The Best Time to Visit the Galápagos Islands

posted in: Ecuador, South America, Travel | 0

If you are planning a trip to the Galápagos Islands, let me stop and congratulate you on an excellent decision. Having spent a few weeks on a do-it-yourself tour of the islands, I can personally say it will live up to all your expectations.

Scattered in the Pacific Ocean, just two to three hours from Ecuador’s mainland, the islands deserve a spot on any traveler’s bucket list. However, one of the most important factors to consider when planning a vacation to the Galápagos is choosing the best time to visit

A small beach overlooking clear blue water with a few fishing boats on nice sand.
The Galapagos Islands in September.

Weather in the Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands experience two main seasons: a warm/wet season from December to June and a cool/dry season from July to November. 

While each month has its advantages and drawbacks, the islands are fortunately a year-round destination. The key is to figure out which one aligns best with your preferences and go from there. 

A sleeping Galapagos sea lion on the rocks.
The Galapagos sea lion can be seen year-round whether you’re in the water snorkeling or walking around the islands.

Best Time to Visit for Seasickness

The best times to avoid seasickness in the Galápagos Islands are during the warm and wet season. From December to June, the water around the islands tends to be calmer and more stable. 

With that being said, I still suggest you bring medication if you have any issues with motion sickness, especially on any interisland ferries. The water can be rough at any time of year and over-the-counter medication like Dramamine helped me enormously. 

There’s nothing like being in a magical destination, and not being able to enjoy it.

Additionally, choosing a larger boat or cruise ship for your journey can also help reduce feelings of seasickness. Larger vessels are typically less affected by turbulent waters than smaller boats, giving you a smoother ride overall.

The turquoise waters of the Galapagos Islands.
The pristine waters of the Galapagos.

Average Temperatures throughout the Year

During the warm months, you’ll experience sunny days with air temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s (around 22° to 29° Celsius).

Make note, even though the water is at its warmest running on average in the upper 70s, renting or bringing a wetsuit will make your water adventures more comfortable.

Here are some other important and helpful tips for visiting Ecuador.

During the cooler months, you’ll experience some overcast skies with air temperatures ranging from the lower to upper 70s. The Humbolt Current arrives from the south dropping the ocean temperatures to the lower 70s. 

A blue-footed boobie
Blue-footed boobies get their bright blue feet from their diet. The fish they eat contain a pigment known as carotenoids.

Best Time to Visit for Wildlife Viewing

You will see an abundance of wildlife including sea lions, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, whitetip sharks, Sally Lightfoot crabs, and Giant Tortoises, no matter what month you choose to visit the islands. 

If you want to partake in whale watching, the dry season (July to November) is the best time to see orcas, blue whales, sperm whales, and humpbacks.

Galapagos Penguins do not like the heat, so they will also be more active during this time as well. 

And if you would like to see the well-known Christmas iguanas, head over to Española Island in January to see the marine iguanas change colors to bright red and green.

Travel Tip: If you’re traveling to the Galápagos, you should consider investing in a camera with a good zoom and a pair of binoculars.

Full Disclosure: Some of the links included in this article are affiliate links, if you book through it we will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.

Multiple marine iguanas piled up on each other a sandy beach.
Using their long tails, Marine Iguanas can swim about as fast as a human.

Best Time to Visit for Diving and Snorkeling

The wet season offers excellent underwater visibility, calmer water, and warm sea temperatures which can make excellent snorkeling and swimming conditions. 

While the dry season brings in cooler water temps, nutrient-rich currents attract numerous marine life including whales, sharks, rays, and iguanas. The best time to scuba dive in the Galapagos is from June to November. 

Galapagos sea turtle swimming underwater.
Snorkeling with sea turtles!

Crowds and Pricing Considerations

Peak tourist seasons typically coincide with school holidays and breaks including Christmas and New Year’s.

If you’d like to visit during the shoulder season, consider avoiding the months from June to August and December to January. 

You’ll not only avoid the crowds but also save money on accommodations and cruises. 

What is the best time of year to visit the Galapagos Islands?

There’s honestly no bad time to visit the Galápagos so if you only have a certain time that works for you, make it happen. 

Overall, both seasons offer incredible experiences for visitors looking to immerse themselves in nature and witness firsthand the unique biodiversity that makes the Galapagos Islands so special. Whether you choose to visit during the dry season or wet season, you are sure to be captivated by all that these enchanting islands have to offer.

If you’re dreaming of more South American adventures, consider visiting the Amazon jungle or climbing Rucu Pichincha.

Discover the ideal time to explore the captivating Galapagos Islands. Plan your visit with our comprehensive guide to the best seasons and weather conditions.
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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

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