The Galapagos is one of the world's most incredible eco-systems. Black volcanic terrain, ice-white sandy beaches and brilliantly blue sea set the scene, but it's the animals that provide the character.
Bursting with opportunities for adventure and learning, these colourful islands turn us all into excited children for a time. So, it goes without saying that families with children would be hard pushed to find somewhere more exciting.
Still not convinced? Read our guide on family travel in the Galapagos Islands, including the top five reasons to make these islands the base for your next family vacation.
1) Swimming with sea lions
The Galapagos is famed for its curious sea lions, wild animals happy to play with swimmers, having had few negative interactions with humans. They’ll swim right up to you, calmly examining you eye-to-eye, before playfully diving around, all without any fear at all.
Guides will keep an eye on the colony’s bull sea lion, so it’s entirely safe and a real highlight of any trip to the Galapagos – regardless of age! Kids will also love seeing the adorable sea lion pups swimming in the nursery pools along the shore.
2) Visit the giant tortoises
These ancient reptiles live for over a hundred years on average and it’s even proposed (though difficult to prove) that at least one of the current Galapagos tortoises was a hatchling when Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835. Not only are these slow, prehistoric-looking animals extremely long-living…
…they’re also the biggest tortoises in the world, often longer than 1.5 metres and weighing over 250 kilograms. You can spot them in the highlands munching grass, but kids can get up close and learn about these amazing reptiles at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
3) Snap the Galapagos penguins
Adults and kids alike will find that the Galapagos Islands are great for wildlife photography, due to the almost tame behaviour of the wild animals. There are plenty of bird species to admire, but the tiny Galapagos penguins will certainly appeal to children.
These are the second-smallest penguins in the world and by far the most northerly. It’s common to see them perched on the rocks around the shore, where kids can practise their photography skills.
4) Dive with sea turtles and chocolate chip starfish
The wonderfully-named chocolate chip starfish is so-called due to the dark ‘horns’ that act as a deterrent for predators, and scores of sea turtles can be found paddling around beneath the water too.
Kids can jump into the water with a mask and snorkel and explore the seafloor with all its unusual and interesting marine life, which might even include rays and turtles, alongside the distinctive starfish.
5) Panga rides and dolphin spotting
Pangas (inflatable zodiacs) will take you from the shore to the boat (if you’re on a cruise) and these trips often allow you to have amazing views of the marine wildlife without even having to get in the water.
Spotting pods of dolphins leaping out of the sea is quite common and great fun for kids. If you’re very lucky, you might even see orcas passing, too.