What started out as a special birthday trip for my husband, ended up being an 11-day adventure in paradise our family of five will never forget. Thank you to Sandy Cunningham, owner of Outside Go travel agency, for planning the vacation of a lifetime.
1. VISIT STUNNING, UNINHABITED BEACHES
From powdery white to sand as dark as clay, the beaches of the Galapagos are striking in both their variety and great beauty. Plus, who doesn’t love a beach populated not by other tourists or resorts, but by adorable sea lions, penguins, iguanas and birds?
2. PLAY WITH PENGUINS
Although I absolutely loved the sea lions in the Galapagos, I couldn’t wait to swim with a penguin. And we did – A LOT! Not only adorable, Galapagos penguins are surprisingly playful and social. Don’t be surprised if a frisky penguin even taps on your snorkel mask (although honestly I was happy that happened to our guide instead of me).
3. TRAVEL BY YACHT
I’ll admit I was hesitant for our family of five to spend seven days and nights on the luxury yacht Integrity, especially since we had never slept on a boat smaller than a cruise ship. Happily, our time on the yacht turned out to be a highlight of the trip! The service was impeccable (12 in crew for 10 passengers), the food delicious, and each room was spacious and featured large windows. And no TV or wi-fi – that might sound terrible, but it made the trip even better for our family (not sure my three teenagers would agree!)
4. GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH SEA LIONS
The Galapagos spoils you with sea lions – adorable ones who love to entertain. We snorkeled every day of our trip (sometimes twice a day) and we always found sea lions willing to dive in and show us some flips. I will never forget sitting on a beach filled with the cutest baby sea lions at sunset. One caveat, you can get pretty close to the sea lions, but as with any wild animal, please don’t touch.
5. THE BEST SORT OF ACTIVE VACATION
On vacation, our family is always looking to find that perfect balance of luxury, activity, and adventure. For us, the Galapagos exceeded our expectations in each of those categories. Not only did we learn an incredible amount about biology and conservation, we also were able to spend every day hiking, snorkeling and kayaking in a gorgeous, unique setting. The only slight disappointment? My husband couldn’t scuba dive on this trip – oh well, I guess we’ll have to go back.