What no one tells you about the Galapagos Islands

What no one tells you about the Galapagos Islands

By on November 16, 2018

I can write so many good blogs about the Galapagos Islands, but what about the truth? Are these islands really paradise? To be honest they were a bit disappointing. Everyone told me it would be amazing, the most beautiful place I’d ever go to and that I would see animals everywhere. Well, to make sure you’ll go there with more accurate expectations, this is what no one tells you about the Galapagos Islands.

1. There is no reef

The underwater world in Galapagos was very different than I expected. Ok, maybe I am a bit spoiled having been to the most beautiful places such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Great Barrier Reef, but honestly, I thought it would be similar or maybe more beautiful. Instead, everything was grey. No colourful coral at all. How was I supposed to know it’s a volcanic island and therefore everything around it is dead?

2. There live 25.000 people on the islands

I had this dreamy idea of the Galapagos islands as a very remote place, kind of the true paradise you’ve always looked for. But the reality is that over 25 thousand people live there in ugly cities! When we arrived in Santa Cruz we couldn’t believe it. We just paid €450 for our flight from Quito only and another €140 to enter the islands to be in a city. Where are the animals, white beaches and clear blue water?

3. You really have to go to see the animals, they aren't everywhere

One of the things I did know about the Galapagos is that I would see animals everywhere – that’s actually what motivated me to go. So, crazily enough, I expected to see animals everywhere. I was a bit disappointed when it turned out that if you wanted to see sea lions, you really had to go to a beach where they were. If you wanted to see flamingos, you went to the lake where they were. In between those places you didn’t see anything.

4. You have to pay a lot of money for literally EVERYTHING

As you haven’t paid enough to get to the islands (€450 from the mainland of Ecuador), you also have to pay 100 USD to enter the island and another 20 USD for your bag to enter. Then you have to pay again when you enter other islands (!) too. Next to this, all activities are just ridiculously expensive. We paid 180 USD for two 30 min dives – it was the most expensive week of my life.

5. The water isn't clear

I really hope it was just the time of the year (I went in December) but the water wasn’t clear at all. I went diving to see hammerhead sharks and they must have been amazing if I could only have seen them a little bit better through clear water.

6. It is very often cloudy

For some reason you just think the skies will be blue at a paradise destination as Galapagos. Unfortunately, it is very often cloudy. So keep this in mind if you’re looking forward to a brilliant blue sky holiday.

7. The landscape is super dry

Maybe this is also because it’s volcanic but the nature (flora) on the whole island is either dead or just very very dry. Ok, there are some really cool cactuses (I loved them), but that’s it really.

8. They cancel trips like it’s nothing

We visited the Galapagos Islands for Christmas and booked a last minute yacht trip. We were very excited about this 4-day adventure that cost us a few thousand dollars. But then, one night before we would leave, the trip was suddenly cancelled. With an apology and way too many banknotes in our pockets (yes, we had to pay in cash) we decided to just laugh about it and find our own way around the islands.


Instagram VS reality


What no one tells you about the Galapagos Islands

Important to say is that we had a brilliant trip. We really loved our time there. We simply expected it to be different.

Also, I’ve thought a long time (almost two years) about whether or not I should share this blog post. I’m generally not a negative person. However, I think it’s important to share experiences like this in order to set your expectations right. Maybe I just didn’t do enough research before I went or maybe everyone that goes paid so much money that they are afraid to tell the truth.

For now though, I would recommend to spend your money on other destinations. Need inspiration? Maybe one of the 15 places you never thought to visit but really should.

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What no one tells you about the Galapagos Islands
  1. Reply


    November 20, 2018

    For me this was a trip of a lifetime, loved every minute of it. But I never expected beaches, we did our research before we went. We saw amazing landscapes and animals that you can only see in the Galapagos. Our experience is much different than yours. We were on a Celebrity ship, only 96 passengers and many guides that accompany us every day on different islands. It was an adventure and I would go back any time. You don’t really go there for sand and beaches. You go to visit these wonderful protected islands.

  2. Reply


    November 18, 2018

    I can’t wait to go for myself one day and see what it’s really like. This post, and all those juxtaposing it, simply make me even more curious!

  3. Reply

    Chris Roman

    November 17, 2018

    Holy cow! This is such an important experience to share. I haven’t made it to the Galapagos yet, but I’m going to definitely dig through more research before deciding based on some of the things you’ve shared here. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Reply


    November 17, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m amazed I haven’t seen more people sharing stories about this side of the island. I’ve always been hesitant to go because I worried it would be more built up than people let on, so I’m glad for the confirmation! Although I’m sorry your trip got cancelled 😕

  5. Reply

    Finding Yoki

    November 17, 2018

    Great article!! I’ve always wanted to go to Galapagos so this was such a surprise. I’ve never known this unless I read your article. Thank you so much for sharing your honest opinions.

  6. Reply


    November 17, 2018

    I just got back from the Galapagos and had the opposite experience. I mean, I completely agree everything was so expensive, but I thought it was so beautiful there and we saw so much wildlife everywhere. I wonder how different it depending on the time of year you visit.
    You are so right about the tours being extremely overpriced! We got lucky that we made friends with a guy from Ecuador and he was able to get us the local price for everything. We noticed even in stores they would add a tourist tax if we bought something but if our friend bought the same things it would be several dollars cheaper. That annoyed me.

  7. Reply

    Itinera magica

    November 17, 2018

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I hesitated a lot and with that in mind, I think I won’t go, because it’s so expensive I would be disappointed.

  8. Reply


    November 17, 2018

    I haven’t been to the Galapagos yet, mainly because it is so expensive. I can’t believe the tour was cancelled so last minute. I wonder if you would have come to a different conclusion if you were on a tour.

  9. Reply


    November 17, 2018

    Its interesting to read this different perspective. Personally, I loved the Galapagos and would love to go back. I actually saw some of the most colourful coral Ive ever seen whilst I was there and for me it was my best ever snorkel experience with the sea lions. Its such a shame your boat trip got cancelled as I think you may have seen a different side to the Galapagos otherwise. Its awful they gave you such short notice.

    • Reply


      November 17, 2018

      That’s so interesting! I think if you go away from the main islands it must be much better. It makes sense that it’s more busy there, so there are less animals and the sea is less clear. Very jealous of your trip! Guess I have to go back and make sure I can do it on a boat as well 😊

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Born and raised in Amsterdam but always felt the urge to explore the world. Love to go out, meet new people and to discover whatever there is in life :) I just want everyone to be happy and therefore share my tips and tricks to explore the world!


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