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It's meant to be possible to get to the Galapagos Islands by plane and by boat.

If I return to Ecuador next year, which ports have tours / boats going out to the islands? And would you need to book in advance, or is it likely to be able to pick something up last minute in the port itself? I could afford to hang around a few days if necessary - won't have a tight time schedule.

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Have you tried joining a sailing crew? – mouviciel Nov 22 '13 at 8:12
    
@mouviciel yeah I actually spent a lot of time on findacrew.net last time I was in South America. Frightening number of solo sailors looking for single females to sail with them for 'services'. – Mark Mayo Dec 5 '13 at 8:38
up vote 6 down vote accepted

It seems the boats are leaving from Guayaquil and take 3 to 4 days.

A page of the Galapagos Voyagers web site, gives some information about this.

These are cargo boats that supply the islands with food and other goods required for all the tourists.

One of the two companies that run these boats was the owner of the oil tanker that caused the 2001 Galápagos Islands oil spill.

They only list phone numbers for the two companies, no web sites.

Considering the boats are basic cargo ships and not much cheaper than a plane, I doubt many tourists are using them, still it would be a good idea to call ahead and find out about schedule and prices.

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I tryed to call the two companies, but the telefon numbers in the answer above (link of galapago voyagers web site) are out of order or given away to other companies/people. – Morten Jun 19 '13 at 15:36
    
They will not let you on these. – If you do not know- just GIS Jan 9 at 17:51

Yes it can be done but you need to get away from the major ports. The key is the correct city and it is none of the ones mentioned. Head to Bahia de Caraquez in Manabi province. The many fancy yachts you see by the bridge are the round the world yacht types. Their bar is Puerto Amistad. Go their and ask around and drink with them. Many of the yachts you see have just passed through the Panama Canal and are in Bahia resting up and taking on provisions. Next stop is the Galapagos for many.

This is the bridge and the yachts, the bar is to the left of the bridge on this side. enter image description here

You'll never get on a commercial boat from Guauaquil, Manta, or Esmeraldas but the yachts I have seen take people free of charge for work, company, a few dollars etc.

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There is no chance to hitch hike a boat to the galapagos islands. We tried it several days to get into the harbour of Guayaquil, but they didn't let us in. You need special permissions (like a register for working on a boat). They got even more strict talking about the galapagos islands.

The only way seems to be by airplane.

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I agree you'll never get on one at the the major ports particularly guayaquil but it can be done of you hitch on one of the luxury yachts heading that way from Bahia – If you do not know- just GIS Jan 9 at 18:27

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