The following packing list contains general recommendations for a small-ship Galapagos cruise. If you are currently booked on a Galapagos adventure with Nat Hab, please consult your pre-departure materials for the most up-to-date packing list specific to your trip, as packing recommendations vary based on the ship and season. You will receive these pre-departure materials 60-90 days before your departure.
Simplify your packing—shop at Nat Hab’s online Gear Store for some of the key items recommended for your adventure. Look for this icon in the list below, then go to: www.nathab.com/gear-store to start shopping.
We recommend bringing mostly clothing for warm weather; however, we have included a few items on the packing list for cool weather as well. This is because the temperature can sometimes be a bit chilly in the evenings in Otavalo and Quito, on the boat and also while camping at NHA’s Tortoise Camp. While there is a chance you may end up not needing the extra layers, we still recommend bringing them with you, just to be safe.
While the Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination, some months tend to be slightly cooler or hotter than others. The hottest months are usually February through April and the coolest are August through October. Please see the Climate section for more information.
Due to the hot and humid conditions found at sea, we highly recommend bringing clothes made of synthetic, quick-drying material. If wet with rain, sea water or sweat, cotton items may not always dry completely.
It’s best to wear neutral tones and use fragrance-free sunscreen while on the islands to avoid attracting wasps.
Include rain gear in your carry-on bag.
You may wish to have some nicer clothes for time spent on the mainland or for dinners on the boat, although this is completely optional.
Storage space is limited on the boat and some ships cannot accommodate hard-sided suitcases. Please pack your gear in a soft-sided, collapsible bag that can be stored away easily.
Hairdryers will be available at all mainland hotels and in the cabins on the Ocean Spray, but not on the Nemo III.
For our Hiking & Kayaking Adventure only:
> This is a sub-tropical kayaking and boating journey, and you will be exposed to very strong sun, wind and water for well over a week.
> Many guests have lived in their swimsuits with just a light shirt to protect their arms, shoulders, and back from sun.
> Keep in mind that some of what you bring may get sweaty, wet, and possibly mildew due to ocean sailing and sea kayaking. You will also encounter dust, sand, and salt, and may feel a little grubby from time to time. You can wash out clothing in the sink and dry them on the line, on deck.
1 warm fleeceor thicker layer
> For cooler nights on the boat and in Otavalo and Quito.
Tennis shoes or lightweight hikers
> Although some people are completely comfortable with tennis shoes at all times, light-weight hiking shoes with good ankle support can be useful on the islands where we may be walking over lava rocks. Tennis shoes or other appropriate soft-soled shoes are preferred while on board the boats. You may be asked not to wear your island shoes on board, so if you need sole support at all times, please plan on having a pair of shoes for the landings and another pair for the boat.
Sport sandals (i.e., Tevas, Chacos, Keens, etc.)
> Water-resistant sport sandals are highly recommended for getting in or out of the skiffs during wet landings. You must not go barefoot while wading in the water, as the sharp coral can cut like glass. Flip flops are NOT recommended.
> You may also wish to bring a light pair of casual shoes or flip flops to wear on the ship (optional).
Sun Hat, with brim > Make sure you have something to secure your hat when it is windy, as you do not want it to get blown overboard
2 pairs of comfortable lightweight pants
1 pair of nylon, zip-off pants
> Useful for warm days and cooler mornings and evenings.
> In our continuing effort to operate our adventures with as little impact on the environment as possible, we have enclosed a reusable water bottle for you to take with you on your adventure. We will provide safe drinking water throughout the adventure for you to refill your bottle. By doing this, you will avoid using multiple disposable plastic bottles. This bottle is made of stainless steel, and we have been assured that it meets all safety standards. Wash in warm, soapy water before using. We recommend writing your name on it in permanent marker before departing on your adventure.
> Natural Habitat is a proud supporter of Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a campaign to spread awareness about the impacts of using disposable plastic water bottles while traveling. You can also support TAP by signing the pledge to minimize the use of plastic water bottles while traveling. To find out more about TAP (and to sign the pledge) visit their website at www.travelersagainstplastic.org.
> Pack your water bottle in your carry-on bag! We’ll have water in the van on arrival, and it’s great to start hydrating when you arrive in Quito instead of having to dig around for your bottle in your checked luggage.
Carabiner (only needed on our Hiking & Kayaking Adventure)
> To attach water bottle to kayak.
> With UV filter and secure strap. Polarized glasses help you to see through the reflection at the surface of the water and can be very useful while looking for marine life.
> Useful for blocking out boat noises.
> Shampoo and soap are provided at all of our accommodations. The Ocean Spray also provides conditioner and lotion.
> Because DEET can be harmful to humans, clothing, binoculars, camera lenses, etc., you may want to consider other alternatives. We recommend the following brands: Sawyer (Fisherman’s Formula), Repel (Lemon Eucalyptus) and All Terrain (Herbal Armor)
Sunscreen and lip balm (at least SPF30)
> You may want to consider reef-safe sunscreens to protect the delicate underwater environment in the Galapagos. Some brands we recommend include Coral Safe, Badger, Raw Elements and Blue Lizard.
Motion sickness medication
> If you are sensitive to motion sickness, we strongly recommend you come prepared. Ask your doctor about Scopolamine patches.
Small medical kit (optional)
Prescription glasses/contact lenses
Battery-operated alarm clock or wristwatch
> Wake-up service is available on the boat.
> For our evening at NHA’s Tortoise Camp, though there are usually flashlights available.
> Washcloths are only available on the Ocean Spray. They are not available on the Nemo III.
Sewing kit (optional)
> Snorkel, mask and wetsuit
> Snorkeling gear and wetsuits will be provided during the adventure. However, we recommend bringing your own gear if you already have it to ensure a better fit. If you are at all sensitive to cooler water temperatures, you will probably want to wear a wetsuit while snorkeling regardless of the time of year. If you have had issues in the past with snorkeling masks fitting your face, we highly recommend bringing your own. Also, if you wear glasses for distance, we suggest bringing disposable soft contact lenses to wear while snorkeling or bringing your own mask with built-in prescription lenses, as it is nearly impossible to snorkel while wearing glasses under a mask. > A combination of short and long wetsuits will be available.
Snorkeling Life Jacket (optional)
> If you are hesitant or new to snorkeling, you may want to bring your own snorkeling-specific life jacket. They are usually inflatable so they do not take up much space or add much weight to your luggage, and you can add as much or as little air as you wish. You may also wear a life jacket provided by the boat, although they are bulkier and some people find them uncomfortable. Keep in mind that wearing a wetsuit will also provide some buoyancy.
Paddling gloves (only needed on our Hiking & Kayaking Adventure)
> If you are prone to blisters while paddling. Gloves will also help protect against sunburn.
Swim cap, snorkeling gloves and booties (optional)
> To protect against sunburn, or provide warmth, while snorkeling.
Extra duffel bag
> If you wish to purchase souvenirs in while in Ecuador, we suggest bringing an empty, collapsible duffel bag for your return trip. You can then fill this extra bag with your purchases. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for any excess weight over the 50-pound weight limit on the flight from the Galapagos Islands to the mainland, but excess luggage can be safely stored in Quito during our visit to the islands.
Collapsible walking stick or hiking poles (if needed)
> As we may encounter rocky and uneven terrain at times, some travelers may find it helpful to bring a walking stick or hiking poles for use during island walks.
> If you are bringing poles, make sure they fit in your checked baggage, as you will not be allowed to carry them on the plane.
> A limited number of walking sticks will be available on the Ocean Spray.