When to Go to the Galapagos Islands
The good news is that there is no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos’ proximity to the equator means that they have relatively consistent and pleasant temperatures year-round with minimal variation. Seasons on the Galapagos are determined by rain, but rain is very rarely strong enough to affect any excursions.
The bad news is that since there is no “bad” time to visit the Galapagos, it can be really hard to decide when to go. Different times of the year offer different things to see and do, so it’s important to think about what your priorities are in order to decide when is the best time to go for you.
Birds, tortoises and marine life are always on there, waiting for you to snap their photos, but there is some variation in what life you will see and what you can do during each season. Animal mating patterns and reproduction cycles, migration habits and hatching conditions determine where certain life can be found during each part of the year. Diving conditions can also vary by season.
Here’s the breakdown of what each month is like in the Galapagos Islands. We’ll walk you through what the weather should be like and what animals you will have the chance to see month-by-month.
The Wet Season (December to June)
During the wet season in the Galapagos Islands, you should expect daily rains and cloudy skies. This season is also characterized by warm temperatures on land and in the water for you to indulge in and is by far the best time to go snorkeling and diving.
December: See the Green Sea Turtles and Wave to the Waved Albatross Chicks
Weather: December is the end of the dry season, so you will see relatively low rainfall, though as the month goes along, there will be more and more rain. Expect land temperatures around 75°F/24°C and water temperatures around 73°F/23°C.
Birds: Waved albatross chicks are just getting old enough to be flying around and albatrosses depart from island of Española until about March. Boobies are occupied with fishing, so sightings are rare.
Other Fauna: Giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch, which usually continues until about April, and green sea turtles can be spotted mating in shallow waters.
January: Hungry Hawks Hunt While Land Birds Nest and Mate
Weather: In January the wet season begins to pick up, so you will see moderate to high rainfall, with rainfall increasing as the month goes on. Expect land temperatures around 80°F/26°C and water temperatures of 75°F/24°C
Birds: Finches, warblers and other land birds begin their nesting season. January is also a good month to see the mockingbird and finches’ mating rituals. Most unique of all, hawks can often be seen feasting on young marine iguanas on Fernandina.
Other Fauna: Marine iguanas still have their bright colors on some islands, while green sea turtles are laying their eggs. In January you might start to see those eggs on the shore. On the islands of Isabela, land iguanas begin to breed.
February: Penguins Start Their Trek
Weather: Waters often cool somewhat, despite being the wet season. There is significant rainfall all month long. Expect land temperatures of 80°F/26°C and water temperature of approximately 79°F/26°C.
Birds: Brilliant flamingos begin to nest and penguins go back to cooler waters. Pintail ducks begin to breed and Nazca boobies end their nesting season. Galapagos doves also nest.
Other Fauna: Marine iguanas start to nest.
March: March of the Frigate Birds
Weather: March is one of the hottest months in the Galapagos with heavy rainfall and land temperatures of 80°F/26°C and water temperatures of 79°F/26°C.
Birds: On San Cristobal and Genovesa Islands, frigate birds’ mating season starts. This consists of male frigate birds inflating dazzling red throat sacs to attract mates. Penguins are common site on the islands of Isabela and Fernandina because of their cooler waters. Most migratory shorebirds are well on their way away from the islands by the end of the month, but bird watchers should not fret – if you have a little bit of luck, you might see hawk chicks in their nests
Other Fauna: Marine iguanas are nesting on Fernandina and North Seymour Islands.
April: Courtship and Hatching
Weather: With wet season at full power, April is another steamy month in the Galapagos, although water cools drastically. High rainfall continues, while land temperatures are typically 80°F/26°C and water temperatures are about 79°F/26°C and cooling.
Birds: Waved albatrosses and Blue-Footed Boobies can be seen doing courtship dances. Frigatebird mating season is at its peak with their stunning pouches visible on the island of Genovesa.
Other Fauna: Giant tortoise hatching season ends but sea turtle eggs begin to hatch in April, so baby turtles are still a likely site. On Isabela land iguana eggs also hatch, so you may also see tiny land iguanas.
May: Green Sea Turtle Eggs Hatch
Weather: May is a transitional month. Rain begins to abate as the month goes on, going from moderate to light and waters begin to warm up again. You can expect land temperatures of 78°F/25°C and water temperatures of 77°F/25°C.
Birds: Waved albatrosses and frigate birds begin laying eggs. Storm-petrels begin to nest and booby mating season continues.
Other Fauna: Both green sea turtles and marine iguanas continue to hatch, so keep your eye out for newborn turtles and iguanas.
June: A Whale of a Time
Weather: June marks the end of the wet season, with low rainfall, land temperatures of about 75°F/24°C and waters temperatures of around 73°F/23°C.
Birds: If you visit the Galapagos in June, you’ll see migrating birds visiting, too. Short-eared owls begin nesting season, while Boobies continue theirs. It’s also the ideal time to see the Frigate birds’ pouches on North Seymour
Other Fauna: Giant tortoises make their great migration from the highlands to the lowlands to begin mating season. Humpback whales also migrate, making their way through the Galapagos. Starting in June you can sometimes see whale sharks near Darwin and Wolf islands until approximately November.
Dry Season (July to November)
The dry season sees blue skies, almost all day, every day, making it the best season for land activities. Water temperatures cool significantly because of the cold Humbolt Current crossing to the north of the Galapagos Islands. Humidity remains, though and the difference between the water and air temperatures can create a layer of mist over the archipelago sky, especially in the mornings before the sun appears to melt it away.
December: See the Green Sea Turtles and Wave to the Waved Albatross Chicks
Weather: In July, the remnants of the warm season still hang on with land temperatures of 71°F/21°C by the end of the month. There is relatively low rainfall and the water temperature is around 72°F/22°C.
Birds: On Fernandina, you can see the flightless cormorants court and nest, while on Santiago, the American oyster-catchers nest. The booby and frigate bird eggs start to hatch. July is also a good time to see migratory birds.
Other Fauna: Lava lizards start showing off their mating behavior which includes so-called “push-ups,” which lasts until November. Whale and dolphin sightings become common, particularly around Isabela and Fernandina.
August: Flamingoes in Full Bloom
Weather: August is the epitome of the dry season, with low rainfall, land temperatures around 70°F/22°C and water temperatures of about 70°F/21°C. It’s one of the coolest months of the year in the Galapagos Islands.
Birds: August is a special month for birds. Flamingoes begin their mating rituals, while frigatebird and booby eggs keep hatching on North Seymour. Migratory shorebirds return and sightings are common and Nazca boobies nest. Galapagos hawks begin their courtship rituals and the Galapagos penguins start moving to the more central islands. On Genovesa, swallow-tailed gulls nest and you are likely to spot red-footed boobies.
Other Fauna: Giant tortoises begin their migration back to the highlands and Galapagos sea lions give birth.
September: See the Sea Birds as they Nest
Weather: Like August, September is a supremely dry month for the Galapagos, with very low rainfall. It is also very cool for the Galapagos, with land temperatures around 70°F/21°C and water temperatures of about 70°F/21°C.
Birds: In September, Galapagos penguins begin mating on central islands and it is an excellent time to see sea birds nesting.
Other Fauna: Sea lion breeding season starts. Because of the pressures of the breeding season, the male sea lions often fight both on land and in the water to defend their harems.
October: Blue Footed Boobies Dancing All Around
November: Meet the Sea Lion Pups
Weather: The dry season continues for most of the month with continued low rainfall, but toward the end of the month, you might see a slight uptick in rainfall. Temperatures also see a modest increase, with land temperatures around 73°F/22°C and the water temperature at about 72°F/24°C.
Birds: Brown noddies breed, storm-petrels nest for the second time and Nazca booby chicks are easy to find.
Other Fauna: November is the best month to see sea lion pups that are cozy in their inshore nurseries.