Should you visit Galapagos Islands or Santa Marta?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between Galapagos Islands or Santa Marta, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos archipelago is world-renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife, much of which was inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets found over 620 miles off Ecuador's coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site, where both land and sea are protected. Each island boasts its own unique landscape, ranging from black, volcanic rocks to white sand beaches and gemstone-blue waters. There is no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands but the busiest months for tourism tend to be June, July and August, as well as mid-December to mid-January. This is when prices are at their highest.
Santa Marta is a city in the Magdalena Department of Colombia's Costa Norte. Over the last decade, security has steadily been replacing the shadow of the Colombia's violent past. One destination in Colombia's northeast region is now attracting more international visitors: the coastal Caribbean area of Santa Marta. Established in 1525 by the Spanish as a base of conquest, Santa Marta sits at the foot of the world's highest coastal mountain range, the towering Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is South America's oldest European-founded town and the second most important colonial city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. While many travelers complain about Santa Marta's horrible traffic and unsightly urban sprawl, the city holds a numerous amounts of great hotels, bars and restaurants and holds a few fantastic destinations nearby to which you can go during the daytime.
Which city is cheaper, Santa Marta or Galapagos Islands?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Galapagos Islands is $111, while the average daily cost in Santa Marta is $27. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Galapagos Islands and Santa Marta in more detail.
The prices for places to stay in Galapagos Islands can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $52, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $104.
Travelers usually pay around $22 for a double occupancy room in Santa Marta If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.
The average traveler spends about $27 per day in Galapagos Islands for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
Santa Marta food costs typically run travelers around $8.25 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
Galapagos Islands $27
Santa Marta $8.25
Typical Food prices in Santa Marta
For Santa Marta, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Marta
For Santa Marta, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City Half-Day:
Santa Marta 2-hour Street Food Tour:
To get around in Galapagos Islands, the average visitor spends $43 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Santa Marta than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $4.34 on transportation in Santa Marta on average per day.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Galapagos Islands
Also for Galapagos Islands, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private Transfer In from Baltra Airport to Hotels in Santa Cruz Island:
Typical Local Transportation prices in Santa Marta
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Santa Marta:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Marta
Also for Santa Marta, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private transfer between Santa Marta and Cartagena (or vice versa):
Private Transfer Santa Marta to Palomino (or vice versa):
Private Transfer to Cartagena or Barranquilla City from Santa Marta:
Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Tayrona Park:
Round trip transfer in private minivan from-to Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to city:
Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Taganga:
Private Transfer to / from Palomino, Tayrona Park or Minca from Santa Marta:
Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Santa Marta Airport(SMR) to City:
Transfer in private minivan from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city:
Transfer in private minivan from Santa Marta city to Santa Marta Airport (SMR):
Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Santa Marta:
Transfer in Private Car from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city:
In Galapagos Islands, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $28 per person, per day.
Sightseeing expenses in Santa Marta, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $11 per day, per person.
Tours and Activities in Galapagos Islands
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Galapagos Islands.
4-Day Budget Isabela Tour:
4-Day Galapagos Islands Express Tour:
4-Day Galapagos Land Tour Visiting Isabela and Santa Cruz:
4-Day Galapagos Tour: Santa Cruz & 2 Uninhabited Islands:
4-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience:
5 days in Galapagos | Bonita Tourist Superior Cruise | Northern Itinerary 2021:
5-Day Cruise of Galapagos Islands:
5-Day Galapagos Diving Tour: Accommodation and Full-Day Diving Excursions:
5-Day Guided Galapagos & Los Tuneles Tour:
5-Day Tour Galapagos Multisport:
5-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience:
6 Days in Galapagos | Eco Galaxy First Class Cruise | Western Itinerary 2021:
Tours and Activities in Santa Marta
For Santa Marta, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
"Gabo Márquez" Tour - Aracataca and Cienaga:
2 Day Coastal Motorcycle Tour:
4-Day Lost City Small-Group Tour in Santa Marta:
5-Day Private Guided Hiking Experience to The Lost City:
Aracataca And Ciénaga - Gabriel García Márquez Tour:
Archeological Tour in Taironaka with River Tubing and a small Lost City:
Arrecife and Cañaveral tour from Santa Marta:
BE RELAX TOUR - Bahia Concha:
BE TROPICAL TOUR - Buritaca & Playa Los Angeles:
Cartagena - City Tour:
City Tour Santa Marta:
Coffee Tour La Victoria:
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Galapagos Islands, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $12.
Typically, people visiting Santa Marta spend on average $5.53 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typical Alcohol prices in Santa Marta
Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Santa Marta from other travelers:
Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Marta
Also in Santa Marta, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:
Nicks 1892 Coffee farm & Brewery:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Galapagos Islands and Santa Marta, we can see that Galapagos Islands is more expensive. And not only is Santa Marta much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santa Marta would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santa Marta and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Galapagos Islands would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Galapagos Islands than you might in Santa Marta.
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