Get ready for a week of adventure and discovery on this family-friendly expedition to the Galápagos. Explore the Ecuadorian capital of Quito, then jet off to Isla Santa Cruz to meet giant tortoises, explore the fun-filled exhibits of the Charles Darwin Research Center, and kayak alongside sea lions, marine iguanas, and friendly whitetip sharks. Hop over to Isla Isabela for a family hike up a crater volcano, and end the journey playing explorers as you sail to an uninhabited island and spot rare endemic wildlife.


  • See giant Galápagos tortoises up close on a highlands farm
  • Kayak in the crystal-clear waters of Tortuga Bay
  • Snorkel around geological tunnels, arcs, and exotic fish in Los Túneles 
  • Visit untouched habitats on a catered full-day boat tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Quito, Explore  Quito
Day 2 Fly to Isla Santa Cruz, Visit Giant Tortoises Isla Santa Cruz
Day 3 Kayak in Tortuga Bay, Boat Tour of Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 4 Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel in Los Túneles Isla Isabela
Day 5 Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano, Return to Isla Santa Cruz Isla Santa Cruz
Day 6 Full-Day Boat Tour to an Uninhabited Island Isla Santa Cruz
Day 7 Fly to Mainland Ecuador, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Explore 

Brave new heights as you climb the Pichincha volcano by cable car

Welcome to the capital of Ecuador, Quito! Your driver will meet you and the kids at Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Tababela before taking you on a 45-minute drive to your hotel in the city center. Relax and take some time to acclimatize to the 9,350-foot (2,850 m) altitude before exploring the city.

Take the little ones for a runaround after the long flight in Carolina Park—a huge urban park in the center of the city. For something truly adventurous, zip up to the slopes of the Pichincha volcano in the TelefériQo cable car. At the top, give the kids something to tell their friends about by taking pictures of them on the world's highest swing! After a gentle wander around (remember, the altitude may make you may feel slightly breathless), head back down the volcano to La Floresta neighborhood. Here, the many street food outlets and restaurants will be sure to cater to all tastes, the fussiest of eaters included.

Day 2: Fly to Isla Santa Cruz, Visit Giant Tortoises

Say hello to the dinosaur-like giant tortoise!

Now it's time for the journey of a lifetime! A private driver will transfer you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight to the Galápagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago located around 621 miles (1,000 km) off Ecuador's coast. On arrival at Isla Baltra's airport, you'll hop across the narrow Itabaca Channel to Isla Santa Cruz. Here your guide will be waiting to take you to your first stop: a local farm in the highlands that's home to giant tortoises. Kids may think they've gone to Jurassic Park as they watch these dinosaur-like creatures roam their natural habitat. Enjoy some local cuisine for lunch before continuing to the Charles Darwin Research Station in the afternoon.

There's no better way to kick off a trip to the Galápagos than with a visit to this fascinating research center. Learn all about the islands, their delicate ecosystems, and how scientists are protecting them through captivating, kid-friendly exhibitions and interactive activities. Before you head to your accommodation for the night, you'll make one last stop at the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center for giant Galápagos tortoises. Walk the short trail through the park past tortoise pens, and keep your eyes peeled for iguanas, too! Later on, head to your hotel in the island's town of Puerto Ayora for an early night.

Day 3: Kayak in Tortuga Bay, Boat Tour of Isla Santa Cruz

Kayak through the crystal waters of Tortuga Bay

Get your swimsuits and sunscreen ready for today's kayaking adventure. Meet your guide to begin your 45-minute, family-friendly hike to Tortuga Bay—famed for its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters. Take your kayaks out onto the water to see marine life up close, and keep on the lookout for colonies of marine iguanas and interesting birdlife, as well as mangroves and cacti forests. Pelicans and finches are local to the area, and keen-eyed youngsters may even spot flamingoes. Park your kayaks on the beach for a sunbathing session while the kids play about in the sand.

In the afternoon, get your fill of the Galápagos' incredible range of wildlife on a small boat tour along the bay of Santa Cruz. First, stop at the small islet of La Lobería, where the kids will be thrilled to snorkel around sea lions and tropical fish. Afterward, head to the Shark Channel, where you may spot harmless whitetip sharks and blue-footed boobies. You'll also come upon the Canal del Amor, where little ones can keep an eye out for sea turtles and many tropical fish varieties in the turquoise water. After a day out in the sun and sea, everyone in the family will be ready to relax back at the hotel for the evening.

Plan your trip to Galapagos Islands
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkel in Los Túneles

Snorkel through incredible rock formations and spot colorful marine life

This morning you'll take the public speedboat from Isla Santa Cruz to Isla Isabela—the largest island in the archipelago and also one of the most diverse. After the 2.5-hour journey, get settled in your hotel in Puerto Villamil before heading out on an excursion to Los Túneles—a marine-life haven. There, you'll all be equipped with snorkeling gear before exploring an underwater city of geological formations, arcs, and tunnels formed by past lava flow.

In the kid-friendly shallow waters, you'll search for tropical fish, rays, turtles, seahorses, and whitetip reef sharks. As the afternoon draws near, you might struggle to tear the kids away from this underwater paradise, but the promise of a delicious dinner in Puerto Villamil might tempt them!

Day 5: Hike the Sierra Negra Volcano, Return to Isla Santa Cruz

Go from sea to mountains on a hike around the Sierra Negra volcano
Get your hiking gear at the ready today—a family-friendly hike up the Sierra Negra volcano is on the agenda. Join your tour guide as you make your way through spectacular lava landscapes with views of the northern volcanoes of Isabela and neighboring Isla Fernandina. The kids will barely notice the effort as they explore the exotic vegetation and marvel at views of the second-largest volcanic crater in the world. Stop for a packed lunch before making your way back down again. In the afternoon, take the speed boat back to Isla Santa Cruz and put your feet up back at the hotel.

Day 6: Full-Day Boat Tour to an Uninhabited Island

Go ashore to discover untouched island habitats like Seymour Norte

The kids get to play explorers today as you set out on a full-day boat tour to an uninhabited island. Depending on the permits granted by the park authorities, you'll travel to either Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Plaza Norte, Seymour Norte, or Bartolomé. You'll pass rocky shorelines and slice through turquoise waters, stopping for a guided excursion through the untouched natural habitat. As your family steps foot on one of these pristine islands, home only to endemic wildlife, let the kids know they're witnessing the Galápagos the same way Darwin did on his arrival in 1835.

After a morning of exploring, wildlife-spotting, and plenty of learning, enjoy lunch on deck before relaxing on the island's empty beaches or splashing about in the water. Sail back to Isla Santa Cruz in time for dinner, where you can fill hungry tummies with a dinner of delicious Ecuadorian food before packing your bags and enjoying your last sleep at your hotel.

Day 7: Fly to Mainland Ecuador, Depart

Say goodbye to your island friends before your departing flight
Enjoy your last morning in the Galápagos, grabbing some last-minute beach time or fitting in some final souvenir shopping and family photo ops. When the time comes, your guide will take you back to the Itabaca Channel, where you'll cross to the airport on Isla Baltra by ferry and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Great Galápagos Islands Itineraries 

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Galápagos? Check out these other Galápagos itineraries, explore different ways to spend a week in the Galápagos with your family, or discover the best time to visit the Galápagos.


Map of Family Adventure in the Galápagos: Snorkeling, Kayaking & Hiking - 7 Days
Map of Family Adventure in the Galápagos: Snorkeling, Kayaking & Hiking - 7 Days