The Galapagos Islands are a top destination choice because they’re educational, interesting and fun. Appropriate for most school-aged children, they can provide you with the adventure of a lifetime. Kids in Galapagos can have activities that take place on the islands and are a great bonding opportunity for all family members. Multi-generational travel in Galapagos is king.
If you think that the Galapagos Islands are just for biologists and researchers, then you may be surprised to learn that this region has a great deal to offer children. Teenagers and younger kids in Galapagos will enjoy spotting blue-footed boobies or watching the waved albatross soar through the air. Take advantage of a child’s natural quest for adventure and curiosity. Before booking your family vacation in the Galapagos, here are a few things you should remember.
A Galapagos Islands vacation will put you in the great outdoors. Paved trails are virtually non-existent, and the natural terrain is not typically passable with strollers. If your kids in Galapagos are very young, then you should either postpone the trip or plan on carrying them over the roughest areas. However, there are plenty of opportunities to rest your feet during the day, so you can break out the hiking into smaller sections that school-aged children can handle better. The great outdoors, Galapagos style, is better for anyone six and older.
This region is very strict about getting close to wildlife. Laws are in place that prevents people from coming within 2 yards of any animal. The challenge here is that the mammals, reptiles and even birds may be more than happy to come near you. It’s not uncommon for the animals to willingly brush up against people, but you should still refrain from petting them. Stress this to your kids ahead of time, and remind them often while on the trip. Most important, remind kids in Galapagos that these animals, although very approachable and somewhat oblivious to our presence, are still wild animals. They may seem docile, just like a domesticated pet, but they are not. They will respond to external stimuli.
When it comes to the Galapagos Islands, you don’t have to spend the night in a standard hotel room. Another option is to tour the islands from a Galapagos cruise so that you can relax on the waves after a long day of touring. One of the great things about the cruise ships is that your kids can enjoy modern amenities while still having the opportunity to see amazing wildlife in the ocean and skies. The more space available on an expedition vessel gives kids the freedom they need to absorb Galapagos at their own pace. Water activities in the warm sun of the islands, such as snorkeling and swimming, will keep the young ones in great shape, always on the move, and highly motivated to always want to do more.
Post Office Bay is a top attraction for families because it once served whaling ships and other seafarers. The Galapagos was a natural stopping point for ships that needed to refill their stores of food and fresh water. Homesick sailors could leave letters in a container on Floreana. While they were there, they’d check for any letters that they could deliver at their next few ports. It could take weeks or even years for a letter to make it from the Galapagos to the final destination. People still leave letters today, and you can pick one or two up to deliver on behalf of another traveler. If kids have seen pirate movies, then the post office bay has many stories to tell and enjoy.
Guided tours are great for seeing the island, finding the wildlife and learning more about the history of this area. Take the time to choose a tour that’s tailored to pre-teens or even younger children. You can also look at the tour itinerary to determine if there’s time built in for the kids in Galapagos to stretch their legs and run around just a bit. This is why selecting the right program and vessel is key when thinking on how kids will fit in the Galapagos scenario, and not the other way around, choosing the right Galapagos tours.
Bird watching is fine, but the Galapagos Islands can be far more interactive. Outings often visit beaches of all possible colors, but snorkeling in the clear blue waters will always be full of surprises. Sea Kayaking is always fun and allows explorers to see and feel the Galapagos marine life right up close. As the sun sets and the temperatures cool off, take a walk through the nearby forests to see cacti and palo santo trees.
Penguins are present on the islands throughout the year, and some of the best places to witness stunning encounters with Galapagos penguins are Las Tintoreras, Bartolome, Post Office Bay, Punta Vicente Roca, Tagus Cove, Punta Vicente Roca, and Sombrero Chino. Snorkeling is always amazing with these flightless torpedoes and from time to time they will surface very close to you, so keep an eye open.
Puerto Ayora is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, and this just might be one of the highlights of your trip. The kids in Galapagos are guaranteed to see some cool animals, and you’ll find signs explaining different facts about the animals as well as what conservation efforts are in place for them. It’s also one of the few areas where you can take a close-up view of baby tortoises that are younger than four years old. Kids in Galapagos already interested in sustainability, conservation, and ecology will find fascinating to explore the research station’s displays.
The islands are located right on the equator, so unprotected skin usually burns badly. The reason: sun rays here are perpendicular all year round. When the weather is only 87 degrees, it will feel like 95, and the sun will be beating down directly on you. Even if you’re not prone to burn at home, you’ll still want to slather up before you eat lunch, after you go in the ocean and generally every three to four hours. A wide-brimmed hat can provide you with a necessary shade that will protect the top of your head, your sensitive eyes, and your shoulders. Many people also bring umbrellas for the portable shade. Expedition vessels will organize, depending on the location, an early outing in order to skip the hottest times of the day when walking.
You’ll find plenty of great sights and animals to take pictures of, and your kids in Galapagos are going to want their own special memories. Rather than trying to share your camera or worrying about them damaging an expensive one, just take along a kid-friendly model that they can easily use. They’ll love having control over their own camera, and you may be impressed at the shots they take. Fortunately, today’s technology has brought down the price of basic digital cameras to levels worth the expense. If your kid is already into digital photography, and loves the underwater world, finding a water-resistant camera is not a bad idea at all. Make sure you pack plenty of storage media. Flash photography is not allowed, so turn off the flash on all cameras before you start taking pictures.
When visiting any official National Park visitor site, you’ll be always accompanied by a licensed naturalist guide. This person will be in charge of not only showing you around and walking the trails with you but will provide you with the most rewarding natural-history interpretation for understanding the overall picture of the Galapagos. At the end of the holiday, you will notice what a powerful message the islands deliver. Take the time to understand fully what each program and tour explores while in the islands. These experiences do create fun and unforgettable memories for the entire family
Blog Reviewed & Edited by: Francisco Dousdebés
All Images: Francisco Dousdebés