You may have been wondering how we travelled between the different inhabited islands on Galapagos? Or probably you assumed that we had taken boats? Well, yes we did take boats – you can actually fly between the main inhabited islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela – but it’s a lot more expensive than taking a boat. To get to Floreana a boat is the only way.
To facilitate this there is an ‘inter-island ferry service’ – in reality it’s private boat owners filling their boats with people and driving between the islands. However it is regulated, and so the price is fixed at $30 USD per journey for tourists and $25 USD per journey for locals. The dual pricing system is very unofficial – and really equates to $30 USD through a travel agency, and $25 USD direct with the boat owner. We actually got two of our trips at the $25 USD price because the place where we were staying arranged them for us.
The journeys that we took were San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz to Isabela, Isabela back to Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz to Floreana, and Floreana back to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is located centrally compared to the other islands, so every journey starts or ends there – there is no transport directly between the other islands – hence all the backtracking to Santa Cruz. Handily there are flights from the mainland to both San Cristobal and Santa Cruz – so flying into San Cristobal but out of Santa Cruz saves one ferry trip.
The boats hold between 16 and 24 people depending on the size of the boat – and they are basically giant speed boats. The roof doesn’t fully cover the back of the boat, and the nearer you are to the front of the boat, the rougher it is… therefore the best seats on the boat are towards the back, just before the roof ends. In case you are wondering why you wouldn’t want to sit at the back part in the small outdoor area – there are three reasons! Firstly there is the noise and fumes from THREE HUGE outboard motor engines right next to your head. Secondly, if the sun comes out you will be in the baking hot sun, and the speed of the boat makes it impossible to wear a hat (unless you tie it on!). Thirdly, you are going to get soaked – the water splashes over the sides regularly and soaks the whole area at the back. Convinced?
Well, we were convinced anyway – and all the locals know this – so it was important to try and get on the boat early – if you are last on the boat you end up in the dodgy seats! I can happily report though, that we obtained good seats on all of our crossings! 🙂
Each journey between the main islands lasts for around two hours, as they are all roughly the same distance apart – the boats go very fast, and it’s VERY ROUGH. We took the precaution of sea-sickness tablets for each journey and had no problems though 🙂
Like most boat journeys in Galapagos, the large boats don’t come directly to the wharf – they park out in the bay, and you have to wait for water-taxis to take you there and back. These cost 50c to $1.00 US per person (depending on the island)
Some of the better boats had ‘bus-style’ seats fitted around the boat to make the journey more comfortable, whereas on some boats you just had to squash around the side on the standard benches. None of the journeys were too uncomfortable really, so no complaints from us! 🙂
There’s not much else to say about these boats, so I now present our gallery of inter-island Galapagos travel…