can transfer from the airport bus, taxi or even by walking.

Galapagos Flight Routes & Timing

With two airports in Ecuador and two in Galapagos, travelers must consider the timing and route of their Galapagos Islands flights when determining how to visit the Galapagos Islands. But it is not as complicated as it sounds.

Read the primer below on general arrival and departure Galapagos flight times and routes. Be sure to reference our Ecuador & Galapagos Travel Restrictions information for any updates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Schedules may change without notice.

Flights to Galapagos

Most flights from Quito to Galapagos stop in Guayaquil to pick up passengers before proceeding to the islands. So, in effect, these are the same flight.

Photo from the Galapagos airplane window, looking over the airplane wing down at and the crystal teal blue ocean water surrounding the islands below.

The short flight from Quito to Guayaquil takes 30-40 minutes. The flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos takes about 2.5 hours.

Flights from Quito to Galapagos depart earlier in the morning. Departure times tend to be between 6:45am and 10:00am. Flights from Guayaquil to the Galapagos depart a bit later, between about 8:20am and 12:00pm.

Keep in mind that the time in Galapagos is 1 hour behind mainland Ecuador. Galapagos Time Zone (GALT) is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Flights from Galapagos

Similarly, return flights from the Galapagos to Quito will make a stop in Guayaquil to drop passengers before proceeding to Quito.

Flights from the Galapagos depart mid-day between 10:00am and 2:00pm. These flights arrive in Guayaquil between 1:00pm and 4:30pm. They then arrive in Quito between 3:00pm and 7:00pm.

Flights from Ecuador

Some travelers will try to return home the same day they fly from the Galapagos Islands. It is possible to catch a late international flight from Quito or Guayaquil. Red-eye flights to North America or Europe depart late evening, typically between 11:00pm and 1:00am. This makes it possible to return home on the day you return from the Galapagos. But be warned: it makes for a long two days of travel.

A day room at a nearby airport hotel can make this option more enjoyable. But most travelers instead choose to overnight once more in Quito or Guayaquil and depart in the morning.

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Galapagos Flight Costs & Arrival Fees

Another common question when planning how to get to Galapagos is “How much does a Galapagos flight cost?”

Average round-trip price for a flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos is about $400. A flight from Quito to Galapagos is about $500. Depending on timing and availability, prices can vary by about $100 with higher prices during holidays, busy seasons and last minute.

Remember: flights are typically not included in published cruise and tour prices. Sometimes complimentary flights will be included in a cruise package. Be sure to check our Galapagos cruise deals for the latest special offers. 

In addition to the cost of Galapagos flights, to get to the Galapagos Islands, travelers are required to pay for a $20 INGALA transit control card. This fee is paid at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil. Then, a $100-per-person ($200 starting August 1, 2024) Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee is paid at the airport in Galapagos. Many tours and cruises can arrange to pay these fees in advance, so you do not have to carry extra cash. 

Two travelers walk under an awning toward a plane in the distance at the Galapagos airport on Baltra Island


See the full list of itineraries by ship and on land.

Biosecurity Involved in Getting to Galapagos

How to travel to Galapagos safely to protect this iconic place? The biggest threat to the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos is the introduction of invasive species. Humans can inadvertently bring seeds or bugs with them, so Ecuador has instituted biosecurity protocols for all travelers arriving by air.

After you check in at the airport in Quito or Guayaquil, luggage must go through a screening process. Authorities checks for live animals, plants and seeds. This ensures introduced species are not transported to the islands.

Once your flight to Galapagos is in the air, flight attendants will spray overhead bins with an insecticide. This further reduces the possibility of introducing insects. Then, upon arrival at the airport in Galapagos you will be asked to step through a solution that sterilizes the soles of your shoes.

Close up of a wooden sign that says in both English and Spanish Welcome to Galapagos

How Will You Get to the Galapagos Islands?

Ultimately, how to get to Galapagos comes down to your travel style, timing needs and other factors our team can help you with. The Galapagos Islands are a once-in-a-lifetime destination. With a little logistics planning, it is not difficult to get to Galapagos. And the journey can be part of the fun if you’re ready for the adventure.

Our experts travel to the Galapagos frequently. We plan custom tours and cruises for hundreds of travelers every year. Contact us for a free quote and to begin planning your Galapagos Islands journey. Browse our additional resources below for more “how to get to Galapagos Islands” planning advice.

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Have a question or need specific advice on how to get to the Galapagos Islands? Leave a comment below and our experts will answer. Ready to get to the Galapagos with AdventureSmith Explorations? Contact us and you’ll be on your way.

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  • Del says:

    Is there any issue with altitude sickness o4 health issues arriving into Quito airport? Are both airports at high altitude or one better if you have breathing difficulties?

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Great question Del. The elevation of Quito, Ecuador is 9350 feet above sea level and altitude sickness can be an issue for some travelers who are sensitive. We advise travelers to take precautions by staying hydrated, avoiding alcoholic beverages, eating healthy and generally taking it easy upon arrival. Most travelers feel the altitude but show no symptoms of sickness which can include headaches, shortness of breath and fatigue. Some travelers on Galapagos trips, who know they are sensitive to altitude sickness, may consider routing flights through Guayaquil, which is at sea level, instead of Quito. When travelers book with AdventureSmith Explorations they are prepared with an extensive pre-travel dossier that outlines health considerations and you’ll have access to a knowledgeable Adventure Specialist to answer any questions you may have. Ready to start planning? Contact us today.

  • Amy says:

    How much does it cost to travel to the Galapagos Islands by plane from Ontario Canada and how long is the flight?

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Hi Amy,
      Price of flights will depend on many factors like time of year, number of stops, airline etc. To get to the Galapagos you must first fly into either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador. Flying from Ontario to Ecuador can take as little as 8 hours. From there the flight from Quito to Guayaquil takes 30-40 minutes and the flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos takes about 2.5 hours. Average round-trip price for a flight from Guayaquil to Galapagos is about $400. A flight from Quito to Galapagos is about $500. Depending on timing and availability, prices can vary by about $100 with higher prices during holidays, busy seasons and last minute. You are in good hands with our experts and they make the Galapagos Islands trip logistics easy. If you would like to work with us one-on-one please contact us directly.

  • Cecilia Gonzalez says:

    Great information. I am hoping to visit The Galapagos in September, will there be good land fauna to see. Thank you.

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Cecilia. You have lots of wildlife to look forward to when visiting Galapagos in September. Marine animals are especially active including whales, dolphins, sea lions and Galapagos fur seals. September is also the best time to view Galapagos penguins. You may see courtship displays and mating rituals by sea lions, and species of seabirds remain quite active at their nesting sites. See more in our article Best Time to Visit Galapagos. Please contact us if we can help you plan your Galapagos expedition.

  • Patricia says:

    Are there hotels to stay in in the Galapagos islands??

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Hello Patricia,
      Hotels in the Galapagos are located on the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabella and Can Cristobal. Independent travelers choosing to stay at hotels should consider the impacts and issues surrounding land-based travel to the Galapagos. We discuss the effects of land based travel in our article: Galapagos Island Hopping Or Cruise. If you do choose to travel by land, we encourage you to do it responsibly with one of our vetted Galapagos land tour packages or contact us to customize a private tour.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi. We are a group of 12 that are going to the Galapagos Islands next June. We already bought the flight to and from mainland Ecuador and to the Galapagos (we bought directly on Latam website). Do we need to do anything else in order to enter the islands? Is there any form that we need to fill before? Any thing that we need to pay in advance? Kind Regards

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Thanks for your question, what an exciting trip you have ahead! In the Flight Costs & Arrival Fees section above we touch on the mandatory INGALA transit control card and the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fees. You can pay cash for these upon arrival, but when booking Galapagos trips with AdventureSmith these fees will be paid in advance on your behalf, and our local representative will take care of obtaining the necessary documents.

  • Lisette Fernandez-Rocha says:

    Hello, I am thinking about traveling to the Galapagos in June, can you let me know if this is a good time and your tours for June? Thanks

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Hi Lisette,
      June is a great time for Galapagos cruises and tours. In June you’ll find giant tortoises nesting, frigatebirds flaunting and you might even see a whale or dolphin. Find more details on why to travel in June in our best time to visit the Galapagos Islands post. In the meantime one of our Adventure Specialists will reach to answer questions and help you get to the Galapagos in June or any time of year.

  • Andrea says:


    I’d like information about visiting Galapagos in January and COVID-19 restrictions for US tourist. Do you have any travel deal?
    Thank you!

  • Travis Knauss says:

    My name is Travis and I am going to be in Ecuador in December. I’d like to book a trip to the Galapagos. I am a scuba diver as well. Are there packages that include diving and cruising? Thank you

    • AdventureSmith Explorations says:

      Hi Travis,
      December is a great time to visit the Galapagos. Yes, scuba diving activities are available on some of our Galapagos cruises. Instead of “live aboard dive boats” that focus exclusively on diving, these are Galapagos naturalist cruises that offer a couple rendezvous diving opportunities throughout the regular itinerary. The best of both worlds. A Galapagos expert will be in contact shortly to recommend some different boats to choose from, but you can get a head start by reading our blog Scuba Diving on Galapagos Small Ship Cruises. Excited to help you check this destination off your bucket list!

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