Tips for Planning a Galapagos Trip

Remembering why Ecuador’s isles are a bucket list trip for families – and how to make the best of a trip with kids.

by Maryann Jones Thompson


Even though it’s been years since our family visited Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, it’s a trip I will never forget. Yes, we saw the boobies, tortoises, iguanas, penguins, and other creatures unique to Darwin’s famed isles – and they were stunning! Especially because they usually sat still as we stared at them from just feet away.

But there were so many other things I’ll never forget about the Galapagos. Seeing the variation of volcanic landscapes between islands. Walking the white sand beaches.  Snorkeling through thickets of sea turtles – and nasty sea lions. Watching the pelicans beg at the fish market.


If you dream of taking the kids to this ecological wonderland someday, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Older kids are better. Like Africa, wait until your kids are old enough to appreciate and remember the Galapagos. It ain’t a cheap one and you’re probly only going to be able to afford going once. Our kids were 11 and 13, which felt about right. They were old enough to don a wetsuit, appreciate the snorkeling, and jump off the top of the boat too 😉
  • The boat trips are not for the faint of heart. We usually moved between islands at night and it was rocky enough that we ended up putting the top bunk mattress on the floor so that we could quit worrying about a child getting tipped onto the ground! Drowsy Dramamine paid off bigtime.
  • Don’t worry about the itinerary between islands. Each boat sees half of them in about 8 days. We cruised with a German couple who had done the other isles before joining our trip and said they’re all great. If you want to see a particular booby or penguins or the famous post office, be sure those stops are on your itinerary. If not, they are all stunning.

  • Santa Clara will do it.  If you can’t afford or can’t stomach a cruise, fly to Santa Clara Island and stay there a few days. With expeditions around the island and a couple day trips, you can get a good taste for what the islands have to offer and decide if you want to come back someday to see more.
  • Don’t miss the mainland! Yes, they’re having a bad time with COVID now but when it comes time to go to the Galapagos, leave time to see mainland Ecuador – it was incredible! Wandering through Quito’s Spanish colonial architecture, hiking the icy slopes of Cotopaxi, trekking around the crazy blue of Quilotoa lake, horseback riding from a hacienda, and – of course – standing with one foot on each side of the equator 😉 The entire mainland-Galapagos expedition will take 2.5-3 weeks but you will never regret a minute of it!


Planning a trip to the Galapagos? Read more about the Poswillo family’s budget adventure in the Galapagos.

Maryann Jones Thompson  – November 2020

ROAM Founder & Editor   

After a thousand years in publishing as a business journalist, ghostwriter, content strategist and market researcher, Maryann brings her experience traveling as a backpacker, businessperson, expat and mom to writing and editing for ROAM.

© ROAM Family Travel 2020 – All rights reserved


ROAM with us! Read more REAL family adventures


Don’t miss a single trip! Enter your email address in the box below to subscribe to ROAM and receive notifications of new posts by email. Check your inbox for an email to confirm your subscription, click the link and you’re ready to ROAM!