Packing for a Galapagos cruise: The Essentials

The best way to see the Galapagos is on a cruise which takes in a few of the different islands in the area. There are different cruise options – luxury, mid or budget, but whichever cruise you decide to go for, there are a few essential items you will need.

Seasick pills

Even if you never get seasick, it is a good idea to have some pills on hand. The seas around the Galapagos can be rough in the dry season, and being sick can spoil your entire holiday. It’s better to be safe than sorry – bring more than you think you need. There are only two major ports in the Galapagos where you can find a pharmacist.

Good shoes

The terrain on the islands range from sloping, sandy paths to rocky, uneven areas. There will be wet landings as well as dry docks. I brought a pair of open toed Teva sport sandals which served me fine for all occasions. They got torn up a little on Isabela due to the hard volcanic rock – you may want to bring a pair of hiking boots if you are nervous about getting your toes stubbed, however my Tevas worked perfectly, were lighter to carry and kept my feet cool.

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Parmiter Antiques Southsea Luggage
Photo courtesy of Flickr: geishaboy500

Swim equipment

The diving and snorkelling in the Galapagos are among the best in the world, so don’t forget to pack your swimmers. If you are visiting during the dry season, when the currents are cold, you may want to bring your own wetsuit (at least 5mm), snorkel, mask or scuba unit – or you can rent equipment off your cruise.

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Video or photography gear

Don’t forget your camera! Tripods can come in useful, but keep in mind that the wildlife will be pretty close up, so unless you are shooting mostly macros, you won’t really need a tripod. If you plan on shooting videos, a tripod might come in useful. I used a catch-all 18-135mm zoom lens – on the Galapagos you won’t really need 300mm lenses – the animals are very close! Bring extra batteries and ziplock bags to keep your gear dry during wet landings. If you own an underwater housing for your camera, pack that too – the underwater photo ops with sea lions, diving cormorants and turtles are endless!

Carnival cruise ship C/V Splendor adrift 150 miles southwest of San Diego.
Photo courtesy of Flickr: usnavynvns

Sun protection

Stock up on sunscreen – there are only two ports in the islands where you can buy it. A waterproof, SPF 30 or SPF 45 sunscreen will give the most protection. Remember to apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before you go out into the sun. Bring a hat and sunglasses. If you burn easily, pack thin, cotton, long sleeved shirts and trousers to protect your skin from the sun.

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Personal medication

Cruising around the Galapagos, you may find yourself hours away from the nearest medical facility. Pack extra medication – more than you think you will need. Also pack a basic first aid kit to cover any emergencies or accidents. If you are flying in from Quito, the elevation (3,000m or 9,000 feet) may affect you, so bring some aspirin or Diamox to relieve altitude sickness.

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  1. Me says:

    Why would you show a photo of a giant cruise ship, which doesn’t sail in the Galapagos? Very misleading and also kind of dumb.

    1. Peggy Tee says:

      Thanks for commenting, and you’re right – giant cruise ships do not sail the Galapagos. The picture I chose was not meant to mislead, but merely to suggest the idea of a cruise for the purpose of illustration. Similarly, the picture of vintage suitcases I used is not an accurate representation of my backpack – it is used to suggest the idea of packing for this particular post.

      As all bloggers who respect copyright know, it can be difficult to find quality, creative common images, much less the exact picture you are looking for and in this case, I failed to find a picture of the precise size of cruise ship used in the Galapagos.

      As you have left no email, link or name as a contact I have no way of knowing if you will read this reply to your comment. Anonymity is a useful shield on the web, especially when leaving behind personal, derogatory comments, n’e-cest pas? At the very least, I hope you found this post useful, if only so you could learn how to spell “Galapagos” correctly.

  2. From one freelancer to another, I found your blog very helpful. I’ve jotted down a rough kit list. One question though, do you recommend packing warm clothes? We’ll be on a catamaran in August, any ideas how cold it gets?


    1. Peggy Tee says:

      Hi Janine

      Thanks for dropping by! I was there in late October, which is the dry season and turning warm. I still found some days and nights a little nippy though!

      August will be chilly, especially if there are strong sea winds. Temps range from a max of 26 to 19 Celsius (80 to 65 F). I recommend layering so that if it gets hot while on shore excursions you can unpeel. Bring a windcheater and maybe one long sleeve fleece. Also August may have rough seas, so if you are prone to sea-sickness, pack some pills, they definitely help!

      I hope you have a wonderful trip! The Galapagos are a very special place.


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