The Galápagos Islands can really push a family’s “happy buttons.” The close-up looks at penguins and iguanas and sea lions are almost too cool to believe. The landscapes are like nothing you’ve ever seen, and the climate is great. Too bad for most visitors that they tour the islands by cruise ship. Everybody can get stir-crazy in the limited space. And the fun of ship-to-shore Zodiac rides wears off after 4 or 5 trips. That’s why we prefer an island-based Galápagos family vacation. There’s plenty of elbow room to walk, swim in our boutique hotels’ pools, and watch for blue-footed boobies out the back door. You can go sea-kayaking right from the dock outside your door. We have easy access to clear lagoons for snorkeling, great trails for mountain-biking, and white beaches for lounging. Even if you weren’t bumping into a titanic tortoise or a strutting flamingo at every turn, this would still be a fantastic active family vacation. And unlike those tourists marooned on their boats, we get to hang out with the locals and get a feel for what human life is like among the wildlife!