- Explore Ecuadorian cuisine and culture with a family cooking class
- Cruise the shorelines of Isla San Cristóbal via standup paddleboard
- Kayak alongside curious sea lions at Las Tintoreras
- Visit giant tortoises and iguanas at the Charles Darwin Research Station
|Day 1||Arrive in Quito||Quito|
|Day 2||Mitad del Mundo Monument, Cooking Class for Kids||Quito|
|Day 3||Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Standup Paddleboarding Tour||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 4||Snorkeling at Kicker Rock, Family Painting Class||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 5||Free Day to Explore Isla San Cristóbal||Isla San Cristóbal|
|Day 6||Fly to Isla Isabela, Kayak & Snorkel at Las Tintoreras||Isla Isabela|
|Day 7||Snorkel Tour of Los Túneles||Isla Isabela|
|Day 8||Discover Isla Isabela via Bike||Isla Isabela|
|Day 9||Free Day on Isla Isabela||Isla Isabela|
|Day 10||Speedboat to Isla Santa Cruz, Charles Darwin Station & Highlands Hike||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 11||Guided Snorkel Tour of Isla Santa Cruz||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 12||Excursion to an Uninhabited Island||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 13||Tortuga Bay Hike, Beach Day||Isla Santa Cruz|
|Day 14||Depart the Galápagos|
Day 1: Arrive in Quito
Welcome to Ecuador! 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 regroup, you're free to explore a bit on your own.
If the kids are looking to stretch their legs after the long plane ride, head over to Parque La Carolina, one of Quito's largest parks. Here, you'll find 165 acres (66 ha) of green space, with lakes, fountains, children's play areas, and plenty of food vendors if you'd like to grab a bite. The park also has a children's library and a defunct Ecuadorian Air Force plane-turned-museum! While you're here, be sure to stop in at the on-site botanical gardens, where a network of paths takes you through the gardens, and greenhouses with a huge variety of beautiful orchids are on display.
Take a walk down La Ronda, a street located just south of the historic district and one of the oldest streets in the city, which features quaint, lantern-lit walkways, open courtyards, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. End your first day at Panecillo Hill, where your family can climb up to see skyline views of the city.
Day 2: Mitad del Mundo Monument, Cooking Class for Kids
Have you always wanted to stand in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres at the same time? Today's your opportunity as you visit Mitad del Mundo, or the "Middle of the World." In 1736, a French expedition determined that this spot was the location of the equator. The true equator line was about 650 feet (200 m) north of that line, but by the time the mistake was discovered, the huge monument had already been built! Despite the slightly "off" location, this remains a popular attraction, with several exhibition halls and lots of fun photo ops for you and the kids.
Right next door to Mitad del Mundo, you'll also find the Intiñan Museum, which actually sits closer to the real equator line. Learn about ancient Ecuadorian culture while the youngsters enjoy participating in fun activities such as walking the equatorial line with their eyes closed or balancing an egg on a nail. And later, you can stop by the Temple of the Sun Museum, located directly on the equator and founded by painter and sculptor Ortega Maila. The museum merges the reverence of spirituality alongside local culture with exhibits and a gallery of Maila's work.
This afternoon, explore the amazing gastronomy of the region as you step into the kitchen of a local chef for a family cooking class. Learn to prepare some typical Ecuadorian dishes, including empanadas and guaguas de pan (sweet rolls filled with chocolate or jam) while your instructors 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 together and enjoy the meal you created.
Day 3: Fly to Isla San Cristóbal, Standup Paddleboarding Tour
It's off to the Galápagos and the island of San Cristóbal today! At the appointed time, your driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the airport, where you'll catch your flight. Upon arrival, your private transfer will collect you, and after you check in at your hotel, it's time to immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of the archipelago's easternmost island with a standup paddleboard tour.
Day 4: Snorkeling at Kicker Rock, Family Painting Class
Dive into the hidden underwater world of the Galápagos today with a snorkel tour. You'll meet with your guide at the pier, and after getting outfitted with the proper equipment, you'll board a boat and head to Leon Dormido or Kicker Rock, a large rock formation just off the coast that earns its nickname from its shoe-like shape. Drop anchor and take some time to snorkel and swim, potentially accompanied by sea lions, rays, or even harmless whitetip sharks!
Budding artists in the family will also enjoy a painting class later this afternoon. Meet up with a local artist and paint different Galápagos creatures, learning about the animals' habits and history as you go. Paint pictures of blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and giant tortoises—there are really no limits on creativity here! And at the end of the night, you'll have your own hand-painted souvenir to take with you.
Day 5: Free Day to Explore Isla San Cristóbal
Enjoy a free day today, taking in some of the local sights and exploring with your family. For an educational start to the day, visit San Cristóbal's Interpretation Center. This museum showcases the islands' volcanic origins, climate, different endemic animal species, and the human history of how the islands were discovered and colonized. From here, you can hike Las Tijeretas Hill, named for the frigatebirds that inhabit and nest in the area. The male birds are known for their bright red chests, making them easy for the kids to spot as you hike.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Fly to Isla Isabela, Kayak & Snorkel at Las Tintoreras
Today you'll move on to Isla Isabela, the largest island in the archipelago and one of the most diverse. After breakfast, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the airport for the quick, 45-minute flight. Your private transfer will collect you from the airport and transport you to your hotel in the town of Puerto Villamil. Once you've had a chance to get checked in at your lodgings, you can see more of the islands via kayak.
Meet with your guide at the appointed time and head out for a guided kayak tour of Las Tintoreras. These small volcanic islets are thriving with wildlife, and you'll have a chance to snorkel with colorful fish, turtles, and maybe even some curious sea lions! Cruise along the crystal blue waters of the Pacific, eventually landing at Las Tintoreras for a walking tour. The kids are likely to see penguins and blue-footed boobies on the rocks, as well as sunbathing iguanas.
Afterward, you can 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. Afterward, enjoy a family walk through the nearby wetlands, where you'll see flamingoes and pintail ducks, as well as the endangered mangrove finch.
Day 7: Snorkel Tour of Los Túneles
This morning you'll meet up with your guide and board a boat bound for Los Túneles, a popular dive and snorkel spot on the island known for its stunning lava arches, geological formations, and a huge variety of sea life. Once you've been outfitted with the proper gear and received a safety briefing, you'll be free to snorkel and explore!
Keep your eyes peeled for seahorses, colorful fish, rays, turtles, and gentle whitetip reef sharks. You might also spot some penguins or blue-footed boobies sitting on the rocks. The shallow waters are perfect for the kids to safely swim but do keep in mind that the tour is recommended for children over the age of 10—although ages as young as seven are welcome with parental supervision. After the excursion, you return by boat to Puerto Villamil.
Day 8: Discover Isla Isabela via Bike
Experience Isla Isabela by bike today, meeting up with your guide in the morning and taking a ride around one side of the island. The tour takes you by the beaches of Playa del Amor, where you're likely to see marine iguanas lounging in the sun, and you'll visit the famed Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears), a historic landmark built by prisoners of the penal colony that was once part of the island. Unfortunately, many of the prisoners lost their lives during the wall's construction, which is how it earned the name.
The tour ends at Flamingo Lagoon, a coastal lagoon that's home to a huge flamingo nesting ground. You'll have a chance to explore this incredible area, and the kids can watch the flamingoes foraging for the tiny shrimp that makes up much of their diet—which also contributes to their bright pink color! While this tour is geared toward kids who are old enough to ride a bike on their own, families with very small children can request a child seat that attaches to their bike.
Day 9: Free Day on Isla Isabela
Make the most of your last day on Isla Isabela with some beach time and swimming. After breakfast at your hotel, head over to Concha de Perla, a lovely small beach located within walking distance of Puerto Villamil. Just outside of town, a boardwalk takes you through lush mangroves to this protected area, opening up to gorgeous turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkeling and swimming. The beach is also home to marine iguanas, sea lions, and turtles, and the kids are also likely to see lots of pelicans diving for their own morning meals!
Day 10: Speedboat to Isla Isabela, Charles Darwin Station & Highlands Hike
Today you'll take the public water taxi to Isla Santa Cruz, a ride of about 2.5 hours, arriving in the archipelago's largest town of Puerto Ayora. After you get checked in at your hotel, head to the Charles Darwin Research Station to visit giant tortoises and various species of iguanas. Learn more about the foundation's efforts to protect threatened wildlife populations 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.
Later, take a guided tour into the highlands of Santa Cruz. Here, you'll find giant tortoises in their natural habitat, and your family can explore the impressive lava tunnels that dot the area and stop at the "twin craters" of Los Gemelos to see the various bird species. Enjoy a traditional lunch, then head back to town for the evening.
Day 11: Guided Snorkel Tour of Isla Santa Cruz
Meet your guides at the pier this morning, and set off to explore some of the island's best underwater sites on a full-day boating and snorkeling adventure. Depending on weather and park permit availability, destinations might include Isla Pinzón, a small island that sits just west of Santa Cruz and is a fantastic place for snorkeling and swimming, and Isla Santa Fé, also known as Barrington Island, where the kids can see schools of colorful fish, sea lions, even a lobster or two! Enjoy lunch on board the boat, then finish with downtime on the remote beaches of Playa Escondida.
Day 12: Excursion to an Uninhabited Island
Of the many islands in the Galápagos archipelago, only four have permanent settlements. The remainder are untamed and wild, the protected habitats of many of this region's endemic species. Today, your family will have the rare opportunity to visit one of these islands, seeing some of the wildlife of the Galápagos in their natural environments. In the morning, you'll head to the harbor and board a yacht, setting sail to one of the islands. Depending on the current park permits and boat schedule, you'll be visiting Bartolomé, Seymour Norte, Plazas Sur, or Santa Fé.
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 and a stroll around town.
Day 13: Tortuga Bay Hike, Beach Day
Relax with a free day in Puerto Ayora, where you'll have time to see more of the sights around town. If the kids want some outdoor time, 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 spend some time at Las Grietas, a fissure canyon with high volcanic walls and gorgeous, clear waters. Because the canyon is so protected, the pools here are very calm, making it a perfect swim and snorkel spot for all ages. 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 14: Depart the Galápagos
It's time for you and the family to say farewell to the Galápagos Islands! At the appointed hour, your driver will pick you up and transfer you to the narrow Itabaca Channel, where a quick ferry ride will take you across to the airport on Isla Baltra. 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 two weeks in the Galápagos with your family, or explore the best time to visit the Galápagos.