fun to do kids galapagos islands   Travel for Kids

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.



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.

Whether it's snorkeling with sea lions, treking over volcanoes, or seeing marine iguanas and ancient tortoises up close, this tour company will arrange an unforgettable trip to the Galapagos:

    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)


Galapagos George
Jean Craighead George, Wendell Minor

Story of Lonesome George, the Galapagos tortoise who lived to be 100 years old (he died in 2012). His story begins a million years ago, when tortoises drifted from South America to the Galapagos Islands. Gorgeous two page illustrations. (Picture book)


Galapagos George

Discovery and formation of the volcanic islands, explorations by pirates, whalers, Charles Darwin's study of tortoises, birds, plants, plus habitats of each island and animals of the Galapagos. (Chapter book)

Tip: Perfect to bring on your trip to the Galapagos.


Who Was Charles Darwin?
Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrated biography of Charles Darwin, who sailed for five years around the world, stopping in the Galapagos Islands. From Darwin's collections and observations, he changed our understanding of the natural world. (Chapter book)


Who Was Charles Darwin
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)


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)


We're Sailing to the Galapagos toddlers books
Wildlife of the Galapagos  
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)


(More children's books on other Ecuador pages)
travel for kids | ecuador | galapagos islands
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