The main supermarket on Avenue Charles Darwin in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz was a pretty decent one and considering its location and being on the Galapagos Islands not all that overpriced. It was a pretty basic place, perhaps a bit run down but it was hopping at night with travelers going up and down the isles getting stuff for the next day's excursions. The funniest part was people drinking beer while walking around so they didn't have to pay the deposit on the bottle! Well, they did seem to be enjoying their shopping more too.
What to buy: You could get beer here but if you forgot to bring back the bottles for the deposit money probably not much less than drinking them in cheap restaurants! We loved getting roasted corn. It's like popcorn that isn't quite popped. Very good with...well, yes, beer. The had decent little rolls and yogurt drinks that were good for breakfast too.
There were fishing boats that were filleting fish and chances are offering good deals on them too.
The Charles Darwin Research Station has a couple of gift shops that carry books, clothing, and souvenirs. Anything you buy there sends the profit back to the research station itself.
This is what I bought there:
These practical cargo pants (photo) are perfect for going on land visits to the various islands as they are 3/4 length with drawstring hems, so they won't get wet as you sit in the panga or if you have a wet landing. They dry fast, too, so even if you get down on the dung-covered ground to compose a great shot of an iguana, you can just wash them out in the shower, and pronto! clean pants for tomorrow! They even have an applique badge with the Galapagos National Park symbol sewn on.
What to buy: The big seller in the Galapagos is t-shirts. The ones at the Darwin Station tienda are nice, with tribal-style renderings of turtles and other animals of the islands.
What to pay: T-shirts cost $10 to $12. The cargo pants were closer to $30.
You won't get a lot of opportunities to shop, except on Santa Cruz in Puerto Ayora. Though there is actually a decent small gift shop for last minute items in Baltra airport.
Although the jewelry shop inside this wonderful Art Nouveau building was closed when I strolled past it, I have a feeling the jewelry inside was pretty cool.
What to buy: Be careful that you only purchse items you're sure you can bring back, if your home country limits certain exotic items as the USA does.
This is another exclusive shop with a famous designer (he designs for Tiffany's). The shop is generally only open in the morning, on weekdays, so you may find the gate shut. But you can't miss the white stucco, art-nouveau building with the ornate gate.
Interestingly, we dived with Fabian the younger, who assisted one of the professional underwater photograhers in our group.
This shop is a great place to get those little things you need for outdoor activities. There is a decent variety of packs and duffles, and also practical clothing of good quality that will hold up to wear and washings.
What to buy: I got a few t-shirt dresses with spaghetti straps (couldn't resist) but my favorite thing from Tatoo was a lightweight fleece shirt. I can wear it on its own after a dive in the chilly Pacific Ocean water, or layer it under a jacket for extra warmth. And of course, fleece is so easy to wash and gets dry fast (always a consideration on a dive boat).
What to pay: Again, t-shirts run about $12, the dress may have been $15. The fleece shirt was about $40.
When I looked in the window and saw this necklace handmade of gold turtles, I wanted a closer look. Of course when that closer look included a look at the price tag, all I really took away from the store was this picture. (Sorry about it being out of focus... must have been shaking from sticker-shock.)
However, if you are feeling guilty about having spent a bunch of money to go to the Galapagos *without* your partner, you might consider taking home something unique from the islands, instead of a t-shirt that just says "I Love Boobies." Maybe then you can forgive yourself, LOL.
What to buy: Everything is lovely. Even Miss Universe wears this designer's work.
What to pay: Who cares? You'll only feel it when you get the credit card bill!
You can buy t-shirts all over - but when you buy them at the reserch station, the money goes to support the islands - and when you buy them from some other vendor - the money goes to line their own pockets.
What to buy: There are some funny t-shirts - like the ones that say "I love Boobies"
What to buy:
Shopping is a luxury in the Galapagos and everything is at a premium. We of course bought little souvenirs but paid above and beyond what they were really worth. For example, you can buy cute little shirts with “boobies” on them (the blue footed kind) and books written by Darwin. They are nice to have as a memento of your time there but don’t get a shock when they try to charge you US$35 for a t-shirt.
Food on the other hand is still expensive for South American standards (you won’t need to buy much unless you want snacks or alcohol) but it won’t break the bank. A chocolate bar will cost around US$1 and a bottle of wine from Chile around US$7.
What to buy: If you're stopping for any length of time in Quito or Guayaquil on your trip, then I strongly urge you to do your souvenir shopping in those towns rather than in Puerto Ayora, the only town in Galapagos. Absolutely everything available there is also available on the mainland, for about half or one-third the price. Plus, if you buy things on your way out of the country, you won't have to worry about hauling them on the plane back from the islands.
The only chance we had to shop during our whole trip was at Puerto Ayora towards the end of our trip. There's a strip in the little town where you can buy T Shirts and a few handicrafts , postcards etc. There is also an internet cafe here.
If you don't have time to get to Otovalo market one of the biggest local markets to get some nice crafts and gifts, there is always a street near La Mariscal on Jorge Washington to get some of these cool knick knacks. It's basically street full of artisans.
What to buy: Gotta pick up something with an image of a giant tortoise, or local fabrics that were weaved so carefully, and most importantly pick up some well known Ecuador chocolate and coffee.
What to pay: Between $1-$10 USD at the market. Remember you can bargain. We only figured that out on the last day.
The small street the lines the waterfront and small harbor has a number of shops geared for providing souvineers for tourists. Wood carvings of local species, mugs, shot glasses and the most coveted object d'art of all..... your own "I Love Boobies" t shirt.
When you're leaving the islands you'll probably get to the airport on Santa Cruz early. You can check your bags and go to the shops right outside. I bought a belt for about US$12. Bartering didn't work here. There's a lot of the same tourist things for sale, but it's not bad if you didn't get a chance to shop before.
What to buy: Carved animal figures (small, about 2 inches). I bought a carved wooden turtle and a carved stone iguana.
What to pay: About US$8 each.
Puerto Villamil, Isabela Galapagos Islands, , Ecuador
Good for: Solo
Barrio Punta Estrada S/N, Puerto Ayora, 00000, Ecuador
Good for: Business
Isla Isabela, , Puerto Villamil, Galapagos
Good for: Business