The Galapagos is a bucket list destination for most of us. Where better to be immersed in nature than the archipelago made famous by Darwin?! Understandably, it’s a pricey place and due to requiring a return flight, visitors have a finite amount of time there. As a result, I did a heck of a lot more planning than I usually do. I was ready to live out my itinerary, be at one with the wildlife and was content with the fact that it probably wouldn’t be a social spot. How wrong I was! You can absolutely go solo travelling in the Galapagos and have an awesome social experience too.
So if you’re looking to learn about flying solo in this famous wildlife paradise, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve compiled everything you need to know below, from where to meet fellow backpackers to the best one person activities.
What to know before solo travelling in the Galapagos
One thing the Galapagos isn’t famed for is being a sociable backpacker hotspot. However, I was really surprised by how prominent the backpacker community was there and bumped into many of the same travellers on multiple islands.
What time of the year is best for solo travelling in the Galapagos?
Any time! Whilst I was surprised at how built up Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz was, the towns on all the inhabited islands are fairly small. The budget backpacker accommodation options are limited and all the places I stayed were fully booked in advance.
With regards to seasons, January to June is warm and wet leaving July to December cooler and drier. The general consensus is that the warmer season is preferable but wildlife can be seen year round here. I visited in June and the days alternated between windy and overcast and extremely sunny with clear skies. I found the water to be pretty cold for most of my snorkelling – I’d definitely recommend accepting a wetsuit if you’re offered one on a tour!
How much does solo travelling in the Galapagos cost?
There are two ways to travel there – by cruise or on land. The latter is notoriously cheaper and is the way I chose to do it (partly because I get horribly seasick!). I think solo travel around the Galapagos would be great with either option but you’ll meet a wider variety of people on land. I backpacked here on a budget, making the most of all the free and cheap activities on the islands, cooking as much as possible and choosing the cheapest hostels. I spent £750 in 9 days, including flights. For a detailed cost breakdown, feel free to check out the Galapagos highlight on my instagram page.
Is the Galapagos safe for solo travellers?
The Galapagos has a lower crime rate than mainland Ecuador and as a solo female, I felt safe there. Tourism on the islands has created a secure community for travellers of different ethnicities, there are tour options for wheelchair users and Ecuador is known to be an LGBT+ friendly country. Be mindful of tour agencies trying to rip people off. It’s best to get multiple quotes before booking and go with your gut on whether you trust the service. Unlike the mainland, everybody on the Galapagos speaks English so don’t worry if your Spanish isn’t up to scratch.
How to travel the Galapagos solo
I’ve already mentioned choosing between a cruise and land hopping. If you do land hop, you can split your time between Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal islands. Fly into Santa Cruz and out of San Cristobal. You’ll meet other backpackers doing the same and bump into the same people on multiple islands. I’d recommend planning your itinerary and booking accommodation in advance (certainly not my usual travel style) as the WiFi is nearly non-existent so you’ll have a hard time googling and booking on Hostelworld while you’re there!
Best things to do when solo travelling in the Galapagos
- Kayak at Playa Mansa, Santa Cruz – you can hire a kayak for $10 and paddle out to see giant turtles, rays and sharks. I was very far out of my comfort zone doing this solo but it was an incredible experience and felt like a big accomplishment. The lovely man renting the kayaks keeps an eye out for you and there are plenty of people on the beach so this felt like a safe but really fun solo activity
- Snorkel at Tijeretas, San Cristobal – probably my favourite snorkelling in the Galapagos. There’s one entry point to a wide cove of water so bumping into people is inevitable! My friend from the hostel and I met two guys here and we all spent the rest of the day together
- Walk to Pozas Salinas, Isabela – take the boardwalk towards Centro de Crianza. This is a great place to be solo as the quieter you are, the more flamingoes you’ll see!
Best ways to meet people in the Galapagos
- Hostel kitchens – cooking your own food is budget friendly and eating at a communal table is always a great way to make friends
- Day trips – spending the day on a boat, feeling seasick and swimming with giant turtles is an excellent way to fast-track a friendship. Do these trips at the start of your time on an island so you still have some evenings to meet your new friends for a drink!
- Bars – I personally didn’t spend too much time in bars but the social drinking scene is surprisingly prominent there! Top spots: Galapagos Brewery and Bongo Bar on Santa Cruz, Bar de Beto and Calete Iguana on Isabela
Best places to visit in the Galapagos for solo travellers
- Concha Perla, Isabela – a snorkelling spot with a big community feel. If anyone sees some good wildlife, they’ll pop their head up and wave others over. There are always people about which made it feel a safe place to travel alone in the Galapagos.
- Playa Mann, San Cristobal – the ultimate place to grab a beer, sit with a sea lion and enjoy the sunset. The beach gets really busy at this time so flash a friendly smile and you’ll quickly be joining a group.
- Las Tintoreras, Isabela – do a short snorkelling tour to see penguins (yes, there are penguins on the equator!) and sharks in beautifully clear water.
Travelling the Galapagos alone surpassed my expectations and I hope this guide has persuaded you that this natural paradise is an excellent place to travel solo. Let us know in the comments whether you’ve been here already or if it’s next on your list!