Should I Be Concerned About Crime in the Galapagos?

About Galapagos Islands, Galapagos Shopping, Planning Your Trip, Santa Cruz Island

When we planned our first trip to the Galapagos, we weren’t sure what to expect about safety. We didn’t know if we would be able to travel without a guide, or how safe it would be at night. We had been living in Cuenca, Ecuador for more than two years and we were comfortable with the level of safety in Ecuador. But our visit to the Galapagos really surprised us.

In terms of safety, Galapagos is like small town Canada. People are friendly and crime is virtually non-existent. But in terms of everything else, Galapagos is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

The front desk staff even encouraged us to walk into town after dinner. Another employee told us that you can leave your wallet out in the open and no one will take it. Just like small town’s across Canada or the United States. Crime just isn’t a concern there.

Is it Safe To Visit the Galapagos?

While visiting again a few months ago, we were walking through Puerto Ayora – the main town on Santa Cruz Island. It was about 8 pm and we were taking in the sights. The pier is beautiful in the evening and there are lots of people out – mostly tourists but many locals as well. We were all taking photos and it wasn’t until I saw the two police officers that the issue of safety even entered my mind. I had my dSLR camera around my neck, shooting videos and photos for the blog.


The Pier in Puerto Ayora at Night


A Member of the Ecuador National Police

I stopped to speak to the two officers and what they said surprised me. I told them that we lived in Cuenca – they were both from Ecuador’s mainland as well. One was from near Quito (in the northern Andes) and the other officer was from the coast (Manabi Province). They get assigned to the Galapagos on a rotation (not a bad assignment!). I asked them what the crime was like in Puerto Ayora. They both kind of laughed and said: “There isn’t any”. What about the other islands? “Tampoco” they say, meaning: “None there either.”

I asked them about the large camera that was hanging around my neck – is it safe to have it out at night? “Tranquilo,” they said “no pasa nada”. Which means: “Relax, nothing’s going to happen”.

“Now, on the mainland – you need to be careful” they said. This is obvious. Big cities can be dangerous anywhere. Walking around any large city (in any country) at night with a large, expensive camera probably isn’t ever a good idea. From our experience, Ecuador is a safe during the day – just use some common sense. From our travels to the Galapagos we’ve learned that you can even forget your common sense and not have any problems.

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).

4 comments… add one
  • Pamelita Sep 9, 2012, 7:09 am

    I tried to be a prison visitor when in Santa Cruz and in San Cristobal, thinking that if anyone came from the mainland or abroad I might be able to provide a bit of ‘interest’ for their incarceration, buy them soap,chocolate or suchlike. I am from a small British island. I chose not to visit a Galapaguenian if it prevented them receiving a family or friend member. In both cases, as the article above, I was greeted with amusement as the most prisoners there were at any one time were two locals. It is wonderful to safely walk the streets at any time of day or night. But! Who were the nasty people who stole the snorkels and masks from my two young boy students, my reward to them for their hard work at English (Santa Cruz) and stole my phone (San Cristobal)?
    Thus, just be aware there is the odd person who would like to relieve you of your things – possibly fellow tourists. Very sad

  • Apples Nov 5, 2012, 2:12 pm

    When I was living on San Cristobal a couple of years ago, a friend was mugged on the beach at Puerto Ayora. Mostly people were friendly, but it’s not all rosy, I’m afraid.

  • Steve Dec 13, 2014, 9:26 pm


    I’ve been to the Gslapagos islands 3 times before and heading for a 4 time next year and I have to say that its very safe overall.

    That being said you have to understand that there are tourist areas and then parts of the town is overrun by locals living and going about their own Buisness. I came across this place in Santa Cruz and was shocked as it was like another world which opened my eyes a bit as I wouldn’t have recommended walking through the neighbourhood at night on your own or even with a friend for that matter.

    Listen, I don’t want to scare you as there isn’t really to much to be scared about on the island but there are a few bad men around all these towns generally speaking.

    FYI I wired some money to an artist in Decrmber 2014 and he informed me that he was jumped and best up badly and his money stolen, so just as surprised as you are reading this, so was I!!!

    Bottom line stay out of dark streets away from people and stay around the busy parts of town and don’t walk home drunk which at my guess what happened to my friend, but he shouldn’t have been mugged regardless so just be careful anywhere you go but (especially on the mainland)

    Cheers, Steve

    • Lisa Cho Dec 26, 2014, 4:19 pm

      I am very sorry to hear about your friend, that is a shame truly. I have been several times and never had any problems, but it doesn’t hurt to be careful. I am glad you are getting to the Galapagos for the 4th time though! -Lisa

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