The 3 Best Times of Year to Visit the Galapagos Islands

Land Iguana - San Jose Yacht
Snorkeling with Penguins in the Galapagos in May
Snorkeling with Penguins in the Galapagos in May

While there is no bad time to visit the Galapagos, there are three times of year that are the absolute best for wildlife viewing, weather, and water temperature.  Though the animals active all year round, and the weather doesn’t fluctuate very significantly between seasons, there are some differences from month to month and this may influence your decision of when to travel.

If you’re open to traveling at any time of the year, there are three absolutely ideal times to visit the Galapagos:

1. Mid-April through mid-May
2. November 

3. First two weeks of December

These in-between times are where you get the advantages of both the cool+dry and the hot+rainy seasons. In these months, the wildlife is especially abundant and active; the weather is very pleasant; wildflowers are in bloom (April & May); and, ironically, they’re considered low seasons so you may get a small discount on your trip.  The seas are also quite calm, which is good if you’re especially worried about sea sickness.

But . . . . .
Like we said above, there’s no bad time to visit the Galapagos.  Check out what the Islands are like during the rest of the year:



This time of year is great for snorkeling without a wetsuit, enjoying clear blue skies, and cruising over very calm water. The days are quite warm (80 F on average) and sea temperatures are between 72F and 76F.  The sunshine is interrupted by short, heavy rains that dissipate quickly.

In terms of wildlife, this is mating season for landbirds, sea turtles and sea lions.  On  almost all Islands, there is an abundance of newborn wildlife in March and April.  Wildflowers also blossom between February and April. Underwater, there is a bit less marine life, but the visibility is very clear for diving and snorkeling.

COOLER & DRY SEASON: June – November

The cooler season is ideal for those who want to see more wildlife underwater, avoid the rain, and do more active tours (it’s certainly more pleasant to hike up a volcano when the sun isn’t blazing down on your head). Daytime temperatures are around 70 F and sea temperatures between 60F and 70F.  Mornings are quite misty, which clears out by noon, while the sky is typically a bit overcast. July through September have choppier waters, with September being the roughest.

During these month, colder water from the Humboldt current arrives in the Islands, bringing with it abundant fish along with Waved Albatrosses and more penguins. Whales and dolphins congregate around the western Islands like Isabela and Fernandina.  Blue-Footed Boobies and Frigate Birds are busy with their fascinating courtship displays and nesting.


Christmas, New Years and Easter are the busiest seasons in the Galapagos, so it’s best to book 6 to 12 months in advance (sometimes more for a cruise departing around Christmas). June through August are also peak months in the Galapagos, coinciding with school vacations in the US; to find a trip that suits you best over these months, it’s usually best to book 4 to 6 months in advance.  If you want to book a last-minute trip, you’ll definitely want to avoid these peak travel times. Again, because the Galapagos are a year-round destination, there are not many low season advantages to be had, like avoiding all the crowds or getting rock-bottom deals.


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