The absolute first thing to think about is whether or not your passport has 6 months plus 1 day prior to expiration at the time you plan to enter the country of Ecuador. If it doesn’t, you may not be permitted to enter the country. So please take a look and renew your passport if necessary.
Next, if you have ever had issues with altitude sickness, you should fly into Guayaquil (GYE), not Quito (UIO). The Quito Airport is at 2850 mt / 9350 ft. Guayaquil is at sea level. Even if you aren’t subject to altitude sickness, the altitude usually makes people feel tired for a couple of days until they adapt.
Beyond that, as for which airport you should fly into depends on your chosen airline and preferred international flights. Quito gets more traffic, so there may be options for you to choose from.
Most international flights arrive in the evening which means you will need to spend at least 1 night in a hotel as all flights to Galapagos are in the morning. There are a handful of hotels near the Quito Airport, which is located about 70 minutes outside Quito. Our recommendations are linked in the Travel Information section of our FAQ.
It may seem like a luxury, but if you can possibly arrive a day early, it would be ideal. You can spend the day on one of many tour options available in Quito or just relaxing, but either way, if your bags don’t arrive with you, it gives you time to collect them before heading to Galapagos.
Too many people have arrived into Galapagos without the luggage from their international flights. None had scheduled an extra day on the mainland, so had no choice but to fly to Galapagos so they would not miss their liveaboard.
Which means it is always best if you can include some basics in your carry on luggage: Bathing suit, a change of clothes, toothpaste, brush, regulator & mask, camera…the things that could get you through the week if it was absolutely necessary.
Don’t overpack! Especially if you are only going on your liveaboard and then leaving. We recommend soft sided luggage rather than hard cases. It’s much easier to handle and store. You need almost nothing while on the boat diving. If you are packing more than a medium-sized duffle bag (in addition to your dive gear), you have probably over-packed.
Do bring a hat that will protect you against the sun. Do bring sunscreen. Please bring biodegradable products. Bring any prescription medications you might need as well as over the counter items like seasickness medication, Sudafed, pain relief, etc.
If you have a dry bag, do bring it for land cameras, etc. It’s helpful to bring a small dry boxes to protect small items you wish to have accessible or to store at your dive station. Bring rechargeable batteries and the charging unit for your camera.
Clothing: In spite of being on the equator, it is not as warm as most expect between June and Nov. Do bring a fleece, jacket or sweatshirt to use after dives. Light-weight long pants and long sleeve shirts. Shorts can be worn, but bear in mind, much of your time you will be on a boat exposed to sea breezes and wind. Athletic pants and a sweatshirt are perfect for the evenings. Sneakers with socks are fine for land visits. Crocs, neoprene shoes or even slippers are appropriate onboard. Between Dec and mid-May, it is much warmer, so shorts, light weight clothing and serious sun protection is in order.
Click on our next tab as we including packing tips for dive gear, too.
Exposure Protection: We recommend a 7mm wetsuit. A hood is a personal preference. Gloves are needed for protection, not warmth. Water temps are warmer at Darwin than other dive sites, however, dives at Darwin often involve as much as 25 minutes of stationary time which can cause you to feel cooler than when you are in motion. You descend through current, grab hold of rocks on the platform and watch the show as it passes by except when chasing whale sharks out in the blue. The rocks you grab often have barnacles which will cut your hands if you’re not wearing gloves.
Dive Gear Checklist:
Dive alerts and surface marker buoys are mandatory as per the National Park regulations and are provided onboard free of charge. SMBs may be simple inflatable sausages. Please be sure you know how to use them. Provided is the standard dive alert (DA1) which does not fit all BCs. Please check your model prior to arrival and bring your own dive alert if a standard won’t fit. If you have an alt air source, you will most likely need to bring your own.
Full equipment rental is available. Dive computers are mandatory and available to rent if you don’t have one. Please inquire as rates vary from ship to ship. Attached snorkels are not recommended due to the possibility of strong current causing mask leaks. If you use a snorkel, it is better to bring a collapsible one to put in your BC pocket for use at the surface.
All tanks are AL80’s with yoke valves. If your regulator is DIN, please bring your own adaptor.
Nitrox mix is 32%. Nitrox analyzers are onboard for shared use. Weights are approximately 1.8 kilos / 3.96 pounds each. Between the 7mm and the higher salinity of the sea water in Galapagos, you will probably use more weight than you are accustomed to using. Weight belts are onboard if your BCD is not weight integrated.
Please bring your own replacement parts: spare batteries, extra masks/straps, special O rings, weight pockets, etc. Most liveaboards provide the Nautilus Lifeline with no charge for use, however, if you lose it, you do pay for it. This is true of all equipment provided gratis.
We recommend the slender Trident underwater aluminum noisemaker as a piece of safety equipment. The cigar sized tool easily fits up inside your wetsuit sleeve. It is only to be used should you require assistance underwater. It is not to be used for sightings. A noisemaker for sighting purposes is only to be used by the dive guides.
Dive skins are good to prevent rub from unfamiliar wetsuits in addition to being great sun protection. KY Jelly is great to help you slip past those wrist and ankle seals.
Onboard, each diver will have a small amount of storage for gear between dives. It is helpful to have either a mesh bag or even a dry bag to contain small items like Doc’s ProPlugs, mask defogger, etc.
Tips are discretionary and based on services rendered, but it is an important part of the crew’s income. On all cruises in Galapagos, both dive and naturalist cruises, the recommended amount is 10% of the cost of your cruise. The dive guides and the rest of the crew will split the tips. While the dive guide’s role is obvious, some of the other crew members aren’t quite as obvious if they are doing their jobs well.
They all perform vital services to the memory you leave with. So remember the jobs they performed when you’re tipping because sometimes, no contact with certain crew members makes it seem like they were irrelevant to your trip when they were, in fact, completely vital.
Each crew member performs vital services to the experience you have onboard and the memory you leave with. And, again, if they are doing a good job, you won’t even realize it. Some balk at 10%, but if you divvy it up, it’s about 50% of what you would tip a Captain, sailor and dive guide when going out on a daily dive boat for one day. And if you are from a culture unaccustomed to tipping, please respect the culture you are visiting.