The Galapagos Islands on a budget

Visiting the Galapagos Island doesn't have to cost the earth. Bob Around The World tells you how to save money – and still enjoy everything the islands have to offer

8 mins

It's the must-visit destination that tops every wildlife lover's bucket list - but it has a reputation for being prohibitively expensive. It doesn't have to be. Here are five tips on trimming your five biggest expenses.

1. Save money getting there

Three airlines go to the islands: LAN, TAME, and Aerogal. They all fly via Guayaquil. Hence you can save at least $50 per flight, by going from Guayaquil instead of Quito. 

Want to save another $30? Fly into Isla Baltra on Santa Cruz and fly out of San Cristobal, cutting out an unnecessary – and expensive – boat ride back to somewhere you've already been.

2. Save money on eating

On every island you will find local restaurants that offer breakfast, lunch, or dinner for less than $5. All you have to do is avoid the touristy restaurants and look for the ones that the local use. With groceries on the islands super expensive, it's actually cheaper than cooking yourself.

Stay off the main tourist roads, look for the chalkboards and stick to the 'Menu del Dia'. And don't order too many drinks!

3. Save money on sleeping

There are many hotels and hostels on the main islands. But if you are looking for something cheap, stay away from the waterfront! The hostels in the second or third row without ocean views are a lot cheaper.

You should also look out for cheap 'posadas' and private rooms. If you stroll around in the towns with your backpack, local people may also ask you if you need a room and you can negotiate the price very easily.

If you are travelling on your own, try to find someone else to share a room with. A lot of hostels don’t have dorm rooms. 

You shouldn't have to spend more than $15 a night on any island.

4. Save money on tours

Don't think that just because you paid a $100 entrance fee to visit the islands that you can stroll around as you like. 97% of Galapagos Islands are natural reserves, and prohibited unless you have a guide. This goes for snorkelling too.

Luckily, there are lots of agencies on the island that offer tours. They state the same rate but are open to negotiation. You can easily save $5 to $10 by just asking. We saved almost $100 dollars per person in ten days just by asking. Give it a try. It's not that difficult.

5. Save money snorkelling

The easiest way to save money is by buying your own snorkeling gear in advance and selling it again afterwards. Renting gear on the island is expensive and much of it is in a pretty grubby state. Do you really want to have those snorkels in your mouth?

Liane and Lars (BoB)Liane and Lars are a German couple travelling the world with a golf ball called BoB. (Don't ask!) Along the way they have picked up thousands of tips on travelling on a budget without skimping on seeing and doing things. They share their tips on their website, Bob Around the World.

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