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The Ultimate Female Travel Packing List for the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands - adult marine iguanas

This packing list is brought to you by Jo Robb. See all packing list posts here.

You’re a girl going to the Galapagos; so what on earth do you pack? You’ve heard it before, and I’ll say it again “Pack Light”. Let’s face it, packing light can sometimes be challenging for us girls. But once you know what’s needed it’s easy.

You’ll likely be flying in from either Quito or Guayaquil and staying a night or two on your return. If you’re returning, most hotels will store your luggage for free so the trick is to leave your surplus baggage behind. We always like to get to know one or two of the counter staff, which helps in getting our bags taken care of. Regardless, always make sure it’s all locked up and well labeled.

Lifejackets usually provided on Galapagos
Lifejackets usually provided on Galapagos

You can explore the Galapagos by either land-based day tripping, or by taking a cruise. This list is from a cruise perspective. My first little tip? Leave all makeup and hairdryers behind! You’ll be in and out of water 2-3 times a day and your makeup will just mess up.

You’re on holiday, so you’ll have lots of quiet moments to read, right? Not so. When you do get a quiet moment you’re more likely to be capturing all those special moments in your journal. There’s just so much to see, do and write about. Maybe this should be a ‘do not take list!’

Assuming your visit is 5-7 days, here’s most of what you’ll need for your Galapagos adventure:

Covering Up

It’s a pleasant climate year round, so light summer clothes are perfect.

  • 2 pairs of Teva style walking shoes/boots: keep one dry, the other for wet landings (many don’t allow you to wear walking shoes on the boat)
  • 1 pair Flip Flops/Jandals/ Slip ons
  • Socks: if you must!
  • 2 pairs shorts
  • 2-3 Light T-shirts: yes you will have to wash them out!
  • 1 or 2 pairs swimwear
  • 1 pair of lightweight long pants (zip-off’s are great), or skirt/dress
  • 1 Light short sleeve shirt
  • Light poncho or rain jacket
  • Sweater: just in case it cools off
  • Knickers and Bras of course!
  • Toiletries: excluding makeup
  • Insect repellent: we didn’t strike many insects but pays to have on hand
  • Small Day Pack: for day walks
  • Basic First Aid Kit: include Betadine for any cuts (especially in the sea)
Snorkeling and swimming with the booby
Snorkeling and swimming with the booby

Capturing the Moments

If you’re into snorkeling I would definitely recommend an underwater camera, even a cheap throwaway is better than nothing. You’ll take hundreds if not thousands of photos, so you’ll need lots of storage too. I love photos, so I take a small portable Hard Drive just in case.

  • Waterproof bag or Dry Sack: for camera gear
  • Camera/ Underwater Camera: whatever you use
  • Video Camera: imagine the boobies mating on video; what a memory!
  • Telephoto Lens: not vital, but really handy to get even closer to the animals
  • Extra Camera batteries: a must
  • Extra film or memory cards: there’s nothing worse than running out
  • Journal or Digital Recorder: record your thoughts; there’s so much happening
  • Adapter plugs for power
  • Binoculars: especially if you’re into bird watching
Essential Water Gear for the Galapagos
Essential Water Gear for the Galapagos

Keeping the Sun Out

It’s hot, steamy and tropical. There’s lots of time for swimming and snorkeling. If you’re concerned about personal hygiene, you can take your own snorkel gear. Otherwise wetsuits and snorkeling gear are usually provided on board most boats. Some offer the equipment (mask, fins and snorkel) at no charge, while others charge a nominal rental fee of up to $10 for 8 days.

Wetsuits are ideal for flotation, sun and abrasion protection, and will keep you warm so you can enjoy the water longer. Even if you’re not a water baby, you’ll want to stay swimming with those turtles and penguins all day if you could!

  • Wide-brim hat: yuk, or not; depending on your personal style (I got very sun-burnt ears without a hat)
  • Light cotton scarf or buff: to protect your neck
  • Sunglasses
  • Waterproof Sunscreen: at least 30SPF
  • Lip salve or ointment: you won’t need your lip-gloss
  • Snorkel, Mask and Flippers: or you can easily hire these
  • Wetsuit: can easily hire these too
  • Water Bottle: I took electrolytes as rehydration is really important

Necessities

Most boats will have a safe in your cabin, but be aware that cabin doors often remain unlocked for safety reasons. That was a shock for a start but I got over it. Obviously you’ll take your passport, credit cards and US cash. There are a few shops on one of the islands if you feel so inclined.

Day Packs  for Hiking
Day Packs for Hiking

You won’t get Seasick

I don’t get seasick, so this is a hard one. On our 8 day cruise there was only 1 day where a few of our group felt queasy, but none were actually sick. So don’t put too much energy into thinking about motion sickness, most of time the sea is very calm.

Never-the-less, the reality is you’re in the open ocean. So take a few precautions and bring a variety of cures with you just in case. Being mindful of what foods you eat can help; dairy products, high protein and sodium foods, alcohol and strong smelling foods, along with cigarettes should be avoided. Light meals and ginger, chamomile or peppermint supplements or teas are deemed beneficial.

If you do feel queasy, pick a mid-spot section of the boat. Stay away from other sick people (avoiding the power of suggestion), focus on the horizon, and don’t read or watch movies. Closing your eyes and reclining can help, as can some fresh air.

A few remedies you can take with you:

  • Candied Ginger or ginger tablets, especially good for mild symptoms
  • Pressure wristband – can stimulate acupuncture points to combat nausea.
  • Motion sickness patches – a longer slow release option.
  • Motion Sickness Tablets – Antihistamines; can take 30 – 60 minutes to kick in (go for non-sedative ones).

With your luggage, you’ll need to find the right balance between being well prepared, and not being overwhelmed. I was well equipped for the trip, although my one regret was not taking an under-water camera. We were also not fully prepared cash-wise for the suggested USD $600 tip for the guide and crew on the last day.

Get with the isolation of it all on the Galapagos. You’re 600 miles from the nearest continent; forget your cell-phone, computer, and Ipod. There’s no reception on the cruises, and it’s limited on the islands. Remember, you’re there to enjoy the magic of the Galapagos and to connect with nature.

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About the Author: Jo is the chief wanderer and founder of the World Wide Adventurers Travel Blog. She loves wandering the world slowly, one adventure after another. From hiking, biking, climbing mountains to RV road-tripping in the US – there’s always some adventure in the planning! Currently residing in Queenstown NZ, the ‘adventure capital’ of the world. You can check into Jo’s Adventures around the world at WorldWideAdventurers, buddy up on Facebook, or get pinspired on Pinterest

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Lauren Harris says

    Thanks so much! I’m traveling to Ecuador (Tena, and Quito) and the Galápagos in January for a study abroad class! Your list is very helpful especially since I can only take one small bag for 6 days to the islands!

  2. Damon and Jo says

    We were working down in Quito for a month and while we made it nearby exotic destinations like Cotopaxi and Mindo, we never made it Galapagos, sadly. An underwater camera does sound like a must; we once took our waterproof GoPro to a beautiful cenote in Mexico, but forgot our wrist cord and OF COURSE, it fell out of our hands and is now at the bottom of the cenote. Yep! Lol.

  3. Anita Mraz says

    We just returned from a week cruise in the Galapagos March 2015 and I’d suggest you also bring along a rash guard/sun shirt or two. I wore one long sleeved rash guard for an extra layer while snorkeling under my wet suit (a couple of places had cold water and you don’t want to shorten the experience because you get cold!). Also, the sun is so strong, it’s worth having a second long sleeved shirt for your hikes. It takes FOREVER to dry clothes in your cabin on the boat, so two shirts is key. You can tie them securely onto a railing on the sun deck if you want to dry them.

  4. Leigh says

    Great list, and very similar to what we packed on our Galapagos cruise. We did bring every kind of Rx you can imagine…..just in case! Since we were flying to and from Chicago in December, it was nice to leave the winter clothes behind at our hacienda in Quito, rather than dragging them along the whole trip.

  5. Julia says

    Thanks for the tips. I’m travelling from Australia in July which is our winter; hard thinking of summer clothes. Also going to Macchu Piccu so need the walking shoes. Out of Guaykil and into Quito so have to take everything. Is it cold on the boat at night?

  6. Yvonne says

    Thanks for the awesome tips, we are going to the Galapagos in Dec. 2017 and I wasn’t sure what to bring. this will be a lot easier now.

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