When to go to the Galapagos Islands

Best months for a Galapagos cruise

Galapagos seasons & climate

While the Galapagos Islands’ climate can be roughly divided into two seasons, its tropical location means this is a destination worth visiting year-round. Choose the dry season (June-November) for cooler weather and an abundance of nesting birds, or visit in the wet season (December-May) to see mating turtles, tortoises and sea lions and for better diving and snorkelling.

Be aware of the El Niño current, which affects the Galapagos Islands every five to seven years. This current of warm water can cause excessive rainfall and heavy flooding on the Islands, and often has a negative effect on the region’s marine life. There is no way to predict when the current will strike next, although scientists are able to give an indication of how likely it is in a given year. While it is safe to visit the Islands during El Niño, be prepared for heavy rainfall.

Galapagos cruise: month-by-month

The new year brings hot and humid weather to the Islands, with drizzle a persistent factor. January is when green sea turtles begin to lay their eggs and land birds begin to nest. Look out for male marine iguanas changing colour to attract mates. The start of the year is generally considered one of the best times to visit the Galapagos.

Warmer, wetter weather settles across the Islands between February and April, with many of the Islands’ wild inhabitants (such as sea lions and tortoises) beginning their breeding and nesting seasons. March is a great month to visit for snorkelling due to the clarity of the water. By May, spring flowers are in bloom and the rainfall is beginning to recede. Look out for blue-footed boobies beginning their unusual courtship dance.

June signals the beginning of the colder, drier months known locally as the garúa. The weather creates a proliferation of plankton in the seas around the Islands, making it a great time to watch penguins and albatross feeding. This is also the time to visit for whale-watching, with humpback whales and whale sharks spotted around the Galapagos.

August is the coldest month to visit, but brings the benefit of seeing baby sea lions on the western and central islands. This is the time to visit to watch Galapagos penguins courting and mating on Bartolomé Island.

By November, the weather is beginning to warm up again, with whales once again visible near the northern Islands. December is one of the best months to visit the Galapagos, with plenty of sunshine and warm water to swim and snorkel in. Visit to see giant tortoises hatching and albatross migrating. Book early — the Christmas period coincides with the South American holiday period, so cruises and boats are booked well in advance.

Explore The Galapagos Islands

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