Best Time to Visit the Galapagos Islands
When planning your Galapagos vacation, keep one thing in mind: There’s never a bad time to visit this sun-kissed archipelago! No matter which month you visit, you will see incredible wildlife and have opportunities to experience the Galapagos in exciting and engaging ways, like snorkeling, hiking, and visiting fascinating natural and historical sites. Traveling during the shoulder months could save you thousands of dollars, while traveling during the busy season might mean getting to see unique marine life or other natural phenomena.
Here’s the 4-1-1 on how to decide when you’re going to visit the Galapagos…
- Are you planning a vacation on a budget?
There are a lot of ways to save money on a Galapagos vacation, like booking a last-minute deal or getting a budget cruise. However, if you want to book one of the higher end lodges or yachts at a budget price, then consider traveling during the shoulder (low) seasons (April & May and September & October). Because there’s less tourist traffic during these months, you can usually find some excellent promotions.
- What wildlife are you hoping to see?
The Galapagos Islands are renowned for their unique endemic and native wildlife. Each month features distinct wildlife events, so consulting a wildlife calendar can give you a good idea of what to expect. Here are a few highlights-
- Blue-footed boobies: Courtship from May-July; raising chicks in October.
- Nazca boobies: Nesting in August.
- Waved Albatross: Arriving to Espanola & Mating from March-May.
- Sea Lions: Pupping from August-November.
- Galapagos Penguins: Very active in September.
- Humpback whales: Migrate through the Galapagos in June.
- Giant tortoises: Migrate from the highlands to the lowlands to nest & lay eggs from June-August.
- Green sea turtles: Mating & laying eggs in December & January; nesting & eggs hatching from February through April.
- Sea birds: Very active from July-September.
- Migratory shore birds: Arriving to the Galapagos from August-December.
- Which season most appeals to you?
There are two seasons in the Galapagos Islands, and while they are both warm and pleasant, they are definitely distinct:
- Dry (Garua) Season (June-December)
- Air temperatures: 19-27°C (66-81°F)
- Water temperatures: 22°C (72°F)
- It is called the “Garua” season for its morning misty drizzles, but otherwise you can expect dry, sunny, cool days. Although the water temperatures are chillier and a bit less comfortable for snorkeling, they are also packed full of nutrients that draw all kinds of marine life to the surface.
- Wet Season (January-May)
- Air temperatures: 22-31°C (72-88°F)
- Water temperature: 25°C (77°F)
- This season definitely receives heavier precipitation, usually with afternoon or evening showers. However, it doesn’t rain every day and it is possible to not experience any rain at all on a weeklong visit. Air and water temperatures are also warmer - this allows you to comfortably snorkel for longer periods of time, but the warm water is also less nutrient-rich, meaning that you might not see as many marine species close to the surface.