605 miles off the western coast of South America rests one of the world’s most remarkable series of islands. Popularized by a visit from Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s most biologically diverse locations as well as one of the most geographically youthful places to be found. Speaking of things that are young, though, these islands also make for a remarkable family vacation.
Imagine, at the start of the school year, each child standing up and talking about what they did over the summer. After all, the best time to visit the Islands is right in the middle of Summer Vacation, June to August. Other children may talk about how they saw their grandparents, or went on a road trip, or headed down to the beach every now and then. When your child gets up to talk, though, the whole class falls silent in amazement as they hear of your kid’s incredible journey through somewhere they’ve only heard about through their textbooks and on children’s educational television. They’ve seen pictures. Your child was actually there. Armed with such stories, most children will find it quite easy to make friends in class.
What is it about these islands that makes them so special, though? Is it the way you can approach many of the animals on the islands and interact with them? From giant lizards and tortoises to sea lions and enormous crabs, the Galapagos are filled with some of the most enchanting and relaxed animals in the world. Indeed, some areas are famed for the way you can simply approach many of the animals relaxing on the beach (though, as always, children should be coached on proper behavior around wild animals before being allowed to approach).
However, there’s even more involved than this; as Darwin himself observed, the individual islands of the Galapagos are quite distinct from each other and feature a variety of terrains and wildlife, making each island a unique experience rather than a precise copy of the one before. Coupled with this is the natural beauty of the ocean surrounding the island, which offers the possibilities of swimming, snorkeling, and interacting with wildlife and nature even more. There’s no pause in the fun, though, because even the quick cruises between the islands are a masterwork of entertainment.
The reasons may vary, but ultimately there’s no denying the splendor and majesty of these islands. Their attraction hasn’t gone unnoticed by vacation planners, either, as many have worked hard to make the islands as available as possible while continuing to minimize human impact.
A number of cruise boats serving the island possess special family departures (often the smaller vessels), while many of the remaining ships offer discounts for children under a certain age. The exact discounts vary, so you should always check a particular ship’s listings, but common benefits include a discount of 20-25% on the cruise and as much as 50% on the flight for children under 12, and a number of hotels offer discounts of their own for children staying with their parents.There may be some restrictions (such as one child discount per adult) in certain areas, however, so it’s best to consult with your trip advisor based on how many people you intend to travel with before you commit to anything. With a little bit of planning and a week or so of your summer, you can give your entire family a vacation they will never forget.
By James Eder
Galapagos Islands Tour and Cruise info can be found by clicking HERE