The Galapagos Islands are situated some 605 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Known as Las Islas Encantadas (The Enchanted Isles) they truly are a magical wonder to behold. In 1835 the HMS Beagle of Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos. This voyage was a harbinger of what became his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. To this very day, the isles continue to enchant scientists, naturalists and tourists seeking an insight to a pristine habitat of flora and fauna.
Totally Latin America for over a decade have been at the pinnacle of providing some of the finest voyages of discovery across the Galapagos. Not just new landscapes but new eyes to view them. We seek to create unique, insightful trips with the very best naturalist guides to educate and bestow upon our clients truly memorable experiences of a lifetime.
When is the Best Time of the Year to Visit The Galapagos Islands?
This is a question we have heard so many times over the years. Let us afford you some insight to maximizing your travel time here in the Galapagos. Three main factors come to play in deciding the best time of the year to visit the Galapagos Islands. Weather, Flora and fauna as simple as that. In a broad sense we can consider the over-arching seasons as dry and wet, but it is not as simple as that. In my years of traveling across the Galapagos and planning such trips I always like to honestly advise people there is never one single best time. However, let us give some parameters to consider and simplify the decision-making process.
June to November is a period of cooler and drier weather with the December to May period being predominantly warmer and wetter. With diving there is an increased consideration here that this period of warmth leads to lesser sea currents and improved clarity on diving. During the dry season (June to November) you can witness many species on your exploration including humpback whales, blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, cormorants, oyster catchers, lava lizards, Galapagos hawks, Sea Lions, Lava Herons and Humboldt Penguins. September & October see waters being somewhat choppier. Waters in the Galapagos are rarely rough. From a mariner’s standpoint. At these times, tourists should consider larger vessels or some excellent tri-maran or catamaran hulled vessels for increased comfort.
The wet season December to May, warmer waters offer increased marine opportunity. Common sightings include land and marine iguanas, sea turtle, flamingos, red and blue boobies and the mighty albatross.
- Galapagos In January
- Galapagos In February
- Galapagos In March
- Galapagos In April
- Galapagos In May
- Galapagos In June
- Galapagos In July
- Galapagos In August
- Galapagos In September
- Galapagos In October
- Galapagos In November
- Galapagos In December
Top Tip: Speak to an expert travel adviser to let them know your individual preferences. Their knowledge and route planning will maximize the enjoyment of your own unique adventure. Click here and let your adventure begin!
Galapagos In January
January in the Galapagos finds rain of just two inches per month on average with lush green vegetation on the primary isles. Air temperatures are in the realm of 28 (83F) to 18 (65F). The water temperature is a pleasant average of 24 C (75 F) at the end of the garúa damp season. In January sea turtles begin visiting the islands to lay their eggs. Occasionally, Sea-Turtles will craft duplicate empty nests to confuse predators. Also, marine and land iguanas commence mating at Espanola Island. The marine iguanas become brightly colored, displaying red, green and black colors. The onset of the rainy season sees land birds migrate to their nests. These include flightless cormorants, flamingos, penguins, red footed and blue boobies.
Top Tip: Witness the Galapagos giant tortoises hatching eggs at the Fausto Llerena breeding center on Santa Cruz Island.
Galapagos In February
February in the Galapagos sees rainfall average two inches. The water temperature is about 26 degrees Celsius (79 F). Daily temperature on land are 30 Celsius (86 F) to 24 (75 F). Snorkeling and diving are great with crystalline clear waters this month. We still have activity with sea turtles laying eggs, Red Footed Boobies nesting at Genovesa Island, iguanas of both land and sea mating, nesting Galapagos doves, Flamingos at Floreana Island and Galapagos penguins swimming about Isabela and Fernandina Islands.
Top Tip: Watch the great Frigate birds fill their colonies with large red breasted balloons as the males show their beauty to potential mates.
Galapagos In March
March in the Galapagos has a rainfall of about two inches. Temperatures vary from 31 C (88 F) to 24 C (75F). Sea temperatures are a pleasant 25 C (77F). Española Island in the latter part of the month affords opportunity to catch a sighting of the magnificent Waved Albatross. Española Island is arguably the best island in the Galapagos with an immense diversity and natural beauty. In the main this month is excellent for nesting birds and animals. Some commonly observed include, turtles and iguanas of land and sea, Flamingos, Frigate Birds and Flightless Cormorants.
Top Tip: Go snorkeling this month at Fernandina or Isabela islands (at Punta Vincente Roca) and you may find penguins as your companions!
Galapagos In April
April in the Galapagos is an excellent month to visit. The wet season is subsiding and the lands abundant in foliage, especially on San Cristobal. Rainfall eases down to a monthly average of 1.5 inches. Air temperatures by day range from about 28C (83F) down to 22C (72F). The waters become more lucid and afford great opportunity to divers and snorkelers. Water temperatures holding a pleasant 25 C (77F). Be sure to visit Española Island where the Waved Albatross are now commencing courtship throughout the month. With Turtles we may witness hatchlings across the shallow bays and shorelines. On Isabela Island, Land Iguanas begin to hatch too. The adults are often fearless to human approach if done in a measured manner. However, they hatchlings have many predators such as iguanas, hawks and other birds. This is a live show of the theory of natural selection.
Top Tip: Avoid Easter Week (if applicable) and you will find that April can be a contender for the best time of the year to visit the Galapagos Islands.
Galapagos In May
May in the Galapagos sees rainfall of about an inch for the month. The days are typically dry and bright with temperatures ranging 27C (81F) to 21C (70F). Meanwhile, the average amount of rainfall is 1.9cm, which is less than an inch. The sea temperature is somewhat less at around 23C (73F). This chilling of the waters is due to the arrival of colder plankton rich waters with their abundance for the food chain. This month the mighty Frigate Birds begin mating and nesting at Genovesa island. A great chance to observe their low-lying nests and their young chicks’ arrival to the world.
Top Tip: Venture to the remote Genovesa Island to witness the Frigate Birds habitats and enjoy the climb of Prince Philip´s Steps.
Galapagos In June
June in the Galapagos is a dry month with half an inch of rainfall. Daytime temperatures hover about 25 C (77 F) down to 20 C (68F). This is the Garua season where you can see increased mist and some low cloud cover. This month is a busy one for nesting birds such as Frigates, Flightless Cormorant, Penguins and Waved Albatross. North Seymour Island is a great destination to see the Frigate Birds display their red throat pouch. For bird watchers June can be a best time of the year to visit the Galapagos Islands. This month also sees the migration of Galapagos Tortoises from the highlands to find haven and lay their eggs at lower climes.
Top Tip: From now through September sees the arrival of whales. The best vantage points are near the North of Isabela Island and Punto Espinoza on Fernandina. Orcas, Blue Whales and Humpbacks are frequent sightings amongst others.
Galapagos In July
The Galapagos in July is noted for being a cooler month but only half an inch of rain. The temperatures range from 24 C (75 F) down to 21 C (71 F). Sea temperatures are about 22 C (72 F). The cool Humboldt Current waters are dominating with rich nutrients for marine life. It is a showcase for divers and snorkelers and the waters are clearer than previous months. July is a great month to observe the Blue Footed Boobies mating. The best places are North Seymour, Espanola, Fernandina, Santa Cruz, Floreana or Isabela.
Top Tip: North Seymour Island to go see the dance of the Blue Footed Boobies.
Galapagos In August
August in the Galapagos is noted for little of no rainfall, perhaps quarter of an inch over the month. Daytime temperatures range from 24 C (75 F) down to 20 C (68 F) and August is the coolest month in the Galapagos. Sea temperatures hover about 21 C (70 F). This month is noted for increased wind speeds. They are not excessive but those concerned of sea sickness can alleviate by choosing larger vessel or a construct of catamaran/ tri-maran hull. This maximizes stability to minimize any discomfort. Fur seals and sea lions are giving birth to their pups and are a wonderful sight. The Galapagos Tortoise weights about 210kg and this month lay eggs in the wild on only on Santa Cruz Island. The chance to spot a whale near Fernandina or Isabela is a real possibility too this month. Sperm whales, Minke whales, Humpback whales are on show this month especially near the Western Isles.
Top Tip: Consider August as a busy month and book well in advance. Consider larger or multi hulled vessels to negate potentially choppier waters.
Galapagos In September
The Galapagos in September is typically cool but dry with just a half inch of rain on average. Air temperatures range from a high of 23 C (73F) to 17 C (64F). Sea temperatures are down to about 20 C (68 F). The waters can be choppy especially in the first two weeks. If you are prone to sea sickness, then we recommend a larger vessel or a multi hulled boat to improve stability on inter island crossings. This month is one of the last to see migratory dolphins and whales. Fur Seals and Sea Lions continue to mate and be careful as the male sea lions are territorial to any approaches by humans. Hiking and walking great this month as the temperatures are cool to enjoy it.
Top Tip: If you venture to Bartolome Island go and swim with the penguins for sure.
Galapagos In October
October in the Galapagos is a cool and dry month with about a quarter inch of rainfall. Air temperatures range from a high of 24 C (75 F) to a low of about 18 C (65 F). The sea temperature is still influenced by the cold a Humboldt current at 21 C (70 F). The west coast of Santiago Island at James Bay is an excellent pace to spot Lava (Galapagos) Herons commence nesting. The same location too can be great to see Fur Seal pups. Swimming with them, later in October, can be amazing but beware on land of territorial adult males. Seal pups also can be found at Isabela and Darwin Bay at Genovesa. A trip to Isabela or Fernandina can add a potential whale sighting as a bonus. Penguins, Flamingos and Flightless cormorants spend greater time at their nests this month and add a chance for another perfect photo.
Top Tip: Photographers have told us October is a contender for their best time of the year to visit the Galapagos Islands. It is a great month of natural lighting to complement landscapes and wildlife. Consider Western Isabella for some majestic sunsets and maybe a whale sighting too.
Galapagos In November
November in the Galapagos is a pleasant month, the end of the dry season with a half inch of rainfall. Temperatures on land are 25 C (77 F) down to 21 C (70 F) The sea temperature is slightly warmer than last month at about 22 C (72 F). The Sea Lion pups are now actively swimming and you can join them around Isabela and Darwin Bay. The waters are cool, and you may need a wetsuit but the waters are active in marine life. With birding Albatrosses, Frigates and the Blue, Red and Nazca boobies all are nesting throughout the month. Whale watching continues and we recommend the Bolivar Channel separating Isabela and Fernandina islands.
Top Tip: Venture to Santa Cruz Island to witness the mating season of the Green Sea Turtles and they venture to Bachas Beach at night to lay their eggs.
Galapagos In December
December in the Galapagos is a changeable month but typically dry with just half an inch of rainfall. We are transitioning from the dry to the west season. Air temperatures range from a high of 26 C to 21 C (70 F). The sea temperature is an average of 22 C (72 F). This month the Giant Tortoise eggs begin to hatch. There are eleven species in all the Galapagos and five are found upon the Island of Isabela. Land and Marine Iguanas mate this month with the marine ones in particularly colourful displays to attract mates. Sea Lion pups are still swimming and offer a great experience to snorkelers in clearer waters. Waved Albatrosses begin their first flying displays at Española Island and this is an unforgettable sight.
Top Tip: The Holiday season from mid-December onward is very popular. The best cruises sell out 1- 2 years in advance. Book early.
To conclude the best time of the year to visit the Galapagos Islands is a complex decision. The factors at play are:
- Travel window of opportunity and duration
- Individual preferences with land and sea life
- Cruise boat specification
- Other individual factors
Without doubt the advice of an expert travel adviser will allow you to access the very best destinations in your allotted time. Some of the best Galapagos adventures with Totally Latin America can be found here.
To speak directly with a Totally Latin America Galapagos expert click here and let your adventure begin. If you are thinking about holidaying in Peru be sure to check out our detailed blog post that goes into detail on when the best time to visit Peru is!
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware”.
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