Seasons are split into cool and dry (June - November) and warm and wet (December May), with the warmer season being the best time to visit Galápagos for warmer, calmer seas and good underwater visibility. Showers tend to be short, so you can make the most of the heat on the beach or the deck of your boat.
Any time of the Year is a Good Time to Travel to the Galapagos Islands! Since it is right on the equator it is only considered to have two seasons: warmer but rainier (January- May), and cooler and drier (June- December). Water temperatures are usually higher during the warmer but rainier season, and wildlife will also change depending on the time of the year.
Climate Variation Throughout the Year (Although the climate experiences only mild changes throughout the year, there are two distinct seasons.)
From December to May is the sunny/rainy season, with daily showers that usually last less than a couple of hours. Temperatures are generally in the 80's & 90's F (27-32º C). During this season, air and water temperatures are also higher, and swimming activities (like snorkeling & diving) are more comfortable.
From June to November, the Galapagos has the “garua” season, which is the cooler/dry season (temperatures ranging from high 60's to low 80's F (21-26ºC) with only light mist on the Islands (for which the season gets its name). It’s a good idea to use a wetsuit when snorkeling because of the slightly colder water temperatures, and you can expect cloudier skies during the day.
The Galapagos Islands are a great place to visit year-round and experience very mild seasonal variations. The warmer, slightly rainier time of year runs approximately from December through May. In a normal year, the Galapagos do not receive much precipitation, but short rain showers of an hour or two can be experienced during this time. Despite the occasional light rain, this is also the sunniest time of year in the Galapagos.
Please note that these temperatures are averages. From personal experience, water temperatures will vary with the site -- for instance, sunny beaches in shallow water can have pleasantly warm water, but sites in deep water nearer the cold Humboldt currents can feel much cooler. Air temperatures will feel much warmer (closer to 100 degrees) when on the black lava islands that are radiating the sun's heat but can cool off nicely in the evenings with a breeze coming off the water. We hope this helps give you an idea of what to expect for your next Galapagos adventure!
From June through November, the air and water temperatures cool slightly. This is also known as the garua season for the fine mist visible on the islands. Because of the cooler water temperatures, you may want to consider bringing a wetsuit for snorkeling during these months.
Wildlife Highlights - By Season and Month
One of the main reasons people come to the Galapagos Islands is the rich biodiversity on land, sea, and air throughout the whole year.
No matter when you go, you will see colonies of marine iguanas populating the lava rock and sea lions playing gracefully among the myriad tropical fish, in addition to some of the best birding opportunities in the world. But if you want to see a specific animal’s breeding or nesting, then certain times are better than others.
Most of the reptiles in the Galapagos (like land & marine iguanas and the green sea turtles) breed and nest during the rainy season, from December to May. In June, humpback whales visit the Islands and the seabirds become gradually more active throughout the following months. It’s also during the late months of this season that sea lions begin their mating rituals.
Month-by-month Galapagos wildlife highlights
Seasonal Differences in Tourism
||Birds- Land birds begin their nesting.
Reptiles- Green turtles begin laying their eggs; Land iguanas start reproductive cycles (Isabela); Marine iguanas are brightly colored (Espanola).
||Birds- Greater flamingos begin nesting (Floreana); Black-tailed pintails begin breeding season; Nazca boobies end their nesting (Espanola); Galapagos Doves’ nesting season reaches a peak.
Reptiles- Marine iguanas begin nesting (Santa Cruz).
||Birds- First Waved Albatrosses arrive at Espanola.
Reptiles- Marine Iguanas nest (Fernandina).
||Birds- Waved Albatrosses arrive in great numbers to Espanola.
Reptiles- Giant tortoise end of hatching season; Green turtle eggs begin to hatch; Land iguana eggs begin to hatch (Isabela).
||Birds- Blue-footed boobies begin courtship (North Seymour Island); Waved albatrosses begin laying eggs (Espanola); Storm petrels begin nesting period.
Reptiles- Green turtles hatching; Marine iguanas hatching (Santa Cruz).
||Reptiles- Giant tortoises migrate from highlands to lowlands for nesting season (Santa Cruz).
Marine life- Humpback whales pass through the archipelago in groups.
||Birds- Flightless cormorants perform courtship & nesting (Fernandina); American oystercatchers nest (Santiago); Blue-footed boobies nest.
Reptiles- Lava lizards begin the mating ritual.
Marine life- Whales & dolphins pass by the coast of Isabela Island.
||Birds- Galapagos Hawk begin courtship (Espanola & Santiago); Nazca boobies & swallow-tailed gulls nest (Genovesa); Migrant waders begin to arrive.
Reptiles- Giant tortoises go back to the Santa Cruz highlands.
Mammals- Sea lions begin to give birth.
||Birds- Galapagos penguins very active on Bartholomew; other seabirds are very active at their nesting sites.
Mammals- Sea lions are very active competing for female attention.
||Birds- Lava herons begin building their nests; Blue-footed boobies raising chicks (Espanola & Isabela).
Reptiles- Giant tortoises laying eggs.
Mammals- Galapagos fur sea lion begins mating.
||Birds- Brown noddies begin breeding; storm petrels begin second nesting period.
Mammals- Galapagos sea lions are pupping.
||Birds- Young waved albatrosses beginning to fledge.
Reptiles- Green turtles have their mating display; Giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch.
Cruise & Tour Prices in the Low Season vs. High Season
The Galapagos Islands have consistent peaks and valleys in the annual tourism season, and just as planning a trip during the high season means that tours are more expensive across the board, booking during the low season can mean significant savings.
The low seasons fall between April & May and September & October, which is a good time to grab last-minute deals and look for promotions.
Throughout the rest of the year, it’s a good idea to book your tour in advance to ensure that you have a spot. If you wait too long, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to reserve the itinerary or boat that you want, or you might not find any availability at all.
Last-Minute Deals & Holidays
If you’re not chained down to certain dates, then consider booking a cruise at the last minute. Many boats offer major discounts (sometimes 50% off or more) if they have open cabins in the weeks or days before the cruise departs.
Booking your cruise over Christmas and New Years' is one of the busiest times of the year, which means prices can be pretty high. A Galapagos cruise can be a great way to spend the Christmas vacation, but if you’re looking for the best deals around the holidays, then think about booking a few weeks before or after when there’s less tourist traffic.
There are also some fantastic deals for combining a Galapagos cruise with a trek to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu in Peru or maybe a trip into the dense Amazon rainforest of Ecuador.