I love this group photograph taken on a recent trip to Galapagos, not only because it reminds me of the wonderful trip and the people I shared it with, but also because it reminds me how individual everyone is in terms of how they like to travel. Specifically in this case, how different everyone is about what footwear they like to use!
In the twenty years we have been organising trips to the Galapagos, one of the most common questions guests ask us is what shoes should I pack for a Galapagos cruise? It is also one of the most difficult questions to answer because everyone is so different in terms of what footwear is comfortable and works best for them.
This particular hike was on Genovesa Island, which covered a range of terrain, from wooden steps, to gravel paths and in some parts walking on lava. The trip was in the second half of our eight day Galapagos cruise, so guests had by this stage got a feel for what kind of shoes they liked to use based on what terrain our guide told us we could expect to encounter. As you can see from the photograph the shoes selected ranged by our group of 13 ranged from hiking boots to open toed sandals.
The right shoes can make a real difference to your Galapagos holiday!
Having the right footwear can make your Galapagos trip much more pleasurable and is a crucial detail to get right. So here is a rundown on our top 5 footwear options for Galapagos and our thoughts on the pros and cons of each to help you decide which shoes to take to Galapagos.
Choose 2-3 pairs from the list below
Before I go onto list our top 5 footwear options for Galapagos, just to flag up – we aren’t suggesting you need to take 5 different options with you, rather select your favourite 2 or 3 options for this list. The ideal is to have a combination of sandals for beach and easy terrain walks, combined with walking shoes or boots for more challenging terrain. For visits to the highlands of Santa Cruz we definitely recommend you have filled in shoes and not sandals as there can be fire ants here! For those who wish, an additional pair of deck shoes for inside the yacht may also come in useful (some of the larger yachts require you to wear footwear for meals and don’t allow guests to go barefoot – we can advise you on this).
1. Hiking boots/shoes
A pair of comfortable walking or hiking shoes with good traction is a good idea for the Galapagos Islands as you will be walking on lava and uneven terrain. If you aren’t particularly sure-footed and lose your balance on occasions when walking on uneven terrain, then taller hiking boots with ankle support would be the best option for these kind of hikes. Also for guests who have a visit to Sierra Negra volcano on Isabela island scheduled, it is definitely recommended to have some solid walking or hiking boots as the trail can get muddy and is sometimes wet.
2. Trainers (sneakers)
If you need to pack light and/or are more comfortable walking in trainers even on uneven terrain, then trainers or sneakers may be a good alternative to hiking boots or shoes for some people. The advantage is they are lighter and sometimes cooler to wear. Our advice though would be not to bring your best trainers as the toes can sometimes get damaged if you are walking on lava. If you do have a visit to Sierra Negra volcano in your itinerary, be prepared for them to get covered in mud!
3. Sports or walking style sandals (Teva/Merrell)
These kind of sandals are perfect for walking on the island beaches or easily walkable paths and you don’t need to worry if you get your feet wet during wet landings (when the boat drops you off in shallow water as opposed to the beach). As you can see from the photograph, some people also like to use these on rougher terrain too. Some of the best known brands of this kind of sandal are Teva, Merrell and Keen. We personally prefer those with open toes, however some guests over the years have mentioned that they preferred ones with a toecap to avoid stubbing their toes on lava if they use them for more rocky walks.
4. Water Shoes
Some people prefer to use water shoes for the beach walks and wet landings and bring these along instead of the sports style sandals. This works fine if you prefer to walk in these. I always feel a disadvantage of this kind of footwear is that if you land in the water with them and they are wet, they will be less comfortable to walk in potentially than sandals which are much faster to dry. They also usually have less support than the sports style sandals for walking.
5. Deck Shoes
To keep the inside of the yachts clean, most yachts will require you to leave any outdoor shoes out on deck (safely stored in a box) which means for those who prefer not to go barefoot inside the yacht, it is a good idea to bring along a light pair of deck shoes that you can wear when inside the yacht. These can be whatever you would like as long as they are comfortable and easy to walk around inside a yacht.
One final note on footwear for your trip, if you have a new pair of shoes for the trip, it is a good idea to break them in and ensure they are comfortable before your trip, just in case!
For any help with this or any other questions about your planned Galapagos trip, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we would be delighted to help with any information you may need.