For those who like their holidays with a side (or more) of adventure, Ecuador is a natural choice. What this compact South American country lacks in size, it makes up for in sheer variety and number of activities, sights and astonishing landscapes. Its petite proportions actually work to its advantage, as visitors can sample all four regions – jungle, mountains, Pacific coast and Galapagos Islands – in just two weeks.
Home to an extraordinary array of endemic species, the Galapagos Islands offers what is quite possibly the most marvelous wildlife safari on earth.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands with children may feel like a daunting prospect, but numerous families do so every year with great success. It’s an amazing place for your children to experience and learn about wildlife.
These tips will help you plan a trip your children will remember for the rest of their lives.
Although it is often recommended to take only children who are seven years or older – simply so that they can fully appreciate the trip – it is certainly more than possible to go with younger children. Note though that not all cruises allow young children on board: Some operators specify that children must be a minimum of 6 or 7 years old, so check in advance.
Choosing a Cruise
If you choose to take your family on a multi-day cruise through the Galapagos Islands, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Some operators offer family-friendly cruises with vessels reserved solely for people traveling with children, including activities especially tailored for young people. This can be great for making friends and keeping kids busy.
- Know exactly what’s on the itinerary before booking a tour or cruise. You need to know what activities are planned so you can decide if your children are able to join in.
- If you’re concerned about your children getting seasick, choose a larger boat, as they’re more stable.
- Larger capacity ships (which take between 32-100 passengers) also have more space and generally have better and more varied facilities, and so can be more suitable for children.
A land-based tour (where you island-hop by day and stay in hotels by night) is an alternative way to know the Galapagos Islands and its natural wonders. This type of tour can be easier with children. Why? It means less time cooped up on the boat, and allows for more space and more flexibility.
Your Children’s Interests
You know your kids best. Carefully consider you kids’ abilities and interests before and when planning a trip.
- Are they avid wildlife fans? Are there any animals they really want to see?
- Do they enjoy the water? (If not, a multi-day cruise may not be the best option for them.)
- Do your children have any special talents? A project – like creating a scrapbook, being the family’s “official” photographer, keeping a journal – will be a lasting reminder of their Galapagos adventure.
Bring along your children’s favorite game, a book or other items to pass the time in evenings or while cruising between the islands. Also pack some of their favorite snacks or sweets. Remember also to bring clothes that will keep them cool on sunny, hot days and warm on cool evenings. Don’t forget a good sunscreen to protect your young ones’ delicate skin. For more necessities, check our packing list.
Make Sure They’re Prepared
Much of the experience of visiting the Galapagos Islands is, of course, about the sea. Therefore, if your kids can’t swim, they’re going to miss out. Before you travel to the islands, make sure they’re comfortable in the water. If you can get them practicing snorkeling, even better!
With a bit of planning, your children will have an incredible adventure in the Galapagos Islands – and memories that they can pass on to their children.
Are you planning a honeymoon or a romantic break and you’re asking yourself if the Galapagos Islands are a suitable destination? Well, our answer to you is a very resounding YES!
An Unforgettable Trip
A romantic getaway or honeymoon should be a truly special time – a holiday that you won’t ever forget. The Galapagos Islands are undoubtedly one of the most unique places on earth. The extraordinary wildlife and untouched landscapes will leave you feeling like you’ve been transported to another world. Add gorgeous sunsets, white-sand beaches, ocean-front dining, adventure and relaxation to the mix – not to mention snorkeling together alongside sea lions, tropical fish, turtles and rays – and you’ve got all the ingredients for a perfectly romantic trip.
Find Your Own Galapagos
A concern of some travelers planning a honeymoon or romantic break in the Galapagos is not wanting to be cooped-up on a boat with too many other people. So how do you make sure you get the privacy and space you need?
- On your cruise ship, choose a cabin that has a balcony – you will be able to watch the sunset without interruption. Look for yachts that have a lot of communal space, so you can find a spot just for you. Many vessels also offer very generously spacious suites.
- Add on some extra days before or after your cruise, staying in a hotel on one or more of the three main islands – Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela. This way you’ll get a great mix of a cruise plus some more private time. The town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in particular has a number of luxury hotels that offer packages that are great for honeymooners.
- Head to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island for a few days. This tiny fishing village could have been made for honeymooners and receives far fewer tourists than the other islands. The town sits on a gorgeous beach that stretches for miles – head away from the village and the only company you’ll have are the iguanas. There are multiple activities that you can do on your own without a guide in Puerto Villamil: Go snorkeling in Concha de Perla, a beautiful, protected lagoon teeming with sea lions and fish. Pack a picnic lunch and hire bikes to explore the island’s mangroves, giant tortoise breeding center and historical sites outside of Puerto Villamil. Head up to the lush, green highlands for a private lunch. Or simply lounge by the hotel pool or in a beach-side hammock.
- Choose to really get off the beaten track, by spending a few days on Floreana Island. Rarely do tourists overnight on this sparsely populated island. You may walk the beaches near Puerto Velasco Ibarra, or head up into the highlands to explore the homes of the original settlers. Nights will be super-tranquil.
- Opt for an island-hopping tour instead of a cruise: you’ll still see an amazing array of places and wildlife, but staying in hotels each night means more space and time to yourselves.
To make the most of your romantic getaway in the Galapagos Islands, contact us for more information on honeymoon-ready hotels.
Photo credit: Flickr/Udri
Food in the Galapagos Islands is delicious and diverse. Amazingly fresh seafood. Exotic fruit juices. Homemade soups. Hearty and traditional Ecuadorean dishes can be enjoyed alongside more international fare – think sushi, steak, pizza, and hamburgers.
An international emergency fundraising appeal run by the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) has raised more than US$400,000 in the last month.