In our view, the Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s best travel destinations, and not just for committed nature enthusiasts. The vast variety of wildlife and unique ecology of the Galapagos is of course the main draw, yet this extraordinary archipelago of remote and largely untouched islands has so much else to also offer for a family-friendly vacation in South America.

With fun day trips to enjoy, sandy beaches, warms seas and so much more, visiting the Galapagos with kids has something for all ages—including the parents! For a fuller exploration of all things Galapagos you can read our blog Travel tips for the perfect Galapagos tour. For now, we want to focus on traveling to the Galapagos with children as we dive into Atelier’s travel advice and our insider knowledge, helping make your family trip to the Galapagos even more exciting!

Why visit the Galapagos with children?

For Atelier, one of the first words which comes to mind when considering the Galapagos for a family vacation is “ease”, yes really! It may sound counter-intuitive—a remote archipelago of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador being an easy travel spot with kids, but it’s true, especially if opting for a Galapagos cruise. The Galapagos Islands can only be reached via mainland Ecuador, with many international flights flying directly to either the capital Quito or coastal Guayaquil. From arrival onwards, the logistics of a family trip to the Galapagos orientate around how you choose to see them.

Land-based Galapagos Tour

If traveling with older children who don’t mind occasional waits between stops and logistics, a land-based Galapagos tour makes for a great adventure. One of the big plus points is having the flexibility to plan your own route with an Atelier expert, traveling at your own pace and visiting areas of interest to you and your family. This can include more remote and harder-to-reach areas, as well as longer in certain destinations if you choose to.

A land-based Galapagos tour also gives you greater access to a wider range of accommodation options, such as the magnificent Galapagos Safari Camp in the volcanic highlands of Santa Cruz Island, or boutique Pikaia Lodge, also on Santa Cruz. Finch Bay is a charming eco-friendly boutique hotel and wonderful example of how to explore the surrounding natural wonders your own way.

Family-friendly Galapagos Cruise

When visiting the Galapagos Islands with kids of all ages (check with your Atelier specialist as some vessels have age restrictions), another excellent option is a Galapagos cruise. This is because once aboard, you are in the safe hands of the expert crew and a pre-planned route of scenic stops, island landings, activities, and regular mealtimes for the rest of your trip. That means no daily organization or relocation is needed on your part, no packing and unpacking or worrying about where to eat! Instead, you can simply sit back and enjoy the stunning Galapagos views and exciting excursions.

Boats are also well-equipped, especially the larger vessels which can feature games rooms, hot tubs, sun decks and more—as well as kayaks, snorkels, and everything you need for fun-filled daily activities. What’s more, some Galapagos Cruises are specially designed with kids in mind, coming with extra play areas and child-friendly activities, so speak to an Atelier expert to find out more.

Another word we associate with a family vacation in the Galapagos, is “wonder”. Imagine the magic of waking up with a new tropical island coming into view each morning, sea lions waiting on its sandy shores, and volcanic craters filling the background. It’s the stuff of dreams for children and adults alike, and that’s all before taking to a kayak or embarking on an island nature walk on the hunt for native species, bird colonies, Giant Tortoise and even ancient lava tunnels!

Which Galapagos cruise vessel and what to pack

Every Galapagos cruise ship has its own appeal, whether the more intimate setting of a smaller ship or the extra facilities aboard a larger vessel. Not all are child-friendly, so speak to an Atelier expert about your preferences and we’ll help you find the perfect Galapagos experience for you and your family.

Some of our favorites include the Origin & Theory cruises thanks to their small group excursions and luxe cabins, or Santa Cruz II with its long list of onboard facilities and spacious outdoor areas. The Aqua Mare superyacht is a cut above in terms of opulence, though we’d only recommend this option if looking to book the whole vessel for your traveling group as it only takes 16 passengers.

Exciting new ships will soon be available in the Galapagos. We recommend keeping an eye out for the upcoming launches of the Galaxy Sirius, the Galapagos Explorer by andBeyond, and the highly anticipated luxury mega catamaran, Hermes.

Though all Galapagos cruise ships are equipped with everything from first-aid kits to in-cabin amenities, you should consider what to pack in advance of your trip. Depending on the age of your children, some essentials include:

Things to do in the Galapagos with children

In addition to entertainment onboard, family-friendly activities in the Galapagos will help keep little ones entertained and give you lifelong memories of seeing this special place together. As well as encouraging them with photography or drawing the countless creatures they’ll be witnessing along the way, some of the outdoor adventures to look forward to include:

Best time to visit the Galapagos with Children

The Galapagos Islands are considered a year-round travel destination, so our advice is to pick a season that suits your family best—factoring in things like sun sensitivity and sea temperature.

June to November: is the dry season in the Galapagos, so whilst you avoid occasional showers it’s worth remembering that the sea will be cooler at this time of year and some land animals may be harder to spot. That said, marine life is more abundant during these months as well as nesting seabirds and coastal wildlife.

December to May: is the hot/wet season, meaning increased humidity and tropical showers, though warmer sea temperatures and more activity amongst certain species—especially in-land.

Overall, the Galapagos Islands are a fantastic family-friendly travel destination all year. Some activities and your packing list may change depending on when you’re looking to travel, but rain showers pass and temperatures don’t become unbearable no matter which season it is.

Teaching children to respect nature

There are few better places in the world to teach children how to respect nature, than the Galapagos Islands. This is very much a “look but don’t touch” destination, where the previously untouched natural world must be admired yet always protected.

With the abundant native and endemic species, tropical plant life and sea mammals being such a feature of every Galapagos tour, it’s the perfect way to encourage youngsters to learn about the wonder of Mother Nature and the importance of preserving it at all costs. What’s more, the volcanic island terrain, lava tunnels and craters will give them a natural spectacle to get their imaginations going too!

No matter what your family size or age, speak to the South America travel specialists at Atelier and they will craft your dream tailormade tour to the Galapagos Islands and beyond.

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