Galapagos: Safari by sea

We hadn’t specifically planned to go to the Galapagos Islands during this sojourn. We knew it would be much cheaper if we ever became Ecuador residents, and we were also planning to visit Isla de la Plata (Silver Island), aka the “poor man’s Galapagos.”

On the other hand, here we were in Ecuador, for what could be our only time, ever! How could we not go to the Galapagos? We started searching for last-minute deals, and ended up with a wonderful one: a first-class 8-day cruise on the Galaxy II, a 16-person catamaran, for $1925 USD each. It’s still a lot of money for a week, but a super deal for a Galapagos trip.

For logistical notes, see Tripbits at the bottom of this post. All we want to say is that there wasn’t anything that we didn’t love about our trip, from the ship, to the food, to our amazing guide, Maria. Below is a taste of what we saw.


  • If you are researching a Galapagos trip, don’t miss the amazingly well-researched and thorough The Galápagos Islands, 2009 & 2013. It is a wealth of information about how to choose a tour and an itinerary, links to and details about all of the boats of the recommended size, what to pack, what to expect. Everything you need to know in one place.
  • We left from Guayaquil ($485USD each). If you are flying to Ecuador just for the Galapagos excursion, you’ll likely leave from Quito, but you may have a stopover in Guayaquil to pick folks like us up before flying to the islands.
  • We booked through and everything went very smoothly. The only challenge (and this is for many things in Ecuador) is that you are charged for making payments – you can wire money, deliver cash, or pay by credit card for a fee.
  • Bring cash to pay for tips and settle your bill at the end. Our snorkel equipment was free, but we paid to rent wet suits (needed!) at $55USD each. Beer wasn’t bad ($3USD) but cocktails were expensive. We were able to buy a bottle of wine and use over several days.
  • Don’t forget Gravol or other sea sick meds. (They also offered them on board.) There were several times, when the boat was moving to a different location and was out in open water, that we all just went to bed and read. Twice we took medication when things were rocking and rolling a bit too much.
  • All meals were casual – you can pack light. Often trip info says to pack a sundress or dress pants. On our trip, almost everyone just wore their day clothes.

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