This is a guest post by Julie Waggoner, Marketing Intern at Natural Habitat Adventures.

So after months of admiring photos and looking for the right trip, you’ve decided to take the plunge and booked a fabulous trip to the Galapagos Islands. Congratulations! One of the world’s most unique ecosystems awaits you. You’ll be able to approach amazing wildlife found nowhere else on Earth, such as the marine iguana, the giant tortoise and the blue-footed booby. In addition to admiring rare animals and plants, you may be hiking, sea kayaking, snorkeling and camping in this remote paradise.

Colorful marine iguana galapagos islands

A Nat Hab guest admires a marine iguana sunning himself on a rock in the Galapagos. (Copyright Roberto Plaza)

These islands promise a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but their location 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador can prove intimidating in one respect: packing! We’re here with a guide to the essentials that will keep all your needs covered and won’t leave you weighted down by a heavy suitcase. (We have more detailed packing tips here.)

General tips:

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  • Consider the environment when selecting your toiletries. Make sure that your sunscreen is mineral-based and that any lotions, shampoo, etc. you bring along is biodegradable. Also, remove all packaging because you will not be able to dispose of it in the Galapagos (Take anything you bring in back with you to the mainland).
  • Pack light, but bring anything you really need. The Galapagos are very remote and many things are unavailable there.
  • You’ll fly into Quito, which has a cooler climate as it is at high altitude. Arrive on the plane dressed for cool weather and wearing layers.
  • The official currency of Ecuador (and the Galapagos) is the U.S. dollar. Bring plenty with you, ideally in a money belt.
Sea turtle beach Galapagos Islands

A group of Nat Hab guests admire and photograph a sea turtle returning to the ocean. (Copyright Roberto Plaza)

Must-haves for your trip to the Galapagos Islands:


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  • 3 pairs of comfortable shorts
  • 2 pairs of light, comfortable pants
  • 6-8 comfortable T-shirts or tank tops
  • 2 long-sleeved shirts
  • 2 bathing suits (So you can swim every day while the other suit is drying.)
  • 1 light sweatshirt for evening stargazing
  • Warm sleepwear for camping
  • 1 raincoat
  • 1 pair of comfortable walking sandals that can get wet
  • 1 pair of old sneakers (Something you don’t mind getting damaged by sand, saltwater and volcanic rock.)
  • Thick, comfortable hiking socks

Sun protection:

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  • SPF 30+ sunscreen (Remember, chemical sunscreens can damage the delicate environment of the Galapagos, so bring a mineral, biodegradable sunscreen.)
  • Lip balm with SPF 30+
  • 2 light-weight, long-sleeved shirts
  • 1 wide-brimmed hat
  • Sunglasses with a strap (So you don’t lose them leaning over the side of the boat to get a great picture of a sea turtle!)


Playful sea lion swimming Ecuador

A fur sea lion plays in the clear, blue waters off the Galapagos Islands. (Copyright Cassiano Zaparoli)

Gear and accessories:

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  • Camera
  • Extra memory card
  • Camera charger and extra battery
  • Any extra lenses, (lightweight) tripod or other accessories to take full advantage of the amazing photo opportunities in the Galapagos
  • Disposable underwater camera (So you have proof that you played with a sea lion in the waves!)
  • Binoculars
  • Small day pack
  • Reusable water bottle
  • A first-aid kit with any prescriptions or treatments you may need (It’s a good idea to bring a motion-sickness medicine and aloe vera gel.)
  • A Spanish/English dictionary
  • Bug spray and hydrocortisone cream
  • An extra, empty bag if you plan to pick up souvenirs

Have you been to the Galapagos Islands? What would be on your packing list?