Nature enthusiasts and globe trotters continue to fall in love every time they visit this exclusive Pacific paradise. The Galapagos Islands are one of Ecuador’s most unique destinations, a biological anomaly worth intense exploration. Here, Charles Darwin solidified his theory of evolution after studying unusual animal species that adapted to the island’s ecosystem. Travelers come from near and far to experience the mystical wonders of the Galapagos, from giant tortoises to tropical penguins. Plus, the stunning coastline offers a relaxing spot for travelers interested in a secluded, private destination to unwind in! Whatever brings you to this small, South Pacific territory, be sure to visit these five can’t-miss sites for the ultimate luxury tour of the Galapagos Islands.
Getting to the Galapagos
Getting to the Galapagos isn’t as complicated as it may seem. Though the islands may feel a world away from civilization, they are just a two-hour nonstop flight from Quito or Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador on LATAM or Avianca. Though most of the Galapagos Islands is protected territory and uninhabited, the islands do have two airports visitors can fly into – Seymour Airport is on Baltra Island, adjacent to Santa Cruz Island. San Cristobal Airport is in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island. All travelers flying to the Galapagos Islands will arrive at these airports. If you are taking a cruise to the Galapagos Islands, most cruises leave from Baltra Island in the Galapagos or Puerto Ayora, the main port in Santa Cruz, and not from the mainland meaning all visitors will need to fly into the Galapagos Islands.
Cruising vs. Staying on Land
A luxurious and convenient option to visit the Galapagos Islands is via a cruise. Most of the live-aboard cruise ships in the Galápagos carry fewer than 20 passengers. Small vessels can’t provide some of the luxurious amenities available on larger ships, but they ensure personalized service and more accessible trips on and off the ship. This option is convenient for a family because cruises will manage the transportation between islands and offer dining packages and activities for kids. Many teenagers prefer cruising as it allows them the opportunity to mingle and appreciate the amenities on board. Some children also get seasick which is something to consider when weighing options. For those considering a cruise, a highly recommended choice is La Pinta Galapagos cruise which is one of the larger cruise offering plenty of space and activities oriented for children.
On the other hand, flying into the Galapagos and staying on land is convenient as you can travel at your own pace, set your own schedule, and have more flexibility in terms of the activities you’d like to see and do and which islands you’d like to visit.
What To Do
One of the biggest highlights is observing the land, air and marine life on the islands. One of the most biodiverse places on the planet, children will love being able to enjoy up-close encounters with seals, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and other fascinating wildlife. 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.
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 in Santa Cruz include stunning white sand options which the whole family can enjoy. Beyond the beaches, there are also plenty of opportunities for hiking on nature trails too, with beginner to intermediate hikes that are family-friendly. You might even take a trip to the Charles Darwin Research Center, for older children to learn more about the animals on the islands and some of their evolutionary history.
There are also water-based activities for kids in Galapagos. For children that know how to swim, snorkeling is a great option. Kids can experience the rare opportunity to snorkel with sea lions and swim with turtles, penguins, and marine iguanas. For families looking for a little more adventure, you can spend the day horseback riding up a volcano or exploring the other islands by kayak.
For those looking to give back to the community and share a culturally enriching experience with their kids, you may opt to spend a day volunteering with a local school on Santa Cruz Island and be immersed in the ways of life in these enchanting islands.
What To Bring
- A reusable water bottle – plastic ones are now allowed in the Galapagos Islands, so be sure to bring a reusable water bottle, or a few to help preserve the environment. Many hotels will have water stations to refill water bottles.
- Wetsuits and snorkel gear to get up close and personal with your new aquatic friends!
- Sunscreen – The Galapagos are close to the equator meaning the sun is strong and those prone to sunburns will feel the heat. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun hats are recommended.
- Cash – The Galapagos Islands run on cash. ATMs are available on 3 islands, but they tend to be under maintenance often. Paying for things like souvenirs and meals especially will require cash. Even just as you arrive at the Galapagos National Park (the islands), you will need to pay a $100 entry fee in cash per adult and $50 per child.
How To Book
Whether you want to stay ashore and see what life on the islands is like, or you are interested in taking a dive to see underwater life in action, family travel to the Galapagos islands is guaranteed to be a family vacation to remember for a lifetime. Enjoy a private tour of the Galapagos Islands for a luxury vacation to South America that feels unique to any other mainland experience. There is so much more to enjoy throughout this archipelago, so speak with a Kuoda Travel Expert and find out what else awaits your family in this unique south pacific paradise!