The Best Time to Visit the Galapagos Islands

Brown Pelican, Bartolome Island, Galapagos
Brown pelican, Bartolome Island

Galapagos Islands by seasons

When deciding when to go to the Galapagos Islands, you have a difficult decision to make: are you going for the weather or for the wildlife? If it’s the weather, then the warm season is the best time to travel, while if it’s the wildlife, then the cool season is your best bet. Whenever you travel though, you’re sure to get some fantastic animals encounters, and even in the cool season, the sun is never too far away.

Galapagos turtle
Warm Season

December to May

The Galapagos Islands’ warm season brings bright blue skies and temperatures between 25 and 30°C. The sun shines most days, especially from January to May, although occasional showers may occur. But don’t let that deter you – the seas are calm and clear, and lovely and warm too, creating the ideal conditions for snorkelling, while inland the flowers are blooming in the forests.

Go for:

Waved albatross: April to November is the best time to spot the Galapagos waved albatross, famous for its enormous 2.5m wingspan. To see one, head to Espanola Island, which has two major colonies.

Iguanas: the Galapagos marine iguanas start to show their colours from January to February, changing from black to red and green. The most colourful are known as Christmas Iguanas, and are found on Espanola Island.

Galapagos dolphin
Cool Season

June to November

The cool season brings garua (mist and fog) to the Galapagos Islands’ higher elevations, and the sea temperature decreases to the lower twenties. The wind picks up, bringing stronger waves and choppy sea conditions. This creates great wildlife watching opportunities, with penguins and seabirds out hunting for fish, sea lions producing pups, and plenty of whale and dolphin watching too. 

Go for:

Whale sharks: if you want to swim with whale sharks, then July to November is the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands. Try Wolf Island or Darwin Island, where the cool seawater attracts this huge fish in large numbers.

Bird courtship rituals: July sees the mating ritual of the blue footed booby, a dance that involves the male showing off his blue feet to the female. Male frigatebirds inflate their red pouches to attract a mate at this time too - see this on North Seymour Island.

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