At Ecuador and Galapagos Insiders, one question we get asked very often is, “Should I go to the Galapagos Islands with kids?” Parents wonder if children travelling to the Galapagos Islands is a good idea, and whether there will be sufficient activities for kids in Galapagos. The simple answer is, yes of course you can do the Galapagos Islands with kids. Of course, if you want your child to remember their trip, it may be worth waiting until such a time as they may be able to do so, such as when they are about five or six years old. That said, there’s nothing to stop you going to Galapagos Islands with kids, and here is our guide to doing so.
So, what are the best activities for kids in Galapagos? One of the biggest highlights is observing the land, air and marine life on the islands. The creatures are not afraid of people and aside from the odd feisty male sea lion, there is little to fear from the animals. This provides a massive pen-free zoo for children to explore (though they are required to stick to the trails, like everyone else). A real highlight for children in Galapagos will be visiting the tortoise reserves on Santa Cruz Island, where kids can see giant tortoises crashing around in their natural environment. There are also empty giant tortoise shells which children (or adults) can climb into and get a picture taken, for fun.
Another option is beach time, especially if you take a Galapagos Islands land based trip, as this will leave free days for going to the various beaches not so far from your accommodation. The beaches on Santa Cruz include stunning white sand options which the whole family can enjoy. If you’ve had enough of the beach, or it is not a nice enough day for it, there are also plenty of opportunities for hiking on nature trails too. You might even take a trip to the Charles Darwin Research Center, though this is probably best suited to older children.
There are also water-based activities for kids in Galapagos. For children that know how to swim, snorkeling is a great option. This can be unnerving at first, especially when snorkeling near sea lions, but the opportunities to see turtles, penguins and marine iguanas under the water are phenomenal, and playing with the sea lions is a wonderful treat. You may want to bring your own snorkel/mask for the children so that you can be sure their mask will fit. Another one of the great activities for kids in Galapagos is kayaking. There are some good shore based kayaking opportunities in particular which may be suitable for children, and parents can join them in two-person kayaks.
One question that arises quite a lot when considering taking children to the Galapagos Islands is whether a Galapagos Islands. Cruise or Galapagos land-based option is best. Some recommend the land-based option as you do not have particularly early starts, and there are days with no activities, so you can set your own schedule. There is also the issue of whether kids will do well cooped up on a boat for several days – some children will do better with this than others, and younger maybe less so. It is recommended to choose an option that is not too cramped. However, for older children and teenagers, a Galapagos Islands cruise may work very well, as they will deal better with the schedules and will be able to better appreciate what they are seeing. Some younger children may not enjoy some of the longer walks on the island visits while on a Galapagos Islands cruise. While distances are never long, they may seem considerable for little legs! Sea sickness is also a factor to consider on Galapagos Islands cruises with kids – and if your children do tend to get sick on boats then this may either be best avoided, or make sure you have medication that can help.
If you consider a cruise option a recommended choice is La Pinta Galapagos cruise which is a rather large cruise offering plenty of space and activities oriented for children.There are some practical matters to think about when taking kids to the Galapagos Islands. One is that if your children are in school you’ll invariably be taking them in high season, so your trip won’t be cheap. In the summer vacation, spring break and at Christmas and New Year demand is high and so prices naturally rise. If you can go at a different time of year that is not school holiday time, then you will get a better deal. If you dig around a bit you might be able to find discounts for Galapagos trips for children. If you book well in advance – even as far as a whole year before your trip, you will be most likely to get the options you are looking for. One point to note on this is that you may not find rooms that are connected to one another.
Turning to safety, one of the bigger risks for kids in the Galapagos is the heat of the sun. The Galapagos Islands are close to the Equatorial line and they are generally rather warm. You’ll want to make sure you have clothing and strong sun screen and keep your kids covered up, especially in the heat of the day at midday and through the early afternoon. During June to December the weather is cooler, while from December to May you can expect a more tropical climate with fairly regular rain (though rarely all day).
The Galapagos Islands are great for kids of all ages, and everyone will get something from this experience. If you want your children to have a good memory of their trip it is worth waiting until they are a little older. Land-based Galapagos trips can sometimes be better for kids in Galapagos as there is more time to do your own thing. Whether you choose a Galapagos Islands cruise or Galapagos land-based option there are lots of activities and children will enjoy the chance to be so close to such a weird and wonderful array of animals and birdlife.