A province of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands sit more than 600 miles from their parent country, and it’s this isolation, in tandem with ocean currents and seismic activity shaping the land, that has resulted in one of the world’s most interesting ecosystems, full of endemic species – or, as Charles Darwin put it, “a little world within itself”.
We’re talking island specials here: the Galápagos giant tortoise, the blue-footed boobie, swimming marine iguanas, the world’s most northerly penguins swimming happily in tropical waters, and – of course – Darwin’s fabulous finches. There are also the lava tunnels formed over millions of years, and the immense volcanoes themselves.
It’s a fascinating pocket of evolution and the perfect solo travel escape, whether you love diving, snorkelling, hiking and biking, or chilling on the beach up close and personal with the natural world. Below, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know about group solo trips to the Galápagos Islands, from hotels and transport, to what to pack and when to go.
The Galápagos Islands travel facts
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Galápagos archipelago comprises 127 islands, islets and rocks, but only a few are big enough to visit and, as you’d hope, the extraordinary ecosystem calls the shots here. Human habitation is restricted to four islands: Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz. The remaining 97% of land is protected National Park, and the surrounding waters are one of the world’s largest marine reserves. Remarkable sea life flourishes here in the Pacific Ocean – several marine currents, seismic activity and isolation from the mainland have provided an environment ripe for unusual species. The result is a “living museum” of evolution found nowhere else on the planet, famously sparking Darwin’s theory nearly 200 years ago.
Are the Galápagos Islands good for solo travel?
Galapagos solo travel is a must for adventurers seeking unparalleled experiences in nature. The exceptional charm of the Galápagos Islands hasn’t faded since Charles Darwin studied his giant daisies here, and travellers are truly spoiled with memorable moments. Check out the lava tunnels and giant tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz, take a jaunt to uninhabited islands to spot blue-footed boobies, and explore tropical waters with coral reef diving and snorkelling alongside reef sharks and inquisitive penguins. Hiking, biking, surfing and kayaking: it’s a bona fide trip of dreams for the solo traveller. With so much to file under “unmissable”, consider streamlining the planning by joining fellow solo wanderers on a Flash Pack escape – all the good stuff, with none of the effort. Learn more about solo travel with Flash Pack.
Best places to visit in the Galápagos Islands
What should you do on a solo trip to the Galápagos Islands? On Flash Pack’s nine-day Galápagos escape, we’ve done the legwork; so that whether you dream of hiking the Sierra Negra volcano or roaming among giant tortoises, we’ve got your Ecuadorian island adventure sorted. We’re talking experiences you’ll find nowhere other than these volcanic isles; from snorkelling with sharks, sea lions and penguins on Isabela, to dinner in a candlelit, underground lava cave on Santa Cruz – served up by a Masterchef winner no less. Kayak the strikingly turquoise waters of the Itabaca Channel, spot green turtles and spinner dolphins while lunching on a yacht, and return to vibrant mainland Quito for a farewell feast.
Where to stay as a solo traveller in the Galápagos Islands
What are the hotels like in Galápagos? Well, nothing if not eclectic: solo travellers to this endlessly fascinating province can bed down in waterfront design hotels with hot tubs on Isabela, hillside treehouses and safari tents in a giant tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz and elegant period hotels in the Old Town of mainland Ecuador. And heading off with Flash Pack means not only is all accommodation arranged in advance, but room-shares enable solo travellers to stay in first-rate abodes without the single supplement (although if you’d prefer to pay extra for your own room, that’s always an option).
How to get to the Galápagos Islands
Its gloriously remote position in the Pacific Ocean means there are no direct international flights to the Galápagos Islands. Instead, you will need to travel to mainland Ecuador. Flights to the Galápagos Islands leave from Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) in Quito or José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport in Guayaquil (GYE). When considering how to travel to Galápagos, keep in mind that flights from Quito land in Baltra or San Cristobal. All tourists must obtain a Transit Control Card from the office of the Governing Council of Galápagos beforehand, and pay the National Park entrance fee, both of which you can leave up to Flash Pack.
How to get around the Galápagos Islands
On the islands, walking and biking are great ways to get around the trails and see as much of the natural world as possible, while between islands, you’ll be jumping on boats, organised cruises and local ferries. Movement between the uninhabited islands is strictly controlled to ensure sustainable tourism and the welfare of the rich environment. However, solo travellers with Flash Pack don’t need to worry – all internal travel is included and we handle everything, from arranging your dedicated Pack Leader to booking trips and even, on occasion, paddleboarding between destinations.
Best time to visit the Galápagos Islands
Each month offers something unique and the environment here means you’re not in for strictly tropical climes, despite being on the equator. It is warm, however. The average summer temperature on the Galápagos Islands is around 30C (84F) and winter is 21C (69F), with January through May warmer and wetter, and June to December drier and cooler (the lowest temperatures are in August). But there’s no bad time to visit, as different species emerge at different parts of the year – for instance, while cooler ocean currents may require a wetsuit, the change in water temperature brings plankton and thus plenty of sea life. Nesting starts in the warm season, so December and January can be busy.
Galápagos Islands travel itineraries
Over nine days of Flash Pack’s adventure to the Galápagos Islands, you’ll kayak, boat, bike and hike; encountering the captivating, friendly wildlife that fired up Darwin’s theories 200 years ago. After landing in Baltra, paddleboard the vivid Itabaca Channel up to Santa Cruz to dine in a lava tube and bed down in a giant tortoise reserve. On Isabela, you’ll snorkel with peaceful reef sharks before hiking the mighty Sierra Negra volcano. All the fun stuff is covered, including cycling, swimming and lunch onboard a yacht, while exploring uninhabited islands and spotting blue-footed boobies, amiable penguins and much more. Your trip is bookended with food and fun in Quito, Ecuador’s gorgeous mainland capital.
What to pack for solo travel in the Galápagos Islands
Currency on the Galápagos Islands is the United States Dollar (USD) and it’s highly recommended you bring enough cash for the whole trip; most places don’t accept credit cards and the scarce ATMs have daily limits and may run out. Bring plenty of small denomination notes and coins, as $100 and $50 bills are often refused. Pack adaptors for type A and B plugs, and key wardrobe is comfy, light clothing for warm weather. You’ll need swimwear for water-based activities, and depending on the time of year you might prefer a wetsuit, as the ocean currents change the water temperature.
Bring comfortable, sturdy footwear for hiking and waterproof sandals for wet landings on the islands. Don’t forget sun protection gear and insect repellent – however, protecting the islands’ special ecosystem is paramount, so spray versions of these products are not allowed.
Solo travel advice for the Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands are great for solo travel, with a huge choice of activities whatever pace you’re after. To get out and about with the famed wildlife, most hikes and trips require a guide, but unguided trails are well sign-posted and accessible, and a simple walk to the beach could result in sea lions, flamingos, marine iguanas and more on your “spotted” list. However boat trips, volcano hikes, hillside camp stays and dives are where you might encounter the big-hitters, such as Galápagos giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies and northern hemisphere penguins. Flash Pack’s group trip to the Galápagos with fellow solo travellers means your island travel, accommodation and amazing excursions are all covered.
Is it safe to travel solo in the Galápagos Islands?
Solo travel to the Galápagos Islands is safe, with thousands of visitors travelling to the islands every year. As of January 2024, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to certain regions of Ecuador. However, airports and onward travel to the Galápagos Islands are not affected by this advisory. In the capital Quito, solo travellers should be aware of the risk of pickpocketing at banks and public bus stations.
Always check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Department of State Travel Advisories (US) or your country’s local government guidelines for the latest advice before travelling, and once there, follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Travelling with Flash Pack means the security of travelling solo as part of a group, and with a certified Galápagos Pack Leader.
Ready for your next adventure? Try group solo travel to the Galápagos Islands with Flash Pack – designed exclusively for people in their 30s and 40s, seeking the independence of solo travel within the safety of a group.
A cool 98% of Flashpackers arrive solo to join our group adventures. So, you’ll be in good company – whether a first-time solo traveller or a seasoned pro looking for like-minded new friends.