closedown-arrowemailfeaturedmagnifying-glassphoneright-arrow
Amazon River Cruise Information - Jungle Blog.jpg

Galapagos Weather and Seasons

  |   Weather

The warm climate, sunny skies and abundance of wildlife in the Galapagos Islands will no doubt amaze you and the destination makes for a fantastic year round vacation option. There are so many reasons to visit the Galapagos, and weather is surely one of them. There are however, a few things to consider about Galapagos weather and seasons if you're looking to see specific wildlife or do certain activities. Read on below to learn a little bit more and to start planning your once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

 

Galapagos Weather and Seasons

 

About Galapagos Weather and Seasons

 

The Galapagos Islands are isolated over 900 km away from mainland Ecuador, completely surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. There are 13 main islands and 7 smaller islands that make up the archipelago. Galapagos cruise itineraries typically categorise the islands as Eastern and Western. Though the Galapagos archipelago is equatorial, the islands have a more moderate, drier climate than other tropical locations. The climate of these volcanic islands is largely determined by a unique positioning in-between three surrounding ocean currents, and the shifting of these currents result in the change of seasons twice a year. These sub-tropical islands experience two main seasons: a warm, wet season from late December until June, and the cool, dry season from late June to December. The differences between the seasons are due to the differences in the amount of rainfall on the islands, rather than a large change in temperature. 

 

Galapagos Seasons

 

Galapagos Seasons

Much like other tropical locations, the Galapagos Islands experience two seasons during the year.  The main observable difference between the seasons, is not actually the temperature – but rather the change in precipitation! The year round average temperature in the Galapagos Islands is 24 C or 75 F. 

 

The two seasons are: 

  • Cool, dry season: June to December
  • Warm, wet season: December to June

 

 

Cool, Dry Weather and Season Specifics

During the ‘garua’ season from June to December, the islands are cooled by the southern Humboldt current which brings a light, misty fog over the islands. This makes the climate cooler and drier than other months of the year. During these cool, dry months, blue skies are dotted with pleasant clouds, the sun is less intense, and the weather is not too hot. Shorelines and islands at lower elevations receive little precipitation, though the highlands of the islands remain lush and green from quick afternoon showers. The coolest month of the year is August, with an average temperature of around 20 C or 68 F.

At this time, the water visibility is slightly lower due to the abundance of marine plankton, however this increase in available food also increases marine activity of larger animals. This is a great time to observe marine megafaunal species such as large, docile whale sharks and humpback whales. Furthermore, this season is perfect for observing mating behaviours, as it is a breeding period for many land animal inhabitants of the islands, including birds, marine iguanas, sea lions and fur seals. 

 

 

Warm, Wet Weather and Season Specifics

In December, the currents shift and the climate becomes more tropical, with months of warm sunny weather, thanks to the warm northern Panama current. The Northeast trade winds fall, slowing the westward current and reducing the cool upwelling. This shift in currents allows the northern Panama current to surround the island archipelago; bringing daily bursts of rain, and warmer air. Unlike wet seasons in other tropical areas, the Galapagos Islands remain surprisingly sunny despite short, sporadic bursts of rain. The hottest months of the year are March and April, with average temperatures around 30 C or 86 F.

This season is a perfect time for swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving, even without a wetsuit. The water visibility during these months is increased, and divers can enjoy visibility of approximately 30m or 100ft. Despite being the rainy season, only the highlands of the islands receive short bursts of precipitation, allowing visitors to experience extensive observation of both land and marine animals in their natural habitats throughout the day. 

 

 

Seasonal Wildlife Highlights

 

Seasonal Wildlife Highlights in the Galapagos Islands

 

The Galapagos Islands are world renowned for the amazing wildlife that inhabits the archipelago and countless species are found all year long. This is because many of the plants and animals that live on these islands are endemic- they are found nowhere else on Earth! When the islands were created from underwater volcanoes five to ten million years ago, they broke the ocean’s surface, allowing species to colonize. The flora and fauna of the Galapagos is so unique partly because the islands are isolated 600km away from mainland South America – therefore only species that could achieve long distance dispersal could colonize the newly formed islands.

There were two ways that wildlife arrived on the islands, firstly in the air carried by winds, or secondly by sea on floating vegetation rafts or by swimming. Smaller animals like insects and many types of plants were carried by wind currents to the islands, while larger animals like reptiles survived the distance by sea on rafts, or aided by the currents like sea lions, turtles and penguins. This isolation from the mainland explains the diversity flora and fauna that is found today on the islands: many reptiles, land and sea birds but very few mammals and no amphibians. The islands also have many grasses and ferns, but those with big seeds or large flowers are absent. Charles Darwin knew that this distribution of diversity makes the Galapagos Islands extremely unique, and thousands of people each year come to marvel at the incredible wildlife that inhabits these volcanic islands. 

 

There are several Galapagos wildlife species that you can find year round, for example: the Galapagos penguin, flightless cormorant, marine and land iguanas, blue footed booby birds, Galapagos hawks, and both types of sea lions (California & fur). 

 

 

Galapagos tortoise

 

Warm, Wet Weather and Season Wildlife Highlights: December to June

 

As the ocean currents shift in December, the warmer climate initiates an increase in activity for the animal residents that inhabit the Galapagos Islands; thus beginning a new season of mating, breeding and nesting. For wildlife aficionados, this season is best for observing the natural mating and nesting behaviours of many endemic species, including large migratory seabirds like the albatross, famous land birds like Red and Blue-footed Booby birds, and reptiles including both marine and land iguanas and giant tortoises. 

 

Both marine and land iguanas mate at the beginning of the warm season in December – January, followed by nesting during February to March. Later on in the season, the eggs begin to hatch a few months later in April or May. 


The green sea turtle is the largest of all turtle species, and its prime nesting season is between December and June. The turtles come to land at night to lay eggs on the sandy shoreline, their tracks and nests are visible the next day! 


The famous Galapagos giant tortoise, which can grow over six feet long and weigh over 900 pounds, lays several eggs a year, mostly during this warm season. 


Some birds nest year round depending on the availability of food, including the magnificent and great frigate birds, flightless cormorants, penguins and greater flamingos! 


Many land birds are more active during this time of year, especially the White Cheeked Pintail and Nazca Booby. 

 

 

Cool, Dry Weather and Season Wildlife Highlights: June to December

 

Mid-year, the ocean currents shift and cooler waters bring nutrients to marine ecosystems, which increases food availability for animals in the Galapagos. Marine wildlife is most active during these months, and large megafauna visit the islands during their long distance migrations to feed.

This is the best time of the year to observe the beautiful, docile whale sharks, or famous humpback whales. Marine mammals are also more active during this time, including common and bottlenose dolphins, sea lions and fur seals. Many bird species like Masked Nazca boobies continue to nest year round, as well as some reptiles like the Galapagos tortoises. 

 

This is the best time of year to observe cetaceans (whales, dolphins) in the Galapagos Islands. Humpback whales migrate vast distances to feed on the increased food from cooler nutrient- rich currents. Marine animals are most active, including whale sharks, penguins and mammals such as fur seals and sea lions during their pupping season. 


Some birds nest year round depending on the availability of food, including the magnificent and great frigate birds, flightless cormorants, penguins and greater flamingos.


Courtship and nesting season for birds like Storm Petrels and Galapagos Hawks, as well as oyster catchers, lava herons and Swallow Tailed Gulls, as well as the famous Waved Albatross – these birds fly in courtship dances in the skies! 

 

 

Weather and Wildlife Specifics

 

Month by Month Weather and Wildlife Specifics in the Galapagos Islands

 

1. JANUARY

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 22- 30 C.

Average Rainfall: 2.5cm (only in the highlands) 

Average Water Temperature: 24.5 C. 

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Land birds begin nesting after first rain (White Cheeked Pintail and Nazca Booby) 
  • Green sea turtles arrive on shorelines to nest
  • Marine iguanas become brightly colored to attract mates
  • Land iguanas begin mating, and nesting
  • Giant Galapagos tortoises laying eggs 

Best underwater visibility (January - March) 

 

 

2. FEBRUARY

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 24- 30 C.

Average Rainfall: 2.5cm (only in the highlands) 

Average Water Temperature: 25 C

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Land birds such as Greater Flamingos, the Galapagos Dove and Black-tailed pintails begin nesting
  • Green sea turtles nesting on shorelines
  • Marine iguanas begin nesting on Santa Cruz island and Land iguanas nesting
  • Giant Galapagos tortoises laying eggs
  • Nazca Boobies finish nesting season

Highest water temperatures of the year (25 C until April)
Best underwater visibility (January - March) 

 

 

3. MARCH

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 24- 31 C

Average Rainfall: 5.1cm (in the highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 25 C 

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Great frigate birds mating and nesting on Genovesa Island
  • Green sea turtles nesting
  • Marine and Land iguanas nesting
  • Giant Galapagos tortoises laying eggs 

 

Peak of rainy season in highlands
Intense sun, high humidity and air temperatures
Highest water temperatures, great for snorkelling and scuba diving
Best underwater visibility (January - March) 

 

 

4. APRIL

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 24- 31 C

Average Rainfall: 3.8cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 25 C

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Waved Albatross birds begin mating, courtship dances
  • Green sea turtle eggs begin to hatch  
  • Land iguanas eggs begin to hatch
  • Giant Galapagos tortoise eggs hatch 

 

 

5. MAY

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 22- 28 C

Average Rainfall: 1.9cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 24.5 C

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Waved Albatross begin nesting and laying eggs
  • End of nesting season for green sea turtles, hatching continues
  • Marine and Land iguanas eggs hatch
  • Blue-footed Boobies begin their courtship
  • Giant Galapagos tortoises laying eggs
  • Storm Petrels begin nesting 

 

Galapagos weather

 

6. JUNE

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 21- 26 C

Average Rainfall: 0.6cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 23 C

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Red pouches of male Magnificent Frigatebirds visible
  • Giant Galapagos tortoises migrate to lowlands
  • Waved Albatross continue nesting
  • Migrating Humpback Whales can reach the islands  

 

 

7. JULY

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 20- 26

Average Rainfall: 1.3cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 21.5oC

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Blue footed Boobies begin nesting, extremely active breeding period
  • Waved Albatross nesting continues
  • Flightless cormorants have courtship dances, nesting begins
  • Lava lizards begin mating rituals
  • Sea lion breeding season begins
  • Most likely to observe cetaceans (whales, dolphins) 

 

 

8. AUGUST

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 19-26 

Average Rainfall: 0.6cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 21.5oC

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Galapagos Hawks courtship begins
  • Blue footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, and many gulls nesting
  • Sea lions breeding continues, pupping season begins
  • Fur seals breeding season begins 

 

 

9. SEPTEMBER

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 19-26

Average Rainfall: 1.3cm

Average Water Temperature: 22oC

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Very active time for sea lions, sea birds and penguins
  • Blue footed Boobies and Waved Albatross continue nesting
  • Sea lions and fur seals breeding season continues

 

 

10. OCTOBER

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 20-26 C

Average Rainfall: 0.6cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 22.5 C 

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Blue footed Boobies nesting
  • Waved Albatross nesting
  • Both sea lions and fur seals breeding season continues

 

 

11. NOVEMBER

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 21- 26 C

Average Rainfall: 1.3cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 23 C

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Green sea turtles begin mating
  • Blue footed Boobies nesting
  • Waved Albatross nesting
  • Both sea lions and fur seals breeding season continues

 

 

12. DECEMBER

Average Temperature [ minimum - maximum ]: 22- 27 C

Average Rainfall: 1.3cm (in highlands)

Average Water Temperature: 22.5 C 

Wildlife Highlights: 

  • Marine and Land iguanas begin mating
  • Green sea turtles begin mating
  • Blue footed Boobies nesting
  • Waved Albatross nesting
  • Both sea lions and fur seals breeding season continues

 

 

Galapagos Highlights

 

Monthly Highlights in the Galapagos

 

For scuba divers: 

    -Year round conditions: abundance of marine wildlife, open clear waters 

    -Increased water visibility from: January – March 

    -Highest water temperature from: January – March 

    -Marine megafauna migrations, including whale sharks and humpback whales from: June – September 

 

For those that like it hot: 

    - Highest average air temperatures from: January/February to April/May

 

For those that need some vitamin D: 

    -Best months for sunny clear skies: January - March 

 

For wildlife observation: 

    -All year round! 

 

 

Galapagos Seasons

 

High Season vs. Low Season in the Galapagos

In the Galapagos Islands, tourist traffic peaks during the summer and in holiday months, when prices increase slightly and hotels and flights book up. It is important to know that during the peak season, Galapagos cruise prices are increased. The low season is generally during the months of April/May and September/October, when traffic on the island is less busy. It is highly recommended to book your Galapagos cruise several months in advance, that way you can be sure to get the flight and accommodations that work best for you. These unique islands are rich with endemic flora and fauna all year long, so there really is no bad time to go! 

 

For more information about Galapagos weather and seasons, or advice about booking a Galapagos Cruise, please contact us and a Rainforest Cruises Travel Specialist will be happy to help. You can also give us a call at 1-888-215-2555.


Other blog posts you might enjoy:

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises and tours, providing you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Panama. As South American travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.

Testimonials

Geri Daniel loved her vacation with Rainforest Cruises.
We had an absolutely fabulous time on the Amazon cruise. Thank you again for the trip of a lifetime.
— Geri Daniel, Austin, TX
The Johannson family encounter a sloth on their rainforest cruise.
We had a wonderful time in the Amazon. We were all impressed with the efficiency and organization of the trip from start to finish.
— Jeanette Johannson & Family, USA