Galapagos Basic Information
Galapagos Basics & Advisories  E-mail

Passport:  Your passport must have 6 months prior to expiration at the time you enter Ecuador. No visa is necessary from most countries, only the following: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia. This is always subject to change, so best to check the Ecuador Embassy website in your home country.

Currency:  Currency, both money (USD $$)and electricity (110 volt), is the same in Ecuador as it is in the US.  There are ATMs on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz as well as the Guayaquil and Quito airports. Travelers checks are not so easy to cash, therefore we do not recommend them.  

Time Zone:  -6 GMT.  No daylight savings time. Half the year, Ecuador is the same as Central Time in the US (Chicago), the other half of the year it is on Eastern Time (NY).  The Galapagos  are 1 hour behind the mainland.  

Weather:  Dec - May is our warm season with more sunshine and higher air/water temps.  Average air temperature ranges from 80-87 F / 26-31 C.  February and March are the warmest months.  June - Nov is the cooler season. Garua, a light mist, is often present, creating overcast days. Winds can create choppier seas.  Average air temperatures range from  of 67-78 F / 20 -26C.  

Sea Conditions:  Dec - May:  Expect an average surface temperature of 70-86 F / 21-30 C with thermoclines as cool as 61 F / 16 C .  Visibility is better during these months.  Expect 40-100 ft / 12-30 m.  June - Nov:  The Cromwell Current comes in from the west and the polar Humboldt Current comes in from the south to bring nutrients and cold water during garua season.  Expect diminished visibility, but more marine life.  Expect an average surface temperature of 60-75 F/16-24C with thermoclines as low as 61F / 16C.

The Diving:  The marine life is the most spectacular pelagic diving on the planet!  It is one of the rare places where you pass through a bank of hundreds of hammerheads while chasing a 60 foot whale shark.  Toss in Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, sea turtles, giant free swimming morays, schools of thousands of pelagic fish species like barracuda or jacks along with large schools of tropicals like king angelfish and you have just 1 dive at Darwin.  At Wolf, you can expect huge Galapagos sharks, more hammerheads, eagle rays within feet-sometimes inches and Cabo Marshall will put you face to face with giant manta rays and inside a school of millions of black-striped salemas.  Macro life is spectacular at Cousins where the abundant (green) black coral shelters seahorses, blennies, nudibranches, hawkfish and frogfish.  And this is but a mere taste of why divers consistently proclaim the Galapagos to have the most healthy marine life in the Pacific as well as the best place to dive for pelagic life.

Travel Information:

Mainland Ecuador: It is important that you only use taxis from the hotel you are staying in on the mainland, both Quito and especially Guayaquil.  Do NOT attempt to flag a taxi from the airport.  Guayaquil in particular has grown quite dangerous with armed theft happening regularly.  So please only use airport transfers from the hotel you are staying in.  Walking around on the streets in either Guayaquil and especially Quito can also prove to be dangerous as petty theft is rampant.  It is best to take taxis from your hotel.  Drivers by the hour are quite inexpensive in Ecuador usually running around $10 per hour, always preferable to minimize risk.  Pretty much any hotel can arrange this for you. 

Liveaboard Diving: Scuba diving is an inherently risky sport that may result in injury or death.  Galapagos is a remote and challenging destination.  From the northern islands of Darwin and Wolf, it could be take 24 hours to receive medical help, more if the doctor isn't on the island.  Helicopter evacuation in the north does not exist.  There is a chamber on Santa Cruz, but that is at least an 18 hour sail away from the north. You will be need to sign a waiver attesting to your acknowledgement of the inherent risks and waive all rights to action in the event of a problem.

Land-Based Programs and Extensions:  Again, if you plan to dive from land, scuba diving in an inherently risky sport that may result in injury or death.  We never organize tours with illegal dive operators and encourage you not to, either.  You will be required to sign a waiver for land based diving as described above for liveaboards.  Beyond diving, Galapagos is again a remote destination with limited medical assistance.  There is a lot of treacherous lava rock, uninsured small boats you may travel on and horses at Sierra Negra during garua season (June-Nov) or any time it is raining can be risky.  If you touch marine life or snorkel in currents or undertake any activity during your free time that puts you at risk, you are putting yourself at risk.  You will need to sign a waiver attesting to your acknowledgement of these risks and waive all rights to action in the event of a problem.  

The Galapagos National Park is the authority where rules and regulations are concerned.  You need to honor Park Rules at all times.  Please note that all itineraries are subject to change at any time due to Park regulations.   

Concerning logistics like flights and speedboat transfers, we cannot guarantee the timeliness of their departures and arrivals.  You should plan time wisely and not cut it too close with your international departures / arrivals or other plans you have made.   

Travel Advisories:  For more in-depth advisories on travel in Ecuador, please take the time to read the following travel advisories and heed their advice:

US State Department 
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Please note that we can't list every country in the world, so if you don't see your home country listed here, please google the name of your country + travel warnings.

Health Risks:  Dengue is a concern in Galapagos as is eating or drinking from food or beverages on the street.  Protect yourself with repellent and long sleeves.  If you plan to arrive into Ecuador from a country that has Yellow Fever, you will need an International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever to be allowed entry into the country.  If you plan to travel to a number of Central or South American countries after Ecuador, you may need the same International Certificate of Vaccination for Yellow Fever to gain entry to those countries after Ecuador. It is your responsibility to determine which countries the Certificate is necessary to have for entry.  For more in-depth warnings about Ecuador and Galapagos, please visit the CDC page.  We recommend you visit a health care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine prior to your travels to address any and all concerns you might have with a professional.