What not to do in or bring to Galapagos

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Everything you should not do in or bring to the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos archipelago is one of the most unique and special places on earth.

Being relatively young, not more than 5 million years old, the islands are still being formed on their most western points to this day.

Due to its remote location in the Pacific Ocean, extraordinary and mostly endemic species of animals and plants call it home. 

Thanks to Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, the Galapagos became the spotlight of modern evolutionary biology. 

Today, almost 100% of its territory (besides the handful of settlements) and surrounding waters are protected by a national park and its regulations.

Therefore, there are strict rules for inhabitants and visitors in order to protect flora and fauna, and keep the entire ecosystem intact, with minimal human interference.

This blog post has assembled an extensive list of what not to do, what not to bring, and how to behave when traveling to the Galapagos. 


Note: Most of these tips are actual laws, so please take them seriously, as it might get you in trouble not following them.

Things you should NOT do on the Galapagos Islands

Don’t feed the wildlife!

Feeding animals disrupts their natural behaviors and can lead to dependency on human food, altering the ecosystem’s balance. 

Don’t approach animals too closely!

Most animals here have no natural predators and are not shy at all. Stay at a distance of at least 3 meters. If a curious Blue-footed boobie comes closer, take a step back and especially do not touch it. 

Stay on the path!

This is especially important, in order not to destroy plants and disrupt nesting sites.

Don’t take souvenirs!

Remove nothing from the islands. Stones, corrals, plants, seeds, or even eggs, animals.

Leave everything alone and in place.

Listen to your guide!

He knows the National Park regulations best and will make sure you have an optimal experience.

Don’t litter!

Take all the trash you produce back to the hotel or cruise ship with you. Even organic stuff like banana peels.

Don’t use single-use plastics!

To reduce the plastic pollution of the oceans, try to use as little plastics as possible. Carry a refillable water bottle with you.

Don’t overconsume resources! 

The islands have limited resources, so use water, electricity, and other resources responsibly.

Things you should NOT bring to the Galapagos Islands

Plastic Bottles

Plastic waste is harmful to marine life and ecosystems, and the islands have strict regulations to minimize plastic pollution.

Invasive Species

Plants, seeds, animals, or insects not native to the Galapagos could disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem. 

To protect the islands from invasive insects, all planes westbound to Galapagos are routinely sprayed with insecticides within the cabin.

Also, all luggage will be checked by sniffing dogs after landing, to detect plants or open foods.

Non-Biodegradable Sunscreen

Chemicals in regular sunscreen can harm marine life and damage coral reefs.

Stick with reef-friendly products.


Fishing gear or hunting equipment

Both are strictly prohibited by law for tourists.

Fishing is under regulations and only possible for locals who fish with a line and for their own and the traveler’s consumption.



This is not completely true but should be mentioned.

Flying drones is only permitted over private properties. 

Over 97% of the land mass, and 99% of the sea surface surrounding the islands, which belong to the National Park, flying your drone is prohibited.

Exceptions, for example for documentary film recordings, require a special permit, which can be issued ahead of time with the local government, with bureaucratic hurdles, and at high cost.

The Galapagos Islands provide a window on time. In a geologic sense, the islands are young, yet they appear ancient.

– Frans Lanting / Photographer, author

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