A Practical Guide to Flying to Santa Cruz Galapagos with Kids – New For 2024

Flying to Santa Cruz Galapagos with kids is not straightforward, but for excellent reasons!

The Galapagos Islands, with their rich wildlife and pristine beaches, draw visitors worldwide. However, welcoming 150,000 tourists annually poses a significant challenge in balancing visitor experience with protecting the delicate ecosystems of the islands.

Georgia and Eva walking along the edge of the blue shores in Tortuga Bay with white sand to their right and mangroves in the distance.
Beautiful, yet incredibly fragile

To help ensure that no invasive species, including humans, wreak havoc on the island’s incredible wildlife, there are several extra biosecurity checks when you fly to Santa Cruz Island with kids.

These checks at the airport take time; it took an extra 40 minutes to get the four of us through the check-in process, so make sure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

When you fly to Santa Cruz Island with kids, there is also the small matter of geography to contend with. For a start, the main airport for Santa Cruz is not in Santa Cruz! It is over the Itabaca Channel on Isla Baltra! Fortunately, there is excellent infrastructure to get you over the water and to Puerto Ayora, the main tourist area.

Don’t let this put you off; we arrived in Santa Cruz Galapagos with our kids Georgia and Eva after a rather hellish journey due to the civil unrest in Ecuador, but even in our sleep-deprived state, we made it to our hotel, and with this guide, you will too!

Planning a family vacation to Santa Cruz, Galapagos? Don’t miss our complete guide to making the most of this extraordinary island. Whether it’s wildlife encounters, stunning beaches, or adventure activities you’re after, our guide has it all covered.

Discovering Santa Cruz Galapagos With Kids

At The Airport

Step 1

When you arrive at the airport, before you can check your baggage with the airline, you need to go to the desk of the catchily titled “Agency for Regulation and Control of Biosafety and Quarantine for Galapagos” (Agencia de Regulación y Control de la Bioseguridad y Cuarentena para Galápagos), to get a Transit Control Document which is effectively an extra layer of immigration control for the islands.

People talking to security staff at the Agency for Regulation and Control of Biosafety and Quarantine for Galapagos at Guayaquil Airport getting their green card.
Before you can check in, you have to register here.

The Agency desk at Guayaquil Airport is just to the left of the LATAM check-in desks. To issue the Transit Control Document, the border guards need to see your passports and proof of a return flight. The maximum time you can spend on the islands as a visitor is 60 days.

A close up of a transit control card to get on to the Galapagos Islands
The Transit Control Document

There is a fee of 20 USD per person to issue the document (no discounts for kids), and payment is cash only. Try to have the correct money. We paid the 80 USD for the four of us with a hundred-dollar bill, and there were some complaints about finding us the change.

This is the slowest step of the whole process. Due to our flights, we arrived early and were one of the first in the queue, and it took us maybe 25 minutes to get our Transit Control Document. Those at the back of the queue may well have waited much longer.

Step 2

Once you have your Transit Control Document, your bags are then put through a special scanner to check for organic material.

Bringing any meat (cooked or uncooked), plants, flowers, fruits, seeds, animals, wood (including handicrafts), or soil is strictly forbidden.

Once your bags have been scanned and cleared, they are then marked with a cable tie or tape.

A green plastic tag attached to the zip of a pink suitcase showing it has been cleard by the bio security scanner.
Three backsacks piled on the floor with tape wrapped around the top to show they have cleared bio security at Guyuaquil airport.
The bags ready for the plane!

Step 3

Now you can check in as normal! Visit the little kiosk to print your boarding passes and baggage tags, show your passport, drop bags off, and all that malarky.

In The Air

Step 4

On the flight, you are issued with a customs affidavit where you state if you are bringing anything into the islands that you should not be. You are not given a pen to fill this form in, so remember to bring one with you. We ended up raiding the girl’s pencil cases and passing coloured pens around the flight!

Someone holding a sworn declaration of goods card for the Galapagos Islands ready to be filled in.
The declaracion juramentada de mercanciassworn declaration of goods.

The back of the affidavit includes a fantastic bit of Spanglish: These offences will incur a fine equivalent of up to five of the Unified Basic Remunerations – we have no idea what these are, but they sound terrifying!

Arriving On The Galapagos Islands With Kids

Step 5

We are getting there!

Passengers walking under the 'First in the World', Galapagos ecological airport sign after disembarking from their flight.
One of our favourite airports!

When you land at Galápagos Ecologico Airport, you head to Passport Control as normal, where you get the coolest passport stamp to add to your collection! Passport Control is a two-stage process; the first officer checks your passport and the Transit Control Document and takes the customs affidavit.

You are given half the Transit Control Document back, which you must retain for your departure, so keep it safe with your passport.

Step 6

You then move to the next border officer (sat right next to the first), to whom you pay the entry tax of 100 USD per adult and 50 USD per child under 12. It cost 300 USD for us to pass the border – ouch! Once again, this is cash only.

Sorry, no pictures of this due to security.

Getting To Puerto Ayora

Step 7

The hard bit is done! Now, you just need to get to your accommodation, and the odds are you will be staying in or close to Puerto Ayora.

Get your bags, then head outside to the bus ticket office (through the main doors and to the right) and buy a bus ticket to the ferry terminal. It costs 5 USD per adult and 2.50 USD per child. Again, cash only.

A lady standing at the bus ticket office at Baltra Airport on the Galapagos Islands getting her ticket.
The bus ticket office is clearly signed.

A nice chap will load your bags onto the bus, sit back with your family and enjoy the audio tour in both Spanish and English as you drive to the ferry port. You will almost certainly start to see some amazing wildlife on the way!

People queing at the ferry terminal at the Itabaca Channel waiting to catch the boat to Santa Cruz.
The ferry port to Santa Cruz

Step 8

Jump off the bus, take a picture with the giant Galapagos sign, and then board your ferry over the Itabaca Channel to the mainland. Don’t worry about your bags; they will be moved onto the ferry by another nice chap.

Georgia & Eva posing on the Galapogos Baltra sign with the Itabaca Channel in the background

The ferry is $1 per person (cash only, no discount for kids) and the crossing takes 5 minutes.

An empty water taxi on the Itabaca Chanel with mangroves and cliffs in the background
The water ferries are a little….basic.

Step 9

The last push!

Here, you have a choice; you can either take a bus to Puerto Ayora ($5 per person, no discount for kids), which takes about 40 minutes, or you can pre-book a private taxi.

We took the second option through Taxi Express Galapagos, and it cost us 40 USD for the four of us.

Kirsty and the girls in the backseats of a pickup truck with the wind blowing their hair over their faces.

We are glad we did as, frankly, our journey had been hellish and involved dodging a mild civil war, sleeping on the floor of Guayaquil airport as our insurance would not cover us if we left, and a delayed flight. We are glad to be dropped off directly at our hotel with no fuss!

You Made It!

There we have it! We hope you didn’t find flying to Santa Cruz Galapagos with kids too stressful! Fortunately, the island’s incredible beauty and wildlife will more than makeup for the challenges of getting there!

If you think we have missed anything or anything here needs updating, please let us know.

The Spencer Family

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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