Guest bloggers Illia and Nastia from Crazzzy Travel share their best tips for saving money on food, accommodations, and tours on the beautiful Galapagos Islands.
There is a common misconception that Galapagos Islands are an extremely expensive place to go. To a certain degree it is true. However, you can considerably cut your costs on accommodation, food, and tours. Here are some tips which will help you to save big and go to Galapagos Islands on your next vacation.
Galapagos Budget Accommodations
Hotels and guest houses are pretty expensive on Galapagos Islands. The cost varies from $50 to $200, depending on the number of stars. Nevertheless, you can stay in a very decent place for no more than $25, if you rent an apartment. The only short term rental service functioning on Galapagos Islands is Airbnb.
For $20-$25 per night you can stay in an apartment with a double bed, well-equipped kitchen, small patio, living room, and dining area. Towns are really small on Galapagos islands, so no matter where your apartment is located the beach is within the walking distance.
It is worth mentioning that apartment rentals are available only on developed islands, such as Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela. If you want to stay overnight on scarcely populated island, such as Floreana, you will have to stay in local family-run guesthouses, a night in which cost $35-$50.
Inside the Galapagos Food Scene
The majority of tourists eat in harbor area restaurants, which is a huge mistake, since food there is both expensive and not fresh. For true Galapagos specialties, we highly recommend restaurants for locals. These restaurants are usually located around stadiums and vegetable markets.
They are open from 11 am to 3 pm for lunch and after 7 pm for dinner. Lunch (almuerzo) costs $4-$5 and consists of a soup, a glass of juice, rice, beans, ceviche, fish or meat, and some vegetables. The portions are large, so we usually took one almuerzo for two of us. We highly recommend trying ceviche on Isabela island: it is prepared from locally caught octopuses.
For dinner try crayfish, also at a restaurant for locals. Depending on a specific dish, the price should vary from $8 to $12, also quite a reasonable price for such exotic food. Complete your dinner with a coconut milk, bought for $1 from a cart on your way home.
Touring For Less
Tours are the biggest scam on Galapagos Islands, since in the majority of cases you won’t see what you are promised. If you want to travel from island to island (so-called island hopping), take a ferry. Ferries operate on a flat rate basis, $30 to travel in one direction from island to island. An average trip takes around 2 hours. Ferry rides are extremely bumpy, so make sure to take “marea” pills with you!
Once you are on an island, just walk around to ask drivers if they can take you to the destination you want (for example, to the giant turtle farm or a famous volcano). We had an excellent tour by a taxi driver around all Santa Cruz for just $35 (we bargained hard). On Isabella you can walk yourself to flamingo lake, turtle farm, and all major surfing points, so there is little merit to hire a driver unless you want to go to the volcanos. If you want to save even more, it makes sense to join the tourist groups by just asking the bus driver to let you sit next to him (tip of $2-$5 is always welcomed).
Next time you travel to Galapagos islands, do not overpay! Remember you can get cozy lodging, delicious food, and breathtaking tours for quite a reasonable price!
Illia and Nastia are passionate about each other, traveling around the world and sharing their experiences at crazzzytravel.com, a blog where you can find plenty of budget travel tips as well as practical information about numerous destinations. They have already been to 42 countries on 5 continents and ain’t no stopping. Visit their website to learn more about backpacking in the US or check their latest story about how they chased the Argentinian clown (who stole their iPhone in Bolivia) with the help of Peruvian police