When is the best time of year to visit the Galapagos Islands? What will the weather be like when you visit? Which animals will you see at any particular time of the year? Which is the best month to visit the Galapagos Islands? Generally speaking, the months of April, May and November are regarded as being the best months to visit, as the following month by month guide explains:
Please note the use of terms such as "good", "bad", "better", "poorer" etc. are all relative here - the Galapagos Islands make a fantastic holiday at any time of the year.
January is the beginning of the rainy season. The rains last until early April, but are rarely particularly excessive. This is a good month to see nesting birds, green sea turtles who arrive for their nesting season and colourful iguanas. This is the best time for snorkelling and diving vacations in the Galapagos, and the water and air temperatures stay warm until July.
February sees lots of flamingoes nesting on Floreana Island. Pintail ducks start breeding and the Galapagos dove starts nesting. There are very few penguins sighted on Bartolome Island (though more elsewhere), but plenty of marine iguanas are found on Santa Cruz Island where they start to nest. Masked boobies are coming to the end of their nesting season. The water temperature is at it's highest (until April) so it's great for diving and swimming in the Galapagos.
March in the Galapagos Islands sees the rainiest weather - downpours are interspersed with intense sun. You'd be advised to bring a raincoat! The temperature and humidity are a their highest in this month. Marine iguanas are nesting on Fernandina Island, the waved albatross arrives on Espanola Island and penguins are still very active. Again ,this is an excellent time for diving as the waters remain warm and relatively calm.
April is considered one of the best all round months to visit the Galapagos Islands. Waved albatrosses arrive in huge droves. You are likely to see the hatching of the eggs of giant tortoises, land iguanas and green sea turtles. The rains have ended, the islands of the Galapagos remain green and beautiful and visibility is still excellent for snorkelling and diving. Great weather, great wildlife, great sea conditions and beautiful scenery mean April is a fantastic month to visit.
May, like April, is one of the best months to take a vacation or cruise. Blue footed boobies begin their fascinating courtship dances, sea turtle and marine iguana eggs are still hatching (the latter on Santa Cruz Island) and the waved albatross on Espinola island start to mate and lay their eggs.
June is the start of the Garua season, which sees less rain but more mist. The Garua is a kind of semi permanent fuzzy haze which means the landscape is not quite so beautiful, as the scenery is less visible. Giant tortoises start to migrate and nest on the islands. The currents become stronger and the waves are larger, so swimming and diving conditions are becoming poorer. There are numerous migrating birds coming from the south and sightings of groups of Humpback whales are common.
July sees sea birds breeding actively, particularly on Espanola Island. Flightless cormorants begin their dance like courtship rituals on Fernandina Island. On Santiago Island, oystercatchers are nesting. Lava lizards start their mating rituals, which continue until November. Whales and dolphins are more likely to be seen, especially off Isabella Island. The weather is cooler - the water temperature is not more than 21 Celsius. July is a good month for seeing both birds and larger marine animals.
August sees Galapagos Hawks court on Espanola and Santiago Islands. Swallow tailed gulls and masked boobies start to nest on Genovesa Island. The weather remains cool - the water is at it's coldest (18 Celsius). The seas are at their roughest, but the Sea lion pupping season has started on the western and central Galapogas Islands, ie. baby sea lions are likely to be seen!
September in the Galapagos Islands has the coldest weather as this is the peak of the misty Garua season. Galapagos penguins are particularly active on Bartolome island. It's a good time to go swimming with the penguins. Sea lions are very active also, with the males constantly fighting - don't get too close! Most birds are still very active.
October sees lava herons nesting until March. The Galapagos Fur Sea Lions begin mating. Blue footed boobies start to raise their young on Espanola and Isabella Island and giant tortoises are still laying their eggs. It's coming to the end of the misty Garua season, and so the weather is not always sunny, though it's sunnier in the western parts of the Galapagos Islands - if you're taking a shorter length cruise, make sure it heads West for the best weather!
November still has baby sea lions playing. Brown noddies start breeding and there are more jellyfish at this time of year. The seas have calmed and the water temperature starts to rise again, making this a better month for swimming. On the whole, November has the best weather of all months. Visibility is good for snorkelling and diving, and the sea lion pups commonly play with divers and snorkellers.
December sees giant tortoise eggs hatching until April. Green sea turtles start their mating rituals. The rainy season is only just starting and on the whole the weather is great.
The weather and wildlife one is likely to see varies according to the months of the year, but the Galapagos Islands are a year round travel destination. Your holiday will be fantastic whenever you visit.