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Top 5 Things to Bring on a Galapagos Islands Vacation

3 min read

Whatever you have planned for your Galapagos Islands holiday, one thing our passengers have learned is to be prepared for anything! In this geographically stunning and biologically diverse Pacific Ocean archipelago, you might find yourself hiking among the remnants of Chilean and Norwegian whaling stations one day and snorkeling alongside pilot whales, orcas, dolphins, marine iguanas and majestic green sea turtles the next.


Nowhere else on Earth will you encounter so many different species in such abundance. Galapagos cruise passengers have the unparalleled experience of interacting with wildlife that has no inherent fear of humans -- you can get closer than you ever imagined to Galapagos penguins, giant tortoise, blue-footed boobies, and other animals that only live here. One hundred and seventy four bird species call the Galapagos Islands home, 26 of them endemic and 17 globally threatened.

It truly is a place like none other.

How do you prepare for such an adventure? Make sure you pack these 5 things on a Galapagos tour:

1. Biodegradable Sunscreen & Protective Lip Balm

Protecting your skin from the elements is critical in the Galapagos, but we must all do our part to protect the environment, as well.


UV rays are much stronger this close to the equator, so you'll want a waterproof sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the water, hiking, or otherwise physically active, aim for SPF 45 or greater.

Don't forget a great lip balm and sunglasses, to protect your lips and eyes from the sun and wind.

2. Appropriate Clothing & Footwear

Most days, shorts and a t-shirt are ideal for treking and exploring. If you plan on hiking, longer shorts with several pockets allow you to bring important items and ensure your comfort. Moisture-wicking fabrics are important, as you can really work up a sweat on some of the more challenging routes. You might choose to pack slightly dressier wear for evening meals.

Teva-style sandals are great for exploring Galapagos landing sites, thanks to their support and breathability. Wet or dry, they're comfortable and sturdy enough to protect your feet from the hot volcanic rock common to many of the islands. Broken-in hiking shoes or sneakers are ideal for long walks and hikes.

Remember that the conditions in the Galapagos can be hard on clothing and footwear, with the combined effects of the hot volcanic rock, abrasive sand and salt water.


3. Two or More Swimsuits

You'll have ample opportunity to swim and snorkel in the waters surrounding the islands. Bring at least two swimsuits so you can leave one to dry while using the other.

Swimsuits designed as active wear are usually best for Galapagos cruise passengers, to ensure you're comfortable while snorkeling, climbing in and out of Zodiacs, etc.

4. Camera Gear & Binoculars

Did we mention the incredible wildlife biodiversity of the Galapagos and the many rare species you'll see here? Pack a good pair of binoculars and keep them in a waterproof pouch while exploring landing sites, hiking, and cruising the waters around the islands.

Practice your photography techniques at home, experimenting with different accessories and settings to get the effects you want. Be sure to pack extra batteries, memory cards, and a selection of lenses (definitely a wide-angle and a telephoto, at minimum). A small sensor dry pocket will help you keep your cell phone safe and secure, and all of this should be stored in your larger waterproof daypack.


5. Medications & Currency

All Quark expeditions have an on-board doctor. That doctor has access to an emergency supply of medications, but all passengers are responsible for ensuring they have an adequate supply of prescription medications with them on boarding.

You'll also want to bring additional US currency with you, as the American dollar is accepted in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. You may find throughout your adventure that you want to purchase additional Adventure Options, buy souvenirs, or otherwise need access to funds in areas where major credit cards may not be accepted.

Preparing for your Galapagos Tour

Preparation is key to enjoying every minute of your epic adventure in these fascinating and remote equatorial islands. Contact an experienced Polar Travel Adviser today with any questions about what you should bring to the Galapagos Islands -- and what's better left at home!

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