What to Pack for the Galapagos Islands

What to Pack for the Galapagos Islands

This is what you need to pack for the Galapagos Islands

The Islands of the Galapagos, straddling the equator 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are a year-round destination.  Despite their location, they are not burdened with the oppressive heat and humidity as other countries with the same latitude.  The “rainy season” lasts from December-May with the average air temperature ranging from 72-86F and the water temperature about 25F.  The “dry season” from June-November brings cooler, dryer air, ranging from 66-79F,  and water temps around 22F.  So, what do you pack for a trip to the Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos Islands are favorable for plenty of hiking, beach walks and snorkeling.  Packing will be a breeze.  In addition to a few pairs of shorts, t-shirts, lightweight pants (convertible to shorts if you can find them!) and tops will take up most of your suitcase.  Make sure they are lightweight, breathable with quick-drying fabrics and UV protection as well!  

You can download a printable version of this packing list at the end of this post.

In addition to the above, this is what else you will need to pack for the Galapagos Islands:

Waterproof Jacket

You will need a lightweight, breathable, easily packable, waterproof jacket such as this one from Columbia.  The Galapagos Islands are extremely susceptible to frequent, sudden and sporadic downpours.  

Water-resistant backpack

A Water resistant backpack is a must on a trip to the Galapagos.  You will need this to hold your binoculars and extra camera equipment when you are out walking and hiking.  Must be at least water-resistant to protect your gear from the rain and ocean spray while out in the zodiac.  This backpack is great as it folds down into a small pocket when not in use.  It won’t take up too much room in your suitcase and can serve as a carry on bag on the way home if you buy too many souvenirs!

Water shoes

These shoes are essential for any Galapagos trip.  Many of the zodiac landings are wet landings (jumping out of the boat into the ocean to walk to shore) proceeded by walking on the beach or hiking rough terrain.  Shoes should be comfortable, sturdy and suitable to get wet.  Flip flops are NOT recommended for zodiac landings.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are recommended for dry landing days (zodiac will dock or land on the beach) for longer all-terrain hikes.

Rash Guard

Rash Guards are extremely useful and multi-purpose in the Galapagos Islands.  I would recommend 2 or 3 for your trip.  Make sure that it has SPF/UPF as well.  Not only can a rash guard protect you from the sun, it can also protect you against mosquito bites and jellyfish stings.  It also helps keep you warm while snorkeling during the cooler months of the year.  Most expedition companies do provide wet suits for snorkeling, but may only be of the “shorty” variety.  

Fleece Jacket

Mornings and evenings can be cool in the Galapagos, depending on the time of the year.  A fleece jacket is a lightweight, portable, easy-to-pack solution for those cooler moments.


For ladies only!  A Pareo makes a fantastic addition to your packing list.  Like a rash guard, a pareo, or sarong, can have many uses on your trip:  Wear it as a beach cover up for warmer days either on deck or out on the beach.  Use it as a cover up if the weather is cool, or when the sun is very strong and you need something to cover your shoulders and neck. It also makes a great blanket to sit on in any circumstance!

Safari Hat

Last but not least – a hat.  I would recommend a safari hat.  Something breathable and lightweight (always the name of the game), but also a hat with a neck flap to protect your neck, and possibly your ears from the burning sun.

Other Miscellaneous items to pack:

Travel alarm clock – The days are jam packed and sometimes the best part of the day is early in the morning!

Swimsuit or swim trunks – at least 2. Sometimes you can be in the water twice a day, and who wants to put on a wet swimsuit!

Yoga or athletic wear for morning yoga and stretching classes up on deck.

A pair of long, knee-high socks for rubber boots for specific wet landings.  Most cruise companies will provide the rubber boots.  Check before you go, not all itineraries and cruise companies have the same excursion.

A decent pair of UV sunglasses.  Eye protection is always important, and especially for those extra sunny days when the bright sun reflects off the water.

Lip balm, sunscreen and insect repellent

Binoculars – For birding and wildlife spotting which is everywhere in The Galapagos!  Some companies will loan these out for the duration of the cruise – check before you buy.

Camera and all the accessories – An expedition cruise is a photographer’s paradise.   Come prepared to take some epic photos!

A waterproof bag or cover to go over your backpack if it is not waterproof.  Essential to protect your camera equipment and binoculars as well as your hat and rain jacket.   Important when getting in and out of zodiacs, or putting stuff down on the sand or bottom of the zodiac while taking pictures.

Don’t Overpack

It can be easy to get carried away with packing for a trip like this, but honestly, aside from a few pairs of t-shirts, shorts and lightweight pants, you don’t need much else.  Evenings on the ship are laid back and relaxed.  No Captain’s Galas or formal wear required.

You can grab the complete, downloadable version of my packing list by entering your name and email below.

Til next time,

Explore. Discover. Learn.