Surviving Galapagos: From Seasick to Landsick

Quito, Ecuador

Where we are now: Recovering from land-sickness in a Quito hostel
Where we are now: Recovering from land-sickness in a Quito hostel

The first thing that struck me about Galapagos was the distance.

The archipelago is a 2 hour flight from mainland Ecuador. But not only that, vast distances separate the islands from each other. On a map, they look all cozy, nestling against each other, but there were nights our luxury cruise trip around the Galapagos when we would sail for 10 hours.

The second thing that struck me about Galapagos? Blue-footed boobies can be quite possibly the cutest bird in all bird kingdom.

And the third discovery? How rough the sea around Galapagos can be and how I don’t like boats very much.

The first night on the boat was the worst. Fresh from the mainland, I mistimed taking the seasickness pill and woke up at 2 am. The boat was rocking back and forth and we felt moments of weightlessness – which sent me hurling my stomach content into the sink. I spent the remaining of the night in the bathroom, alternating between retching, trying to sleep with my head next to the sink, and wondering how I were going to survive the next 7 nights.

But with the help of drugs (thank goodness I stocked up before we left), survived I did. Drugs can be wonderful.

The next 7 days were filled with drug-aided bliss of internet-free relaxation, wildlife watching, and eating.

On our last day, we were scheduled to be on our flight back to Quito at noon. Our guide woke us up at 5:30 in the morning and hustled us off the yacht to the pangas (small motor boat) to visit some land iguana colony. Then a rushed breakfast on an already moving boat back to Puerto Ayora, the main port.

This last 2 hour stretch was rougher than any of us has ever experienced. The boat was tossed and turned. It was rolling back and forth, up and down, side to side. Even Jack, who seemed to be immune to effect of the moving boat up until this point, spent the journey sleeping the nausea off.

A whirlwind of travels in multiple vehicles then ensued.

Off the yacht to the pangas to the port. Then an hour bus ride to yet another port. Then back to pangas to cross the strait. Then back onto a bus to the airport. Then a 3 hour flight to Quito, followed by a taxi ride to our hostel. Maybe there were more – I’ve lost count.

Meanwhile we seemed to have traded our seasickness with its land version. Bouts of nausea hit us at random times while walking or sitting. We sway and stumble like drunks. And we’re exhausted. We returned to our hostel in Quito after dinner and fell asleep right away at 7 pm.

We’ll tell you more about Galapagos, of course: the boobies, the tortoises, and the pampering we received while on the cruise. It’s truly a wonderful and unique place. But first, we have to get the world to stop spinning then we have (yet another) 3 hour journey ahead of us. To Baños, this time.

In the meantime, here’s a quick teaser:

Land tortoise, Galapagos, Ecuador

Valuable Resources

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders, for those who love anything weird and offbeat.
  • Resource Toolbox: How I find cheap flights, accommodations, and other travel hacks.

This site contains affiliate links that give me a tiny commission at no cost to you (say, if you buy items from the shop, for example). Thanks, guys!

30 Replies to “Surviving Galapagos: From Seasick to Landsick”

    1. Yeah – that's how it is with us when it comes to anything water-related. I need to have a life vest on whenever I get in the water while Jack is such an awesome swimmer and is very comfortable on boats.

  1. OH wow! I have the worst motion sickness in the world and just reading about all of this made me cry a little. I fear I might have missed the entire trip from being doped up on dramamine the whole time!

    But I can't wait to read about your time in the Galapagos islands. It's always been a dream of mine to go.

  2. I've only ever spent one night on a boat and had to be completely out of it on meds to manage it! Would love to go to the Galapagos but just don't think I could make it through!

  3. Oh you poor things! I'm with you: Despite being a diver, I hate being on boats, as there's hardly a time I don't get dreadfully seasick, even when medicated. And I'm going to work on one for four months….

    1. Lol, 4 months?! I don't think I can do that. Hopefully it's on one of those super big cruise ships? So big that you can't feel the sea? I've never been on one of those, but they look sturdy enough to be able to withstand some major storms.

  4. Aw, you poor thing. That's such an awful feeling. I've been there. On the plus side, that photo rocks and that means there's probably lots more good stuff to come. Looking forward to the boobie pics!

  5. I have a 2 hour flight from Quito to Cuenca when I went. Short flights can be both convenient but also somewhat of a pain.
    Too bad about the nausea! I hope that clears up.
    Looking forward to more pictures of weird animals!

  6. Love the teaser picture. Ughh I totally feel you with the motion sickness. Sounds like you needed food brought to your room and lights out for about 12 hours.

  7. I saw the blue-footed boobies on Isla de la Plata off the coast, I didn't make it out to the Galapagos. It's funny how they poop all around their eggs to protect them.

    That turtle is so cute!

    1. We noticed that too. Not sure the logic behind it, but I attribute it to one of those inexplicable things that cute animals do.

  8. I would not have known to prepare for seasickness in the Galapagos. When you're recovered enough, definitely check out Guayasamin's Capilla del Hombre. Really beautiful place and wonderful art.

  9. Wow- I've heard a lot about the Galapagos, but never about how rough the journey is.

    I'm sure it was still a cool experience, but do you think this will factor in any of your future trip planning when it comes to boats?

    Hope you feel back to normal soon. 🙂

    1. Lol, yes definitely. No more boats if I can help it 🙂 And yes, it was still a cool experience. Really glad we went despite the illness.

  10. I've never had a sickness worse than sea sickness. Like Lauren, I went on a 2hr wale watching tour in New Zealand. I think I suffered from another 4 hours of the so called land sickness where I could do little more than stare at a warm bowl of soup.

    That photo is awesome by the way.

    1. I think sea-sickness is pretty up there next to hangover on my list of avoidable conditions to really stay away from.

  11. I'm feeling nauseous just reading this! I feel your pain as I too got sick during a snorkel trip in Hawaii. Miserable.

    I have friend who goes to the doctor to get a prescription for the little patches that go behind you ears. She swears by them. If I was ever going to do a "cruise" I would probably opt for this so I could be spared your misery.

    1. Yes, I believe that was what was recommended to me by someone who also swore by them. Unfortunately the pharmacies in Puerto Ayora (where we boarded) only carried the pill form.

  12. Hey guys,
    I've been following your blog and wanted to know what kind of seasick pills you used? I, too, am not much of a fan of boats unless I'm on something as simple as a snorkeling cruise just off the coast and would LOVE to see the Galapagos but this was a concern. Would love to know what you took that helped.
    Can't wait to see more pics and hear about it!

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      I took Anautin, the only seasickness medicine that I could find in Puerto Ayora (Galapagos). Someone on the boat recommended something (like a bandaid, I guess) that you put behind the ear to reduce the sensitivity of your inner ear to motion but we couldn't find that there. I'd probably recommend doing your research online to figure out the best medicine that will work for you (I hated to have to take pills all the time) while you're still on the mainland, before coming to the islands. Much less options there in terms of sunscreen and drugs when you're already in Galapagos.

      I also found that swimming, and taking hot showers helped. Good luck!

  13. I sympathise completely with you, there is absolutely nothing worse than seasickness! I remember taking a 2 hour whale watching trip in Hawaii, I took all my travel pills before I left, but the second I stepped onto that boat I was feeling dreadful already!!

    It's so bizarre when you do step off the boat, and you feel like the ground is moving, and rocking – it's awful! I remember lying down and trying to sleep, but as soon as I closed my eyes it would feel like I was back on the boat again! Crazy how the brain works…

Comments are closed.