- Explore delicious Ecuadorian cuisine with a family cooking class
- Get close to giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station
- Snorkel through the beautiful natural lava arches of Los Túneles
- Kayak alongside curious sea lions at Las Tintoreras
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito, Family Cooking Class||Quito|
|Day 2||Fly to Isla Santa Cruz, Giant Tortoises & Charles Darwin Research Station||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 3||Excursion to an Uninhabited Island||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 4||Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkeling at Los Túneles||Isla Isabela|
|Day 5||Las Tintoreras Kayak & Snorkel Tour||Isla Isabela|
|Day 6||Return to Isla Santa Cruz, Free Afternoon to Explore||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 7||Depart Isla Santa Cruz|
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Day 1: Arrive in Quito, Family Cooking Class
Welcome to Ecuador, the gateway to the Galápagos Islands! Your flight lands in the capital city of Quito, located in the foothills of the Andes and home to a rich cultural history. Upon arrival, your driver will collect you from the airport, and after you and the kids have a chance to rest and regroup, you'll take a deep dive into the local traditions and the amazing gastronomy of the region with a family cooking class.
Step into the kitchen of a local chef and learn to prepare some typical Ecuadorian dishes, including empanadas and guaguas de pan (sweet rolls filled with chocolate or jam). During the class, your instructors will also share stories about the history behind each recipe. There's a special menu for younger family members, and at the end of the class, you'll sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy the meal you created.
Day 2: Fly to Isla Santa Cruz, Giant Turtles & Charles Darwin Research Station
Your Galápagos adventure begins today! At the appointed time, your driver will transport you from your hotel and to the airport, where you'll catch your flight to the famed volcanic archipelago located roughly 621 miles (1,000 km) off Ecuador's coast. Upon arrival on Isla Baltra, you'll transfer via shuttle bus to the Itabaca Channel, where you'll take a ferry to Isla Santa Cruz and the islands' largest town of Puerto Ayora.
After check-in at your accommodations, take a guided tour into the highlands of Santa Cruz. Here, you'll find giant tortoises in their natural habitat, and you and the kids can explore the impressive lava tunnels that dot the area. Enjoy a traditional lunch, then head back to town, where you can explore on your own.
Later today, head over to the Charles Darwin Foundation, a research and conservation station, for more giant tortoises and various species of iguanas. Learn more about the foundation's efforts to protect threatened wildlife populations here, and see exhibits that showcase the natural flora and fauna of the region. Their exhibition hall also includes the impressive skeleton of a Bryde's whale—sure to be a hit with the kids!
Day 3: Excursion to an Uninhabited Island
Get ready for a day of adventure and exploration today as you set sail on a full-day boat tour to one of the archipelago's uninhabited islands. Depending on the permits granted by the park authorities, you'll visit either Santa Fé, Plaza Sur, Seymour Norte, or Bartolomé. Drop anchor and disembark for a guided excursion through the untouched natural habitat. As your family steps foot on one of these pristine islands, home only to rare and endemic wildlife, let the kids know they're witnessing the Galápagos the same way Darwin did on his arrival in 1835.
Each island has a different landscape and unique flora and fauna, so the animals you see will depend on the island your tour includes. You may catch glimpses of Santa Fé iguanas, sea lions, or even the unusual blue-footed boobies that populate the islands. Lunch will be served on board the yacht, and the ship's captain will anchor at a nearby bay or beach so the kids can snorkel and swim. Return to Puerto Ayora in time for dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 4: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Snorkeling at Los Túneles
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 the island's town of Puerto Villamil, then grab your swimsuits and sunscreen and met your guide for today's underwater adventure. Your destination is Los Túneles, a popular dive and snorkel spot known for its stunning lava arches, geological formations, and a huge variety of sea life.
After a quick boat ride offshore, it's time for the whole family to don snorkeling gear and receive a quick safety briefing before diving in! Keep your eyes open for seahorses, colorful fish, rays, turtles, and whitetip reef sharks. You might also spot penguins or blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks. The shallow waters are perfect for the kids to swim safely but do keep in mind that the tour is recommended for children over the age of 10—although kids as young as seven are welcome with parental supervision. After the excursion, you'll return to Puerto Villamil, where the kids are sure to sleep well after the day's exertions.
Day 5: Las Tintoreras Kayak & Snorkel Tour
More marine adventure awaits today with a guided kayaking excursion to Las Tintoreras. These small volcanic islets are thriving with wildlife, and you'll also have a chance to snorkel with colorful fish, turtles, and maybe even some curious sea lions! At the appointed time, you'll meet with your guide and head out, cruising along the crystal blue waters of the Pacific. You'll land at Las Tintoreras and take a walking tour of the area, where the kids are likely to see penguins and blue-footed boobies on the rocks, as well as sunbathing iguanas.
Afterward, you'll snorkel around the islet, enjoying the clear, calm waters while viewing the endless amounts of fish and other wildlife. Kayak back to Puerto Villamil in the afternoon, where you'll be free to explore some of the sights around town. If the kids want more beach time, visit the beaches of La Playa de Amor, a small sandy beach with clear shallow waters that are perfect for smaller children. And any birders in the family might enjoy a walk through the nearby wetlands, where you'll see flamingoes and pintail ducks, as well as the endangered mangrove finch.
Day 6: Return to Isla Santa Cruz, Free Afternoon to Explore
Make the most of your last day in the Galápagos after the speedboat ride back to Isla Santa Cruz, where you'll have free time to see more of the sights at your own pace. If the kids need to burn some energy, visit Tortuga Bay. The trailhead starts a few blocks from the main dock area, a fairly easy walk of about 45 minutes that takes you to the beach area. Here you can choose from two beaches, Playa Brava, which has strong currents and is more suited to surfing, or Playa Mansa, a quieter beach with calm waters that are perfect for the little ones.
You can also hop a boat to Playa de los Perros, which, while not much of a swimming beach due to its rocky shoreline, has stunning natural beauty and a wealth of wildlife that includes iguanas, pelicans, and crabs. And if souvenir shopping is on your mind, relax with a family stroll along the Puerto Ayora Malecón, where you'll find plenty of boutiques and restaurants. The sea lions that like to lounge on the docks are always a fun sight to see, as is the boat traffic coming in and out of the harbor.
Day 7: Depart Isla Santa Cruz & the Galápagos
It's time for you and the family to say farewell to the Galápagos! At the appointed hour, your driver will pick you up and transfer you to the Itabaca Channel, where you'll catch the ferry to neighboring Isla Baltra and continue to the airport for 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, discover different ways to spend a week in the Galápagos with your family, or explore the best time to visit the Galápagos.