When is the Best Time to Visit the Galapagos Islands?
The best time to visit the Galapagos Islands is from April to June as this is when the seasons change from warm and humid weather to a cooler, drier time. The sea is still fairly calm and warm, air temperatures are beginning to cool and the islands are green.
Although, the best time to visit the Galapagos is dependent on what you would like to see and do. Galapagos weather is a factor in determining the best time for diving and snorkeling – the best time is during the warm humid season as the sea is calmer and visibility is better. Different months are better for seeing various wildlife and there is something unique to see every month.
For some inspiration see our Top 6 Galapagos Tours. There is a range of different cruise options from small catamarans to larger more traditional cruise ships. Whatever the time of year, there is plenty to see in the Galapagos Islands.
Visiting the Galapagos in the Warm & Humid Season
Humid Season in the Galapagos (December – May)
From December to May, as temperatures and rainfall increase, vegetation on the Galapagos Islands is particularly fresh and green and animals that feed on this new growth are found taking advantage of this time of abundance, including iguanas and tortoises. This is also the time that many land bird species begin nesting. This is the ideal time for snorkeling and diving. Highlights of this period include giant tortoises hatching out, marine iguanas nesting, and green sea turtles laying their eggs. Waved albatross arrive in large numbers and mate in April.
Galapagos Islands Weather in the Warm & Humid Season
During the warm, humid season in the Galapagos Islands, there is plenty of both sun and rain. Ocean currents bring warm water from the north at this time raising water temperatures around the islands. At the same time, the air warms and there are regular downpours, usually short and sharp. The islands do not get as wet as other tropical regions of South America, and the showers can provide a welcome cooling down during hot afternoons. Winds are gentle at this time meaning this is the time of year with the calmest seas in the Galapagos.
Top Things to Do in the Galapagos during the Humid Season
In December observe green sea turtles mating and the start of giant tortoises hatching. Land birds such as Masked Boobies start to nest as the rains begin. Sea lions and iguanas breed. January and February are the best months to snorkel with penguins, tortoises lay eggs and Red-footed and Masked boobies can be seen breeding and nesting. Land iguanas start mating and green sea turtles nest. In April, flamingos breed and nest as do Waved Albatross. The warm, humid season is definitely the best season to spend time in the water and taking a cruise of the Galapagos Islands at this time is ideal as the sea is at its calmest.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands in the Cool & Dry Season
Cool Season in the Galapagos (June – November)
During the cooler, drier months in the Galapagos Islands, the sea is particularly rich in plankton giving seabirds including penguins and albatross plenty of food. The sea gets choppy at this time, especially in August and September. If snorkeling or diving, a wetsuit is recommended though water temperatures are rarely below 20C / 68F. More strenuous activities such as mountain biking or kayaking can be good at this time of year taking advantage of the lower temperatures. There are plenty of wildlife highlights at this time of year, at least as good as during the warm, humid season.
Galapagos Islands Weather in the Cool & Dry season
The Humboldt Current is particularly pronounced during the dry season and brings cold, nutrient-rich waters up to the Galapagos Islands from further south. There is often a mist (garúa) on the islands, especially in the mornings and in the highland interior of the islands. Despite being drier, sunshine is lower at this time of year, hence the lower temperatures. The tradewinds bring choppier seas.
Top Things to Do in the Galapagos during the Cool & Dry Season
In June, watch giant tortoises move from the highlands towards the coast seeking out prime nesting sites. In July sea lion pups can be seen throughout the islands and Red-footed boobies start to nest. In August Blue-footed boobies perform their famous mating dances and whales and dolphins are frequently spotted going into September and October. While the water is not at its warmest, there is a lot to see when snorkeling at this time. Waved albatross nest at this time and sea lions and short-eared owls breed.
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