With no indigenous human culture on the Galapagos Islands to offend, the main objects of your respect should be the wildlife. The rules concerning human interaction with the flora and fauna of the Galapagos Islands are incredibly strict, but for good reason. Abide by the rules and you won’t have any trouble from the locals or the park rangers.
Apart from visiting the easy-to-reach wildlife centers on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, most visitors arrange for at least one boat cruise of the outer Galapagos Islands. Hundreds of tour companies offer boat trips for everything from scuba diving to visiting a penguin colony. But there’s one common truth to every tour outfit: you get what you pay for.
There are four classes of tour boat in the Galapagos Islands. Nearly all of them are functional vessels, serving as both transport and lodging. The cheapest boats will be very basic, with shared dorm rooms, below-average guides and lousy food. Tourist-class boats are the next level up, where you may have a private room but little comfort. Only in the first-class and luxury ships can you expect excellent English-speaking guides, decent food and comfortable surroundings. This is the one aspect of your Galapagos Islands trip to spend money on.
There are ATMs and banking facilities on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, but none on Isabela Island so be sure and bring enough cash if you plan to spend a few days on this magical island. You’ll need to pay a US$100 (adult) entry fee upon arrival at the Galapagos Islands, and it must be paid in cash. Children under 12 years pay US$50.
All of the flights to the Galapagos Islands originate in either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador. Flights are mostly morning services which start in Quito and then stop for an hour in Guayaquil to pick up passengers before heading to the Galapagos Islands. Book your flight to the Galapagos Islands from Guayaquil to avoid the added flight time. While there are flights directly into San Cristobal, it’s best to fly into Baltra Airport since Santa Cruz has much better tourism facilities than those at San Cristobal.