When is the best time to visit the Galapagos?

The Galapagos Islands are a great year-round destination for a Galapagos cruise and there really is no “off-season” as opposed to many other wildlife sanctuaries around the world. However, the high season for tourism tends to be from mid-December to January and from June to August, which coincides with the general holidays and vacation months around the world. Due to the regulation of national park visitors and cruise ship itineraries, the islands never feel overcrowded, even during the busiest months. If you are planning your Galapagos getaway during the popular “vacation” months, we recommend you book your trip at least 6 months prior to your desired travel date and when possible, even sooner.

December through May
During the archipelago’s wet season, the water and air temperatures are at their warmest. It will likely rain once a day, but this is also the sunniest time on the islands. These months are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, though fish aren’t as abundant during this season. This is also a great time for viewing land birds, sea turtles, and sea lions, as their breeding season takes place in these months. December is an excellent month to visit the Galapagos, but also the busiest time of the year. Check out our Christmas Holiday 2015 Offers!

June through November
The Humboldt Current brings cold water and weather to the Galápagos Islands. The trade-off is that the currents bring water that’s rich in plankton and nutrients, which attracts birds and fish. You’ll have more cloudy days during this season, but it rarely rains. Because it’s windier in these months, the sea can be rougher. With that said, divers generally agree that this season is the best for scuba in the archipelago. Another highpoint to visiting at this time of year is witnessing the courtship dance of the blue-footed boobies, known as “sky point.”

For anyone interested in visiting the islands, there is really no better or worse time to visit. In part this is because the Galapagos Islands are right on the equator so that air and water temperatures do not vary much. Read in detail about Galapagos weather and climate. In addition, almost all of the animal species you will see on the Islands arrived because they floated there on logs or beds of plants, or they were blown in. This means that species like the Galapagos penguin, flightless cormorant, marine iguana, land iguana, blue footed booby, Galapagos hawk, fur sea lion, California sea lion and others spend the entire year in the Galapagos and do not migrate. The waved albatross is one of the few migratory exceptions and is best seen in spring and summer.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 30/22C, 86/72F
• Hours of clear skies: 5.3
• Average Rainfall: 2.5cm, 1.0in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 24.5C / 76F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Green Sea turtles nesting
• Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas mating
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Tortoises laying eggs (in the wild)
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• Best underwater visibility (along with Feb & March)
• The sun is very intense during this month. We Recommend sun-block SPF 30 or higher.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 30 / 24C, 86 / 75F
• Hours of clear skies: 7.5
• Average Rainfall: 2.5cm, 1.0in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 25C / 77F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Green Sea turtles nesting
• Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Tortoises laying eggs (in the wild)
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• Best underwater visibility (along with Jan & March)
• Water temperature is the highest all year (until April)
• The sun is very intense during this month. We Recommend sun-block SPF 30 or higher.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 31 / 24C, 88 / 75F
• Hours of clear skies: 6.0
• Average Rainfall: 5.1cm, 2.0in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 25C / 77F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Green Sea turtles nesting
• Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Great Frigate birds mating and nesting on Genovesa (Tower) Island
• Tortoises laying eggs (in the wild)
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• Best underwater visibility (along with Jan & Feb)
• Rainy season reaches its peak in the highlands
• Water temperature is the highest all year (until April)
• The sun is very intense during this month. We Recommend sun-block SPF 30 or higher.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 31 / 24C, 88 / 75F
• Hours of clear skies: 7.5
• Average Rainfall: 3.8cm, 1.5in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 25C / 77F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Green sea turtles nesting
• Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Waved albatross begin mating and nesting
• Great Frigate birds mating and nesting on Genovesa (Tower) Island
• Tortoises laying eggs (in the wild)
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• Rainy season reaches its peak in the highlands
• Water temperature is the highest all year
• The sun is very intense during this month. We Recommend sun-block SPF 30 or higher.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 28 / 22C, 82 / 72F
• Hours of clear skies: 5.2
• Average Rainfall: 1.9cm, 0.75in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 24.5C / 76F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Green Sea turtles nesting season is ending
• Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas nesting
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Great Frigate birds mating and nesting on Genovesa (Tower) Island
• Tortoises laying eggs (in the wild)
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• Beginning of the Garua season (cool dry season – until December)
• Along with the month of June, this month offers the most pleasant weather. The intense hot climate of the earlier months begins to cool off, but there are still plenty of hours of clear skies.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 26 / 21C, 79 / 70F
• Hours of clear skies: 4.4
• Average Rainfall: 0.6cm, 0.25in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 23C / 73F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• Beginning of the Garua season (cool dry season – until December)
• Along with the month of May, this month offers the most pleasant weather. The intense hot climate of the earlier months begins to cool off, but there are still plenty of hours of clear skies.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 26 / 20C, 79 / 68F
• Hours of clear skies: 2.8
• Average Rainfall: 1.3cm, 0.50in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 22C / 72F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Blue-footed boobies begin nesting
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Start of California sea lion breeding season
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• The presence of the Humboldt Current begins to strengthen, making nutrients in the water more abundant and marine life more active. Snorkeling is great during this period.
• Dolphin and Whale spotting, particularly on our crossing to Fernandina Island, becomes more common.
• Along with the month of August, this month has more pronounced winds. However, winds in Galapagos never get too strong, as compared to other destinations like the Caribbean.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 26 / 19C, 79 / 66F
• Hours of clear skies: 3.3
• Average Rainfall: 0.6cm, 0.25in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 21.5C / 71F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Blue-footed boobies nesting
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• California sea lions breeding
• Fur Sea lions begin breeding
• Tortoises (in Santa Cruz Island only) lay eggs in the wild
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• The presence of the Humboldt Current begins to strengthen, making nutrients in the water more abundant and marine life more active. Snorkeling is great during this period.
• Dolphin and Whale spotting, particularly on our crossing to Fernandina Island, becomes more common.
• Along with the month of July, this month has more pronounced winds. However, winds in Galapagos never get too strong, as compared to other destinations like the Caribbean.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 26 / 19C, 79 / 66F
• Hours of clear skies: 2.9
• Average Rainfall: 1.3cm, 0.50in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 22C / 72F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Blue-footed boobies nesting
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• California sea lions breeding
• Fur Sea lions breeding
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• The presence of the Humboldt Current is strong, making nutrients in the water more abundant and marine life more active. Snorkeling is excellent during this month and swimming with sea-lion pups is very common.
• Dolphin and Whale spotting, particularly on our crossing to Fernandina Island, is very common.
• Winds are still pronounced during this month.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 26 / 20C, 79 / 68F
• Hours of clear skies: 3.8
• Average Rainfall: 0.6cm, 0.25in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 22.5C / 73F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Blue-footed boobies nesting
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• California sea lions breeding
• Fur Sea lions breeding
• Tortoises (in Santa Cruz Island only) lay eggs in the wild
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• The presence of the Humboldt Current continues to be strong, making nutrients in the water more abundant and marine life more active. Snorkeling is great during this period and swimming with sea-lion pups is very common.
• Dolphin and Whale spotting, particularly on our crossing to Fernandina Island, is very common.
• Winds are still pronounced during this month.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 26 / 21C, 79 / 70F
• Hours of clear skies: 3.5
• Average Rainfall: 1.3cm, 0.50in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 23C / 73F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Blue-footed boobies nesting
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Green Sea turtles begin mating
• California sea lions breeding
• Fur Sea lions breeding
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• The presence of the Humboldt Current is strong, making nutrients in the water more abundant and marine life more active. Snorkeling is very good during this month and amazing marine encounters are very common.
• Dolphin and Whale spotting is very common in the Bolivar Channel crossing on our way to Fernandina Island.
• Winds are still present during this month.

• Air Temp (Max / Min): 27 / 22C, 81 / 72F
• Hours of clear skies: 4.0
• Average Rainfall: 1.3cm, 0.50in (in the highlands)
• Average Water Temperature: 22.5C / 73F

Animals mating / breeding:
• Blue-footed boobies nesting
• Red-footed boobies and masked boobies breeding and nesting (year-round)
• Waved albatross nesting
• Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting (year-round on North Seymour Only)
• Green sea turtles begin mating
• Marine Iguanas and Land Iguanas begin mating
• California sea lions breeding
• Fur Sea lions breeding
• Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting (year-round, depending on food supply)

Special Notes:
• This month marks the start of the warm season in Galapagos and the Humboldt Current loses strength. There are plenty of hours of clear skies.
• This is the start and the end of the breeding and mating seasons for many animals in Galapagos, making wildlife encounters very attractive.
• The sun starts to get more intense during this month. We recommend guests to use sun-block SPF 30 or higher, at least for the first few days.

December is an excellent month to visit the Galapagos, but also the busiest time of the year. We recommend to book your Galapagos cruise 6 months in advance. Check out our Galapagos December Offers!

Sources: http://www.cntraveler.com/stories/2014-09-15/everything-you-need-to-know-about-visiting-the-galapagos & http://www.galapagosexpeditions.com/islands/best-time-to-visit-galapagos-islands.php