Your Guide to Photographing the Galapagos Islands

It’s likely that many people who visit the Galapagos Islands will have one, or perhaps only a few, chances in their lives to discover this archipelago’s beautiful ecosystems, superb scenery and incredible diversity. And it’s precisely for that reason that good photography is so important! At Ailola Galapagos, we see the same beautiful stuff every day. But you might not, so take our word for it with this guide to photographing the Galapagos Islands, to have your memories saved for life!

Act the goat

Due to the tight controls on visitation and the lack of predators on the islands, the animals of the Galapagos Islands have come to be wrapped in a cotton wool of sorts. For that reason, the islands’ animals barely flinch at the sight of human beings and will often be more than comfortable with having you nearby snapping away at them with your camera. Just watch out for those vampire finches!

Swim deep for that magic shot

Magic shot in the Pacific Ocean Indescribable is the underwater magic you’ll be able to capture on your camera when visiting the Galapagos Islands. But come prepared, as last minute “I can’t take underwater photos” meltdowns cannot be remedied on this archipelago; you’ll have to bring or hire a waterproof housing before you come, or chose to bring or buy a waterproof camera. Depending on how much of a photo fan you are, it may all be worth it!

LENSES or lenses?

Anticipating you’ll have the chance to get close to animals on the islands, while seeing birds fly above you, and spotting sea creatures popping up distantly on the horizon, start thinking about your lenses! Bringing a healthy range of lenses will offer you the flexibility to get a range of shots from a range of scenarios. Keep in mind it may be frustrating to continually change your lens – not to mention carry them around with you – so try to rely on something you’re comfortable with and limit yourself to, say, three.

Double up on your cameras

Doubled up cameras If you’re sure you’ll end up heart broken at the loss of photos, or even if happy snaps and animal spotting through your camera lens is what your trip to the Galapagos Islands is all about, then take two cameras! The second might be a small, cheap version, even a disposable, for example. The idea is that you want to avoid losing your prized photos no matter what.

Consider a polarizing filter

Much of your transport on the archipelago will involve island hopping by boat. In some cases you’ll be gliding over very clear, pristine blue seas where you’ll easily spot underwater critters worth snapping photos of. To get the most out of these types of photo opportunities consider bringing or buying a polarizing filter for your SLR camera, if that’s what you’re carrying. This will not only cut out the glare, you’ll also be able to shoot deeper into the water.


Equipment for the perfect shot For some photo junkies, the follow list may seem offensive, for there are certain items in the world of cameras that aren’t just accessories, but must-haves!

  • A good, waterproof camera bag. You’ll be on an archipelago, remember, which means a lot of your trip to the Galapagos Islands will involve getting on and off boats and potentially getting your precious camera and accessories wet. Avoid that!
  • Batteries and chargers. It goes without saying, how many people do you know forget to bring their camera, phone or computer chargers on vacations? Have you got your toothbrush?
  • Your computer. Hardly an accessory for some tasks, a computer is an important part of the photo-taking jigsaw puzzle, especially if you’re prone to taking hundreds, even thousands of photos while vacationing. Consider an external hard drive, as well!
  • Memory cards. Big-time photographers know what we’re saying: it’s all about the memory cards. If you’re not willing to bring your computer with you, or simply can’t be bothered carting it around, then memory cards – and lots of them – are what you need.
  • Cleaning cloths for your lenses. Wind, rain, sunshine – all the elements come out to play on the Galapagos Islands. Protect your camera in not only the appropriate camera bag, but by using cleaning cloths as regularly as you can. Of course, you have to pack them first!


When it comes to good photography, the weather and the time of the day can be either your worst enemies or best friends. Taking into account the types of organized activities you’ll be participating in, try planning your day around the sun, the sky and the weather. Mornings are great for sunrise shots and images of those early birds, not just you, hovering about the islands. Bright daytime shots might send you underwater, where the glare of the sun won’t throw your photos off balance. And night, well, good luck with that!

If you’re enrolling in one of our premium Spanish courses, find out about some of the activities we have on offer so you can start planning your photography experience on the Galapagos Islands!

Jayson McNamara

Jayson McNamara

I'm an Australian freelance journalist, writer and a TV production fixer in Buenos Aires. I have reported for broadcast media in Australia and New Zealand. I'm passionate about travel and history.

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