Best time to visit the Galapagos Islands

While the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador are an all-year-round destination, the best time to visit is between November and June. 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 weather-wise.

We've put together this month-by-month guide to help combat the stress of deciding when to travel to the Galapagos Islands. 

Galapagos by month

January

Best for: hitting the beach, searching for nesting sea turtles

Temps in January average around 30°C, perfect for sun-seekers who want to catch a few rays or take a refreshing dip in the turquoise waters. Just remember... you may be sharing the beach with a few dozen sea lions! 

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. 

February

Best for: snorkelling, catching the penguin migration

Get out your snorkels, ladies and gentlemen, because February is one of the best months to explore the Galapagos Islands’ underwater world with clear, calm conditions and high visibility. The water temperature also sits at a pleasant 25°C, so you can snorkel 'til your hands prune.

March

Best for: sea bird mating season, marine iguana nesting and hiking

Temperatures start to heat up a little in March, but the water temperature remains steady at 25°C, and water visibility remains high, especially around the western islands. March also sees the start of bird mating season (like waved albatross and frigate birds), so it’s worth it to get your head above water... even just for a little bit.

April

Best for: island hopping, birdwatching

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. 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 for your best chance of spotting sea turtles and marine iguanas nest and lay their eggs.

May

Best for: diving, hiking, catching blue-footed booby mating season

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.

Water visibility is still high, making snorkelling a popular activity, especially during the low season, when you won’t have to share the water with crowds of marine-loving travellers. Other popular activities include diving, hiking and mountain biking.

June

Best for: humpback whale spotting, whale shark diving and kayaking

The islands’ whale species finally come out to play in June and there are opportunities 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. 

July

Best for: spotting as much wildlife as possible

July has average temperatures of 26°C, and since days are cooler, 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. Cooler water temperatures bring nutrients, which means wildlife is very active at this time of year. Sea turtles, white-tip reef sharks, penguins and tropical fish can be spotted around dock areas, so keep your camera out.

August

Best for: giant tortoise migration, whale spotting and birdwatching

Whales are at their liveliest in August, thanks to cooler temperatures and nutrient-rich waters, so your chances of spotting humpbacks, sperm whales, minkes and even sei whales are high.

If you feel like hiking, San Cristobal Island offers several incredible trails, including 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.

September

Best for: penguin courtships, sea lion pup spotting and cave exploring 

September is a wet month in the Galapagos, but don’t let that stop you from travelling. Average air temperatures are still a lovely 26°C, so it's definitely warm enough to enjoy outdoor and water activities. 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.

But animal cuteness doesn’t stop there. Penguins like to play along the shoreline, sea lion pups will be frolicking on beaches and flamingos are out in abundance on most islands.

October

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, with average temps of 22°C. Sunny skies during the day mean cloudless skies at night, making for epic stargazing. In fact, looking at the sky in general promises to be one of the best things you do this month, as both sunrises and sunsets promise breathtaking views. 

November

Best for: green sea turtle mating season, whale shark 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.

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 shorter.

December

Best for: giant tortoise breeding centre visits, sea lion mating and epic sunsets

Weather conditions are back to their sunny best in December with average temperatures climbing to 27°C 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. Opt out of the late afternoon siesta and head outside when the sun starts to set for postcard-worthy photos.

Want to learn more about the Galapagos Islands? Return to Galapagos Islands FAQs

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