Marine Iguana, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Best time to visit the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination with lots to see and do throughout the year. Depending on your specific interests you may find some months better than others to create your ideal Galapagos holiday.

Wildlife aplenty all year long

Wildlife is without doubt the main attraction of a Galapagos holiday and there’s an array of animals and birds to be seen whenever you visit. Sightings and excitement guaranteed!

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Galapagos hawks on cactus © Shutterstock

Seasons in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands have their own climate distinct from that of the mainland. Temperatures do not vary much throughout the year ranging from around 20 to 28°c, although the Pacific breeze mat make it feel cooler especially after sunset.

Red-footed booby, Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

Dry season

This lasts from July to December with daytime temperatures around 16-23°c, cooler than the rainy season. There can be occasional mists or ‘garua’ from July to November and the sea can be cooler in these months. July and August can be quite windy, so less good if you suffer from sea sickness.

Hammerhead sharks in Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

Rainy season

January to June is the rainy season, with relatively short periods of rainfall usually in the afternoon, after which the skies brighten. Underwater visibility is best from January to March and the water is warmer than in the dry season.

Galapagos Islands month by month

Each month is different and all have their particular highlights. These are outlined below to help you choose your best time to visit the Galapagos Islands.

Magnificent frigatebird, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador © Shutterstock

January

This is the wet season with short afternoon showers the norm with other times of day dry and clear. Water is warm, good for snorkelling. Giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch and green sea turtles begin to lay their eggs. Magnificent and great frigatebirds start nesting. On Isabela Island land iguanas begin breeding, as do marine iguanas on Espanola, their colours becoming brighter.

Flamingo on the Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

February

Nesting season is reaching full swing for Galapagos doves, with flamingos and marine iguanas just beginning the season on Floreana and Santa Cruz respectively. Giant tortoise eggs continue to hatch. Penguins leave Bartolome to the cooler waters off Isabela and Fernandina.

Marine Iguana, Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

March

March 21st is the start of the summer equinox and heralds the first albatross arrivals on Espanola. Marine iguanas are nesting on the islands of Fernandina and North Seymour. Frigatebirds commence their mating season on Genovesa and San Cristobal. Giant tortoise hatching season is nearing its end.

Waved albatross on Espanola, Galapagos Islands © BvanSon,Shutterstock

April

The rains have finished but the islands are still lush with vegetation. Sea water temperatures are at their height. There are mass arrivals of albatrosses on Espanola and courtship rituals begin. While the giant tortoise egg hatching season is ending it is just starting for green sea turtles and land iguanas. Nesting continues for these last two and for marine iguanas.

Blue-footed booby on Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

May

Espanola’s albatrosses start laying eggs. Green sea turtle eggs are hatching on Espanola, Santiago and Floreana, as are those of marine iguanas on Santa Cruz. Storm petrels enter their first nesting period and blue-footed boobies commence courtship on North Seymour.

Galapagos tortoises © Shutterstock

June

The start of the dry season. Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz seek out nesting sites in the lowlands as nesting season begins. Migrating humpback whales can be seen off the coast and whale sharks may be spotted towards the end of June.

Two sealions being watched by two birds, Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

July

Flightless cormorants are courting and nesting on Fernandina. Other sea birds, including albatrosses, blue-footed boobies and oystercatchers, are busy nesting. Sea lions begin breeding and lava lizards start mating. July can be windy and waters choppy, not ideal for sufferers of sea sickness.

Nazca booby and egg, Galapagos Islands © GQMarks

August

Frigatebird eggs are hatching and sea lions start to give birth. Nazca boobies and swallow-tailed gulls are nesting on Genovesa. This is one of the windiest months with rougher seas than usual. Sea temperatures lower to around 18°c.

Red-billed tropicbird, Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

September

Sea lions are birthing and there are lots of pups can be observed, while males bark and fight. Many sea birds are still active at their nesting sites and penguins display courtship rituals on Bartolome. Garua mists occur and temperatures are falling.

Fur seal, Galapagos Islands © GQMarks

October

Giant tortoises are laying eggs. Lava herons begin nest building which continues through till March, fur seals start mating and blue-footed boobies are raising their chicks. Sea lion pups are becoming more adventurous and may join you as you go for a swim.

Whale shark and a diver, Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

November

Sea lion pups continue to be born. Green sea turtles begin their mating season and storm petrels start their second annual nesting period. Whale sharks can still be spotted.

Opuntia cactus, South Plaza, Galapagos Islands © BlueOrange,Shutterstock

December

The warmer rainy season begins and plants start to grow. Sea lions and fur seals continue to breed. Green sea turtles, land and marine iguanas all begin mating. The eggs of giant tortoises start to hatch, which continues till April. Young waved albatrosses begin their migration to lower southern latitudes.

Weather in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are almost 1,000kms off the coast of mainland Ecuador and have their own climate, with little variation in temperature and a mild rainy season.

Galapagos Islands scenery © Shutterstock

There is little difference in climatic conditions from one island to another so this can be taken as a guide for whole archipelago. The rainy season, January – June, consists of generally short afternoon showers and is a few degrees warmer than the dry season, July to December.

Degrees in Celsius
  • 29 J
  • 30 F
  • 30 M
  • 30 A
  • 29 M
  • 27 J
  • 25 J
  • 24 A
  • 24 S
  • 25 O
  • 26 N
  • 27 D
Rainfall in mm
  • 4.8 J
  • 6.7 F
  • 8.5 M
  • 3.5 A
  • 1.6 M
  • 1.6 J
  • 2 J
  • 4 A
  • 5 S
  • 7 O
  • 5 N
  • 7 D

When to see Galapagos wildlife

A wildlife enthusiast’s quick guide to when and where to see some of the key species and wildlife events in the Galapagos Islands.

Waved albatross, Galapagos Islands © GQMarks

Waved albatross

Late March / early April generally signals the return of waved albatrosses to Espanola Island and courtships begin. They start to lay eggs around May and two months later the chicks hatch. The young are ready to fly the nest from about December / January.

Sunbathing marine iguana, Galapagos Islands © Shutterstock

Marine iguanas

In January on Espanola, the marine iguanas become brightly coloured as they start mating. They tend to start nesting on Santa Cruz around February, and by March on Fernandina and North Seymour. They start hatching about 3-4 months later.

Magnificent frigatebird, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador © Tribes

Frigatebirds

Magnificent and great frigatebirds start mating around March on San Cristobal and Genovesa and tend to start laying eggs around May. They hatch from around July. The mating season (roughly March to May) is when you're most likely to see their red throat pouch puffed out. Genovesa, Floreana, North Seymour and San Cristobal are the best places to see them.

Galapagos tortoise © GQMarks

Giant tortoises

June marks the start of the nesting season. They lay eggs right up to about October and hatching starts around December and lasts until about April. Tortoises can live for over 100 years.

Chris-3
Talk to Christine - Travel Consultant

Call:  01473 890499

Start planning your tailor-made holiday now. Tell us what you want, and we will tailor make your perfect trip.

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