The Solo Traveller’s Guide to the Galapagos Islands

Check out the Galapagos Islands for your next solo travel experience
Check out the Galapagos Islands for your next solo travel experience | © Alamy Stock Photo
Joel Rabinowitz

Rising from the Pacific, 1,000km (621mi) off the coast of mainland Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago where three tectonic plates and three major sea currents meet. Few places boast such a concentration of biodiversity and otherworldly nature, largely untouched by human activity – the ultimate offbeat destination for solo travellers with a thirst for adventure.

What’s the vibe?

Landscapes range from jet-black lava fields and cacti-dotted scrubland to shrub-like Scalesia forests and grassy highlands. Mangroves line much of the coast, while underwater is some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving spots in the world, teeming with marine life. You’ll find the people warm and welcoming, the towns laid-back and geared up for visitors.

A Galápagos Islands solo trip overview

Volcanic caldera on Isabela Island
Five Galapagos Hawks perch on cacti

Consider day trips to uninhabited islands, such as Bartolomé – for its spectacular rock formations – Española, which is home to the highest concentration of endemic species in the Galápagos and Santa Fé, a cactus forest with a large sea lion population.

Where to stay in the Galápagos Islands as a solo traveller

A woman relaxes in the pool at Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel

There’s a varied choice here – from boutique hotels and luxurious eco-lodges to cosy hostels and B&Bs. On a budget? La Fortaleza de Haro and Hostal North Seymour fit the bill in Santa Cruz, while family-run Hostal Terito and Casa Playa Mann are go-to options in San Cristóbal. At Galápagos Magic Camp, you can sleep in a safari tent or treehouse in a nature reserve populated with giant tortoises. Looking for something more upscale? Try Pikaia Lodge (Santa Cruz), Finch Bay Galápagos Hotel (Santa Cruz) or Scalesia Lodge (Isabela).

Stunning huts along the hills of the Galapagos Magic Hotel

A two-night stay in Galápagos Magic Camp is included as part of Culture Trip’s exclusive five-day Galápagos Islands adventure, led by our Local Insider.

What to do in the Galápagos Islands as a solo traveller

Exploring is all about connecting with nature. Each of the islands has its own unique draw – but it would be impossible to cover them all in one trip. Here’s our pick of the top things to do when travelling alone in the Galápagos Islands.

Take to the water

A scuba diver swims among a school of fish and a turtle

Some 3,000 marine species live around the Galápagos, many endemic. Sub-aquatic creatures include marine iguanas, penguins, sea lions, sea turtles and manta rays. Kicker Rock, Pinnacle Rock, Darwin’s Arch and Shark Point are among the best scuba diving and snorkelling spots in the Galápagos. If you’d rather stay above the waves, however, try kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.

You’ll have the chance to go snorkelling, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking on Culture Trip’s specially curated small-group Galápagos Islands trip.

Explore on foot

Bartolomé is famous for its Pinnacle Rock

Bring walking boots – on foot is the best way to appreciate geological features while spotting wildlife. The trails from Playa Mann to Frigatebird Hill (San Cristóbal) and from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay (Santa Cruz) are two of the most accessible, both with nearby swimming spots. Other highlights include meandering through Santa Fé’s cactus forest, climbing to the summit of Bartolomé Island, and traversing Sullivan Bay’s lava fields on Santiago Island.

Kick back on the beach

A girl sits next to Galapagos sea lions on the beach

Where else on earth might you chill on a beach alongside marine iguanas, sea lions and penguins? In the Galápagos, it’s the norm. Tortuga Bay and El Garrapatero rank among the most beautiful beaches in Santa Cruz, while Playa Mann, Punta Carola and Puerto Chino are prime sunbathing spots in San Cristóbal. Gardner Bay, on Española Island, is a slice of paradise. Stop by the rust-red beach on Rabida Island and you’ll feel as if you’ve arrived on Mars.

Eat and drink in the Galápagos Islands

A bowl of seafood ceviche is served

There’s a heavy seafood emphasis here in the Galápagos. Ceviche and encebollado (tuna-and-onion soup) are specialities. Also look out for langostino encocado (lobster cooked with coconut milk) and arroz marinero (a seafood and rice dish similar to paella). Vegetarian? You’ll love arroz con menestras – a hearty lentil stew.

In San Cristóbal, El Descanso Marinero and Rosita’s serve hearty local food at reasonable prices, while Almar and Isla Grill offer a similarly authentic but more refined dining experience overlooking the sea in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Brewery and 1835 Coffee Lab are go-to places for craft beer and great coffee.

For more suggestions, check out our guide to the best restaurants in the Galápagos. Many solo travellers make the trip to these remote Ecuadorian islands, so no matter where you eat you probably won’t be the only one dining alone.

Stay safe, stay happy

Crime is practically non-existent here. But remember not to get too close to cliff edges, to apply plenty of sun cream, and to respect the personal space of animals such as marine and land iguanas (which, although scaly- and sometimes scary-looking, are harmless to humans).

Getting around in the Galápagos as a solo traveller

Taxis are easy to come by in Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, and you’re unlikely to pay more than $5-$10 (£3.68-£7.36) for a ride. Cycling is fun, but reckon on uphill slogs and unpaved road. Some remote areas are inaccessible by land – you’ll need to take a water taxi. Santa Cruz is the main ferry hub with connections to San Cristóbal and Isabela; both depart twice daily and take around two hours. It’s also possible to fly – which cuts the journey down to 30 minutes – but costs considerably more.

Unless you’re on a cruise, you’ll need to take organised day trips from Santa Cruz or San Cristóbal to access uninhabited islands.

Cultural need-to-knows

If you’re visiting an uninhabited island, pay close attention to your guide and follow the Galápagos National Park rules. These include no flash photography, sticking to designated walking trails and not touching or feeding any animals.

Experience the best of Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal on Culture Trip’s specially curated five-day Galápagos Islands adventure, which features hiking, snorkelling, visiting a giant tortoise reserve and a day excursion to an uninhabited island.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article