Where to Stay in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Where to stay in the Galapagos Islands

Last updated on June 9th, 2024 at 04:21 pm

The Galapagos Islands are a magical place filled with unique wildlife, outdoor adventures, and even a bit of beach relaxation. A visit to this remote archipelago is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for nature lovers and adventurers alike. I had the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands for ten days during my year-long solo adventure.

Planning the trip was a bit daunting, but I’m so glad I beat the overwhelm and made it happen. My time on the Galapagos Islands remains a highlight of not just that year but, honestly, of my life. Seeing marine iguanas swimming, snorkeling with hammerhead sharks, and experiencing the kind nature of those who live in the Galapagos is something that I will always cherish.

Now that you’ve decided to make this bucket list trip a reality, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the planning process. Let this guide to where to stay in the Galapagos Islands help ease some of that stress.

Sunset over San Cristobal

This Galapagos hotel guide shares the best places to stay on the inhabited islands for every budget. I’ve included some extremely luxurious options, budget backpacker options, and excellent mid-range accommodation options. That’s one great thing about the Galapagos Islands: there is a place to stay for any budget. So, if you’re like me and need a budget-friendly trip to the Galapagos, it’s entirely possible!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a tiny bit of income if you decide to make a purchase or booking.


Ecuador travel resources

An Overview of the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands consist of 19 different islands, although only four are inhabited (by humans). Many Galapagos visitors, especially those interested in scuba diving, visit the islands via a live-aboard cruise ship. These cruise ships can visit the more remote islands of the archipelago. If a live-aboard cruise ship isn’t the route you’d like, you can also see much of this biodiverse corner of the world with land-based tours. 

You can island hop on the four main islands, spending a few days on each island and taking day trips to nearby islands.

Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Floreana are the four main islands. Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal are the more populated islands, with Isabel and Floreana being the least populated. As such, you’ll find more accommodation options in Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal than in Isabela and Floreana. 

There are airports on Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal Island, so one of my biggest tips for visiting the Galapagos is to fly into one and have your return flight out of the other. You can then take ferries between the four main islands.

Giant Tortoise on the Galapagos Islands.

Where to Stay in the Galapagos Islands

Where to Stay Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz is one of the most popular destinations in the Galapagos Islands! Santa Cruz Island is usually where Galapagos adventures begin. The main town on Santa Cruz island is Puerto Ayora, and you’ll find many of the main tourist attractions, such as the famous fish market and the Charles Darwin Research Station, a short walk from here. If you have limited time to visit the Galapagos Islands, make Santa Cruz your home base and explore on day trips from here. 

Luxury Accommodations

Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel: One of the premier luxury hotels and the only beachfront hotel in Santa Cruz is the iconic Finch Bay Hotel. If the ocean is too chilly for you, just across the sand is a stunning outdoor swimming pool. Six of their suites have ocean views, and the other rooms have private balconies! There is also a spa onsite if you need to unwind after your adventures and private yoga classes. You can combine your stay at the Finch Bay Hotel with multiple tours of Santa Cruz and beyond. While not in the center of town, it’s an easy walking distance to many top attractions. 

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Also check out these other luxury accommodations in Santa Cruz include the Royal Palm by Hilton (use those Hilton Points!) and Pikaia Lodge.

Mid Range Accommodations

Hotel Solymar: Hotel Solymar is located in the heart of Puerto Ayora. Its outdoor pool and hot tub are right above the water! Its central location is perfect for exploring all the fun things to do on the island, and you’ll be close to some of the best restaurants if you don’t want to eat at the excellent one onsite. Seventeen of their rooms offer ocean views, as does the bar!

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Budget Friendly Accommodations

Galapagos Dreams: If you want something more budget-friendly, check out Galapagos Dreams Hostel. It is centrally located in Puerto Ayora and has guest rooms of different sizes, including private rooms, depending on your comfort with sharing spaces. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a private bathroom! The hotel staff work with tour operators, so you can book any last-minute excursions here. This hostel is the perfect choice for a budget-friendly place to stay in Santa Cruz. 

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Sea turtle swimming in the Galapagos Islands.

The 5 Best Things to Do on Santa Cruz Island

  1. Go Snorkeling at Los Grietas: Las Grietas is a unique lava tunnel formation and the most popular place swimming hole in Santa Cruz. You’ll take a water taxi to the Finch Bay Eco Hotel and walk the rest of the way, about 20 minutes. Along the way, you’ll pass Garrapatero Beach (a great place to snorkel) and salt flats! Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear for this refreshing swim!
  2. Visit El Chato Tortoise Reserve: Acquaint yourself with the giant tortoises that call the Galapagos Islands home and see the lava tunnels at El Chato Tortoise Reserve. If you flew into Baltra airport, you passed El Chato on your way into town. You could even ask your taxi driver to stop there on your way in. Otherwise, grab a taxi (the white truck) or rent a bike to spend an afternoon exploring El Chato. You’ll walk through a series of lava tunnels and follow paths through the tortoise reserve, getting up close with these unique animals. 
  3. Relax on the white sandy beach of Tortuga Bay: Bring your hat, wear plenty of sunscreen (check my Galapagos packing list for the best ones), and pack lots of water and snacks for an hour’s walk from Puerto Ayora to the stunning white sand beach of Tortuga Bay. Once you arrive, cool off in the refreshing water, watch marine iguanas swim, and relax. 
  4. Eat dinner at Los Kioskos: At night, the restaurants on Charles Binford Ave turn the sidewalks into an open-air dining experience. Wander the street until you find something that looks particularly delicious!
  5. Hike to the top of Los Gemelos: Escape into the highland landscape with a hike around the Twin Craters, which are giant volcanic sinkholes. I recommend this day tour!
Manta Rays in the ocean.

Where to Stay on San Cristóbal Island

San Cristóbal is the most populated island in the archipelago and home to the Galapagos “capital,” Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. While it’s the most populated, you’ll still be able to get out to explore unique places like Kicker Rock or take a walk through town to Playa Loberia to snorkel with sea lions and turtles.

Luxury Accommodations

Hotel Indigo: Want to use your Intercontinental or Holiday Inn points for a luxury stay on the Galapagos? Check out Hotel Indigo, one of the best hotels on the Galapagos, in an unbeatable location in the heart of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Relax in the rooftop infinity pool overlooking the Pacific, or spend a day recharging at the spa. After a long day exploring, order room service or head to the gorgeous rooftop restaurants. The warm and welcoming hotel staff will ensure you have everything you need for an unforgettable experience. 

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Mid Range Accommodations

Galapagos Sunset Hotel: Located right on the Malecon, this hotel is the perfect spot to be close to everything. As it’s right on the water, most rooms have sea views, and some have private balconies. You’re just a short walk to Playa Mann and the rest of the natural beauty in Santa Cruz.

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Budget Friendly Accommodations

Hostal Casa De Laura: This highly rated, budget-friendly, and family-run hostel is a fantastic option with beautiful gardens you’ll walk through to your room. While it’s a little bit away from the main pier, the spacious rooms and welcoming family atmosphere will make you feel at home.

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Iguana Sunbathing after a Swim

The 5 Best Things to Do on San Cristóbal Island

  1. Take the Kicker Rock tour: The day tour to Kicker Rock was one of the best snorkeling experiences I’ve ever had (second only to the one I had on Isabela Island). You’ll spend the day exploring remote white sand beaches, fishing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and ultimately swimming through Kicker Rock, where you may see hammerhead sharks. You will definitely see plenty of colorful fish and sea turtles!
  2. Snorkel at Playa Loberia: Snorkel with sea lions at Playa Loberia! This beach is a short 20-minute walk through town, just beyond the airport.
  3. Take a Taxi Tour: A taxi tour around San Cristóbal island includes a stop at the only freshwater lake on the islands, a giant tortoise breeding center, and the stunning white sand beach, Puerto Chino!
  4. Hike to Cierro Tijeretas: Take a walk to Cierro Tijeretas for spectacular views and encounters with frigate birds. There are also more beaches along the hike for a refreshing swim!
  5. Visit the Galapagos Interpretation Center: This center shares information about the formation of these volcanic islands and conservation efforts.
Blue Footed Boobie with Two Eggs

Where to Stay on Isabela Island

On my trip, I was able to visit San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela Island. Isabela Island was my absolute favorite of the three. Isabela is the biggest island in the archipelago and has the second-to-lowest population. You feel the remoteness here. I loved the dirt roads, the easy access to beaches, and the welcoming people. As soon as I stepped off the ferry into Puerto Villamil, I felt like I could breathe a bit easier after spending a few weeks in Quito. I honestly wish I had spent more time on the island. Isabela is the perfect place for a mix of adventure and relaxation.

Luxury Accommodations

Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel: I made a friend on Isabela Island who was staying at the Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel, so I got a chance to see the room and property while I was there. Let me say it was absolutely stunning. This beachfront property offers spacious rooms with ocean views, a pool, and a hot tub. You can also book daily tours to places like Los Tuneles and the Sierra Negra Volcano with the hotel staff.

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Mid Range Accommodations

Hotel Albemarle: Right outside the door of Hotel Albemarle is the beautiful white sand beach. The hotel offers complimentary daily breakfast and a small pool surrounded by a lush garden. There is also free coffee and tea all day long. Or grab your snorkel gear and head across the street to the ocean!

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Budget Friendly Accommodations

La Casa de Marita Hotel: Beachfront property that is budget-friendly? You heard that right! Relax in the hammocks on the beachfront porch, wake up to ocean views, and eat at the delicious restaurant onsite.

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Seal Pup on Punta Playa Carola

The 5 Best Things to Do in Isla Isabela

1. Snorkel at Los Tuneles: If you splurge on one tour on the Galapagos Islands, let it be the snorkeling tour to Los Tuneles. The boat will take you to explore the lava tunnels underwater, and then you’ll snorkel with white-tip sharks and many sea turtles! You may even see blue-footed boobies! Hands down, it was the most unique experience I had on the islands.

2. Snorkel at Concha de Perla: Conche de Perla is a great swimming hole near the port. Bring your snorkeling gear and hop in. Sea lions may show up; you’ll see rays and much other colorful fish!

3. Cycle to Muro de las Lagrimas: Rent a bike from the Galapagos bike and surf to head to the Wall of Tears, a historical site built by prisoners when the island was a penal colony. Along the way, you’ll have great views. Time this so you’ll cycle back into town as the sun sets!

4. Visit Las Tintoreras: This isn’t a snorkeling tour but a boat tour that takes you to a group of small islands called Las Tintoreras, where there is a penguin colony. You’ll be able to walk on top of the small islands and see sharks and manta rays from above.

5. Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano: If you’re up for a land adventure, spend the morning hiking to Sierra Negra, the most active volcano on the Galapagos Islands. 

Los Tuneles Day Tour

Where to Stay on Floreana Island

Floreana is the one island of the four I didn’t have the chance to visit, and I regret it. With a population of only 150 people, Puerto Velasco Ibarra is one of the world’s smallest and most remote towns. If you visit Floreana, you’ll be rewarded with black sand beaches, the best snorkeling at Devil’s Crown, and pink flamingos!

There is no need to break the places out to stay based on price as there are only a handful of accommodation options on Floreana. A visit to this island may be better as a day trip from Santa Cruz!

Floreana Lava Lodge is the best place to stay on Floreana Island. It’s rustic like the rest of the island. The log cabins have a bed, nightstand, and private bathroom. While it may not be a fancy place to stay, you’ll be able to lean into the remoteness of the location here.

Check Rates and Availability Here.

Sea turtle swimming at Lost Tuneles on Isabela Island.

The 4 Best Things to Do on Floreana Island

1. See Post Office Bay: This unique post office was set up by whalers who needed to get messages back home. They’d leave their letter in a whiskey barrel, and any other sailor passing through, headed where the letter needed to get, would deliver it! Now, tourists will leave messages for themselves or others. Then, when someone else visits, they’ll take a letter to mail and leave their own.

2. Go Snorkeling at Devil’s Crown: If you’re doing a live-aboard cruise, you’ll be able to snorkel at Devil’s Crown, considered one of the best places to snorkel in the Galapagos. However, day tours are no longer permitted here, so if you’re doing a land-based tour, you’ll have to leave this off your itinerary. 

3. Hike to Cormorant Point: Cormorant Point is a short walk from the small town where you can see pink flamingos! There is also Flour Beach, where sea turtles go to lay their eggs. Please don’t walk on the beach to protect their habitat. 

4. Relax on the Beach: Perhaps the best way to spend the day in this remote location is at the black sand beach. You can snorkel here, too, possibly swimming with penguins, sea lions, and sea turtles.

While there are plenty of other places to stay on each of the Galapagos Islands, this list is filled with places I would happily book as a solo female traveler. This list will help you narrow down your search for where to stay in the Galapagos. No matter your budget, you’ll easily find a great place to stay for an epic adventure in the Galapagos Islands.

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Where to stay in the Galapagos Islands.
Travel guide: where to stay in the Galapagos Islands.
Where to stay in Galapagos Islands.

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