SHOPPING IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
Though shopping is perhaps not the first activity that comes to mind when visiting the Galapagos, you’ll find several souvenir stores where you can pick up some interesting mementos of these wonderful islands. T-shirts, many with ethnic-style drawings or paintings of Galapagos birds, turtles and other animals, are the most popular items on sale. Books, posters, postcards, straw hats, hammocks and weavings are also available. Objects depicting the myriad wildlife of the islands – particularly wooden birds – are prevalent. Quality of souvenirs does vary, and items range from the ordinary and relatively cheap to high-quality crafts and jewelry. You can also find a number of items made by local Galapagos artists.
Apart from souvenir shopping, you’ll find markets and grocery stores on all three of the main inhabited islands (Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela), which sell meat, fish, vegetables, snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages). Other stores sell clothes and sunglasses. There are several pharmacies selling medicines and basic toiletries, including sun-block.
Where to shop
The town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island offers the best shopping in the Galapagos. You’ll find plenty of souvenir shops on and close to Avenida Charles Darwin, including some excellent jewelry stores. There’s a pleasant craft market at Avenida Charles Darwin and Tomás de Berlanga. The town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island also has several souvenir stores, and you’ll find a few in Puerto Villamil (Isabela Island).
Remember that nothing comes cheap in the Galapagos Islands though, and that also applies to souvenirs. You may need to pick up some sun-block or shorts while you’re here, but in terms of price and variety it’s generally advisable to buy souvenirs on the mainland, and since all flights to the Galapagos Islands go through either Guayaquil or Quito you can easily do your shopping there. In particular, the towns of Otavalo, Ambato, Saquisili, Riobamba, Latacunga and Cuenca – all located in the highlands of Ecuador – have excellent markets. However, owning a piece of art or a craft made by a local Galapagos artist really is a unique opportunity, so it’s worth at least having a look.
When you need a welcome break from shopping, check out our guide to Galapagos Islands restaurants.
Galapagos Islands Shopping Guide
Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island):
Galeria Aymara: High-quality crafts, textiles, jewelry and sculptures. Has two locations in Puerto Ayora. Avenida Charles Darwin and Los Piqueros; and Avenida Charles Darwin and Marchena.
Angelique Art Gallery: Quirky art gallery selling a variety of crafts made by a Galapagos-based British artist, including paintings, prints, jewelry, mirrors, silk scarves, fabrics, tiles and ceramic kitchenware. Commissions accepted. Open 9 a.m.-12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. daily. Pelican Bay (just past the Banco de Pacifico and on the way to the Charles Darwin Research Station).