The perfect family holiday awaits with our tour around these wonderful islands.

This life-changing trips is a destination for families with kids of all ages.

There is fantastic wildlife within arm’s reach, be it on land or snorkelling with curious sea lions.

With warm weather and golden beaches, Galapagos Islands is hard to beat for a family holiday.

We design the perfect tour for your family’s needs, using our own experiences of travelling with kids on Galapagos.

 

More about Galapagos family holiday

Young children can run freely on the sands, spending hours close to wildlife, swimming in clear waters and enjoying the freedom of the small harbours.

Older children and teenagers can climb volcanoes and explore lava tunnels, swim and snorkel with sea lions, sharks and rays.

Perhaps take surf lessons, sea-kayak, hire a bike or just hang out on the beach playing volley ball or frisbee with the locals

Days and activities can be added or shortened, depending on taste, budget and adventure levels required.



Trip Highlights

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  • Snorkel with sea turtles and sea lions.

  • Stay in hand-picked hotels in great locations.

  • Hike, kayak, snorkel - children and adults love all the activities which get you close to nature and wildlife.

  • Free time built in so the whole family gets a chance to relax, play on beaches and enjoy the islands.

  • Flexible itinerary - spend longer, visit more islands, add more activities - Galapagos as you want it.

  • Less chance of seasickness by sleeping on land, making Galapagos even more accessible.

All in all, a spectacularly successful holiday that was enjoyed by the whole family and will be remembered fondly forever.  Thanks so much for all your help in putting it together!

Galapagos far exceeded expectations. The food was good, the guides were great, and the other passengers were wonderful to meet and spend time with.  

And the animals -- we saw them all, both above and below the water.

M. Williamson, Galapagos

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Fly to Baltra, transfer in, afternoon visit to Charles Darwin Research Centre, hotel

You fly to Baltra airport, Santa Cruz, from either Quito or Guayaquil. On arrival you are met and transferred through the Highlands of Santa Cruz to the main town of Puerto Ayora, where you can settle into your comfortable hotel.

After a quick exploration of the buzzing harbour, where you will no doubt see sea lions, frigate birds and pelicans, the afternoon is spent on a guided walking tour through the Charles Darwin Research Centre.

The Galapagos Islands’ most celebrated visitor was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

The Centre is within walking distance (2km) of the town centre and well worth a visit. It is dedicated to scientific research and the conservation of the Galapagos National Park. Take swimming things for a quick dip at the local beach on the way back.

After the tour, return to the Puerto Ayora centre and choose a local restaurant for a tasty evening meal before retiring for the night. (no meals included today)

Day 2: Boat tour and snorkel, speed boat to Isabela, transfer to hotel (B)

This morning we head off for a fantastic snorkel just outside Puerto Ayora, at Bahia. This is a great place to see sea lions, many sorts of fish and possibly a shark (harmless) or two. This may be the first time you encounter the friendly nature of the sea lions, who love to play games and swim around you.

As with all wildlife on the Galapagos, you are not allowed to touch them or initiate contact, but the sea lions are so fast, playful and inquisitive that they will no doubt swish past within seconds of spotting you.

After this great experience, you have lunch and then take a speed boat to the next island. The boat leaves Puerto Ayora in the early afternoon, and takes a couple of hours to reach Isabela. If you are lucky, you may encounter a pod of dolphins, or even see a whale breaching.

On arrival at Isabela, the already relaxed pace becomes markedly more so. Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago but among the most beautiful and certainly the most laid back.

Only a few hundred people live here and the main town of Puerto Villamil is a rambling mix of houses, cafes, restaurants and beach bars. There is a large, sandy beach which regularly features volleyball, frisbee and football games in the afternoons.

We take you to your hotel and then the afternoon and evening are free to explore Isabela.

 

Boat Crossings: 

Residents and tourist alike use this method of transport regularly between the main inhabited islands. Out on the open ocean, this is your best chance to see whales and dolphins. Each crossing takes about 2-3 hours. Less time if the sea is calm, more time if the sea is rough.

Boats are usually 30-35 feet long and hold 20-30 passengers. If you’re prone to seasickness or not sure, bring some seasickness pills just in case.

Day 3: Sierra Negra and Chico volcanoes, hotel (B,L)

Lace up your hiking boots, we’re heading up a volcano! Sierra Negra Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Galapagos; its last eruption was in October 2005.

You can choose a half day or a full day trip up the volcano. We drive part way up, and then a short uphill hike takes us to the perimeter of the crater. Once we reach the rim, we’ll have a nine kilometre view that stretches across one the most active calderas in the world.

We’ll continue on to traverse the vast lava fields of Chico volcano to a lookout that boasts breathtaking views reaching to the north of Isabela.

After enjoying a hearty sense of accomplishment, we make our way back to town late afternoon for some free time to swing in a hammock with a book or venture down to the water for a relaxing swim, after which you can choose which local restaurant to attend for dinner.

Day 4: Tunnels of Cabo Santa Rosa (snorkelling), free beach time or kayaking in the afternoon (B)

Today a true highlight of this trip awaits! We are leaving Puerto Villamil by boat and after 45 minutes we will reach beautiful Cape Rosa on the western side of the island.

Here we can walk on connecting lava tunnels in the blue sea waters. From the surface, we can easily spot dozens of sea turtles, penguins and rays and we will also be able to go snorkeling and swimming in this rich marine fauna.

As we sail to and from Isabela, we hopefully see manta rays of different sizes and if it is the mating season, we will see them diving upside-dow, waiting to have their pictures taken.

In the afternoon, enjoy another free afternoon to do as you please.

 

OPTIONAL – kayak half day tour (not incl.)

Alternatively choose to go kayaking – we head to the bay of Isabela and explore the many nooks and crannies outside the bay, many of which are only accessible by water.

We get an up close look at the mangroves that are a feature of the area, and the wildlife that they support. Turtles, sea lions and a host of birds await us in the mangroves.

After returning to the main bay, there is the chance to do as you wish! Our guides can help to organise more tours and adventure or you can relax on the beach, swim, surf, bike or soak up some sun.

Day 5: Transfer to port, speed boat to Santa Cruz, transfer to hotel, free afternoon (B)

After an early start, we head to Puerto Villamil port to catch the speed boat back to Santa Cruz, again, always keeping our eyes out for wildlife en route.

On arrival to the familiar Puerto Ayora, we head to the hotel and spend the afternoon doing last minute shopping, exploring the town or you could head to the beach again.

Tortuga Bay is a 3km walk from Puerto Ayora, but a short walk that ends in white sand and luscious waves. The bay is a gorgeous beach accessible only by foot and laden with choices. Do I want to swim, sunbath, bodysurf or do all three? (guide not included)

After our fun in the sun, make your way back to town for our farewell to the Enchanted Islands.

Day 6: Transfer to airport and fly back to mainland Ecuador (or stay longer) (B)

We take you back to Baltra airport for your flight back to mainland Ecuador.

Please note that this trip is an outline, and you can spend more days on Isabela, Santa Cruz or visit San Cristobal or North Seymour if you wish.


Prices From $1,786 / £1,515 per person

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What's Included?

Hotels, transfers and guided trips as listed, English speaking guide on trips, some activities in shared groups (please ask for price for fully private excursions), equipment on organised trips, public speed boats between islands

What's Not Included?

Galapagos flights (we can look for these), International flights (we can look for these too), services in Ecuador, Galapagos park entry fees, Ingala Tourst card, tips, insurance, optional extra activities, meals not listed, personal items and clothing, kayaking trip on day 4


Accommodation

Hotels – singles, twin, doubles and some triples and family rooms available.

We start with entry level hotels – standard hotels (comparable to 2* hotels) – that we have chosen on the basis of comfort and cleanliness.

There are upgrades to 3, 4 and some 5* options at extra cost – please ask.

Tour Staff

Staff are “Galapagueños”, most of the guides, captains and crew members were born and raised in the Galapagos Islands.

They know the area well and are prepared to show you the islands only like a native can do it.

Our Naturalist, English-speaking guides have studied and been trained at Charles Darwin Scientific Station, and have long years of experience guiding at the Galapagos Islands.


Meals

We can cater for many special dietary requirements on this tour. Please let us know at the time of booking.

Other than breakfast at Galapagos hotels, most meals are not included in this tour.

That gives you the chance to explore – there are lots of locally-run restaurant on the islands, where they will be a choice of dishes. Galapagos is a very remote area and not everything is available here.

Typically, there is a lot of eggs, fish, chicken, rice and some potatoes, plus fresh fruit and vegetables and coffee. There are also international plates such as pasta, pizza, hamburgers etc.

Activity Level

This is an active tour where you will have 1-2 activities each day, each being 2-3 hours in length.

Snorkelling last 1-2 hours usually, depending on water temperatures.

The hiking day on Sierra Negra involves 4-5 hours of walking. A shorter 2-hour version is available.

All activities are within the scope of people that like to be active. No previous experience is necessary for any of the activities, however, as none are designed to be overly strenuous.

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Practical Information

Introduction to Galapagos

These magical islands comprise of 50 volcanic islands of varying shapes and sizes, which lie 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador.

Here, unlike anywhere else on Earth, you can enjoy a thousand close encounters with a weird and wonderful variety of ‘friendly locals’, including giant tortoises, fur seals, sea iguanas, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.

Read our Galapagos Islands Guide and more about diving.

In 1535, Tomás de Berlanga, Bishop of Panama, floated into this archipelago and named it Galapagos after the giant tortoises he encountered. Pirates used the islands for refuge and to bury their stolen treasure after that.

The islands’ most celebrated visitor was Charles Darwin, who arrived aboard the HMS Beagle in 1835. The rare life forms he encountered helped him formulate his theory of evolution, which he published in The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

It wasn’t until 1959 when it became part of Ecuador’s national park system that this fragile ecosystem with its rare and endemic species came under protection.

In 1979 the Galapagos archipelago was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Galapagos kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

Galapagos – general advice

Galapagos is warm and humid, and you will need t-shirts (moisture wick-away or breathable t-shirts can be very useful, it can get very hot in the day), shorts, lightweight skirt or trousers and bathing suits.

One or two cotton shirts can be used to protect you from sunburn, especially when snorkelling (not very elegant worn in the water over a swimsuit, but practical – and Galapagos is NOT an elegant place!).

You may want to change into different clothes for the evening, but don’t take anything dressy or smart – there really is a very relaxed atmosphere in island hotels.

Pack something warm and windproof for being the inter-island speedboats – and a waterproof for the Highlands.

Strong sandals, trainers, or light hiking boots are ideal footwear – you may like to have something suitable for easy walks and another for tougher terrain – your guide will advise you daily what the walking will be like.

Do take a hat!

Seasickness tablets if you think you will have problems – i.e. Sturgeon, or Mareol if you buy them in Quito. The sea can be choppy, so it is recommended to take them as a precaution.

 

Galapagos – detailed kit list

  • First aid kit – aspirin, imodium, sun tan lotion (facter 50 recommended), sunburn cream, lip salve, throat lozenges, insect repellent, etc.
  • Earplugs, if you sleep lightly.
  • Sun glasses and sun hat.
  • Snorkelling equipment is provided on every tour, but it may suit you better to take equipment in your size that you know will fit you. Even if you have not snorkelled before, DO have a go – under water Galapagos is a very special experience. Try it first of all from the beach, to get the hang of breathing through gritted teeth, then take the plunge!
  • Towel, for the beach.
  • Money belt.
  • Passport, with at least 6 months remaining from date of return from Ecuador.
  • US Dollars cash and mixed denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • Visa/MasterCard, Cash card.
  • Personal & Medical insurance.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!). You may want to take an underwater camera for snorkelling.
  • Camera charger
  • Binoculars
  • Small backpack – to keep your sun cream, water, shirt etc in when you are on shore/activity.
  • Small plastic water bottle, 1-2 litres, depending on how much you drink.
  • Biodegradable (v. high factor, 50+ recommended) and lip salve.
  • Toiletries (featuring biodegradable soap).
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand wash cream
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Sewing kit.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other for free time.

The Galapagos Islands are a very fragile environment and the arrival of more and more inhabitants to the islands, as well as tourist have an impact.

Please try to minimise your impact by:

  • Bringing a water bottle to refill, rather than using a new bottle each time.
  • Recycling your rubbish where possible, not leaving any rubbish behind.
  • Taking batteries back home with you – they cannot be recycled properly in Ecuador.
  • Saving water where possible.
  • Leave toiletries that contain microbeads at home
  • Saving energy by switching your lights off when you leave the room. Electricity on the islands comes from a generator, fuelled by petrol. For this same reason, please think about whether you really need to use your air conditioning.

 

Quito

Pleasantly warm during the day, but can be quite chilly during the morning or at night when you might want a jacket or a fleece, plus a waterproof.

You may want to dress up a little more in the evening here, depending on where you are staying, and what sort of restaurant you like.

 

Guayaquil

Conditions here are similar to Galapagos – hot and humid. T-shirts and shorts in the day, and like Quito, something smarter for eating out in restaurants at night.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Weather in Galapagos

 

When to visit Galapagos Islands: weather and wildlife

There is no real ‘best’ time to visit Galapagos on holiday as there is always wonderful wildlife and weather to enjoy. Read our blog for more.

Most animals – tortoises, sharks, sea lions and boobies – are found year round and many of the species here are non-migratory.

The Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator so air and water temperatures do not vary by much.

Having said that, there are two recognised seasons, and each months brings natural marvels for the visitor to enjoy.

Below is our quick guide to the weather and wildlife you can find on the Galapagos Islands.

 

General weather information

 

The warm season (Jan-Jun)

  • Calm, clear warm waters, great for snorkelling, often without a wetsuit.
  • Great weather, with February and March being the hottest and sunniest months with blue skies and sunshine.
  • Occasional heavy bursts of rain in the afternoons.

Sea temperatures:  22-25°C / 72-77°F

Land temperatures:  21-32°C / 72-90°F

 

The dry ‘garua’ season (Jun-Dec)

  • It’s a great time for marine life in the cooler seas. Snorkellers may want a wetsuit.
  • August and September the coolest when you may need a jacket in the evenings and the sea can be choppy.
  • There can be mist on the islands in the mornings (garua) which usually burns off by midday leaving overcast skies or a sunny afternoon.

Sea temperatures:  15-22°C / 60-72°F

Land temperatures:  18-24°C / 65-75°F

 

Galapagos sea and air temperatures and rainfall month by month

Air and sea temperatures in Galapagos, month-by-month

Galapagos park fees

Before you fly from Quito or Guayaquil airport, you need to pay USD 20pp for a transit control card. Some cruises pre-pay this and include it in your trip cost.

On arrival in the Galapagos, you will be asked by a representative of the Galapagos National Park to pay the Park fee in cash (currently US$ 100 per person, USD 50 per person for under 12s).

The dock tax is US$5 on Isabela Island, and the airport tax is US$15 for flights between islands.

All National Park fees subject to change without prior notice.


Floreana, Galapagos

Floreana is the least populated Galapagos island and yet home to its most scandalous tales!

Gossip aside, it is home to Post Office Bay, where a post barrel was erected in the late 18th century by English whalers. Passing sailors took the messages onwards – and it still functions today.

The nearby Devil’s Crown is one of Galapagos’ most special snorkels.

A (at times strong) current pushes you past the remains of a submerged volcano with its crater ‘horns’ still exposed, and you’ll see a brilliant array of colourful fish and corals.

Great viewpoints at Asilo de La Paz and Baroness view, too.

Isabela, Galapagos

Isabela is the largest and one of the youngest Galapagos islands, and its small human but enormous wildlife population make it perfect for cruises and hotel-based visits.

It also has a mile-long, pristine white-sand beach, with some small and cool bars to hang out in with some sundowners.

Must-do’s include Sierra Negra volcano and its active caldera, head to Los Tuneles to snorkel face-to-face with sharks and turtles and spend some time looking for penguins at Las Tintoreras.

Isabela is great for adventure and families alike.

For cruises only, Punta Vicente Roca is a lovely snorkel, and Urbina Bay is a top spot for wild giant tortoises and colourful land iguanas.

Kicker Rock, Galapagos

A truly impressive sight, Kicker Rock is the remains of an underwater volcano rising vertically 150m/492ft out of the sea.

The exposed cone has fractured in two, leaving a wildlife rich sea channel for us to enjoy, snorkelling or diving.

Jump in the water and drift with the gentle current through the cleft, keeping an eye out below for sea turtles, manta rays and maybe the odd harmless Galapagos shark, just to name a few.

Hammerheads are occasionally seen here too.

On the cliffs, we can spot Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies and magnificent Frigate birds. A memorable snorkel.

Santa Cruz, Galapagos

Almost everyone will visit Santa Cruz during a Galapagos stay.

It’s popular because of the incredible variety of habitat and animals go alongside its strategic location.

The famous Charles Darwin Centre is a must, as is a visit to see Giant Tortoises and a kayak in the turquoise waters at Garrapatero beach.

There are a plethora of great dive and snorkel sites nearby, lively bars and some good beaches for relaxing, like Tortuga Bay.

Most cruises start or end here, and the majority of flights come to Santa Cruz, plus there are many accommodation options, from basic to luxury.

Santiago (James), Galapagos

Curious, dark sand greets the visitor to this centrally-located island.

Marine iguanas may join you for a snorkel after warming up in the sun, along with white-tipped reef sharks, rays, surgeon and parrotfish and turtles.

Crabs, sea lions and spectacular blowholes line the shore.

On the other side of the island, red sand cliffs are home to many seabirds, and Bucaneer cove tells its own whaling and pirate history.

A group of nearby small rocky islands called Bainbridge Rocks feature a stunning, turquoise saltwater lagoon that is home to flamingos.

The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos is an ideal year-round destination, with its volcanic landscapes and tame wildlife.

Whether you cruise or stay in a hotel, you are guaranteed to see giant tortoises, sea lions, iguanas and blue-footed boobies to name a few, plus amazing volcanic formations and stunning beaches.

No trip here is complete without diving or snorkelling – turtles, rays, schools of fish, and for the lucky, hammerhead and whale sharks.

Divers can enjoy some of the best underwater diving in the world on liveaboard cruises to remote and spectacular dive sites.

Tower (Genovesa), Galapagos

Flung way out to the north of the archipelago, this spectacular island is a Galapagos in miniature.

Its remote location meaning very few people make it this far.

Sea lions, sharks and Flightless Cormorants will no doubt accompany you on snorkels in deep waters as well as close to the beautiful, white-sand bay.

A multitude of birds nest at Tower, and it’s the only place you’re sure to see the Red-Footed Booby, as well as the chance to spot petrels, owls, gulls and more.

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