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Where to stay in Galapagos

Where to stay in Galapagos Islands: Bests islands and hotels

One of the most crucial steps when planning a trip to Galapagos is choosing a place to stay. In this scenario, not only do you have to pick a place that is right for you but, you also have to choose which island do you want to stay in.

There are 4 inhabited islands: Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal and Floreana. Floreana is very small and it is not as developed for tourism purposes as the others. This is why I will not include it on this post about where to stay in Galapagos Islands.

If you know already which island you are staying in, you can skip this step and head to the hotel recommendation section. I hope that the following information answers any doubt and concern.

Table of contents

Where to stay in Galapagos

If you are planning on visiting Galapagos for 10 or more days, I recommend staying in all three islands so you can get to know more places to visit in Galapagos. You can visit all three islands by taking a 2 hour ferry ride. All ferries stop in Santa Cruz which means Isabela and San Cristobal aren’t connected by a non-stop ferry route.

If you’re planning on visiting Galapagos for only 7 days, visiting 2 islands is the better option. Santa Cruz and Isabela or Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. You can also choose to stay in San Cristobal and Isabela but keep in my that you’ll have to take a ferry that has a layover in Santa Cruz. A ferry ride from San Cristobal to Isabela has a duration of 6 hours and costs 60USD.

If you only have a few days to visit Galapagos, I recommend visiting on island. You can either stay in Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. Both islands have flights to mainland Ecuador.

Below, I’ll provide you with a brief description of all 3 islands to give you a better idea of what to expect on each island and ultimately help you choose which island is best for you. I’ll also recommend some hotels for different budgets.

1. Santa Cruz, a great option for short visits

where to stay in galapagos islands
Where to stay in Galapagos

Santa Cruz is the most developed island in Galapagos and serves as a hub for all other islands. It’s also the island with inhabitants and visitors. Most commercial flights from mainland Ecuador land on Baltra Island which is a small island off the north coast of Santa Cruz. Puerto Ayora is located on the southern part of the island. You’ll have to take a ferry then a taxi or bus to get from Baltra Island to Puerto Ayora. 

You can expect more hotels and restaurant in Santa Cruz. Many daily tours depart from Santa Cruz such as daily tours to Bartolome Island, Pinzon, Seymour Norte, Floreana, Isabela, Santiago Island, San Cristobal and more. Most diving tours also depart from Santa Cruz which is something to keep in mind if you are visiting Galapagos to dive. 

In my opinion, Santa Cruz is a fantastic option if you’re planning a short stay in Galapagos and that you’ll most likely land and depart from Santa Cruz to return to mainland Ecuador. Santa Cruz also has some beautiful places to visit.

🏥 Remember, it’s highly important to purchase travel insurance for Ecuador if you don’t already have medical coverage in the destination. I personally use and recommend Heymondo, where I can offer you a 5% discount on your next travel insurance policy.

Where to stay in Santa Cruz

Some of the best hotels in San Cruz for different budgets are:

Affordable hotel: Costa del Sol

affordable hotels in galapagos
Affordable hotel

If you are looking for an affordable hotel in Galapagos Islands near the pier, Costa del Sol may be a great option. One of the greatest things about this hotel is that it is located in the heart of Puerto Ayora. We stayed at this hotel for 3 nights and had no complaints.

The rooms are well lit, clean, have hot water, air conditioning and good wifi. In addition, there is a terrace on the roof where you can hang clothes or relax in a hammock.

Charming hotel: La K-leta Boutique Guesthouse

where to stay in santa cruz
Source: Booking

La K-leta Boutique Guesthouse is a comfortable and picturesque guest house located in the best area of ​​Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz. It is located near the Santa Cruz fish market and the Charles Darwin Research Station, two places that are must-visit if you stay in Santa Cruz. In addition, just 400 meters from the Hotel you will find a bus stop that provides connection to the north of the island and other points of interest. 

You can choose between booking a room or an apartment. Both options provide air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The hotel is strongly committed to caring for the environment and respecting the local culture.

Luxury hotel in Galapagos: Royal Palm

royal palm galapagos
My hotel

Royal Palm is one of the most luxurious hotels on the island. It is a great options for a couple’s gateway or even a honeymoon. This hotel is located in the center of Santa Cruz. In order to get to the hotel, you’ll have to take a taxi from Puerto Ayora (which costs $10 or $20 roundtrip). The peace and tranquility you’ll experience at this hotel is priceless. 

I stayed at Royal Palm Galapagos for 5 nights and thoroughly enjoyed my visit. I recommend staying in the small bungalows. They are incredible! The hotel also offers a pool and a tennis court. Plus, it is home to the biggest lava tunnel on the island. The food is also very delicious!

2. Isabela, the most beautiful island to stay in Galapagos

galapagos islands where to stay
Isabela, Galapagos Islands

Every time that I talked to someone who had already visited Galapagos, he or she would tell me to visit Isabela island. Literally, everyone! Even local people from Santa Cruz and San Cristobal told me that Isabela was their favorite island.

It only took one day on this island for me to realize why people always recommended Isabela. My partner and I were planning on staying in Isabela for 5 days but we fell in love with the island and stayed for 10 days.

There are far less services in Isabela than in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. You won’t find luxurious restaurants or a super big variety of day trips; however, there is just enough to make anyone happy. It is the least developed island. In fact, most roads in Puerto Villamil, Isabela’s main town, are unpaved.

Since it is the least developed island and there are not as many tourists, it is as well the most peaceful one. Trust me, time runs slower here.

If you are looking for peace, enjoy little things in life, watch movie-like sunsets, enjoy the ocean and see volcanoes, Isabel is the place for you. Out of the three islands that I recommend staying in Galapagos Islands, Isabela is the only one that does not have scheduled flights to and from mainland Ecuador. You’ll have to take a ferry or a small plane from Santa Cruz o San Cristobal.

Where to stay in Isabela

Some of the best hotels in Isabela for different budgets are:

Affordable hotel: Cielo Azul

where to stay in isabela
My hotel

We stayed in Cielo Azul during our visit in Isabela. The staff at this hotel is extremely hospitable and friendly. This hotel make you feel as if you were at home. We stayed here for a total of 9 nights and we were sad to leave. The first surprise was that Jackson, the owner, came to pick us up in a taxi at the pier. I had no idea they were coming to pick us up so we really appreciated that.

The rooms are well-lit, air-conditioned and very clean. In the common patio the wifi works quite well, although have in mind that internet in Isabela is not that good.

Hotel with sea-view in Galapagos: Drake Inn

hotel with sea view in galapagos
Source: Booking

Drake Inn is located on the beach and just 3 minutes away from the center of Puerto Villamil. You will be able to have a nice rest at this hotel. Rooms have air conditioning, free wi-fi and beautiful terraces with sea views.

In addition, a few meters from this hotel you’ll find the path that leads to the Wall of Tears which is a must-visit place! If you still have doubts about where to stay in Galapagos Islands, this is a great option if you’re seeking a comfortable and pleasant stay.

Luxury hotel: The Isabela Beach House

best hotels in galapagos
Source: Booking

If you’re searching for a charming hotel that is very close to the beach, look no further than The Isabela Beach House. This hotel is located in Puerto Villamil, the main town in Isabela. It has spacious and well-decorated rooms that offer incredible views of the sea. The establishment serves American breakfast and has a private beach, terrace and garden.

This Bed & Breakfast is known for offering a very romantic atmosphere, so it will be ideal if you go as a couple. You can find restaurants and shop near the hotel.

3. San Cristobal, maybe the best island to stay in Galapagos

san cristobal, galapagos
San Cristobal

San Cristobal was the third island where I stayed in Galapagos. I also recommend it. It isn’t quite as developed as Santa Cruz but still has plenty to offer. It is more peaceful than Santa Cruz but not as much as Isabela.

In Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is the main town in San Cristobal, you’ll be able to find hotels for all budgets and a variety of restaurants.

One of San Cristobal’s main attractions is the large colony of sea lions that occupy the island’s beaches. The largest colony of sea lions in Galapagos can be found here. There are more than a thousand.

Tijeretas is the most special place on the island and where I created so many great memories. Near the dock in Tijeretas you’ll be able to swim with sea lions which is an incredible experience.

Not only can you do so many fun things in San Cristobal but you’ll also be able to visit Española Island and Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock). Leon Dormido is a fantastic spot to snorkel and dive with hammerhead sharks. We saw four of them and it was amazing.

Where to stay in San Cristobal, Galapagos

Some of the best hotels to stay in San Cristobal for different budgets are:

Very affordable hotel: Hostal Albatros

where to stay in san cristobal
My hotel

We decided to stay in Hostal Albatros which is located right on the boardwalk. Without a doubt, the location was the best part about staying at this hotel. Our room did not have room windows, which was a bit disappointing; however, the other rooms did have windows, some had views to the hallway and others to the outside. There is also a small common room and a balcony, which I loved. The staff is very friendly as well.

Cozy hotel in San Cristobal: Hostal Cann’s House

where to stay in san cristobal galapagos
Source: Booking

If you decide to stay in San Cristobal Island, I recommend Cann’s House Hostel. It is located in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, about 500 meters from Playa Mann. It is a small but very comfortable hotel that has several types of double and triple rooms and a suite, all of them with free Wi-Fi service, air conditioning and flat screen TV.

In addition, they have an interior patio overlooking the garden. This picturesque hostel also has a comfortable solarium. You can find a good number of restaurants and shops around the hotel.

Hotel by the sea in Galapagos: Casa Playa Mann

best island to stay in galapagos
Source: Booking

Are you looking for an unforgettable experience in Galapagos? You will likely get it if you stay at Casa Playa Mann. This magnificent hotel, located just 10 minutes from the center of San Cristóbal, is located near Playa Mann, one of the most beautiful beaches San Cristobal. Rooms are equipped with flat screen TVs, king size beds, refrigerators, air conditioning, private terraces and hammocks.

If you add a spectacular breakfast to this, you get heaven on earth. You can choose interconnected rooms if you’re traveling with family or friends. Five minutes away, you can enjoy the typical foods of the area in numerous bars and restaurants.

✈️ Spending 14 days in mainland Ecuador? Don’t miss my 2-week Ecuador itinerary!

Map of best islands to stay in Galapagos

In the following map I have marked all the hotels in the Galapagos Islands that I have recommended, with their respective links to Booking. This way you can see the location of all of them at the same time.

💳 To get cash in the local currency of your destination or pay by card, I recommend getting the N26 card. With the free version you can withdraw cash from ATMs with a very low commission and pay in another currency with the best exchange rate and no commissions.

Check my Ecuador travel guide to keep planning your trip to this destination.

I hope this post about where to stay in Galapagos has been informative and has helped you choose a great place to stay that fit your needs. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to leave a comment down below. See you next time, travelers!

↠ Book free tours and guided visits on Civitatis or GetYourGuide. I always use these platforms to check what organized activities there are at my destination.

↠ To pay with card in foreign currency or withdraw money from ATMs, I always use this card (there are free and paid plans). It works the best!

↠ Traveling with travel insurance to a destination where you don’t have healthcare coverage is a must. Get your insurance 5% cheaper with this link.

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↠ Check out Booking’s offers, a platform I always use, as I always find very good options thanks to its search engine with filters.

↠ For destinations where I need to rent a car, I always check Discover Cars and Auto Europe search engines. I recommend them!

↠ If you still need to buy flights for your trip, there is no better search engine than Skyscanner (although I always recommend booking the flight on the company’s website).

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