Weather and Seasons in the Galapagos Islands
Isolated in their unique setting in the middle of the tumultuous Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands sit almost in the middle of nowhere, 600 miles from Ecuador, the country they are a province of. The islands are located directly underneath the equator, and, as Charles Darwin observed on his visit to the island in the late nineteenth century (that place that inspired his theory of evolution), the climate is “far from being excessively hot”. Despite being in a tropical region of the world, it doesn't have the same tropical heat as you would expect. In fact, the Galapagos doesn't have a tropical climate, which means you can visit the Galapagos Islands all year round, and enjoy the weather and the unrivalled wildlife. From the Galapagos Islands you can take a Galapagos Cruise and view the island's unbelievable creatures only found here, including the famous Galapagos tortoise, the Galapagos sea lion, and the Galapagos batfish.
The Seasons on the Galapagos Islands
Like its surrounding tropical regions, the Galapagos Islands have two seasons. The wet season and the dry season, known as the garúa. With the islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the seasons are very much dictated by their surrounding currents, causing warmer and cooler spells for the islands. However, the differences in the seasons are most noticeable by the amount of rain, with lots more rainfall frequenting the Galapagos islands in the rainy season, rather than any significant change in the temperature.
Weather in the Galapagos
The temperature stays fairly mild in the Galapagos Islands all year round, and so you can know what to expect from the islands. The average temperature during the daytime is usually around 24ºC, while the average water temperature is usually cooler than is needed to sustain coral that usually surrounds tropical islands. No matter what season you visit, you will still see an abundance of wildlife and plant life on the islands all year round.
The Wet Season in the Galapagos
The wet season usually takes place from December to May, and is largely affected by the hot Panama currents, and the Northeast trade winds. Surprisingly, during this season you will see a lot of sun, and average temperatures of around 26ºC. Despite it being the wet season, the rain leaves as quickly as it arrives, with brief moments of heavy rain gracing the arid islands and disappearing again. Unlike the Amazon Rainforest, much of the rain that falls on the Galapagos Islands is absorbed by its volcanic soils, and so the effect of the rain can often bring a much warmer climate. For example, the ocean is often warmer during this season, making it great time of year for swimming and snorkelling.
The Dry Season in the Galapagos
Lasting from June to November the dry, garúa, season, sees the Humboldt current and Cromwell undercurrent bring cooler air to the islands. The air and the ocean are both cooler than during the wet season. Even though it is called the dry season, like a tropical climate, light rain can fall across the islands during this time, particularly in the higher parts of the islands, where surprisingly the islands see more rain than during the wet season. You will find the general weather conditions will be cloudy, cooler, and the sun will be less intense, with average temperatures of around 22ºC. With the water temperature much cooler during the dry season, this season can be a perfect time of year for a cruise. During this season you will discover the plenty of sea mammals and land birds on and off the islands.
The El Nino current and the Galapagos
El Nino is a current of warm water than sometimes causes an additional effect on the climate of the Galapagos Islands. However, the current usually only affects the islands every five to seven years. El Nino primarily affects land on and around the equator, and can cause heavy flooding and excessive rainfall on the Galapagos Islands. El Nino also affects the wildlife that excels in the region, and while it often benefits the plant life and land animals, it can also have a negative effect on marine life, seeing fish and algae die out in during this time.
An extreme occurrence of El Nino lasted for a whole year from 1982 to 1983. The biggest occurrence ever was between 1997 and 1998, when it severely damaged the eco-systems of the Galapagos. The terrible long term effects of El Nino could destroy coral reefs, caused by the currents' increase in the ocean's temperature. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing when El Nino will occur next, scientists can predict percentages of chance (which are usually found online on trusted news sites). When it does occur, however, the islands are lush, green and full of life, but if you do visit during this time be prepared for irregular heavy rainfall. It also strangely affects the genders of the islands' famous tortoises, with the warmer weather from the El Nino causing the tortoise population to produce more males. However, the tortoises have adapted to these effects and have evolved to allow for this periodic climate change.