The Galapagos Islands, situated 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific, is a volcanic archipelago that’s often ranked at the top, or close to it, of lists ranking the best wildlife destinations in the entire world. As the islands were never linked to the mainland, to get there, species had to have floated, swam or flown in – and as larger mammals at the top of the food chain couldn’t make the journey, the lack of predators allow wildlife to thrive. The islands are home to plant and animal species not seen anywhere else in the world, including a bird called the Blue-footed Booby, that kids are sure to enjoy a giggle about. As many of the animals have never learned to fear humans, visitors can snorkel right alongside a marine iguana and take a quiet stroll among resident sea lions and Galapagos giant tortoise, which lives to be 150 years old or more.
One of the best ways to experience the Galapagos is to take a cruise, typically conducted on smaller boats to minimize environmental impact, and featuring educational lectures, hikes and often snorkeling or diving too.