While the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador are an all-year-round destination, the best time to visit is between November and June when the skies are clearer, the seas are calmer and the winds aren’t trying to knock you off balance. The Islands’ climate is subtropical meaning it never gets too cold, even from July to October. However, November and December are the warmest months and March and April experience less rainfall, so each month promises something a little different weatherwise.
But, we've put together this month-by-month guide to help combat the ‘when should I travel to the Galapagos Islands’- related stress.
Best for: sunbaking, green sea turtles laying their eggs and birdwatching
The temperature in January averages around 30°C, so it’s perfect for laying out on one of the Galapagos Islands’ many beaches and going for a swim in its turquoise waters (water temperatures are around 23°C). While the humidity levels might be high because of the somewhat frequent rainfall, it’s still a spectacular time to cruise the islands and watch out for green sea turtles as they lay their eggs.
Best for: penguin migration, marine iguana nesting and snorkelling.
Get out your snorkels ladies and gentlemen because February is one of the best months to explore the Galapagos Islands’ underwater world with clear and calm conditions and high visibility. The water temperature also sits at a nice 25°C so you know, that helps. However, there’s a chance you might see some rainfall during your trip so pack your umbrella!
Best for: sea bird mating season, marine iguana nesting and hiking
Temperatures heat up a little in March (31°C) but the water temperature remains steady at 25°C so you don’t have to put away your snorkels and scuba gear just yet. Water visibility remains high, especially around the western islands but March also sees the start of bird mating season (like waved albatross and frigate birds), so it’s also a great time to get your head out of the water and look up.
March is considered to be one of the rainiest seasons in the Galapagos and with rain comes humidity. This means the air can often feel quite stifling, but this should lessen as the month goes on.
Best for: waved albatross migration, sea turtles & marine iguana nesting and island hopping
April signals the start of the dry season and while there might be an odd shower here and there, they don’t last for long, so you’ll be back enjoying the nice 31°C weather in no time. Waved albatross have also completed their migration during this time so bird-watching is a popular activity in April.
If you want to maximise your wildlife spotting, try hopping between the islands as sea turtles and marine iguanas are starting to nest and lay their eggs. If you’re interested, stick around the beaches to watch a small part of nature unfold.
Best for: blue-footed booby mating season, waved albatross nesting and mountain biking
Temperatures start to come down in May with averages around 27°C. Some travellers might even find this preferable to the warmer months at the start of the year as the humidity is also extremely low due to zero rainfall. However, with low air temperatures comes low water temperatures, so the water in May is at its coldest (23°C).
If that doesn’t deter you, water visibility is still high, making snorkelling a popular activity - especially since it’s the low season and you won’t have to share the water with crowds of marine-loving travellers. Other popular activities include diving, hiking and mountain biking.
Best for: humpback whale spotting, whale shark diving and kayaking
The islands’ whale species finally come out to play in June with the opportunity to spot humpback whales and whale sharks, particularly around Isabela and Fernandina Islands. Temperatures lower again for an average of 26°C but this means it’s perfect weather for spending a long period of time outside on (and in) the water – think kayaking, snorkelling, diving, dolphin watching and boat touring.
Best for: blue-footed booby nesting, sea lion breeding and marine life spotting
For the next three months, the weather on the Galapagos Islands isn’t the best with July experiencing average temperatures of 26°C, infrequent rainfall and strong winds. But, since temperatures aren’t that high, it’s one of the best months to explore the great outdoors with hiking, wildlife watching and other sightseeing activities on the agenda.
The animals of the Galapagos are out in full force with sea lions in the middle of their mating season and blue-footed booby’s starting to nest. Plenty of marine life can be spotted around dock areas, such as sea turtles, white-tip reef sharks, penguins and tropical fish, so keep your camera out. However, you might want to avoid going in the water as temperatures dip to a chilly 22°C and conditions are a bit rough.
Best for: giant tortoise migration, whale spotting and bird watching
August brings with it pretty miserable weather with average air temperatures of 26°C (and sea temperatures of 20°C) and frequent thunderstorms, so it’s best to pack your warmer clothing. It’s not all doom and gloom though as whales are at their liveliest, meaning you’ll probably see plenty of humpback, sperm, minke and maybe even sei whales.
There are a few hikes worth doing while the weather isn’t too hot on San Cristobal Island, especially bird cliff where, you guessed it, you can spot a huge array of feathered wildlife. These include swallowtail gulls, frigate birds and blue-footed boobies.
Best for: penguin courtships, sea lion pup spotting and cave exploring
September is the wettest month in the Galapagos but don’t let that stop you from travelling. Average air temperatures are still a moderate 26°C, so when it’s not raining or blowing a gale, it’s warm enough to enjoy being outside. Penguin courtship season begins in September on Bartolome Island, so if you’re a bit of a softie, there’s nothing more romantic than watching two animals fall in love.
You can then see the result of that love when sea lion pups emerge and start frolicking on the beaches. But animal cuteness doesn’t stop there. Penguins like to play along the shoreline and flamingoes are out in abundance on most islands (Isabela Island, Santa Cruz, Florena Island and Santiago Island).
Best for: blue-footed booby chick spotting, fur sea lion mating season and stargazing
The weather finally starts to clear up a bit in October and water temperatures slowly increase as the month wears on (average of 22°C). Sunny skies during the day mean cloudless skies at night, making stargazing one of the most popular activities to do on the islands in October. In fact, looking at the sky in general promises to be one of the best things you do as both sunrises and sunsets promise breathtaking views.
Best for: green sea turtle mating season, whale shake spotting and hiking
Average temperatures remain steady for the month of November, but water temperatures are getting warmer, so fit your snorkel around your head and get back in the water. Flamingo Lagoon (on Isabela Island) is worth a visit, as well as shark alley (don’t worry, there are no sharks in sight).
Hiking is also popular as low humidity levels make spending hours in the sunshine more enjoyable. The Sierra Negra Volcano hike on Isabela Island is well worth the 5-6 hour time frame, but the Tortuga Bay walk on Santa Cruz is also great if you’re after something a little less strenuous.
Best for: giant tortoise breeding centre visits, sea lion mating and sunset viewing
Weather conditions are back to their sunny best in December with average temperatures climbing to 27°C (24°C water temperatures) and clear skies for as far as the eye can see. Clear days make way for clear nights and excellent visibility means to-die-for sunsets and subsequent stargazing so opt out of the late afternoon siesta and head outside when the sun starts to set.
Our tours in the Galapagos Islands