Speedboat between Puerto Ayora and Puerto Villamil
Before coming to Galapagos I had read that it is good to buy the ticket for the speedboat a day in advance during high season. As I visited in July and was going to be aboard a boat the day before my departure I was a bit worried not to get a ticket, but the travel agent I had booked the cruise with luckily made a reservation for me.
The office of Cabomar, where I was going to get the ticket, was just one minute away from where I arrived to Puerto Ayora with bus, by the harbour. I paid for the ticket, which was $25 one way (July 2011). The speedboat for Villamil leaves Puerto Ayora at 14.00 every day and I still had some time, so I left the backpacks at the office and went to withdraw money from an ATM and to have lunch.
I went to the harbour half an hour before the boat was going to leave and people were already standing in a queue to have their bags checked.. You are not allowed to bring seeds and fruits between the islands. So there is a control before you travel.
On board we were told to put on our life jackets and we all got a bottle of water and some caramels. I think this was because it was a bit bumpy and at least two people threw up during the journey.
After two hours we arrived to Puerto Villamil. While I was standing on the bridge waiting for my luggage I was very surprised to hear my name called out. It was a taxi driver who were going to take me to Hostal La Jungla where I had made a reservation. I didn’t pay for the taxi ride, but the driver had a few other paying customers going to other hotels.
The boat back to Puerto Ayora leaves already at 6am and as you have to be at the harbour in time, to once again have your bags controlled and to pay the tourist tax ($5) it will be a very early morning. Crossing over to Puerto Ayora the sea was calm and we didn’t have to put on the life jackets. And we didn’t get water or caramels this time. We arrived to Puerto Ayora around 8.30.
In Puerto Ayora I talked with some people who had taken an afternoon boat from Puerto Villamil to Puerto Ayora. It had been one of the daytrip boats going back to Puerto Ayora and the life jackets on board that boat had been very poor and the engine broke down just before they arrived to Puerto Ayora. So it might be better to take the regular speedboat.
Update July 2013: Besides the boat leaving Puerto Ayora at 14.00 there is now also a boat leaving for Isabela at 7.00 in the morning. The price is $30. The boats are now leaving from the new pier.
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From Baltra Airport to Puerto Ayora
When you fly to Galapagos Islands from mainland Ecuador you will either arrive at the airport near Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal, or to the main airport on Isla Baltra. Isla Baltra is a small, flat island just north of Isla Santa Cruz. There are no visitor sites on Isla Baltra, but people are transferred from here to Isla Santa Cruz, or directly to their cruise boat.
The first time I arrived to Baltra was with plane and I was going on a cruise. We (the people going on the cruise) were met at the airport by our guide and, as we were visiting the highlands on Santa Cruz and Charles Darwin Research Station before boarding the boat, we took a bus from the airport to Canal de Itabaca. Frequent ferries are crossing the canal, and on the other side our bus was waiting. The second time I arrived to Baltra was in the end of the cruise when we were all taken to the airport. I was not flying back to the mainland, but was going to Isla Isabela.
From Baltra Airport I took one of the free buses going to the canal. It is a short bus ride, maybe 10-15 minutes. Canal de Itabaca is the narrow canal between Isla Baltra and Isla Santa Cruz. Here you put your bags on the flat roof of the ferry, before boarding it. Tickets for the ferry is sold onboard and I paid $ 0.80 going to Santa Cruz, but only $ 0.50 going the opposite way almost a week later. At the dock on the Santa Cruz side of the canal I immediately found a bus to Puerto Ayora. My big backpack was put on the roof and I went inside to take a seat. Tickets were sold on the bus and it was $ 1.80 (July 2011). To Puerto Ayora it took less than an hour and in Puerto Ayora the bus stopped on Av Charles Darwin, just opposite the harbour. You can also take a taxi from Canal de Itabaca to Puerto Ayora and it is $15 (July 2011).
When it was time to go back to the airport I took a taxi from my hotel in Puerto Ayora to Terminal Terrestre, from where the buses leave. The taxi was $ 1.00. I arrived to the bus terminal at 8am and the next bus to Canal de Itabaca was leaving at 8.40, so they are not very frequent.
Update June/July 2013: Now I paid $0.80 each time I took the boat over the canal. The bus from the canal to Puerto Ayora was still $1.80, but they didn’t put the big luggage on the roof, but in a compartment below. There are a few buses from Puerto Ayora to the canal each morning. To take a taxi between the canal and Puerto Ayora was now $18.
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Daytrip to Floreana
When I was in Puerto Ayora in 2013 I decided to take a day tour to Floreana. I had visited Florean two years previous, but then the visitor sites Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay while on a cruise. The day trips are not allowed to go there but go to Puerto Velasco Ibarra and the highlands, and some time for snorkeling is also included.
In Puerto Ayora different operators had different prices for the day trip to Floreana, ranging between $60 - $90 (June 2013). I asked at the agency where the tour was $90 why their tour was more expensive and they told me it was a difference in service and boat. At Galapagos Mockingbird Tours where the price was $75 they told me they use the same boat as the agency where it was $90. I’m not sure the agencies offering the tour for $60 go to La Lobería for snorkeling. Anyway I had got good information at Galapagos Mockingbird Tours and booked with them. Included in the price was transport, guide, lunch and snorkel equipment.
The next morning we left Puerto Ayora at 8.15. We were back at 16.00. The boat trip took 1.5 each way.
On Floreana we took a chiva from Puerto Velasco Ibarra to Asilo de la Paz in the highlands. There we visited a large corral with Giant Tortoises and the caves where early settlers once had lived. Back in Puerto Velasco Ibarra we ate lunch and visited Playa Negra. Before we returned to Puerto Ayora we snorkeled at La Loberia.
There are no daily speedboats between Puerto Ayora (Isla Santa Cruz) and Puerto Velasco Ibarra (Floreana). If you want to visit on your own and stay the night you can travel with the day tour boats, but of course only if there is space and if there are boats going that day.
For photos and tips about Floreana (Isla Santa Maria) see my travel page here.
In Puerto Ayora you can also buy daytrips to other islands; North Seymour, Isla Plaza Sur, Isla Bartolomé and Isla Isabela. I have visited all these islands while on a cruise, and Isla Isabela independently for a few days as well. There are also daytrips to Santa Cruz highlands. There I have also been while on a cruise, and independently when renting a bicycle.
Speedboat between Puerto Ayora and San Cristobal
On my previous visit to Galapagos Islands I had heard it was good to purchase the tickets for the speedboats one day ahead of departure. Therefore I had planned to stay in Puerto Ayora one night after the cruise before going to San Cristóbal. I changed my plans and hoped there would be a ticket available on the same day I had arrived back to Isla Baltra from a cruise. The bus from the canal stopped just opposite the office of Cobomar, where I had bought a ticket for Isabella two years previous. There was no problem to get a ticket for the boat leaving at 14.00. Besides the speed boat leaving at 14.00 there were now speedboats leaving for San Cristobal and Isabela at 7.00 too. A one-way ticket was $30 (July 2013).
There were several hours left until the boat was leaving so I left my luggage at the office of Cobomar and went out to do a few things in Puerto Ayora. I came back in good time to pick up my luggage as all luggages have to be checked on the pier. You are not allowed to bring seeds and fruits between the islands, so there is a control before you travel.
The speedboats to San Cristóbal and Isabela are leaving from the pier in Puerto Ayora. To the speedboat we had to take a water taxi, which we paid $0.50 for. On the boat there were lifejackets for everyone on the boat and we were told to wear them during the journey. The journey between Puerto Ayora (Isla Santa Cruz) and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (Isla San Cristóbal) took 2h.
I stayed on San Cristóbal several days. The day before it was time to go back to Puerto Ayora I bought a ticket from one of the agencies along Av Charles Darwin. It was $30. The boat left from the pier in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno at 7.00. I was at the pier well in advance as also here the luggage is inspected. The journey to Puerto Ayora took around 2h.
When I visited Galapagos Islands in June/July 2013 I rented a bike three days. It was $10 for half a day and $15 for a full day. One day I cycled to Media Luna and walked to Puntudo, another day I cycled to Los Gemelos (over 20km from Puerto Ayora) and Rancho Primicias, and another day I cycled to El Garrapatero.
In Puerto Ayora there are bicycle lanes, at least along Av Charles Darwin and Av Baltra. Outside town I noticed that they were constructing a bicycle lane along the main road up to Bellavista, and also above. I don’t know if the bicycle lane will eventually be built across the island, or maybe just to Santa Rosa. Anyway, it was far from completed when I visited.
There is not a lot of traffic on Isla Santa Cruz, so even without the bicycle lane it is okay to cycle along the main road. But remember that there will be a lot of uphill from the coast. A great sight when cycling on the dirt road to Rancho Chato 2 was to see a Giant Tortoise walking along the road.
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