Last Update: July 31, 2018
Spending extra time in the Galapagos Islands after your land tour or cruise is a great way to gain a deeper appreciation of the islands.
Knowing when, and how, to transfer between islands on an inter-island ferry in the Galapagos is a bit of a challenge. There is no officially managed public schedule, as it’s not really public transit. The public ferries are run by various private boat owners.
Thankfully, the ferry times have not changed for years. They’re pretty much set up so ferry boats can make a morning and afternoon transfer, meaning the ferry boat captain and his crew are back to their “home” islands and families each evening.
We have the following ferry schedule available for you to save in your bookmarks or copy onto your phone. In most cases there is no need to book a ferry in advance. The day before is usually ok, unless you are visiting during any popular holidays.
Simply look around for signs that say “Tickets” or “Venta” with pictures of fast boats and names of the islands.
Galapagos Ferry Information
Ferries in the Galapagos are actually just basic speedboats, powered with two or three 150-200hp (or more!) engines. The image at the top of this post is a typical boat you’ll find in the Galapagos Islands. Boats used for day tours and for inter-island ferry transfers all look quite similar to this. Some are larger, but not by much, with the capacity in the 25-32 passenger range for most of them. You can expect your ferry boat to almost always be fully booked by the time it departs. There are no large ferry boats or catamaran type ferries you may have traveled on in other countries. Each ferry crossing normally takes between 2-3 hours. In rough seas it can take up to 4 hours, in perfectly calm seas you might make it in less than 2 hours.
Galapagos Ferry Cost
The public ferries cost between $25-35US per passenger, per ride. It’s best to check with a couple of ticket sellers in town before buying your tickets. Chances are they are selling tickets at the same price, but you may be able to save $5/ride by booking a specific boat from a specific seller.
Keep in mind – A ferry at a cheaper price may mean it has less horsepower, so is a slower boat. It could also mean they don’t give you a juice and cookie snack. Or it could mean they simply have a few extra seats they need to sell that day. Sometimes paying the extra $5-10 is worth getting the best boat and service!
Galapagos Ferry Routes
Public ferries only run between Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora) and Isabela (Puerto Villamil) or between Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora) and San Cristobal (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno). There are no public ferries between San Cristobal (Puerto Baquerizo Moreno) and Isabela (Puerto Villamil). There are no regularly scheduled public ferries to Floreana Island. This means if you want to visit Floreana Island overnight you need to take an organized tour such as our 10-day Galapagos Adventure. Or if you want to go from Isabela Island to San Cristobal Island in 1 day, you need to transfer via Santa Cruz, taking two different ferry boats, and it will take you an entire day.
Galapagos Ferry Tickets and Locations
On Santa Cruz Island, the public ferry boats depart from the main pier area in downtown Puerto Ayora. If you know where the supermarket and Hernan’s are, then cross the road to the waterfront and you will be in the right place. The ticket booths near the supermarket area are also the best place to buy your tickets in Puerto Ayora. Arrive at least 30 minutes before ferry departure for baggage inspection. The boarding process in Puerto Ayora can be a bit chaotic on busy days with multiple boats departing at the same time, but don’t panic – they announce each boat by name, so as long as you know what boat you are on (it will be on your ticket), you’ll be fine.
On San Cristobal Island, the public ferry boats used to depart from the boat pier near Casa Blanca Hotel in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. But a new pier was built in 2017, and which is not in the middle of town, across from the Police Station. Another change to the ferries on San Cristobal is that they no longer board directly from the pier, you have to use a water taxi now, just like Isabela and Santa Cruz (cost is $0.50/person). Again, be sure you arrive about 20-30 minutes before departure to clear through the bag inspection process. Walking along the main street in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, you’ll see plenty of ferry ticket board signs outside shops that can sell you tickets.
On Isabela Island, the public ferry boats depart from the dock located outside of town. You’ll need to take a 15-20 walk there or hop in a taxi from town. The taxi should cost $1 per person, but for the early morning ferry they may charge $2 per person. Again, allow extra time to get there for the SICGAL inspection of your bags. Ticket sellers in Puerto Villamil can be found close to the main square in town.
No matter where you are boarding the ferry, if you have a large suitcase, it will be stowed away, out of reach. So keep any needed items on your body, or with a daypack. Good ferry operators will provide you with a snack and some water or juice on the ferry crossing to/from San Cristobal, but it is not guaranteed. Usually there is no snacks or drinks on ferries to/from Isabela.
Galapagos Ferry Schedules
Be sure to arrive at the ferry docks at least 30 minutes before departure for bag inspection and to get checked-in. Last-minute arrivals are at risk of missing their ferry boat.
For public ferry boats between Santa Cruz and Isabela:
Leave Isabela at 6am, arrive Santa Cruz around 8:30-9am
*Leave Santa Cruz at 7am, arrive Isabela around 9:30-10am
Leave Santa Cruz at 2pm, arrive Isabela around 4:30-5pm
*Leave Isabela at 3pm, arrive Santa Cruz around 5:30-6pm
For public ferry boats between Santa Cruz and San Cristobal:
Leave San Cristobal at 7am, arrive Santa Cruz around 9:30-10am
*Leave Santa Cruz at 6:30am, arrive San Cristobal around 9-9:30am
Leave Santa Cruz at 1:30pm, arrive San Cristobal around 4-4:30pm
*Leave San Cristobal at 3pm, arrive Santa Cruz around 5:30-6pm
Generally there are multiple ferry boats leaving all at the same time, and the ticket you buy will grant you space on a specific boat.
*Note: Some ferry schedules you’ll find have only one departure per day, and some ticket sellers only sell tickets to 1 inbound and 1 outbound ride per day. The departures marked with an asterisk may not be available at all ticket seller locations.
Think of it this way – if a family owns 1 boat and only goes back/forth between 1 island each day, they may not be interested in selling other routes or boats if they won’t make much money from it.
Inter-Island Galapagos Ferry Tips
Here are a few tips to make your ferry ride a little more enjoyable in the Galapagos Islands.
1 – If you’re prone to seasickness, let the crew know so they will give you a seat at the back of the boat, where you’ll get some fresh air.
2 – Prepare to get wet if you sit near the back of the boat on a rough, windy or rainy day. (More common from August to December)
3 – Consider bringing your own snack if a simple biscuit and juice box won’t be enough.
4 – Unless it is an emergency, don’t plan to be able to use the toilet on the ride. It will be way too bumpy!
5 – Extra costs – the ferries at Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Island now all require a water taxi transfer to reach your boat. You’re expected to pay cash to the water taxi drivers. The water taxi cost should be $0.50 per person at Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. The cost will be $1 per person at Isabela.
If traveling to / from Baltra, the bus from the airport to the channel is no longer free. Upgrading the service has resulted in a $5 charge for this ride, the price of which may or may not be included in flights or by your tour company now, so be prepared.