How Big are the Galapagos Islands?

It’s a common occurrence for the Galapagos Islands to be seen as a relatively small, conveniently clustered set of islands. Often times, guests think that getting around them is as easy as driving around the Florida Keys or exploring the entire circumference of Iceland. But by zooming out and making a couple of measurements, we’re here to tell you otherwise.

Pop Quiz: Where are the Galapagos?

It’s important to remember that 97% of the Galapagos has designated National Park area, with the remaining 3% reserved for inhabitants (the total of which estimated to be around 30-36,000 people). There are 14 major islands and numerous other minor islands and islets that are prohibited to visit and/or reserved for scientific research only. The majority of these islands are the result of volcanic eruptions, many of which are still occurring to this day.

So just how big are the Galapagos Islands?

View Of Santiago Island Landscape
There Are Several Places To Visit In Santiago Island Such As Sullivan Bay, Puerto Egas, And Buccaneer Cove.

The Galapagos Islands cover a total of area 45,000 square kilometers (17,000 square miles) of the ocean – 7,880 square kilometers (3,040 square miles) of which is made of land. Seen another way, only around 18% of Galapagos is made of land which, in terms of space, is comparable to the state of Mississippi or the country of Greece.

Here’s a list of some of the biggest Galapagos Islands, ranked largest to smallest:

  1. Isabela: 3,670 sq km / 1,416 sq mi (almost half of the entire landmass of Galapagos!). Inhabited.
  2. Santa Cruz: 986 sq km / 380 sq mi. Inhabited.
  3. Fernandina: 642 sq km / 247 sq mi
  4. Santiago: 572 sq km / 220 sq mi
  5. San Cristobal: 557 sq km / 215 sq mi. Inhabited.
  6. Floreana: 173 sq km / Inhabited.
  7. Espanola: 60 sq km / 23 sq mi
  8. Baltra: 21 sq km / 8 sq mi
  9. Genovesa: 14 sq km / 5.4 sq mi

But, there’s a catch when it comes to land size in Galapagos: some of the islands are still growing, producing new terrain all the time as a result of their volcanic activity. They’re also drifting around 1 inch (2.5 centimeters towards the South American continent).

What’s the distance between islands? How long does it take to navigate around the Galapagos Islands?

On average, when moving from island to island, the Santa Cruz II covers 13.7 nautical miles (25.3 nautical kilometers) at midday and 53 nautical miles (98 nautical kilometers) at night, all at an average speed of 10 knots (18km/h – 11.5mph).


It has a lot to do with the size and arrangement of the islands throughout the archipelago. There are several reasons for why our minimum recommended number of days in Galapagos is the golden 5 and the enormous size of the archipelago is one of them. It’s also why we split up the archipelago up into 3 equally different regions that each offer their own unique set of islands and wildlife. Don’t worry: each itinerary aboard the Santa Cruz II Galapagos Cruise guarantees that you will see the best of what Galapagos has to offer.

Something else is that each itinerary does the longest of its navigations at night, which in turn allows you to take advantage of as much daylight as possible and enjoy the visitor sites.

Tortuga Bay Landscape
Just One Of The Many Astonishing Sceneries Our Guests Will Discover In Galapagos.

Updated:May 9, 2023

Published:March 21, 2018


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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