Snorkeling: Do I need a wetsuit on a Galapagos Islands Tour?

There’s more to the Galapagos Islands than finches and tortoises found on land; the animals you find underwater are likely to be some of your trip favorites. Snorkeling is usually a big part of any Galapagos Islands tour, and having the proper stuff can really help you enjoy this aspect of your trip.

Most Galapagos tours will provide wetsuits for snorkeling, either for free or for a small fee (~$30 per person, per week). The water is pleasant, but this isn’t the Caribbean. You will probably feel more comfortable with a wetsuit on after a leisurely snorkeling hour, no matter which season it is.

In the colder season (July – December), you’ll definitely want a wetsuit. It is recommended that you use a “shortie” 3mm wetsuit and these are typically the type of rental wetsuits on your Galapagos tour. If you have your own, and you have room in your bag, it may be wise to bring it on your trip. There are typically a wide selection of sizes available, but your own is usually better.

Seasonal Water Temperatures

The Galapagos Islands waters have the Humboldt Current’s influence that brings cold waters especially during the mist or Garua season (cool, dry weather) from late May/June to December. In La Nina conditions, the water temperature can be approximately 5°F cooler.

  • Surface Water Temp. June – December: 70°F – 74°F (21°C- 23.3°C)
  • Air Temp. Highs June – December: 75°F – 80°F (18°C- 23°C)
  • Air Temp. Lows June – December: 66°F – 70°F (19°C- 23.3°C)

The warm season (occasionally rainy, hot weather) is during the months of January through May. The southeast trade winds become weaker and the water from the Panama Basin remains warm. During this season there is more of a tropical climate with some occasional rains.

  • Surface Water Temp. December – May: 73°F – 78°F (23°C- 25.5°C)
  • Air Temp. Highs December – May: 80°F – 87°F (26.7°C- 30.6°C)
  • Air Temp. Lows December – May: 70°F – 76°F (21°C- 24.4°C)

2 thoughts on “Snorkeling: Do I need a wetsuit on a Galapagos Islands Tour?

    • Greg Findley says:

      Diving is great in the Galapagos all year round, although there certainly are variations at different times of the year. Many divers feel the colder season, June – December (and especially August – October), has some of the best diving. The currents bring a number of nutrients to the islands and attract many species of pelagics, or ocean going fish.

      Any time of year the local dive shops can recommend great dives. As the currents change seasonally, sites may have more or less to see than at other times. The good news is that while some may become less interesting with certain currents, others become more interesting with those same currents. Thus, there is good diving all year round, especially if divers are satisfied with seeing sea turtles, sea lions, sharks, and rays.

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