The Galapagos Islands have a reputation for being remote, wild and ideal for the adventurous type, whilst Galapagos family vacations are lesser-spoken about. However, the truth is there is a lot to do on a family vacation in the Galapagos Islands. A wide range of activities spread across the archipelago are well-suited to children and adults alike. Whether your family is the active, cultural or nature-based type, you’ll find plenty to do. Read on to find out what you can do during a family vacation in the Galapagos.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands with kids
When visiting the Galapagos Islands with children, you might wonder if the scenery and wildlife alone will keep the everyone entertained and busy. Whilst its unique animals and wild landscapes are the biggest drawcard, the Galapagos Islands home to a great deal of family-friendly experiences. At Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge, we host a number of families with children, all of which have had incredible vacations in the Galapagos! Up close animal encounters, beautiful beaches, educational establishments and exciting activities are only moments away, whichever islands you choose to visit.
Ideas for family vacations in the Galapagos
So, if you’re considering a trip to our beautiful islands and are wondering what you can plan in order to keep your family busy, we’re here to help. In this blog, we share our best ideas for family vacations in the Galapagos Islands.
1. Kick back on a Galapagos beach
Unknown to many, the Galapagos Islands is actually home to some incredible beaches. Turquoise waters and palm-lined white sand is found at a number of different spots across the archipelago. Looking for a relaxing day featuring some sun, sea and sand? Head to one of the Galapagos Islands’ best beaches and let the kids run wild in the waves. You might even spot some wildlife, including Sally Lightfoot crabs and marina iguanas. Whilst the children are entertained, relax and spend a day enjoying the oceanside landscape.
Top tip: Whilst there are a number of beaches to choose from, at Puerto Villamil, a long stretch of beach is only moments from shops, restaurants and cafes. Its helpful location makes it ideal for parents looking for a convenient spot (and maybe an ice cream or some coffee in the afternoon!).
2. Take the kids snorkelling with sea lions
If your kids are the daring type and are comfortable with swimming, you might like to take them swimming with sea lions. Hiring snorkelling equipment is easy on many of the islands, and the flourishing marine life makes for incredible underwater experiences. Of course it’s not only sea lions you’ll find under the water. Turtles, fish, reef sharks, rays and more are commonly spotted in the waters of all Galapagos Islands. Snorkelling here is a common activity and its completely safe. Adults and children will both enjoy the experience of snorkelling in the Galapagos, and your hotel or hostel staff will be able to direct you to the best spots for snorkelling.
3. Hire some bikes on Isabela Island
During your time on the archipelago’s largest island – Isabela Island – families might like to hire a bike and spend some time exploring on two wheels. Isabela Island is a great place to do so, as the small town of Puerto Villamil is quiet and ideal for riders. Families certainly won’t have a problem with road traffic! One of the best rides to take on Isabela Island involves cycling to the Wall of Tears just outside Puerto Villamil. The road out is generally off limits to vehicles, making it safe for cyclists, plus it’s flat enough for the smaller legs in the family, too.
Lookouts and beaches along the way, as well as various marine life, will keep you well entertained. The Wall of Tears itself offers guests a gloomy glimpse into what life was like during the time that Isabela was a penal colony. If you have a half day to spare, this little trip offers a bit of everything!
Top tip: Looking for where to hire a bike? Your hosts at Chez Manany – or wherever you choose to stay – are best placed to help you hire a bike. Your locals hosts know which places offer the best, most reliable and cost effective bicycles.
4. Climb a volcano with the family
Families with older children are encouraged to enjoy some hiking on the islands. Hiking is the best way to see the Galapagos Islands, as it allows you to get up close and personal with the phenomenal landscapes and unique wildlife. Since the Galapagos Islands are volcanic, you might enjoy seeing some of its most striking volcanos up close.
During your time on Isabela Island, guests often opt for the hike to Sierra Negra volcano. Spanning 7km by 9km, the volcano has the second largest caldera in the world. Families need not worry though – it’s completely safe to visit! The entire walk takes around 3-5 hours – depending on where you start and end – and the views are certainly worth the effort. Lava flows and smoke billowing out of crevices will send shivers down your spine!
5. Learn a little at the Charles Darwin Research Station
After some exploration and nature-based activities, you might like to take the family to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Home to labs, a conference hall, natural history collections, an exhibition hall, native gardens and a public library, the centre is a great educational destination and a reminder of Charles Darwin’s presence on the islands. Located in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, the centre was inaugurated in 1964 so that scientists had a base for their research on the Galapagos Islands. Drop by with the family and teach the children a little about the conservation efforts across the archipelago. Leave your family vacation in the Galapagos with not only a vacation glow, but some valuable information.
6. Meet some tortoises
One of the most iconic animals in the Galapagos Islands is the tortoise. Did you know that during his time in the Galapagos, Darwin identified differences in the shells of these animals? He identified that tortoises on some islands had domes and some saddlebacks, leading him to start questioning how exactly this happened. Today, these gentle giants can be seen in the wild on a few of the islands, but visitors are often advised to head to the highlands of Santa Cruz where a giant tortoise reserve is open to visitors.
At a few different centres across the Galapagos however, tortoise centres (which are used for rearing young tortoises before sending them back into the wild) can be visited by the public. Santa Cruz Tortoise Center, Isabela Tortoise Centre and San Cristóbal Tortoise Center are three locations where you can take the children and have them see these incredible creatures up close. Not only will it be exciting for the children but it will teach all members of the family a little, too!
7. Find some family-friendly Galapagos accommodation
At the end of an active day in the Galapagos Islands, your family deserves a place to rest their heads – one which is friendly, comfortable and close to the best sites. At Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge, families are well-looked after, not only with the help of cosy suites designed for groups, but also by the hosts.
Manany and Wilson are the friendly creators, owners and operators of Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge and they are passionate about providing high-quality experiences for family groups. When your family stays at Chez Manany, they receive not only accommodation but endless local advice and an eco-friendly, responsible stay. Trust your family vacation in the Galapagos Islands with us!
Read a review from one of our family groups:
“We stayed at Chez Manany’s for about a week. We are a family of 6. Manany was extremely helpful with anything and everything we needed, and her property is absolutely lovely….one of our favorite places to stay during our travels. The architecture and buildings are beautiful, everything is pristine – clean and fresh. Beds are super comfy, hot showers, kitchen stocked very well with new/high-end items….everything you could need to prepare food in your apartment. It was an extremely comfortable, lovely place to stay and I would highly recommend it. The fresh herb garden on the grounds was fantastic for cooking as well as homemade teas!”
To find out more about Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge, or to book your stay, click here.
To find out more about Isabela Island and to gather more ideas for your family vacation in the Galapagos Islands, check out this ultimate guide to Isabela Island.