For a family wildlife extravaganza of a lifetime, look no further! On a trip to the Galapagos with kids, you will be surrounded by the most amazing creatures at every turn. Your whole family will be utterly entranced. Crystal clear waters reveal frolicking seals and scary-looking iguanas dart across volcanic rocks. Jokes about Blue-footed Boobies will come thick and fast, and the children will be agog at the giant tortoises, extraordinary frigatebirds and much more.

Galapagos with kids - mother and son on the beach with sea lions

Stubborn Mule’s Helene took her 9-year old son on a trip to the Galapagos

There’s so much to see and do in the Galapagos that it’s difficult to narrow the list down to 10. But we’ve tried. So without further ado, here are our official Top 10 Things to do in the Galapagos with Kids. Enjoy!

Galapagos scenery on Galapagos with kids family holiday

From coralline beaches to the iconic Pinnacle Rock, the volcanic scenery in the Galapagos forms a stunning backdrop to the family-friendly activities

1 – Spot the Galapagos 15

Go to Africa, and you’ll be tasked with spotting the Big 5. Go to the Galapagos, and the list is longer….there are 15 ‘must see’ animals to tick off. These range from Magnificent Frigatebirds to Red and Blue-footed Boobies. You’ll also want to see the Galapagos penguin (the only one found north of the Equator) and the Galapagos Albatross.

Galapagos with kids holiday - Magnificent Frigatebird

The Magnificent Frigatebird is just one of the weird and wonderful Galapagos 15 to look out for

Highlights for the kids will be the land and sea iguanas and the iconic Galapagos Giant Tortoise, but there are many more species you’ll only find in these remote islands.

To tick off all 15,  you would really need to take an 8-day cruise. But if you can’t manage that, don’t worry! Even spotting a handful on the list will bring you unforgettable wildlife encounters. Check out our Ecuador and Galapagos family holiday to get an idea of how it might work.

Land iguana - Galapagos with kids - tick off the Galapagos 15

It’s easy to spot large land iguanas in the wild when holidaying in the Galapagos with kids

2 – Snorkel with sharks, rays, sea lions, turtles, penguins, tropical fish, and more…

Snorkelling will be a top highlight on any trip to the Galapagos with kids. Get up close and personal with little more than a wetsuit between you and a white-tipped shark! You might walk in from the beach or you may jump into the sea from a panga (zodiac dinghy). Either way it’s hugely exciting. Play hide and seek with a sea lion and swim through a shoal of ‘Nemos’. Carefully follow a sea turtle as it paddles beneath the waves and marvel at a golden ray gliding by. Check out our Typical Day on a Galapagos cruise to learn more.

swimming with sea lions on Galapagos with kids holiday

Swimming alongside friendly sea lions in the Galapagos is a thrilling experience for adults and kids alike

3 – Bike the Santa Cruz highlands

Okay, so it’s not quite the Alps. However, hopping on a mountain bike to explore the backroads of Santa Cruz allows you to witness rural island life. You’ll have to dodge the odd pothole and giant tortoise, but will end up at one of the island’s coffee fincas. Here you can learn how the beans are still farmed in the traditional way and even crush them yourselves. Then sit down for a delicious freshly brewed cup.

Santa Cruz - share your bike ride with the local residents

Explore Santa Cruz by mountain bike and watch out for the local residents

4 – Stock up on souvenirs

Everyone likes a bit of shopping – and children will love choosing which booby t-shirt to purchase. The main Galapagos islands are packed full of souvenir shops. These mostly sell the same items at similar prices so don’t waste too much time shopping around. Souvenirs range from flip-flop bottle openers to Lonesome George neck rests. They are all somewhat overpriced but hey, you’ll probably only be there once! Don’t forget to visit the chocolate shop in Puerto Ayora. Here you can enjoy a demonstration on how chocolate is made and then stock up on some bars afterwards.

Favourite Galapagos T shirt - Galapagos with kids holiday

Our mini-Mule with his favourite turtle conservation t-shirt and guide

5 – Enjoy a glass-bottomed boat ride

Not all activities in the Galapagos have to be that active. On a glass-bottomed boat ride, you can bob along as the underwater world unfolds beneath you. Fish, sharks, rays and turtles will glide by, whilst you remain warm and dry on board! This activity is perfect for youngsters, non-snorkellers or people wanting to enjoy the marine life at leisure. It can be added to any holiday in the Galapagos with kids. Read our Ultimate Galapagos Guide for advice on how to choose between a land and cruise package.

Turtle from boat on Galapagos with kids holiday

Put your feet up and spot turtles from a glass-bottomed boat

6 – Hop in a kayak

Kayaking is one of our favourite activities in the Galapagos with kids. Gently paddle along the rocky coastline, looking up at a blue-footed booby clinging to a cliff. Glide across the water as a sea turtle swims alongside or a sperm whale breaches the surface nearby. This has to be one of life’s most peaceful and memorable moments. Top tip – don’t paddle too fast and rest often. The lack of splashing will bring marine life closer!

Kayaking on Galapagos with kids holiday

Double treat… kayaking AND spotting turtles, seals and even whales

7 – Hike a live volcano

Ecuador is renowned for its many volcanoes. Lots of these are on the mainland and can be visited on our Volcanoes and Jungle trip. But there’s also the chance to tackle a steamy summit in the Galapagos with kids. On Isabela Island, you can climb Sierra Negra (1,124m), a 5-6 hours round trip. You can either hike the whole way or choose the easier option and take a horse partway. From the top there are stupendous views of the second largest caldera in the world. You’ll also see your fill of active thermal vents, lava fields and surrounding volcanoes.

Isabela island - Galapagos with kids holiday

Hiking on volcanic Isabela Island is fun for active families and you get some stupendous views en route

8 – Discover the vital conservation work at the Charles Darwin Research Centre

The Charles Darwin Research Centre is a brilliant way to introduce responsible tourism to children. It offers an enjoyable way of learning about conservation, evolution and survival along a series of open air boardwalks. It is also a breeding centre for the Giant Tortoise so you can see babies as well as fully grown beasts. The centre is home to the (now stuffed) body of Lonesome George. He was the last living Pinta Island tortoise and died in 2012. The species is now extinct and this opens up interesting discussions with the children about protecting our environment.

Galapagos with kids - Charles Darwin Research Centre

All the family will love the brilliant Charles Darwin Research Centre

9 – Post a postcard from Postcard Bay

In centuries past, ancient mariners would leave postcards for home in Postcard Bay. Other ships that were passing would pick these up and slowly, slowly, they would make their way to Europe and their destination. The process may be slightly quicker these days, but send one home and see how long it takes to arrive…

Galapagos postcard - Galapagos with family blog

… ours took three months!

10 – Come face to face with a Giant Tortoise

They’re massive. They’re old. And they’re everywhere! Of all the animals on the Galapagos, the lumbering and beguiling Giant Tortoise is probably the most kid-friendly of them all. You’ll see them on the beaches. You’ll see them meandering across the fields. And you’ll see them on the road, causing a tortoise-traffic-jam.

Giant tortoise - Galapagos with kids holiday

A close encounter with a Giant Tortoise, snapped by one of our young travellers

Galapagos with kids… next steps

For details on how to combine a holiday to the Galapagos with time in mainland Ecuador, check out our Ecuador and the Galapagos Highlights trip. If you’d like to tick off two bucket list highlights, you can combine the Galapagos Islands with Machu Picchu in Peru, as on our example Galapagos and Peru Highlights itinerary.

Not sure which to do? Get in touch and we’ll run through what will best suit your family. One thing is certain, your trip to the Galapagos with kids will provide memories to last a lifetime.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
We’d love to hear about your experiences holidaying in the Galapagos with kids, so do send us your reviews and opinions. Thank you – [email protected].