When Is the Best Time to Visit the Galapagos?
The Galápagos Islands straddle the equator, which means that they are a year-round wildlife destination with just two seasons: the warm/wet and the cool/dry. The air temperature during the seasons doesn’t change much and generally hovers around the 70s, dipping into the 60s in the cool months and reaching the low 90s in the warm months. In terms of tourism, the peak seasons are generally mid-June to early September and mid-December through mid-January—the classic holiday periods.
However, the Galápagos National Park Service coordinates itineraries with all operators, including MT Sobek, to ensure that the number of visitors to each island is not exceeded, keeping the crowds to a minimum no matter what time of year you choose to travel.
The Warm/Wet Season (December through May)
This is the sunniest and warmest time of the year, with the Panamic Current ushering in warmer daytime temperatures that reach the upper 80s and low 90s. Rain showers may be frequent but the waters are generally calm and clear, and the rainfalls are short and welcome. The peak rainfall month is March. The water during this season is perfect for snorkeling and viewing the green sea turtles that come to the islands to breed. Flowers begin to bloom once the rain subsides in late March and April. This is also the breeding season for land birds, so a great time to see their mating rituals!
Great time for spotting:
- Nesting iguanas and brightly colored marine iguanas
- Nesting land birds, including the Galápagos dove
- Giant tortoise eggs hatching
- Green turtles laying eggs on beaches (January) and hatching (in April)
- The arrival of the waved albatross on Española Island (April to November)
- Galápagos penguins on Isabela Island
- Mating rituals of frigate birds and the waved albatross
- Migrating humpback whales and whale sharks (June to September)
The Cool/Dry Season (June through November)
The cooler waters of the Humboldt Current bring a rich oceanic upwelling to the Galápagos that stimulate the breeding season for sea lions and seabirds. During the cool season the daytime temperatures are generally in the 70s, meaning comfortable short-sleeve weather for hiking, and the water temperature is in the 60s (a wetsuit is recommend for snorkeling). As this is the height of the breeding season, it’s the best time of the year for viewing dancing boobies, courting albatrosses, baby sea lions, whales, dolphins, and whale sharks. There is usually a fog that drifts in and out (known locally as garúa) and a one- to-two-foot chop in the ocean, but this remains a great time to visit for wildlife.
Great time for spotting:
- Whale sharks, whales, and dolphins
- Courting and nesting of flightless cormorants, flamingoes, and penguins
- Active blue-footed boobies, including chicks
- Frigate bird chicks
- Mating lava lizards
- Giant tortoises returning to the Santa Cruz highlands
- Galápagos sea lion pups
- Giant tortoise eggs hatching (December to April)