Calling all wildlife and nature lovers! Experience the natural beauty of the Galápagos Islands with this gentle weeklong family trip to Isla Santa Cruz. From giant tortoises, playful sea lions, and adorable penguins to lava lizards, iguanas, and flamingoes, you and the kids will discover the archipelago's unique creatures as you explore the highlands and relax on pristine beaches in "the land that time forgot."


  • Explore Isla Bartolomé by private boat.
  • Kayak alongside sea lions in the stunning Tortuga Bay
  • Meet giant tortoises in the Isla Santa Cruz highlands
  • Snorkel among the colorful reef fish at Garrapatero Beach

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guayaquil, Gateway to the Galápagos Guayaquil
Day 2 Fly to Isla Santa Cruz, Organic Coffee Farm Visit  Isla Santa Cruz
Day 3 Day Trip to Isla Bartolomé & Sombrero Chino Isla Santa Cruz
Day 4 Explore the Santa Cruz Highlands & Charles Darwin Station Isla Santa Cruz
Day 5 Relax on Garrapatero Beach Isla Santa Cruz
Day 6 Tortuga Bay Kayak & Day Trip Isla Santa Cruz
Day 7 Visit Chocolápagos, Depart Isla Santa Cruz  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Guayaquil, Gateway to the Galápagos

Guayaquil, Ecuador
Welcome to Ecuador and the colorful port city of Guayaquil

Welcome to Guayaquil, the "Pearl of the Pacific" and Ecuador's main port. Located on the estuary of the Río Guayas, this coastal metropolis is known as a gateway to Pacific beaches and the Galápagos Islands. Upon arrival, you'll be welcomed by your driver and take a private transfer to your city hotel.

Stretch your legs post-flight and help burn off the kids' excitement with a stroll down El Malecón, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) tree-lined boardwalk along the waterfront. Venture farther north, and you'll find Las Peñas (The Boulders), a charming neighborhood lined with 19th-century pastel houses with a 400-year history. Climb the 444 steps from Las Peñas to the top of Cerro Santa Ana (Santa Ana Hill) to find a little chapel, a lighthouse, and gorgeous views of the city skyline and the Gulf of Guayaquil beyond.

Day 2: Fly to Isla Santa Cruz, Organic Coffee Farm Visit 

A native Iguana
Say hello to the locals when you arrive on Isla Santa Cruz

Today marks the start of your island adventure with an early morning transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight to the Galápagos National Park—a volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador with 19 main islands, each with its distinctive scenery and wildlife. You'll arrive at the airport on Isla Baltra, then take a bus to the Itabaca Canal, where a small ferry will transfer you to Isla Santa Cruz. Here your guide and driver will be waiting to transfer you to your accommodation in the island's main town of Puerto Ayora.

Once you've had time to settle in, combine a fascinating lesson in local ecology with an insight into coffee production as you visit the nearby Lava Java Organic Coffee Farm. Hear from the producers how a tangle of weeds and a few dozen stunted coffee bushes were transformed into a coffee farm and social enterprise. Environment-conscious kids can explore the grounds and discover the native birds and insects that now thrive on the farm, thanks to the investment of the coffee income in helping to restore the local flora. 

Day 3: Day Trip to Isla Bartolomé & Sombrero Chino

View from Bartolome island
The iconic view of Pinnacle Rock from Bartolomé Island

The Galápagos archipelago is known for its uninhabited islands and untouched natural habitats. Today you and your family will board a private yacht and sail to Bartolomé Island, famous for its breathtaking landscape. The walk up the wooden boardwalk to the top of the island is a perfect way for the kids to burn off some of their holiday excitement. Reach the viewpoint, and you'll discover why the spectacular view of the archipelago and iconic Pinnacle Rock is the most photographed in the Galápagos.

Have fun with the kids as you discover Bartolomé's lunar landscape and explore the distinctive terrain. Wildlife is abundant here, including native herons and Galápagos hawks. After a stroll around the island, it's back on the yacht for a trip to neighboring Sombrero Chino, or "Chinese Hat." There will be plenty of oohs and aahs from the kids as you spot the small colony of Galápagos penguins and maybe a gasp or two if you spot one of the local (and harmless) Galápagos sharks! After your tour, you'll return to Puerto Ayora, where the evening is yours to spend as you wish.

Day 4: Explore the Santa Cruz Highlands & Charles Darwin Station

Giant tortoise native to the Galapagos
Meet the giant tortoises native to the Galápagos on Isla Santa Cruz.

After breakfast, you'll meet your private guide and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, a center dedicated to scientific research and conservation in the Galápagos. There's plenty to fascinate the kids, including an enormous skeleton of a rare Bryde's whale. Your mini conservationists will learn about the facility's efforts to protect threatened wildlife before heading next door to the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center, the best place in the Galápagos to see the eponymous giant tortoises before they're released into the wild.

Continue exploring Santa Cruz with a guided tour of the island's highlands. If the kids loved meeting the tortoises earlier, there's a treat in store as you'll visit a private farm to see these gentle giants at home in the wild. Afterward, explore the lava fields that dot the island, making for a great natural playground for little ones. Meanwhile, ornithologists will be in their element as almost every bird in the archipelago can be spotted in the Santa Cruz highlands.

Day 5: Relax on Garrapatero Beach

Kids playing on the white sands of Garrapatero Beach
Have fun with the kids on the pristine sands at El Garrapatero

Pack a picnic and enjoy a day of relaxation as you and the kids transfer 12 miles (19 km) northeast to the secluded white sands of El Garrapatero. Take a 15-minute gentle stroll to the beach from the trailhead and pass by the enormous cactus plants and palo santo trees as the kids count the lava lizards and Galápagos finches. How you spend the day is up to you. Relax on the pristine sands while the kids make friends with the playful sea lions or discover the colorful reef fish with a family snorkel.

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

Day 6: Tortuga Bay Kayak & Day Trip

Father and son kayaking
Enjoy a family kayak at picturesque Tortuga Bay

Start the day with a hearty breakfast, then rally the kids, grab your swimsuits, and hike along the easy 45-minute trail from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay. Famous for its soft coral sand and spectacular scenery, this stretch of coast is considered one of the archipelago's most picturesque spots. Enjoy a leisurely family kayak around the bay and nearby coves as you paddle the calm waters while the kids keep their eyes peeled for the resident flamingoes, pelicans, and finches.

After lunch, either have fun snorkeling in the lagoon with the small reef sharks and marine iguanas or simply relax on the beach. If the little ones start to get restless, there's a short self-guided trail nearby where the kids can venture through a prickly pear cactus forest, with plenty of opportunities to spot native birds and animals around the mangroves. When you've had your fill of swimming and sunbathing, head back to your hotel before spending your last evening at one of your favorite Puerto Ayora restaurants, recounting the highlights of your trip. 

Day 7: Visit Chocolápagos, Depart Isla Santa Cruz

Sea lions at sunset in the Galapagos
Sea lions at sunset in the Galápagos

The time has come to say farewell to the Galápagos, but before you do, there's one last treat in store with a visit to Chocolápagos, the island's famous chocolate shop. Taste the dizzying array of Ecuadorian chocolates and resist, if you can, the cries of the children to take home some special turtle-shaped chocolates. Enjoy one last stroll through Puerto Ayora before your transfer to the Itabaca Channel and ferry crossing to Isla Baltra for your connecting 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 Relaxed Family Trip to the Galápagos - 7 Days
Map of Relaxed Family Trip to the Galápagos - 7 Days