The Galapagos Island in Ecuador are one of the most exotic destinations in the world because they are so expensive and the number of tourists is strictly limited. All the more reason to see the volcanic archipelago if you have the opportunity as the rare and plentiful wildlife will make for brilliant life-long memories for the kids. For a family adventure holiday that's once-in-a-lifetime, it's worth considering doing The Galapagos Islands with kids.
The Galapagos are one of the most coveted destinations on any traveller’s check list. They were made famous by Charles Darwin for the multiple well-preserved species of animal that live there including tortoises, birds and iguanas. It is a marvellous experience to see how tame the animals are and to be able to get right up close to them in their natural habitat.
Chatting to a blue footed boobie is thrilling enough for any kid or adult; the added bonus is that you can stay on a boat for a few days to do it.
The islands you see in the Galapagos will be largely determined by the travel itinerary you are assigned by your accommodation provider. But no matter the schedule, the highlights will always be the animals – and that you can get so close that you could (but shouldn’t) touch them. These include sea lions, marine and land iguanas, boobies, albatross, tortoises, penguins and cormorant just to name a few.
The most fun way to do this is to go via private boat. The waters in the area are very calm and it’s a relaxing and scenic way to unwind in-between wildlife spotting.
Although it can be a long haul of multiple flights to get there, once you are in the Galapagos it’s a surprisingly chilled out family adventure holiday that could easily be done with children over four or an infant.
While this is an adventurous holiday destination, the pace of a Galapagos Islands holiday with kids is lovely and relaxing. There is very little hard work involved. Think a couple of hours stop at a time on a small island wandering around the wildlife before heading back to the ship and cruising to the next destination.
Due to the expense (and it is excruciatingly expensive), this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so it’s worth considering reserving the experience for older children who will remember it. Newborns are extremely portable though, and a young infant could easily be carried around onshore when you are sightseeing. [For more reasons why you should travel with baby, see the suitcases&strollers story here.]
However the islands are pristine which means there are no boardwalks or wharfs to dock on and off the boats or the islands (and there certainly aren’t any stroller-friendly paths). Given the hazards of boat travel, it’s best if kids are at least walking independently and confidently.
It is not safe to drink the water from the tap in Ecuador. Only use bottled water for drinking and be wary of children drinking water in the shower or the bath.
While there are some overnight land-stay options, sailing on the water is part of what makes a trip to the Galapagos so memorable. There are smaller catamarans available but the larger cruise ships provide more flexibility in terms of non-island activities for the kids and are less of a safety hazard with younger children. M/V Galapagos Explorer II has two hot tubs and a sundeck onboard so children will have space to entertain themselves outdoors.
For more reasons why you should do a cruising family vacation, see the suitcases&strollers story here.
To read about a family that sailed around Southeast Asia with kids, see the suitcases&strollers story here.