Formed by underwater volcanoes millions of years ago, the archipelago is made up of 13 major islands, six smaller islands, and scores of islets and rocks. The first historical account of the islands came in 1535 when the Bishop of Panama, Tomas de Berlanga, stumbled upon the Galapagos by mistake when his ship drifted off course. Berlanga first referred to the islands as Las Encantadas or The Enchanted Islands.

Visits to the islands were initially reserved for scientists and exotic vacations for the rich. Only five of the islands are permanently inhabited, making the Galapagos a uniquely pristine environment for the tortoises, sea turtles, penguins, marine iguanas, and hundreds of other species living there. The Galapagos Islands now generate over $55 million USD in tourism every year. The islands were first publicized when Charles Darwin conducted his momentous study there on evolution by means of natural selection.

Photo credit: hartjeff12


Due to the sensitive nature of the Galapagos Islands, immigration and tourist travel to the islands are limited by the Ecuadorian government. This means prices can be quite high when you are trying to visit the islands. Don't lose track of your finances!

Ecuadorian residents and students with an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) can get discounts on flights and fees for visiting the islands. Once on the islands, you will not notice much on an increase in the cost of living from the mainland, but there might be a slight increase since nearly everything has to be imported to the islands.

Programs in the Galapagos Islands can vary in cost and in what they include so it is important to check with your program coordinator or advisor for what your program includes. For travel between the islands, there are some flights available but the main mode of transportation is via boat. Check that you are traveling with a licensed service when going from island to island. For travel around the towns, there are taxi services available but many of them are small enough where you would be able to walk most places.

Scholarships: Galapagos Islands

Does studying abroad sound fabulous but expensive? While it is true, studying abroad can mean added costs, there are still a variety of ways to offset the extra expenses.

Culture and Immersion

Most of the Galapagos Islands are designated as a wildlife sanctuary. This means that studying in the Galapagos Islands will give you a unique experience to study amazing animals and habitats that cannot be found anywhere else in the world! The islands' unique history as a penal colony and a trading stop for whalers makes this an interesting location for those interested in history and sociology as well as biology.

While in the Galapagos, you can go snorkeling with sea turtles, hike to the top of an active volcano, learn about the islands' history as a penal colony, visit tortoise breeding centers and much more.

Like on the mainland, family continues to be an important aspect of life on the Galapagos. Living with a family on the Galapagos Islands will give you a unique way to experience the islands, but going for a short term intercession program can be very rewarding as well.

Since the primary source of income for the Galapagos Islands is tourism, many Ecuadorians move there to cash in on the industry. This means that local shops, markets, and restaurants can be found on Santa Cruz, Isabela and the other inhabited islands in the archipelago. The relaxed beach culture is evident in these areas and adds to the feeling of an exotic paradise, just imagine watching sea lions play on the beach as you enjoy a sunset dinner on the water.

Culture Shock and Support System

Going to the Galapagos Islands will be different from anything you have experienced in your life. Although this can be scary at first, reminding yourself why you are there is important when coping with culture shock. Did you come to experience the world that Darwin wrote about? Are you trying to learn how to repopulate an endangered species? Perhaps you just needed to gain a sense of independence while learning about one of the most unique places on the planet.

Whatever your reason is, remember that there was a good reason that you decided to study abroad and that everything will turn out okay, even if you are a little homesick at first.

Establishing a strong support system is essential when studying abroad. Don't be afraid to tell your friends and your host family if you are feeling homesick. Having people in your host country who care about you can make all the difference in the world when studying abroad so get involved and meet people who you can have fun with and rely upon for support. Participating in an activity you enjoyed at home may help you establish a support system and feel more comfortable in your life abroad.

Contributed by Jessica Scarfuto

Study Abroad Programs in the Galapagos

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 programs
IES Abroad
IES Abroad Galápagos Islands Direct Enrollment – GAIAS
9.78 •9 reviews

This direct enrollment program is organized through the Galápagos...

IES Abroad
IES Abroad Quito Summer – Environmental Studies
9.75 •4 reviews

Based in Quito and featuring three weeks of field study in the...

SIT Study Abroad
SIT Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation
9.47 •19 reviews

Ecuador is home to more than 1,600 species of birds and 10 percent of...

Pacific Discovery
South America Semester – Cultural Immersion, Service Learning, Adventure
Multiple Countries
10 •7 reviews

Who do you want to be in the world? Join us for an insightful...

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Ecuador & Galapagos Summer Program
Multiple Countries
10 •4 reviews

Be prepared to fall in love with Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands on...

Seamester: Caribbean to Tahiti Voyage via The Galapagos - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •11 reviews

Sail to Bonaire and wake to flocks of Venezuelan flamingos flying...

Loop Abroad
Galapagos Marine Research and Exploration
10 •1 review

A two-week program based on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos...

Loop Abroad
Global Veterinary Semester Abroad
Multiple Countries

Designed with pre-veterinary students in mind, our courses are small...

Ecology Project International
Ecology Project International: Galápagos Island

Travel to Ecuador with EPI and let the Galapagos archipelago become...

Tours & Trips in the Galapagos

Looking for something to do during your time in the Galapagos? Check out some of these tours and trips!
  • Lead-Adventures Ecuador & Galapagos Islands
    Galapagos All in one: Island Hop Volunteer and Travel
    8.33 •3 reviews

    Galapagos Island Hop, Volunteer and Travel: All in one Experience! Are...

  • Worldaway Learning Tours
    Ultimate Ecuador Culture & History Tour (29 Days)
    10 •1 review

    Join Worldaway Learning Tours as we travel back in time to historical...

  • South Expeditions
    Galápagos Active Exploration

    The Galapagos Islands have a history to uncover and, best of all, is...

  • Gulliver Expeditions
    Galapagos Islands Full Experience

    Galapagos is a unique destination on the planet, no wonder has been...

  • Explorica
    Galapagos Island Adventure

    Jump from the northern to the southern hemisphere in an instant at the...

What People Are Saying

Doing this program was one of the best decisions I ever made! It was academically challenging, and each part of the program was engineered to push students to their highest potential. I walked away...

Jumping at the base camp two of the volcano Chimborazo

This program is beyond words. It's hard to believe how much we fit into just 90 days. I felt like we had plenty of time to explore each port, and fully take advantage of our time on land. What I...

Paddling an outrigger canoe off the coast of Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands

I came to the program with no expectations because I didn't want to be disappointed. But soon, I realized that even if I had expectations, they would be exceeded with the awesome experiences this...

Scuba Diving

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