Galapagos Family Fun: Cruise or Lodge?

Abby Suplizio

Galapagos Family Fun: Cruise or Lodge?

Abby Suplizio

Feb 2010

The enchanted Galapagos Islands continue to be one of the best family adventures out there.

While all of the ships we promote are great options, there remain a few I consider more suitable for families, which I've outlined below. Or, if you want to leave your sea legs at home, you might consider a lodge-based adventure.

Q: Why are the Galapagos Islands a good destination for families with children?

A: Galapagos is a wildlife wonderland for children! I have two young children and have had the opportunity to travel through the islands twice now. I’ll never forget my seven year old snorkeling with the sea turtles--I didn’t think he’d ever take his head out of the water! The islands give children an opportunity to gain a sense of connectedness to nature, which for many is a new phenomenon, as well as a chance to learn without even realizing!

Daily morning and afternoon activities such as hiking, snorkeling, or enjoying a Zodiac trip give children the opportunity to spend most of the time exploring the wildlife and vegetation of the islands.

Note: The National Park System asks that visitors be at least 7 years old to protect the wildlife, the nesting habitats, and the welfare of the child.

Q: What are some of the best cruises for families with children?

A: Below are the Galapagos ships that I feel are great for families--plus, they are on sale!

Santa Cruz – 90 passengers
Perfect for families who want a quality cruise on a larger, comfortable ship with great guides, glass-bottom boat, Jacuzzi and a well planned itinerary.

La Pinta - 48 passengers
Comfortable, bright and modern ship with connecting cabins, great guides and ample onboard amenities including pool, sauna, and Jacuzzi. All cabins have full large windows.

Legend - 100 passengers
Comfortable and spacious ship with great guides and ample onboard amenities including Kid's Corner, pool, sauna, Jacuzzi.

National Geographic Endeavour - 96 passengers
State-of-the-art expedition ship (carrying only 96 passengers in Galapagos) with excellent naturalist guides and overall educational program, kayaks, and Undersea Specialist. Great for families!

Galapagos Explorer II - 100 passengers
This ship is perfect for those who want to travel on an upscale ship with a "lighter" natural history program. Families enjoy this ship.

Q: What are the best land-based alternatives?

A: Although I feel that our ship-based trips are the best options for families because of how much time is spent experiencing the different wildlife on a variety of islands, land-based trips may be a suitable choice for your family vacation.

One option is the wonderful, family-friendly Finch Bay Eco Hotel on Santa Cruz Island which offers privacy, a beautiful natural setting, fabulous pool 50 yards away from the private beach, superb service, and a variety of multi-sport nature activities. During the day, enjoy excursions by small yacht to nearby islands, and at night, retire to your comfortable and spacious suite at Finch Bay.

Finch Bay Eco Hotel Adventure - 4/5/8 Days
Dates: Starts Wednesdays & Sundays
Prices From: $1,053 per person

Finch Bay Eco Hotel
Named after the famous Darwin's Finches abundant in the surroundings, the charming 27-room Finch Bay Hotel is just steps from the beach on a private seaside location on Santa Cruz Island.

A second fabulous option is the Red Mangrove Lodge adventures, which offer semi-guided land-based packages with a variety of activity options and a great deal of flexibility! Guests stay in three to four intimate oceanside lodges on up to four different islands in the Galapagos: Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana and San Cristobal Island. Activities include: hiking, kayaking, culinary camping, snorkeling and diving.

Darwin's Triangle Short - 5 Days
Lodge accommodations on Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela.

Darwin's Triangle Long - 6 Days
Lodge accommodations on Santa Cruz, Floreana, and Isabela.

Full Adventure Galapagos - 8 Days
Lodge accommodations on Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana, and Isabela.

About the Red Mangrove Lodges:

Aventura Lodge
An enchanting 14-guestroom lodge in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island with amazing surroundings and superb cuisine and service.

Isabela del Mar Lodge
An intimate 8-room lodge on the white-sand beaches of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island with stunning emerald views from the roof top terrace.

Floreana Lodge
Ten newly constructed beach front casitas on the quiet island of Floreana and only a five-minute walk from town.

Casa Iguana Mar y Sol
A luxury 5-suite lodge on San Cristobal Island offering spacious guestrooms and some of the most expansive views on the island.

For additional information, read How to Choose the Right Galapagos Trip.