This is a call out for all nature enthusiasts, animal lovers, hikers and straight-up tree- huggers!

The Galapagos Islands are a remote archipelago currently administered by Ecuador in South America. And, they should be firmly placed on your bucket list.

The islands are known for their weird and wonderful mix of biodiversity – home to some of the most unique plants and animals in the world. Check out the Blue-footed boobies (don’t worry I’ve Googled them already, you’re safe), they’reone of  my favourites.

Their remote location and small population also make them a great spot for visitors looking for some peace and quiet away from civilisation. You’ll be able to see a huge variety of wildlife, from sea lions, turtles, iguanas and so much more.

There are nineteen islands in total – though only four of these are permanently inhabited. Getting between islands can be a pricey endeavour, so it’s important to understand what each one has to offer before planning your trip.

As you can imagine, deciding where to stay in the Galapagos is no easy task, especially if you’ve never visited before. The best area to stay in will completely depend on you and your Galapagos travel dream (aaaand your budget).

That’s why I’ve created this guide! I’ve figured out what each inhabited island is best for and categorised them to help you better plan your itinerary to this enchanting Ecuadorian outpost.

So without further ado, let’s dive in and figure out which island is best for you!

Which way to the nearest hostel, mate?

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you. Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more.

The Best Places to Stay in the Galapagos Islands

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are my highest recommendations for places to stay on the Galapagos Islands. If you’re travelling on a tight budget, check out some of the amazing hostels in Galapagos – they offer quite a bit of bang for your buck!

Flip Flop House | Best Airbnb in Galapagos

This spacious house comes with excellent reviews – and the host has superhost status, ensuring only the best service standards! Right in the centre of the only town on Isabela Island, Flip Flop House is perfect for those looking for a calm beach vacation. It is also well-sized for families and groups.

Galapagos Dreams | Best Hostel in Galapagos

Galapagos Dreams is the only traditional hostel in the Galapagos Islands allowing you to choose between staying in a dorm or having your own private room! Both options are very well priced given the location, and the hostel is well-rated thanks to their great facilities and social spaces.

Eco Hotel Katarma | Best Hotel in Galapagos

Eco-tourism is the reason so many people visit the Galapagos Islands every year, so it goes without saying that I would include an eco-hotel in my top three! This boutique hotel has been designed using local artists and architects around responsible travel. Most of the materials used are recycled from previous projects.

Galapagos Islands Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Galapagos Islands

Santa Cruz Galapagos

Santa Cruz

In terms of tourism, Santa Cruz is the most popular island in the entire archipelago! The main airport is actually on a separate island – Baltra – however, Santa Cruz is the closest inhabited island, and is only a short ferry ride away.

San Cristobal Galapagos

San Cristóbal

San Cristóbal is the most populous island in the Galapagos, and is home to the administrative capital – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Isabela Island

Isabela Island

The largest island in the archipelago, Isabela is nevertheless quite small population-wise – making it a great pick if you want an easy going and relaxed beach holiday!

Floreana Galapagos


Floreana is easily the most unique of all the islands in terms of culture! By far the least populated, and smallest in size of the inhabited islands.

The Galapagos Islands are fairly close together, but ferries can be expensive. If you’re travelling through Ecuador, this is undoubtedly a consideration. Though all of the islands are great for natural beauty, some have larger populations (and therefore more facilities) than others, so where you end up largely depends on what you want to get out of your trip to the archipelago.

Santa Cruz Island is one of the most popular destinations, especially for nature lovers! Of the inhabited islands, Santa Cruz houses the best-known nature reserves, and most attractions in the island can be easily reached by a short hike from the main town. Though all of the tourist accommodation is in Puerto Ayora, the other towns are also worth a visit.

In terms of population, however, San Cristóbal Island is the largest island in the archipelago! Backpacking the Galapagos Islands is notoriously expensive, however, a good way to save money is to base yourself in the largest town – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, which is on this island. Facilities are also more widely available than in other remote locations, making it a good choice for those that want their home comforts.

Isabela Island, on the other hand, is the largest island in terms of physical size. Though not as often visited as San Cristóbal Island and Santa Cruz Island, Isabela Island has a reasonably sized main town that comes with all the facilities you need for a short stay on the islands. This convenience, alongside the calm atmosphere and the great water sports facilities, make it an excellent choice for families.

Finally, there is Floreana Island. This island might be the smallest of the inhabited islands – both in terms of size and population – but it still makes for an interesting trip for those looking for something a bit different!

The extreme isolation makes it feel somewhat like a time capsule but is ideal if you are looking to spend some time away from humanity. The few people that do live there are known for their friendliness, and overall the Galapagos is the safest place in Ecuador.

Galapagos’s 4 Best Islands to Stay On

Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the four best islands in Galapagos. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the one that’s right for you.

#1 Santa Cruz Island – Where to stay in Galapagos for the First Time

In terms of tourism, Santa Cruz Island is the most popular island in the entire archipelago! The main airport is actually on a separate island – Baltra – however, Santa Cruz Island is the closest inhabited island, and is only a short ferry ride away. This makes it the most convenient option if you are only staying for a few days.

Santa Cruz Galapagos

Convenience aside, Santa Cruz Island is home to the most popular nature reserves, and also has plenty of water sports activities! The island played a major role during the eco-tourism boom in the area, and has the largest collection of hotels in Galapagos as well as restaurants and shops for visitors to enjoy during their stay.

Bright Garden Bungalow | Beautiful Bungalow in Santa Cruz

This gorgeous bungalow is in a peaceful corner of Santa Cruz Island – only a couple of minutes away from Charles Darwin Research Station! It is surrounded by a luscious garden, letting you enjoy your own slice of the native fauna. Filtered water is also available – giving you extra peace of mind when cleaning.

Galapagos Dreams | Best Hostel Santa Cruz

This is the only typical hostel in the islands where you can opt to stay in a dorm, and it is also the best priced! Galapagos Dreams is within easy walking distance of all the main attractions on Santa Cruz, and they provide regular social events where you can mingle with others.

Boutique Hotel Galapagos Habitat | Best Hotel in Santa Cruz

This gorgeous five-star hotel is easily the priciest on the island – but absolutely worth it for anyone willing to splurge! Rooms are kitted out with the latest technology, and many people claim the hotel has the fastest WiFi on the island. Breakfast is provided for free, as is bicycle hire. It has everything you would expect from one of the best hotels in the Galapagos!

Things to See and Do in Santa Cruz

  1. Snorkel off the coast at Tortuga Bay – the perfect spot to check out native ocean life and possibly even a few turtles
  2. If you want a guaranteed turtle sighting, head to Charles Darwin Research Station – it is free for guests and is the largest breeding area on the islands
  3. There are plenty of bicycle hire places in Puerto Ayora – hire one for a day and take a trip around the coast of the island
  4. Garrapatero Beach is a black sandy beach that is accessible by a short 2.5km hike from the main town – perfect for spotting crabs and flamingos
  5. Climb to the top of Los Gemelos, two volcanic craters above the clouds where you can spot native birdlife
  6. Bongo is a popular restaurant and bar in the heart of Puerto Ayora – they have well-priced food during the day and live music in the evenings
Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
audy on top of a mountain in japan with the osprey aether

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

View on Osprey View on REI

#2 San Cristóbal Island – Where to stay on Galapagos Islands on a Budget

San Cristóbal Island is the most populous island in the Galapagos and is home to the administrative capital – Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. For visitors on a budget, San Cristóbal Island is slightly cheaper than elsewhere in the Galapagos Islands thanks to this large population as most good from the mainland arrive here before continuing to the other islands!

San Cristobal Galapagos

It is also the best island for discovering local culture! Though fairly similar to the culture of mainland Ecuador, the isolation has given the Galapagos Islands some quirks that can be best observed in the capital. This is the only part of the archipelago with multiple bars – and even a nightclub.

Galeodan Penthouse Suite | Gorgeous Apartment in San Cristóbal

This spectacular penthouse apartment comes with unbeatable views across the harbour – giving you the perfect space to wake up every morning! There is a private patio, as well as a king-sized bed to provide ultimate comfort. It is only a five-minute walk away from the town centre, and a stone’s throw from the beach.

Hostal Gosen | Best Hostel San Cristóbal

Like most hostels in the Galapagos Islands, Hostal Gosen only provides private rooms – but nevertheless has a sociable atmosphere and great communal facilities! Hostal Gosen actually has the cheapest private rooms in the entire archipelago, making them a great choice for backpackers that want some privacy.

Eco Hotel Katarma | Best Hotel in San Cristóbal

Aside from the obvious environmental benefits of the Eco Hotel Katarma, there are plenty of fantastic facilities to ensure you enjoy your stay! There is a great outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and a buffet breakfast is provided every morning. Rooms come with blackout curtains, as well as luxury toiletries. Who said a stay at Galapagos islands hotels can’t be luxurious?

Things to See and Do in San Cristóbal

  1. Hop onboard the 360 Tour – one of the best highlight tours in Galapagos, this ride stops at four different sites around the island (though only lets you off at two due to government regulations)
  2. Want to try camping? Puerto Chino is your best bet – it’s one of the few spots on the islands that doesn’t require a licensed guide
  3. The Interpretation Centre is a great attraction if you want to learn about the history – both natural and cultural – of the islands
  4. Playa Mann is the main beach in the capital – popular with locals at weekends, you can also spot sea lions on quieter periods
  5. Calypso is the only ‘nightclub’ on the island – it is quite old fashioned, but an interesting way to mingle with locals and discover their culture
  6. If you need to nurse a hangover after a night at Calypso, head to Fresco Cafe where you can enjoy a cheap espresso overlooking the harbour
  7. Take a scenic boat trip around the nearby islands such as Espanola Island, Lobos Island and Kicker Rock.

#3 Isabela Island – Best Island in Galapagos for Families

The largest island in the archipelago, Isabela Island is nevertheless quite small population-wise – making it a great pick if you want an easy-going and relaxed beach holiday! For families, there are plenty of activities across the island to keep the kids entertained, whilst adults will love the white sandy beaches and laid-back bars.

Isabela Island

The entire population is based in Puerto Villamil. As such, this is where all of the best restaurants, bars and hotels in Galapagos are located. There are no banks on the island, so make sure to bring plenty of cash with you! If you can handle it, this just adds to the secluded paradise atmosphere of Isabela Island.

Flip Flop House | Spacious Family House in Isabela

The ideal size for a family of four, Flip Flop House is well located – giving you easy access to the local shops and restaurants! The lounge area comes with a large television, as well as a collection of DVDs. There are two bathrooms – perfect if you want a separate area for the kids.

Hostal La Gran Tortuga | Best Hostel Isabela

This family-owned hostel is perfect for backpackers and families looking to enjoy a cosy and local atmosphere! They offer single, double and triple rooms – making them perfect for both solo travellers and groups. Rooms are basic but come with full air conditioning and warm filtered water in the bathroom.

The Wooden House Boutique Hotel | Best Hotel in Isabela

This stunning four-star Galapagos hotel is located right on the beachfront and is perfect if you are packing for a beach holiday of sun and relaxation whilst on the Galapagos Islands! There is an outdoor swimming pool, as well as a large sunbathing terrace with an onsite restaurant serving up delicious meals. There’s also an onsite diving school, as well as snorkelling, biking, and kayaking rentals. A complimentary breakfast buffet is included each morning.

Things to See and Do in Isabela Island

  1. The hike to the Wall of Tears is packed with highlights – including beautiful lakes, flocks of flamingos and iguana filled beaches
  2. The Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre on Isabela is smaller than others on the islands, but still has some great information about the native species
  3. Head to Los Tuneles – a tour is advised, but the day-long excursion involves walking through volcanic tunnels, snorkelling and shark spotting
  4. Concha de Perla is another great snorkelling spot – and you are even permitted to play with the native sea lion population
  5. Encantado de Pepa is a hugely popular cafe with locals, not least because of its owner who is somewhat of a local character – the location also helps
  6. Bar Casa Rosada is a great hangout spot in the evening – with live music, a laid back atmosphere and volleyball
  7. Enjoy some kayaking and snorkelling in the bay of Puerto Villamil.
The Future of the SIM Card is HERE!
mockup of a person holding a smartphone in white background with Holafly logo

A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!

An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected the minute you land. It’s that easy.

Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.

Grab an eSIM!

#4 Floreana Island – Coolest Place to Stay in Galapagos

Floreana Island is easily the most unique of all the islands in terms of culture! By far the least populated, and smallest in size of the inhabited islands, Floreana Island is a destination for visitors that want to experience true solitude. Tourism has picked up somewhat in recent years, but is still nowhere near the level of other islands.

Floreana Galapagos

Floreana Island has an interesting history involving the first Norwegian settlers in the islands, and has gone from being one of the least desirable islands to a fulfilling getaway spot! There might not be as many activities as on other islands, but it is certainly an adventurous experience.

Black Beach Private Room | Best Private Room in Floreana

Well, it’s literally the only Airbnb on Floreana Island, so lucky it’s a nice one! The photos for this listing are… nonexistent… but the host has received rave reviews and the coveted ‘Superhost’ status. The rooms are basic, but you just can’t look past that location: perched on the edge of a paradisical black beach just two minutes from the dock.

Black Beach House | Best Villa in Floreana

Whilst there aren’t many Airbnbs on Floreana, Black Beach House is a private villa that can be reserved through! The two-bedroom villa can sleep up to six people and is only a short walk away from most of the activities on the island. There is also a terrace overlooking the ocean.

Hostal Santa Maria | Best Hostel Floreana

The Hosta Santa Maria is the first guesthouse on the island – and a great option for backpackers wanting to enjoy the seclusion of Floreana! It is located right on the coast and is a short walk away from the only town on the island – giving you an added sense of isolation.

Casa de Lelia | Best Hotel in Floreana

Until recently there was only one hotel on the island – until Casa de Lelia opened their doors! This is a very basic hotel, due to the limited facilities available on the island, but is locally owned and well-rated by previous guests. A small buffet breakfast is provided every morning.

Things to See and Do in Floreana Island

  1. Post Office Bay is a unique attraction where visitors leave postcards addressed to themselves – whilst new visitors take old postcards and aim to hand-deliver them
  2. Punta Cormorant is the only notable hiking trail on the island, but it is often touted as the best route for spotting flamingos – as well as green volcanic gems
  3. Devil’s Crown is an excellent snorkelling area filled with native sea life amongst a collapsed volcano – and what’s more, it doesn’t have as many tourists as others
  4. The Wittmer Family Hotel is the only shop and restaurant on the island – it’s expensive and takes cash, but has some truly unique souvenirs
Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

Hide Yo’ Money!

FAQs about Finding a Place to Stay in Galapagos

Here’s what people usually ask us about the areas of Galapagos and where to stay.

What To Pack For Galapagos

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Galapagos

If you’re setting off to the Galapagos Islands, it’s going to pay to be prepared. The absolute best way to do this is with good travel insurance.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay on Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands have managed to successfully retain their natural beauty – and in a world increasingly looking for more environmentally friendly travel options, the islands provide plenty of options. They also have an interesting culture that often goes overlooked but is well worth exploring.

In terms of the best island, I’m going to go with San Cristóbal! It has the most facilities available and has a great selection of all the fantastic attractions that make the Galapagos Islands a worthy destination. As for where to stay on Galopgas Islands after you arrive?

Book yourself into the Galeodan Penthouse Suite on San Cristóbal for an amazing retreat in your own little garden of paradise. For a more budget choice, however, you’ll have to head over to Santa Cruz Island and check into Galapagos Dreams – the best hostel in the Galapagos Islands.

That being said, depending on how isolated you want to be each of the inhabited islands has their own charms and are well worth exploring. I hope I’ve helped you narrow down your options.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more info on travelling to Galapagos and Ecuador?
Galapagos Islands are this exciting. Giggidy.