Visiting Galapagos Islands with Kids

Blue-Footed Boobies Galapagos

Parents ask if taking their children to the Galapagos Islands is a wise idea and if there will be enough activities for children in Galapagos. The short answer is, of course, you may visit the Galapagos Islands with kids. However, if you want your child to remember their vacation, it may be worth waiting till they are able to, which is around the age of five or six. You also might be limited to do some activities.

We have not met many families with kids. Galapagos Islands are amazing and have lots of wildlife to see but in my personal opinion, there are way better kid-friendly destinations in the world. In order to visit some spots or move between the common islands, you will need to take long speed boat rides. Most of the tours include snorkeling and usually, Galapagos currents are strong, so you will probably pass on that. Marine life is definitely the best part to explore on Galapagos Islands.

For good reason, the Galapagos Islands are often recognized as one of the top family vacation places in the world. The wildlife approaches humans with interest rather than fear, which captivates visitors of all ages and leads to eye-level experiences with blue-footed boobies and beach-bumming fur seals.

Experienced naturalist guides lead guests on hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and even mountain bike trips around the archipelago, much to the joy of energetic youngsters and teens.

Kids Activities in the Galapagos Islands

Wildlife Observation

Sea lion sleeping on the bench, Galapagos Islands in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz)

Observing the different animals with kids on the Galapagos Islands is one of the most fascinating things that you can do when visiting the Galapagos. With the exception of a few angry male sea lions, the creatures in the islands are not terrified of humans and pose no threat. This allows kids to have a huge, open zoo to explore.

Tortoise sanctuaries are also popular with children. This experience will teach kids about tortoises and the necessity of rehabilitating and preserving them on the islands.

Beach Lounging

Playa Mann beach on San Cristobal Island (Galapagos)

Another activity that your family will enjoy is beach time. If you choose a Galapagos Islands land-based tour, you will have free days to visit the numerous beaches around your resort. Santa Cruz’s beaches include beautiful white sand that the whole family may enjoy.

Water-Based Activities

Marine iguana sunbathing at Galapagos beach

In Galapagos, there are additional water-based activities for children. Snorkeling is an excellent activity for kids who know how to swim. This can be unsettling at first, particularly when snorkeling near sea lions, but the chances of seeing turtles, penguins, and marine iguanas beneath the water are incredible, and interacting with the sea lions is a fantastic pleasure.

Land-Based Tour VS Galapagos Cruise Options for Kids

Family with kids on Galapagos Islands

Some people prefer the land-based alternative since there are no early beginnings and days with no activities, allowing you to create your own schedule. There’s also the question of whether youngsters will do well pent up on a boat for several days – some will do better than others, and smaller children may struggle. It is advised to select a less constrained choice.

A Galapagos Islands cruise may be ideal for older children and teens since they can deal with the schedules better and enjoy what they see more. Some of the lengthier treks on the island excursions during a Galapagos Islands cruise may not be suitable for smaller children. While distances are never lengthy, they may appear long for small legs!

Sea sickness is another concern to consider on Galapagos Islands cruises with children – and if your children are prone to becoming sick on boats, it may be advisable to avoid them altogether, or bring along some medicine.

Travel Tips for Galapagos Family Vacations

Pick Your Season

Doing trekking with guide at Sierra Negra Volacno, Galapagos

The Galapagos hot season lasts from January to June. The temperature of the water rises during this period, and creatures become more active on land.

The dry season in the Galapagos Islands lasts from June to December, during which time the water temperature drops somewhat. If you want to view whales and dolphins, this is the perfect time to visit the Galapagos Islands. We have guides for each month:

Be Prepared

Galapagos tortoises at El Chato

A trip to the Galapagos Islands with children necessitates some advance planning. This is not a place where you can rectify your Galapagos packing list at the last minute. Most Galapagos islands have no human settlement and almost no stores, which adds to the experience.

Remember to pack sun protection for both adults and children. Even on overcast days, UV radiation is severe in the Galapagos archipelago. Regardless of age, pack clothes with sleeves to avoid scorched shoulders, a cap that won’t blow away in the wind, and strong closed-toe shoes for hiking through jagged lava.

A roll-up dry bag is ideal for safeguarding cameras and phones on shore excursions and may be attached to a kayak for paddling activities. Speaking of cameras, you don’t want to run out of space in the Galapagos—especially because you’ll be shooting a lot of pictures. Spare memory cards are a smart idea, as is everything you’ll need to be a top wildlife photographer, from a GoPro to a waterproof phone cover. Drones are not authorized on the islands.

Make A Wildlife Checklist

Galapagos wildlife photo collage

Checking off animals as you see is a wonderful family activity. One of the delights of the Galapagos is that children will not become bored while attempting to identify any speck of an animal in the distance. The wildlife is there in front of you and is completely peaceful.

Encourage Kids to Try New Things

Wildlife in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island

Allow your children to explore and discover new things to make their Galapagos trip unforgettable. They can experiment by trying out new things to see which ones they enjoy. 

Because the subjects normally remain motionless, the Galapagos Islands are the ideal site for aspiring wildlife photographers. Encourage children to produce their own videos using a good smartphone or a GoPro. Keep in mind that flash photography is prohibited in the Galapagos.

The mild seas around the islands are ideal for kayaking and stand-up paddles. There are lots of double kayaks available, making it simple for children to begin training with one adult in tow.

Remind Kids to Observe and Avoid Touching

Galapagos Islands rules creative display

Before you arrive, both children and adults should familiarize themselves with the Galapagos National Park’s guidelines. Biosecurity checks will be performed before departing Quito or Guayaquil, the two gateway cities for flights to the islands.

There are also animal regulations in the Galapagos. Keep six feet away from animals at all times, which sounds simple but isn’t usually the case, especially when sea lions or iguanas are blocking the route, a big-eyed seal pup looks to be beckoning, or a cheeky mockingbird perches on your day pack.

Wildlife always have the right of way in the Galapagos! Never feed or interact with an animal. You should always remain on the designated trails. When snorkeling in the Galapagos, avoid touching or picking up anything from the seafloor.

Children should be discouraged from collecting keepsakes, especially seemingly innocuous items such as pebbles. This is the ideal trip for embodying the saying “take only photos, leave just footprints.”

Bottom Line

The Galapagos Islands are great for children of all ages to visit. You can wait till your children are a little older if you want them to remember their holiday fondly. Because there is more opportunity to explore on your own, land-based Galapagos trips may be great for kids in Galapagos.

There are several activities available whether you choose a Galapagos Islands cruise or a Galapagos land-based option. The children will definitely enjoy being so close to such an unusual and beautiful mix of flora and fauna.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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