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Galapagos Islands

Land Iguana
The Galapagos Islands are volcanic islands on the equator, off the coast of Ecuador. Because the islands were never connected to the mainland, many species of plants and animals are unique to the Galapagos. In 1835, the young naturalist Charles Darwin, arrived on the islands. His collections from the Galapagos became central to his theory of how species evolve. Today, traveling in the Galapagos with kids, everyone in the family will be awed and amazed by nature.
Galapagos Islands Photo Album
    To preserve the animal habitats of the Galapagos, you cruise around the islands on boats, sleeping on board. Cruises are typically five days to two weeks. The boats are staffed with guides who are very knowledgeable about plants, animals and geology, and speak English. Each day is divided into water activities and exploring an island.
Blue Footed Booby
    On each island, you will see an abundance of wild life, and it's boggling how the animals birds are undisturbed by the presence of humans. You can walk right by a blue footed booby with two eggs, sitting in the middle of the path, and she won't even notice you're there.
    Depending on which islands you visit, and the time of year, you will see different birds, reptiles, mammals and marine animals. If you really like warm water for snorkeling, choose a cruise that goes to the northern islands; around the southern islands, the water is much colder.
Galapagos Tortoise
    On your cruise, you're sure to stop at the Charles Darwin Research Station to see the Galapagos tortoises. Due to a dwindling population, they raise tortoises from hatchlings; when the tortoises are big enough, they are released back into the wild. At the Research Station, you can see the baby hatchlings, medium size tortoises, and big old (very old) tortoises.
    Close to the station is also a wonderful sand beach at Puerto Ayora, where you can build sand castles and see the nifty Sally Lightfoot crabs (the baby crabs are black, like the rocks, the adults are a brilliant red and yellow). For more information about the Charles Darwin Research Station, click here.
      Tips for enjoying the Galapagos
Kids snokeling in the Galapagos
  Water gear – Bring snorkels and fins (especially fins) in kid's sizes. If you are cruising around the southern islands, July and August is a good time because plenty of birds are in residence, but the water is cold. Our family used wet suits, the short sleeved ones, and were glad to have them. For an extra layer of warmth, add a "rash guard" shirt under the wetsuit. The boats provide life vests, but if you have a toddler, consider bringing a life vest suited to a small child.
    Footwear – Sometimes when you go ashore, you have a "wet landing" in the shallow water on the beach. Bring water shoes or sandals that are good in the water, but sturdy enough for walking on rocky paths around the islands.
Masked Booby
  Binoculars – Take along a pair of binoculars for bird watching. With binoculars, you can see how an albatross comes in for a landing, a blue footed booby diving into the water for fish, a masked booby readying itself for takeoff from a cliff, or a frigate bird puffing up it's red pouch.
    Flashlights – Some islands have lava tubes, which are like caves inside. Bring along flashlights for your lava tube explorations. The lava tube on Floreana (Charles) Island has water in it. If your flashlight is waterproof, use it as you swim or wade in the water, casting a spooky glow in the inky blackness.
Tropical Fish
 

Underwater cameras – Take a waterproof camera, and capture your snorkeling adventures!

  Sea sickness – In some of the smaller boats, you will feel the swells, especially at night when the boats run through rougher water. If your child is prone to motion sickness, talk to your pediatrician about remedies. We use acidophilus for everything, including the queasy stomach.
    Sun screen – The Galapagos are on the equator and you are out in the sun most of the day. Slather on the sun screen, and keep putting it on throughout the day. Also, wear hats while hiking around the islands.
   

Shopping

     

In Puerto Ayora and at the airport, you'll find wood carvings of Galapagos penguins, turtles, or boobies, stuffed animal frigate birds and tortoises, bead jewelry and Galapagos T-shirts.

     

If your cruise stops at Floreana (Charles) Island, stock up on postcards to send from the "Post Office." This post office is like days of old, when people would leave their letters to send, taking others to post when they get back to the mainland. We left postcards in the "Post Office," they were picked up by someone else, and sent off to our family and friends. (No stamps necessary.)

family tours galapagos islands

The Galapagos Islands are absolutely awesome for kids, and in order to protect the wildlife, you'll need to book a cruise.

Here's our editors' choice for Galapagos family tours, with itineraries that offer travel with other families, knowledgeable naturalist guides, and a kid-friendly balance of organized activities and the freedom to explore. Whether it's snorkeling with sea lions, hiking rocky islands, or observing marine iguanas and ancient tortoises, these tour companies will arrange an unforgettable trip to the Galapagos:

    Thomson Family Adventures
    Wildland Adventures Family Travel
    Classic Journeys
    South American Family Vacations
    Quivertree Family Expeditions
kids books galapagos charles darwin
     
Island: A Story of the Galapagos wildlife history kids  

Discover the amazing plants and animals that live here on the Galapagos Islands, and nowhere else on earth. Close-up illustrations, from the birth of a volcanic island to the marine iguanas, penguins, frigate birds, blue-footed boobies, as they evolve on the islands over millions of years, capture the wonder of the Galapagos. (Picture book)

 

     

Go with young Charles Darwin on a five year voyage around the world. Inside are maps, ship's diagram, postcards, Darwin's first person accounts from the expedition, colorful drawings of amazing Galapagos wildlife, and more. Like a long lost scrapbook, open the covers on a world of adventure. (Activity book)

Also chaper book: Who Was Charles Darwin?

 

 
Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure galapagos kids
     
Inside the Beagle with Charles Darwin  
Inside the Beagle with Charles Darwin
Fiona Macdonald, Mark Bergin

Illustrated voyage of the Beagle with Charles Darwin. Detailed plans of the ship, life on board the Beagle (Darwin suffered terribly from seasickness), what he observed in the Galapagos, explorations and discoveries, and exotic stops along the way.
(Picture book)

 

     

Fascinating historical novel of Darwin's adventures on his round the world voyage, riding with the gauchos in Patagonia, surviving terrible storms and earthquakes, collecting every where he went, as well as his school days in England. (Chapter book)

 

 
The True Adventures of Charley Darwin kids
     
Darwin and Evolution for Kids  

When Darwin returned from his travels, he looked at the birds from the Galapagos and discovered they evolved differently, based on different ecosystems in each island. Explore Darwin's voyage and ideas with 21 activities – make your own fossils, go on a botanical treasure hunt, camouflage eggs. Good for older kids. (Activity book)

 

     

Color different animals and plants from the Galapagos, such as a lava lizard, frigate bird, land and marine iguanas, giant tortoise and prickly pear cactus, Sally Lightfoot crab, green turtle. (Coloring book)

 

 
Galapagos Islands Coloring Book
     
We're Sailing to the Galapagos toddlers books  
We're Sailing to the Galapagos
Laurie Krebs, Grazia Restelli

Sail to the Galapagos, where each day of the week there's another fascinating creature – giant tortoises, clacking albatrosses, sleeping iguanas, skipping lava crabs, and more. Delightful, colorful cut-paper illustrations, and fun for little ones. (Picture book)

 

     
Wildlife of the Galapagos
Julian Fitter, Daniel Fitter, David Hosking

Not a kids' book per se, this is a super field guide to 200 different species of land and marine animals, birds and plants in the Galapagos, plus 400 color photographs, maps and drawings. (Guidebook)

 

 
Wildlife of the Galapagos
(More children's books on other Ecuador pages)
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