Getting to the Galapagos Islands: Crossing Itabaca Channel

About Galapagos Islands, Planning Your Trip, Santa Cruz Island

Traveling from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos means you’ll be taking many different means of transportation. Landing at Baltra Airport, you’ll head across Baltra Island by bus to the dock.

From the dock, you’ll be crossing Itabaca Channel by water taxi. The channel is a very narrow section of water that separates the northern Baltra Island from Santa Cruz Island to the south. At its narrowest spot – where the water taxis operate – it is just 580 meters (0.36 miles) wide.


The red line shows the path the water taxi takes across Itabaca Channel


On the larger water taxis, as pictured, the luggage goes on top and the passengers are inside. Windows are open (no glass) which keeps the boat cooler and makes for great photos. The boats are very stable and the water is quite calm. As a result, you’ll experience a very calm and short crossing.


At the dock on Baltra Island, you’ll get dropped off by the bus. There is a shelter to keep you out of the sun / rain while you wait to board the water taxi. Keep an eye open for land iguanas. Twice we’ve seen the rare Galapagos land iguana here at the dock. They aren’t very energetic but they are fun to watch.


View of the Itabaca Channel from Baltra Island


The rain / sun shelter on Baltra Island Dock

Canal de Itabaca

Bienvenido a Santa Cruz (Puerto Ayora 42km) Welcome to Santa Cruz


The inside of one of the water taxis moving Galapagos visitors between Baltra and Santa Cruz Islands


The dock on Santa Cruz Island

How Is the Itabaca Channel Crossing?

The crossing is very smooth. I was able to shoot some fairly stable video – something almost impossible to do while hand-holding a video camera on a small boat. The water taxi on the Itabaca Channel is one of the smoothest that we’ve ever been on.

The trip across the channel is quite short. I don’t think it takes much more than five minutes once everyone (and all the luggage) is boarded. Getting everything loaded can take a few minutes longer.

The water taxis are public transportation is are open to everyone (tourists and natives alike). If you aren’t on a packaged tour, you’ll have to pay the operator. If you are traveling on a package it is included and your tour leader will take care of this.

Itabaca Channel Travel Tip:

Don’t forget to have your camera out. You are in the Galapagos and you can see wildlife at any time. You don’t have to be on a tour or an excursion to spot some amazing Galapagos animals. You can expect to see Blue Footed Boobies, frigate birds and iguanas during this crossing. We also saw a number of other birds and some marine life. And the scenery is amazing.

Meet the Author

Hi, I'm Bryan Haines! I'm a traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I blog at GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel) and Click Like This (How to Use a GoPro).

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