When to visit Galapagos Islands: Month by month weather and wildlife highlights

Posted by Tom, 3 February 2017.
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When to visit Galapagos Islands: Month by month weather and wildlife highlights

The Galapagos Islands are a great year-round destination for a Galapagos holiday.

There is no real ‘best’ time as something is always happening.

As the Galapagos Islands are located right on the equator, air and water temperatures do not vary by much, and most species are here year-round.

There are two recognised seasons, and each months brings natural marvels to the fore, listed here in in our month-by-month guide to the highlights of Galapagos.

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

 

Don't forget to check our Galapagos photos on Facebook, Pinterest and Youtube videos.

 

General information

The warm season (Jan-Jun)

The warmer months bring calm, warm waters (around 70°F range) and sunny days (72-9°F or 22-32°C), February and March being the hottest and sunniest months with blue skies and sunshine.

The islands receive slightly more rainfall during these months, occasional heavy bursts in the afternoon. Great for snorkelling and you can spend a lot of time in the water without wetsuits, with great, clear waters.

The dry 'garua' season (Jun-Dec)

It's a great time for marine life. August and September the coolest when you may need a jacket in the evenings and the sea can be choppy and temperature drops around 15-24ºC on average.

There can be mist on the islands in the mornings (garua) which usually burns off by midday leaving overcast skies or a sunny afternoon.

Sea temperatures may drop to 60°F- 72°F (15-22°C) during this time and snorkellers will want a wet suit for prolonged periods in the sea.

All year round highlights

Red-footed and Masked Boobies breed and nest

Magnificent and Great Frigate birds nesting, North Seymour only

Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes breeding and nesting

 

Highlights month by month


January

Temperature: 22-30C (72-86F)

Average sea temperate: 24C (75F)

Average rainfall: 2.5cm / 1in

Clear skies: 5.3 hours

Strong sun, clearest seas for snorkelling (along with Feb and March).

  

Animal highlights

Sea turtles nesting.

Giant Tortoises laying eggs in the wild.

Many land birds start to nest.

Male marine iguanas on Española Island become brightly coloured to attract mates (green, red and black).

Land iguanas mating on Isabela.

 

February 

Temperature: 24-30C (75-86F)

Average sea temperate: 25C (77F)

Average rainfall: 2.5cm / 1in

Clear skies: 7.5 hours

Strong sun, clearest seas for snorkelling (along with Jan and March).

 

Animal highlights

Green sea turtles nesting.

Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz.

Land iguanas mating.

Giant Tortoises laying eggs in the wild, eggs hatching.

Lots of nesting: Great flamingoes on Floreana, Nazca boobies on Hood, marine iguanas on Santa Cruz and the Galapagos dove too.

  

March

Temperature: 24-31C (75-88F)

Average sea temperate: 25C (77F)

Average rainfall: 5.1cm / 2in

Clear skies: 6 hours

Rainiest month, strong sun, clearest and warmest seas for snorkelling (along with Jan and Feb).

 

Animal highlights

Great Frigate birds inflating their red throat pouches and nesting on Genovesa (Tower) Island and San Cristobal.

Marine iguanas nest in Fernandina.

Land iguanas mating.

Giant Tortoises laying eggs in the wild, eggs hatching.

Arrival of the waved albatross to Española.

  

April

Temperature: 24-31C (75-88F)

Average sea temperate: 24C (75F)

Average rainfall: 3.8cm / 1.5in

Clear skies: 7.5 hours

Rainy season at its peak, strong sun, good snorkelling and warm seas.

  

Animal highlights

Great Frigate birds inflating their red throat pouches and nesting on Genovesa (Tower) Island and San Cristobal.

Male marine iguanas on Española Island become brightly coloured to attract mates (green, red and black).

Land iguanas mating.

Giant Tortoises laying eggs in the wild, eggs hatching.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

Mating dance of the blue-footed boobies on North Seymour.

The eggs laid in January by the green turtles start to hatch, as do the land iguana eggs on Isabela.

 

May

Temperature: 22-28C (72-82F)

Average sea temperate: 24C (75F)

Average rainfall: 1.9cm / 0.75in

Clear skies: 5.2 hours

The most pleasant weather, along with June, in the islands.

 

Animal highlights

Galapagos sea lion pupping begins, as does the mating season – they mate from May-December and the pups are born a year later.

On North Seymour the blue-footed boobies perform their mating dance, while sea turtles are still hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant, and Puerto Egas. More hatching action for marine iguanas on Santa Cruz and egg laying by waved albatross on Española.

The Palo Santo trees begin to shed their foliage while the band-rumped storm pertrels being nesting.

 

June

Temperature: 21-26C (70-79F)

Average sea temperate: 23C (73F)

Average rainfall: 0.6cm / 0.25in

Clear skies: 4.4 hours

Most pleasant month weather wise, along with May. Start of the Garua season (cool and dry).

 

Animal highlights

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

Whale sharks can be sometimes see in the north western islands and some groups of Humpback whales migrating along the coast of Ecuador make it to Galapagos (June-Sept).

Sea lions continue to pup.

On land the Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz come down to the lowlands to look for nesting sites.

Plenty of bird action as many migratory birds rest here.

The currents start to move, creating plankton rich seas teeming with wildlife.

 

July

Temperature: 20-26C (68-79F)

Average sea temperate: 22C (72F)

Average rainfall: 1.3cm / 0.5in

Clear skies: 2.8 hours

Humboldt current strengthens being colder water but more active marine life, making snorkelling an even greater highlight. Can be windy, albeit not pronounced.

 

Animal highlights

Blue-footed boobies begin nesting.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

Start of California sea lion breeding season.

Dolphin and whale spotting common, especially crossing to Isabela/Fernandina.

Greater Flamingoes ‘dance’ to attract mates and the first frigatebird chicks start to hatch.

Lava lizards initiate their mating rituals that continue until November.

 

August

Temperature: 19-26C (66-79F)

Average sea temperate: 21.5C (71F)

Average rainfall: 0.6cm / 0.25in

Clear skies: 3.3 hours

Popular time to visit. Humboldt current strengthens being colder water but more active marine life, making snorkelling an even greater highlight. Can be windy, albeit not pronounced.

 

Animal highlights

Blue-footed boobies nesting.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

California sea lion breeding season.

Fur sea lions begin breeding.

Giant tortoises make a slow return to their Santa Cruz highland home.

Whale sharks to the north (Wolf and Darwin).

Humpback whales can be spotted.

New born sea lion pups take to the water for the first time.

Greater Flamingoes who ‘dance’ to attract mates.

Galapagos hawks court on Espanola and Santiago

 

September

Temperature: 19-26C (66-79F)

Average sea temperate: 22C (72F)

Average rainfall: 1.3cm / 0.5in

Clear skies: 2.9 hours

Snorkelling with sea lions very common in this, one of the colder snorkelling months but most active in the sea. Seas can be rough.

Often incorrectly labelled low season because of human travel timetables, September is the peak of garúa season but also the month when birds and land animals are most active.

 

Animal highlights

Blue-footed boobies nesting.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

California sea lion breeding season.

Fur sea lions begin breeding.

Giant tortoises make a slow return to their Santa Cruz highland home.

Whale sharks to the north (Wolf and Darwin).

Humpback whales can be spotted.

New born sea lion pups take to the water.

Penguins demonstrate remarkable activity on Bartolome until December.

Sea lions are very active, females give birth.

 

October 

Temperature: 20-26C (68-79F)

Average sea temperate: 22.5C (73F)

Average rainfall: 0.6cm / 0.25in

Clear skies: 3.8 hours

Like September, another broiling time to visit as the colder sea current begins to give way to the warmer waters. Snorkelling with sea lions very common in this, one of the colder snorkelling months but most active in the sea. Seas can be rough.

 

Animal highlights

Blue-footed boobies nesting.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

California sea lion breeding season.

Fur sea lions begin breeding.

Giant tortoises make a slow return to their Santa Cruz highland home.

Whale sharks to the north (Wolf and Darwin).

Humpback whales can be spotted.

New born sea lion pups take to the water.

Galapagos penguins begin to court on Bartolome.

A popular time for divers with the mighty whale sharks in the north west and lots of hammerhead sharks.


November 

Temperature: 21-26C (70-79F)

Average sea temperate: 23C (73F)

Average rainfall: 1.3cm / 0.5in

Clear skies: 3.5 hours

A top month for visiting Galapagos in terms of weather (good, calm seas), animal activity (lots) and visitor numbers (i.e relatively few).

 

Animal highlights

Blue-footed boobies nesting.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting, through to December.

California sea lion breeding season.

Fur sea lions begin breeding.

Humpback whales can be spotted.

New born sea lion pups take to the water.

Galapagos penguins begin to court on Bartolome.

Mating Galapagos green turtles can be seen in the waters (Nov-Jan).

  

December 

Temperature: 22-27C (72-81F)

Average sea temperate: 22.5C (73F)

Average rainfall: 1.3cm / 0.5in

Clear skies: 4.0 hours

Start of the warm season and lots of animals begin breeding and mating season.  Seas warm up as does the air – very pleasant.

 

Animal highlights

Blue-footed boobies nesting.

Waved albatross mating dance and nesting.

California sea lion breeding season.

Fur sea lions begin breeding.

Marine iguanas and land iguanas begin mating.

Humpback whales can be spotted.

Mating Galapagos green turtles can be seen in the waters (Nov-Jan).

Lush foliage.

Giant tortoise eggs start to hatch (until April).

 

Contact us for more information, or visit our First Class, Superior Tourist or hotel-based Galapagos tours.


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When to visit Galapagos Islands: Month by month weather and wildlife highlights


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