Best Time To Visit The Galapagos Islands

Best time to visit the Galapagos Islands 1

Unlike many expedition cruise destinations such as the Arctic or Antarctica, the Galapagos can actually be visited year-round. Because of this, you may be asking 'is there a best time to visit the Galapagos Islands?'. 

The short answer is no. There is no magical month on the islands when everything happens and the weather is perfect. The real question you need to consider is what do you want to see. 

Do you want to see albatross? Sea turtles hatching? Sea lion pups playing in the water? Or do you want to visit when water visibility is at its best?

Answering this question will determine when you visit the Galapagos Islands. Although the climate of the Galapagos Islands can be separated into two seasons; cool and dry, and warm and wet, most of the species living here are non-migratory.

This means you'll have the chance to see most species on your visit. However, behaviour of each species can differ throughout the year and this is something you need to consider.

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Best Time To Visit The Galapagos Islands

Below we have provided a seasonal breakdown of what you can expect to see during your cruise. If you can only take a Galapagos cruise at a certain time, don't worry, every cruise here is absolutely epic no matter what time of year you travel!

Seasonal Breakdown


The peak Summer season in the Galapagos runs from December through to March when temperatures are at their warmest. Most days range between 80° - 90° and the water temperature rises during the season, especially in the new year. 

This is also the wet season in the Galapagos and short showers are a daily occurrence. Don't let this put you off though as water visibility is at its peak during the January and February.

During December sea turtles, fur seals, and iguanas begin mating. Waved albatross and blue-footed boobies begin nesting and giant tortoise eggs begin to hatch. 

As January and February roll around, sea turtles and iguanas begin laying eggs, giant tortoise eggs continue to hatch and Galapagos penguins migrate from Bartolome to Fernandina and Isabela.

During March the magnificent frigate birds begin to mate on San Cristobal and Genovesa whilst land and marine iguanas begin nesting on Fernandina and North Seymour Island. March is also the wettest month of the year in the Galapagos and you'll need to pack with this in mind. 

Summer is a great season for water visibility and witnessing mating rituals and breeding. 


Although the Galapagos climate is separated into two seasons, there are periods of the year known as 'shoulder months'. 

The Autumn shoulder months include April and May. The Autumn shoulder months are often considered the best time to visit the Galapagos thanks to the warm water, good visibility and moderate temperature. 

During April, showers start to lessen slightly, but do not stop all together. Nesting birds begin to mate, including great frigate birds and waved albatross whilst both species of iguana are nesting by April, as are the remaining sea turtles.

As Autumn wears on flowers begin to blossom on many of the islands, making them ideal for landscape photographers and hikers.  Iguanas and sea turtles begin to hatch while seal pups play in the shallow waters and make for some great underwater encounters.  

May is the time to see the famous blue-footed booby dance as their mating rituals begin. This is also the time when waved albatross lay their eggs. 


June through to September is considered the 'cool' season in the Galapagos. Both the water temperature and the outside air temperature drop by about 10° Fahrenheit. 

This is also the dry season, making it ideal for land-based tours. Because its cooler, it's also more enjoyable on long hikes and active tours above water. 

The cool season is also when marine life is most active, making it ideal for snorkelling and diving. However, visibility is sometimes not as good as Summer thanks to the choppier water. This is also something you need to consider if you suffer from seasickness. 

With the cooler Humbolt Current and the influx of fish, come the whales. Humpbacks start to be seen regularly, as do the occasional whale shark! Sightings are far more common as the Winter season goes on, with peak sightings happening in September. 

Wildlife on shore is more active than ever during this period with blue-footed boobies, albatross and cormorants nesting on many of the islands. Giant tortoise return to the highlands, penguins begin their courtship and sea lion pups are born. Late in September you may have the opportunity to swim with some! 


Spring is also considered to be shoulder months in the Galapagos and encompasses both October and November.  

Both months offer excellent temperatures and less winds, making them ideal for above water activities. Because the wind and seas start to calm, the water visibility also increase, making it excellent for diving. You can even get your PADI here! 

Blue footed booby chicks can be seen on the islands of Española and Isabela, whilst sea lion pups are frequently seen underwater when snorkelling. Fur seals and sea turtles mate doing these months and whale sharks are often spotted in the north west of the archipelago.

Whale and dolphin safaris are also popular during these months thanks to the rich waters that have drawn the large creatures.  

Best time to visit the Galapagos Islands

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.


Below is a short video by Wander The Map that demonstrates the amazing wildlife that can be seen on your trip to the Galapagos. 


If you have any queries or questions regarding the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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