Every tourist wants to bring home a souvenir or two from their trip – and of course, the Galapagos Islands are no exception.
Whether you’re looking to pick up the usual t-shirts and post cards or shopping for some unusual gift, we’ll give you the insights, straight from these Enchanted Isles. There are, however, some things to avoid buying.
What Not to Buy
Galapagos National Park regulations prohibit the sale of souvenirs made from banned materials like sea shells, coral, lava rock, animal parts and any endemic species (that is, plants or animals unique to the Galapagos Islands).
A good rule of thumb in responsible traveling is to buy locally. Keep in mind the source of the souvenirs. It is obvious that some are not from Galapagos or Ecuador at all, but clearly marked China or some other foreign country.
Where to Buy
Dozens of souvenir shops line the main drags of Galapagos towns, especially Charles Darwin Avenue in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz’ main town. You can spend hours browsing for that perfect souvenir. Local craft markets are found on several of the islands, including at the airport in Baltra (serving Santa Cruz Island) and in Puerto Ayora.
Some shops do more than just sell souvenirs. Lonesome George, which sells high-quality clothing and outdoor accessories at its stores in Puerto Ayora, Baltra and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (San Cristóbal Island), donates part of its profits to fund environmental education projects with youth in Galapagos and beyond.
Although the Galapagos Islands is a national park, three percent of its land is reserved for urban and agricultural use. Coffee is of the local products you can pick up on to share with your friends and family back home. Many souvenir shops and local grocery stores sell packages of whole bean and ground coffee. You can also visit an organic coffee farm, like Lava Java on Santa Cruz Island or El Cafetal on San Cristobal.
Another delicious Galapagos food to take home with you is Chocolapagos, chocolates in the shape of tortoises and other Galapagos fauna, handmade with all local ingredients. These are available only in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.
For that Something Special
Galapagos also has local artists and artisans that craft the Islands’ inspiration into one-of-a-kind works. Their creations will make a special gift for your loved ones – or yourself!
For jewelry depicting Galapagos’ varied fauna, check out Galapagos Jewelry in Puerto Ayora where the Quintero family has been crafting earrings, necklaces and other adornments for three generations. Tortoise Jewelry, also in Puerto Ayora, features beautiful and unique jewelry by several local and Ecuadorian artisans. A wide range of Latin American art including textiles, sculpture and jewelry can be found in two Galería Aymara shops in Puerto Ayora and another at Baltra airport.
To add a special touch to your home, pick up a painting by Magno Bennett, who lives on San Cristóbal Island, or by Dolores Herrera on Santa Cruz Island. Sarah Darling, a painting and fine crafts artist, has Angelique Gallery in Puerto Ayora.
Have you returned home from the Galapagos islands with a souvenir? Or did someone bring one home for you? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Photo credit: Paul Krawczuk