Galápagos Islands Rules for all tourists 📜

Galapagos is a place where the humans and animals coexistence is unique and something very special you shoudl live at least once. Species like  blue footed boobies, marine iguanas or giant tortoises are very used to human presence and this trust (that you need to preserve) will let you witness the most amazing scenes of their daily wild lifestlye. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find a sea lion laying on your towel in the sand or resting on a landslide in a public park. There is no other place in the world where animals feel so comfortable with human presence.

This is the result of many years protecting the islands and all the efforts made by the Galápgos government to keep animals and the environment safe and always respected by visitors and locals. For this reason, there’s a few entry requirements tourists and locals have to comply with before entering the islands and also a set of norms and rules you need to follow while you are there, not only to protect the island but also to avoid huge fines if you don’t respect the rules.


10 Rules you have to follow during your Galápagos Trip 

Some things that might seem perfectly normal in any other place in the world could be forbidden in Galápagos because of the harm they could to the perfectly balanced but fragile ecosystem. You have to always keep in mind that Galápagos Islands are World Heritage since 1987 and they need to be protected. Here’s a very detailed post with the 10 rules you need to follow while you are there and you can also check out our instagram account for a summary with the most important ones here:

1. Keep a 2 meter distance from all animals 🐢

galapagos rules

At all times, you have to keep the safe distance of 2 meters with all the Galápagos species. Doesn’t matter if they approach you, you still need to take a step back and make sure you follow this rule. We understand that when you find a giant tortoise or a playful sea lion your first instict is to try to hug or touch them but you have to keep it together. Keeping this distance is the way we gained their trust and we don’t want to break that bond. Even if you are not planning to harm them, you can still cause involuntary damage to them by leaving your smell in their skin, for example.

2. Do not touch or feed the animals ❌

galapagos rules

Trust me, every single animal in Galápagos is well feed because the Islands have a perfect ecosystem full of vegetation and all the food they need to live. It’s very important that we don’t interfere with their natural diet. That’s one of the main reasons you have a luggage revision as an entry requirement to Galápagos, to make sure that you don’t introduce involuntary any seed or plant that can affect the vegetation.

Must have items for your Galapagos Trip

3. Don’t take away any item from nature 🐚

galapagos rules

The only way you should take a memory from your Galápagos trip is through your camera or buying a souvenir in the city center. We know that everything is so unique and pretty that you would love to take some of the magic from Galápagos in your bag, but unfortunately that’s not possible. If you do so, you’ll get a huge fine on the airport while they check your luggage (trust us, we have many  many controls so you won’t be able to get away with it). So any shells, rocks, water or sand should be left where they belong. You may think it’s a small amount but if every tourist does this, in a few years the Galápagos ecosystem would be devastated.

4. Do not smoke, drink or create wood fires 🔥

galapagos rules

In the protected areas in Galápagos this is not allowed. You can drink alcohol and smoke a cigarette in the urban area (near the bars) but definitely not while you are on a tour or a main attraction. This is mainly because doing so is prone to create fires and also this activities leave trash behind that can cause serious harm to the animals. Wood fires are not allowed anywhere in Galápagos.

5. Always walk through marked trails 🚶

galapagos rules

There’s a few places in Galápagos that you can discover on your own and don’t need the company of a certified guide. In those places, make sure you never walk out of the marked trails that have been previously defined by Galapagos government for a reason. You can’t imagine all the tourist we have to rescue only because they didn’t follow this simple rule. We understand Galápagos is so beautiful that you want to reach every possible spot but trails are marked for a reason.

You should also note that this rescues are not cheap and if the incident happens because of a misbehaviour of the tourist, you’ll probably have to pay for it. In that case we also recommend a private travel insurance to make sure this kind of costs are covered in the remote possibility that it happens.

6. Take photos to animals without flash. Drones and professional filming needs to be authorized. 📷

galapagos rules

The camera flash scares the animals and you never know what can be the reaction of a scared animal, so better not to find out.  We should not interfere with their habitat and daily life so before taking a photo make sure you have the flash turned off.

7. Camp only in designated areas, with previous authorization. 🏕

galapagos rules

You can visit Galápagos on a budget and camping for a few days might be a good option, but keep in mind that you have to ask for a permission to do so to the Galápagos government first. There’s a few authorized spots on Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz island. In the smallest and inhabited islands camping is not allowed. If you are planning to camp on the Galápagos islands always respect nature, keep it clean of trash and make sure you are also respectful to animals.

8. Fishing with authorized tours and boats 🎣

galapagos rules

There’s a few tours in the Galápagos islands like Santa Fe Day Tour where fishing is allowed as part of the experience, but always in the company of a certified guide that know exactly the areas where fishing wont hurt the environment (also where you won’t be fined for doing so). So if you like fishing make sure you do it properly and not on your own. If you would like to know more about the tours and how to fish in Galápagos you can always drop us a line and we’ll give you the best advice.

9. Do not introduce external elements to the ecosystem 🧳

galapagos rules

Like we’ve said many times, somethings that you carry in your luggage may seem inoffensive but represent a real harm to Galápagos. Seeds or fruit for example are forbidden items in Galápagos because of this. Make sure to comply with Galápagos entry requirements, review the full list of things you cannot pack and avoid wasting time on your luggage revision on the airport.

10. Do not use motorized aquatic vehicles, submarines or air tourism 🛶

galapagos rules

These vehicles can affect sea life and also makes it difficult to make sure protected areas remain unreached. For your safety and the safety of the islands do not use unauthorized vehicles on your own.

Faqs and recommendations for your Galápagos Trip

Besides the rules you have to follow on Galápagos here’s some recommendations and frequently asked questions you might find useful when it comes to plan your trip.

Always book your tour with an authorized guide and agency 👲🏻

There’s a lot of amazing places in Galápagos that you can only visited with an authorized certified guide. Avoid fines and endangering your life by going solo or with unofficial guides. In Galápagos Low Cost all of the tours you can book with us include a certified guide that besides telling you amazing facts and stories about Galápagos will make sure you are always safe.

galapagos rules

Don’t do graffitis and don’t spoil the natural environment ✍🏻

One of the most charming things about Galápagos is that is one of the fewest places where intervened by man, meaning that it remains very raw and natural. This has also helped in keeping species and nature safe. Help us keep it that way and avoid any unnecessary intervention, dont write on trees or rocks.

galapagos rules

Explore the islands on a bike 🚴🏼‍♀️

Take the chance to discover Galápagos (always on authorized marked tracks) by renting a bike.  Price is around $12 a day and you can make the most of it by going to many different beaches and great spots. If you do so, we recommend the Muro de las Lagrimas route on Isabela Island 

galapagos bike

Avoid single used plastic 💧

We highly recommend you bringing your own water bottle, since there’s a lot of places and tours located in far away the city center where there’s not store to buy anything. So in order to always keep you hydrated and protected from the ecuadorian sun keep your water bottle filled in your hotel or restaurant before going out to your daily activities. This is a better option than buying daily plastic bottles that cause unnecessary waste.

Use authorized touristic services 👀

Galapagos tours are standardized and regulated by the government so if you find anything catchy or extremely cheap compared to official prices is better to double check the authenticity of the agency or person selling the tour. Also make sure to read reviews online to confirm if its legit. In Galapagos Low Cost we always work with authorized and certified guides following all the rules and regulations from the government.

galapagos rules

Recycle and leave trash in the right place ♻️

Help us recycle and keep the islands clean and waste free. Use designated container and if you don’t find one near, keep the trash with you until you do. No matter what, please do not throw trash on the beaches, trails or anywhere in the nature.

galapagos rules

What you cannot bring to the Galápagos Islands ⛔️

Before you fly to Galápagos your luggage will pass a special revision to make sure you are not bringing any seeds, plants, animals or any living thing that could have a negative impact on the Islands. In our post about Galápagos entry Requirements we post the full list of forbidden items so you take a second look before packing for your trip (see post here👆).  When you land there and even when you are doing transfers between islands your bags and shoes will be revised, so make sure to always keep an eye on what you are bringing.

What do you need to go to Galápagos? 🧐

The full list of Galápagos entry requirements is here. Mostly you’ll need accomodation bookings, valid passport, tickets for a round flight (meaning you can’t have just one way) and to pay the tourist card and entrance fee according to your nationality. Read full post about requirements here. 

What you should bring to Galápagos

Few must pack items that will make your trip more easy and enjoyable.

  • Valid passport: You need a passport valid 6 months after your trip. So don’t forget to review the date it expires before you jump into the plane.

  • Sunscreen: The ecuadorian sun 🌞  is very powerful and if you get too exposed to it, it can ruin your vacation. We recommend using a high SPF sunscreen and if you can also wear a cap or a hat to protect yourself!

  • Cash 💸 : There isn’t many ATMs in Galápagos and not every shop or restaurants accept cards. That’s why we recommend bringing enough cash and if you can book in advance your trips and accommodation so you only have to bring money for your daily expenses.

  • Sport and comfortable shoes: We usually associate flip flips when you are going to the beach, but keep in mind that Galápagos is an adventure destination, so you’ll have to walk through volcanic landscapes, rocks and it’s better to have the right shoes. We recommend this water shoes to keep you safe in land and water.

  • Bugs and mosquito repellent: In some beaches and hiking trips there’s a lot of mosquitos and annoying bugs. So better to bring your own mosquito repellent, you’ll thank us later!

  • Snacks: If you are planning a low cost trip keep in mind that Galápagos being an island needs to import most of the things from the mainland and that makes it a bit more expensive. So if you can do a quick trip to the supermarket and buy snacks you can bring to your trips do so. We recommend this because sometimes beaches are so isolated that there’s no place near to buy anything. This is amazing to disconnect but if you start feeling hungry you’ll be in a hurry. So better bring cereal or protein bars or sandwiches (but don’t leave any trash behind!)

  • Water bottleAs we said before, in Galápagos when you go on a beach or an excursion there isnt always a place to buy or get water so better to have yours and fill in on the hotel or any restaurant before you go. We recommend this instead of plastic water to avoid unnecessary waste. That way you’ll keep yourself hydrated and also protect the environment!

  • Your own snorkeling mask: this is optional because if you book any tour all the equipment needed its included. But we  highly recommend to buy one before your trip for 2 reasons (especially now that health safety is more important than ever). First reason is because you’ll feel more comfortable with a mask that you know how to fit well and hasn’t been used by many others.  Another reason is that there are a lot of spots in Galápagos where you can do snorkel on your own with sea lions, rays and many fishes so if you always have your maks with you you’ll make the most of your trip. There’s a lot of masks at different prices but here’s the ones we recommend:

  • Sport camera: The best way to keep the memories from your Galápagos trip. A sport camera is small, portable, water resistant and great for diving and snorkeling pictures (the dome accessory is amazing for this). There’s a lot of cameras at different prices. Here’s some recommendations:

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