Best time to visit Galapagos
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Best time to visit Galapagos

Discover the best time to visit Galapagos with our comprehensive guide. Plan your trip to see unique wildlife, enjoy ideal weather conditions

The ideal time to visit the Galapagos archipelago might seem like quite the ordeal, however visiting the Galapagos islands is an amazing experience no matter when you go! Different times of the year bring different sights and experiences, so there’s something new to discover all the time. Making a unique and coveted destination in south america. Despite its equatorial location, temperatures remain steady throughout the year. Rainfall and low-temperature variations are the only seasonal markers in Galapagos weather, so come explore this magical world anytime!

Here are the most prevalent seasons, wildlife changes, and other factors to take into consideration when planning your trip to the Galapagos Islands.

1. When to Visit Galapagos – Best Time to Visit, Climate & Budget Considerations

2. Wildlife Viewing Opportunities in Galapagos Islands – Mid-June to Early August

3. Accommodation Options in Ecuador – Ranging from $50-$75 per Night

4. Tips for Planning Your Trip to the Galapagos Islands – Budget, Interests, Climate Preference

5. Final Thoughts – An Unforgettable Adventure Awaits!

Galapagos Islands Seasons

Panoramic view of " Isla Bartolome " at Galapagos Islands archipelago

Panoramic view of ” Isla Bartolome ” at Galapagos Islands archipelago

When planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands, there are key seasons and environmental factors to consider that will affect your budget, availability, wildlife sightings, and overall experience. Here is an overview of the most important seasons to keep in mind when deciding when to go visit the galapagos islands.

HIGH SEASON

(December to May)

Turtle swimming on the sea

Turtle swimming on the sea

The official tourist high season in Galapagos islands is from December to May. This time of year offers the best chance for sunny skies and calm seas with temperatures ranging between 24 and 32 degrees Celsius (76-90 degrees Fahrenheit). The Galapagos Islands experience a high peak season of tourism during Christmas, New Year’s, the beginning of the year, Easter, and spring break. This is due to an influx of visitors from around the world that are eager to explore the unique beauty that these islands have to offer during this holiday season. During this period, availability may be limited and prices tend to be higher than other times of year. However, the experience and opportunity to explore this unparalleled paradise is worth every penny! From snorkeling with sea turtles to hiking up volcanoes, the Galapagos Islands have something for everyone.

LOW SEASON

(May-June / September-October)

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Espanola, tourist and Galapagos sea lion on beach

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Espanola, tourist and Galapagos sea lion on beach

On the flip side, low season takes place in the Galapagos islands from May to June and September to October. Although it’s considered the low season, wildlife is abundant and visit points are the same. During these months, you’ll find lower rates and fewer tourists as demand is lower. This could be a great opportunity for those looking for an affordable nature getaway. Plus, the weather is milder during these months, and you may experience fewer bouts of rain. So, if you don’t mind a smaller crowd and lower prices, the Galapagos low season can be a great time to visit!

The summer crowds leave the islands, children have returned to school and visitors are dropping off. You will find excellent rates on hotels in the more populated areas: Santa Cruz, Santa Cristóbal & Isabela. Cruise prices fall in September. The time for cheap travel is good.  If you’re looking for an affordable adventure in nature, consider planning your Galapagos trip during the low season. You’ll still get to experience all of the beautiful sights, sounds, and wildlife that make this destination so special – at a fraction of the cost!

WARM SEASON

(December to May approximately)

Pair of Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

Pair of Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii)

Weather in the Galapagos does not work like clockwork, and these are only approximate seasons that can be foreseen based on past years. However, for the most part, the warm season will begin in December and last until May.The ocean temperature in the northern Panama current will be around the mid-70s due to heating, and the water will be calmer which results in clear, deep and pristine waters. In some areas, the water can be clear up to 100 feet deep. During this time, the sky is usually more cloudy due to a tropical climate with daily rain showers (rainy season) throughout the islands. In addition, land and sea temperatures rise, making it much more enjoyable for swimming, snorkeling, and hiking activities. This does not necessarily mean constant rain; it will be sporadic.

Animals around the Galapagos Islands also respond to these seasonal changes. Tourists can observe different species that inhabit the islands, such as marine and land iguanas, sea turtles and flamingos. This would also be considered the breeding season for land birds, such as white-cheeked pintails, masked boobies, albatrosses, and blue footed boobies. All of these animals can be seen along with their special behaviors during this warmer season!

With the water being warmer during the wet season, these warmer temperatures lend themselves to being the best time to practice snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands. The crystal clear waters of the islands allow a great chance to observe colorful corals and exotic tropical fish. Therefore, if you are considering visiting this natural paradise, don’t miss the opportunity to explore its biodiversity during the warm season!

DRY SEASON

(June to December approximately)

Giant Galapagos Tortoise

Giant Galapagos Tortoise

The second half of the year (summer season) is the best time to experience the Galapagos Islands. During this season, the cooler Humboldt Current brings water temperatures down and creates a layer of high-altitude mist throughout the skies, setting the perfect conditions (nutrient rich water) for active marine life. The highlands of larger islands remain lush due to sufficient precipitation, while sea-level islands and shorelines receive little rain.

The dry season is well-known for its beautiful blue skies, mid-day showers, and an abundance of wildlife that can be observed on land and in the sea. Visitors can expect to see giant Galapagos tortoises, humpback whales, flightless cormorants as well as many species of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals during their visit.

So snorkeling and scuba diving is particularly outstanding, this time of the year, With abundant marine animals. A wetsuit is recommended, and some tolerance for colder water temperatures is recommended. 🙂

It’s important to note that storms with strong winds and heavy rains usually occur during the dry season, so visitors should be prepared for any kind of weather. This does mean choppy seas, especially in smaller vessels. So keep this in mind when planning, if you are prone to seasickness, rougher seas are expected this time of the year. Despite this, it’s still a great time to explore the Galapagos Islands and experience its unique wildlife.

So if you’re looking for a memorable trip, take advantage of the cooler water temperatures and lush landscapes during the dry season – June to December – in the beautiful Galapagos Islands!

If you are looking for a detailed month-to-month description of what you can expect from the Galapagos weather wise, make sure to check out our blog Galapagos Weather by Month!


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BREADING SEASON

(Several)

Lizard on an Iguana in Galapagos

Lizard on an Iguana in Galapagos

The breeding season in the Galápagos islands are several. Giant tortoise takes place from January to May and is a primary time for mating. During this period, female Galápagos giant tortoises lay eggs that hatch at the end of December or beginning of April. Similarly, the last females of the Green Marine Turtle come to the beach to lay eggs during December and March. These green sea turtles begin hatching in April. To further add life to these islands, marine iguanas on Santa Cruz nest in February and March, while those on Fernandina will start building their nests by May, with an expected hatch rate in that month as well. This cycle of new-born species marks a beautiful period in the archipelago when nature’s clock is ticking faster than usual, opening its arms wide open for life in the Galápagos.

Lava lizards engage in mating behavior, which involves performing “push-ups”.

It is also during this period when conservationists and researchers come together to monitor these species’ progress, ensuring that their migration and population are kept safe for future generations.

Best time to visit for snorkeling

Girl snorkelling with fish

Girl snorkelling with fish

While snorkeling in the Galápagos is great throughout the year, there are specific months that do stand out! For instance, the wet season (December through May) offers an ideal combination of temperature and visibility. Daily temperatures during this period often range in the mid-20s Celsius and the water is at a pleasant 25°C. Furthermore, visibility underwater is usually better than in other months due to the calmer seas and ample food sources that attract marine creatures like green sea turtles. All of these factors make December through May prime time for snorkeling in the Galápagos! So if you’re looking for clear waters and abundant wildlife, plan your trip around this timeframe for guaranteed optimum snorkeling conditions.

In addition to visiting during the wet season, timing your trip on a full moon also increases your chances of spotting more active and diverse wildlife. On the nights of a full moon, the nocturnal creatures that usually lurk in the depths rise to the surface, making them more visible and accessible to snorkelers. So don’t forget to check the lunar cycle when planning your trip!

Best time to Visit for Hikers

(June to November)

Galapagos-Island-Hopping-Trekking-in-Sierra-Negra-Volcano

Guided walks ashore are offered every day on a Galapagos expedition, and you can go hiking in the Galapagos at any time of the year, with walks tailored to your ability and interests.

However, the cooler months from June to November are the best time for hiking in the islands.

During this period, temperatures are mild and comfortable, and there is less rain than in other months, so you’ll be able to take on longer hikes without worrying about getting wet or too hot. The lush vegetation during these months also makes for a more enjoyable experience as you explore the trails of each island and observe wildlife along the way.

It’s worth noting that during this period, birds are particularly active around now – especially Frigatebirds – with black males puffing out their brilliant scarlet pouches to attract mates until June. So if you’re a birdwatchers fan, this would be an ideal time for you to visit the Galapagos.

Overall, if you’re looking for an adventure-filled experience, the cooler months of June to November are definitely the best time to go hiking in the Galapagos Islands! You’ll have comfortable temperatures and greener landscapes, as well as more active wildlife around. So make sure to plan your trip during this period if you’re hoping to explore the islands on foot!

Best time to visit Galapagos – Encounter baby animals

(Year round)

Best time to visit Galapagos - Sea Lion Baby Feeding

Sea Lion Baby Feeding

Here is a month-to-month breakdown of Galapagos wildlife mating in the Archipelago:

January:

Mid January Watch out for eggs from various birds and green sea turtles scattered around the islands.

February:

Male marine iguanas on Santa Cruz become very defensive as they start to reproduce, and the greater flamingo on Floreana begins to nest and lay eggs in small mud mounds.

March:

Fernandina’s marine iguanas begin nesting around this time.

April:

Green sea turtles’ eggs hatch and babies head to the sea, while giant tortoise hatching season comes to an end.

May:

During May, you can observe the start of breeding and nesting season for Galapagos albatross, while blue footed boobies also commence breeding and nesting season. Additionally, keep an eye out for baby sea turtles that may make an appearance.

June:

In June, female giant tortoises migrate to lowlands located on Santa Cruz for nesting purposes. During the same month, male magnificent frigatebirds can be spotted with red pouches as they seek mates. Land iguanas also mate around this time of the year, and their babies hatch after an incubation period.

July:

The temperatures in Galapagos start to rise and many animals begin their mating season. Lava lizards can be seen courting potential mates, while sea birds are entering their breeding season. Flightless cormorants in particular are quite active during this time of year as they prepare for nesting and caring for their young. This is also when new births of tortoises and iguanas become increasingly common.

August:

A special time to visit the Galapagos Islands, as it marks the beginning of the mating season for the Galapagos hawk on Santiago and Espanola islands. Keep an eye out for sea lion pups as they begin to appear – these playful creatures are sure to bring smiles to all who witness them!

September: In September, sea lions are in the midst of their peak mating season. It’s not uncommon to witness males fighting for a mate, while male frigatebirds display their brightly colored balloon-like throat pouch as part of courtship rituals. Females can be seen admiring these displays, which demonstrate the male’s fitness and strength. Bartholomew Island is where Galapagos penguins mate.

October:

The mating season for Galapagos fur seals begins and Espanola island is especially teeming with activity. Blue-footed boobies chicks can be seen taking their first steps in the world as they are hatched from their eggs.

November:

In November, the reproductive season for sea lions continues and they can be found in greater numbers on eastern islands of the Galapagos. Breeding activities of sea lions are especially noticeable around this time as mating pairs become more numerous and vocal throughout the region. Pups from previous months start to explore beyond their mother’s territories, gathering resources and expanding their knowledge of the environment. This makes it an ideal time to observe these majestic creatures as they go about their lives in the Galapagos.

December: In December, the eggs of giant tortoises begin to hatch and this continues until April, when young giants can be seen emerging all over the Galapagos Islands. This is a special sight that cannot be missed during a visit to the protected region as these majestic creatures have been living in the islands for centuries. Visitors also get to watch adult giant tortoises interact with their offspring as they learn how to navigate their new environment. Additionally, sea lions continue to reproduce throughout mid december and are especially active on eastern islands.

Galapagos FAQ for planning your visit

How many days do you need in Galapagos?

Best time to visit Galapagos - Beautiful view of a ship sailing during a sunset over the Pacific Ocean in the Galapagos Islands

Beautiful view of a ship sailing during a sunset over the Pacific Ocean in the Galapagos Islands

The answer depends on what you want to experience. The minimum recommended time for a Galapagos cruise or land based tour is five days and four nights, although the full experience includes a maximum stay of 15 days. This allows travelers to visit the majority of the most popular spots in the islands and make the most of their trip. Bear in mind that the first day when entering islands and the last day when departing are mainly spent with logistics, so ideally you should plan your trip accordingly. Make sure to select a duration that best fits your needs, budget and interests! Our Galapagos cruise search engine makes it easy to find the perfect option!

Ultimately, how long you should stay in Galapagos depends on the type of experience you want. Whether it’s just a few days or 15 days, the islands have plenty to offer!

What is the warmest month in Galapagos?

Best time to visit Galapagos - The beautiful Galapagos Islands.

The beautiful Galapagos Islands.

The average temperature in the Galapagos Islands is fairly constant throughout the year, with temperatures ranging from 72° to 85° F (22°-29° C). December, January, and February are the warmest months, and temperatures can rise up to 86°F (30°C). During these months you will experience lush vegetation and higher levels of precipitation. If a more temperate climate is desired then the best time to go visit the galapagos would be between June and November which is known as the dry season.

When is it recommended to visit Ecuador, climate, and budget wise?

Best time to visit Galapagos - Ecuador-Arrival

The best time to visit Ecuador is usually between April and November. The dry season runs from May through October and tends to be the most popular time for travel. During this period, temperatures are mild (averaging around 22°C) with plenty of sunshine hours – perfect for exploring the Andes region or checking out the Galapagos Islands! The wet season runs from December to March and can bring heavy rains and cooler temperatures (around 15°C). It is important to keep in mind that Ecuador and the Galapagos both share fantastic weather throughout the year for the most part. Finding the best time to visit Galapagos, and pairing it with good Ecuador mainland conditions shouldn’t be your top priority, but rather focus on timings and time off that works for you. Consult with our trip advisors, and get a glimpse of what you can expect this time of the year in both regions.

In terms of budget, Ecuador offers a wide range of accommodation options, making it possible to find something that fits any budget. It is recommended that you make reservations for your accommodation as early as you can during peak periods, such as over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Prices for accommodation vary widely, but you can generally expect to pay between $50-$75 USD per night for a decent standard hotel. Or you can always consider popular rental services like airbnb.

Perfect season to discover the Galapagos wildlife?

Best time to visit Galapagos - Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Santiago, man photographing at seafront

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Santiago, man photographing at seafront

The best time to visit Galapagos Islands for observing wildlife is from mid-June to early August, a great balance between wildlife and good Galapagos weather. During this period, the sea temperature is warm, and nutrients are plentiful, creating optimal conditions for marine life such as sea turtles. Also, during this time of year land temperatures remain comfortable and there is less rainfall which makes it easier to spot birds, lizards, iguanas and other animals on land. Additionally, the water around the islands is clear enough to provide excellent visibility to observe underwater creatures such as rays, sharks and colorful fish. In these months you will also find more species of nesting seabirds than at any other time throughout the year. It’s an ideal opportunity for nature photographers looking to capture amazing shots of diverse wildlife in their natural habitat!

How far in advance should I book my trip to the Galapagos Islands?

Best time to visit Galapagos - Young woman makes purchases online via laptop at home

Young woman makes purchases online via laptop at home

Ideally, you should book your Galapagos Islands trip no later than six months in advance. It is possible to find last minute deals, but these can be rare and expensive. Some of the more popular tours often sell out quickly, so it is important to plan ahead and secure your place on a tour before they fill up. You may also need to book flights early if you are travelling from abroad as there are limited international flights into the islands. Additionally, some facilities may require you to make reservations for certain activities or services such as diving trips and boat rides. Therefore, booking your trip at least six months in advance gives you enough time to make sure everything is organized properly, and have a good pool of options to choose from.

How far in advance should I book my trip to the Galapagos Islands? Are there any restrictions on when I can visit certain areas of the Galapagos Islands based on seasonality?

Best time to visit Galapagos - Galaxy-Diver-Cruise

Galaxy-Diver-Cruise

In this regard, boarding a Galapagos cruise is your safest bet, as they will have permits approved in advanced by the GALAPAGOS national park, and have a set itinerary that is on our website, for you to have a clear idea of what are the visit points and places you will be visiting. Along with a broader description of what you can expect at every visit point, wildlife, landmarks, ecosystems, etc.

Are there any special offers or discounts available at certain times of year in the Galapagos Islands?

Best time to visit Galapagos - Girl makes online purchases sitting in front of a laptop screen

Girl makes online purchases sitting in front of a laptop screen

The best recommendation is to book well in advance, as you might have access to early bird rates, and current-year rates might apply to the next year or so. Furthermore, you also have a large pool of options to choose from so it is most likely you will find a vessel, itinerary, and other requirements you might have. On the other side of the spectrum, you could also book a very last-minute deal and get great value for your money, but unfortunately, you are booking what is remaining. This means you have a very limited amount of options, so going down the last-minute path is not recommended for customers that are very specific and keen on visiting specific islands, boarding a specific vessel, etc.

Optimal period to explore the Galapagos – Conclusion

Visiting the Galapagos Islands is an amazing experience and there are several factors to consider when planning your trip. The best time to visit Galapagos depends on budget, interests, climate preference, and wildlife viewing opportunities – with December, January and February being the warmest months. Additionally, Ecuador offers plenty of accommodation options for all budgets, with prices ranging from $50-$75 USD per night for a decent standard hotel. And finally, mid-June to early August is considered the peak period for wildlife viewing when sea temperatures are optimal and less rainfall makes it easier to spot animals on land. We hope all these guidelines will help you determine when is the best time to visit the Galapagos for you! Whatever you decide will be a unique adventure that will leave you with unforgettable memories!


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About Angel Nunez

Ecuador & Galapagos Travel Consultant, Blogger, Fitness & Health Aficionado, Amateur Photographer & Designer. Here to guide you through stories and visuals, what Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands & Peru have in store for you!

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