When to visit the Galapagos Islands

An In-Depth Guide to the Galapagos Seasons


Best time to visit The Galapagos Islands

There are many guides offering advice on the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands, yet most are penned by “Galapagos experts” who, though knowledgeable, have not experienced the islands’ rhythms year-round. This had led to a plethora of conflicting advice on the web.

best time of year to visit the galapagos

Insights from Insiders

best time to visit galapagos


Compiled by the team at Galapagos Safari Camp (led by our founders who lived at the camp for 8 years) our guide on when to go to the Galapagos Islands brings you a wealth of firsthand knowledge.

Our aim is to help you make an informed decision, to manage expectations, and to ensure your Galapagos experience is not only memorable but also tailored to your own needs and preferences.


A Year-Round Destination


The good news is that Galapagos Islands are great to visit any time of the year.

Although located on the equator, the islands do not have excessively high temperatures. Furthermore, wildlife in the Galapagos is abundant and fascinating no matter when you visit, making the islands a perfect all-year round destination.


The Two Galapagos Seasons


There are two defined seasons in the Galapagos: the Warm and Wet Season (December/January to June/July) and the Cool and Dry Season (June/July to December/January).

The seasons are largely determined by the trade winds, which impact ocean currents, which affect the weather and wildlife.


Galapagos Weather and Temperatures

Warm – Wet Season
Cool – Dry Season
Air Temperatures (min-max)
71 – 88°F 22 – 31°C
67 – 80°F 19 – 27 °C
Sea Temperatures (approx)
74 – 76°F 23 – 24°C
68 – 74°F 20 – 23°C
Average rainfall
2 – 5cm 0.75 – 2in
0.60cm – 1.3cm 0.25 in – 0.50in
Clear Skies (hours)
4 – 7
2 – 4
Wind Force
Underwater visibility
Approx 10-30 meters
Approx 5-20 meters

The Galapagos Warm and Wet Season

galapagos weather

Ocean currents

From January (or sometimes earlier, from December), the southern trade winds ease and the Panama Current becomes the dominant ocean current, bringing warm waters from the northeast to the Galapagos Islands.


Blue skies, sunshine and rain

The Warm and Wet Season brings longer periods of blue skies and sunshine (about 4-7 hours of clear skies per day). To confuse matters, this season is also known as the ‘rainy season’. Although rain showers are expected daily, they are usually short and sweet.


Air and sea temperatures

This is the hottest season with air temperatures in the 70s and 80s (°F) and 20s (°C), making it a popular season with sun-seekers, especially those in the northern hemisphere craving winter sun. The ocean is also at its warmest during this season, at around 74 – 76°F / 23 – 24°C.

Families with younger children (or those sensitive to the cold) may find these warmer sea temperatures favorable, especially if their Safari includes a lot of water-based activities such as snorkeling and surfing. (Note: Galapagos Safari Camp provides wetsuits for all ages).



Humidity levels are generally higher during this season, particularly along the coast and lower areas of the islands.


Wind and underwater visibility

Wind speeds are light, ranging from force 1 (light air) to force 4 (moderate breeze). As a result, the sea is clearer making it very pleasant for snorkelers and divers with good underwater visibility (usually 15-30 meters). However marine life tends to be more abundant in the cooler season (see below).

The calmer seas also allow for relatively smooth boat trips to uninhabited islands – perhaps a factor to consider if you are prone to seasickness.


Galapagos flora and fauna

The warmer weather kick-starts the breeding and nesting season for many species such as marine iguanas, sea turtles, giant tortoises and sea lions.

Vegetation is green and lush, particularly in the highlands where Galapagos Safari Camp is based, with many flowers blooming in March and April.


The Warm and Wet Season at Galapagos Safari Camp

galapagos islands weather


In the highlands of Santa Cruz, where Galapagos Safari Camp is based, we are fortunate to benefit from slightly cooler temperatures than down on the coast. This affords pleasant evening temperatures, with sundowners at the Viewpoint and outdoor dining on the verandah.

For more details on what to expect in the way of weather and wildlife at camp, please refer to our month-by-month blog series, which we link to at the bottom of this page.

Noteworthy dates: 12 February: Darwin Day (Darwin’s birthday)


The Warm and Wet Season: A Summary

Stephanie Bonham-Carter
Stephanie Bonham-Carter
Heat lovers are more likely to enjoy the period from January to June. Having said that, the heat and humidity levels tend to peak in March, with the rest of the season being relatively mild. This is especially the case at the camp, which is 400 meters above sea level and therefore 4 degrees cooler than the coastline, making it particularly pleasant in the evenings and at night. Our Safaris involve a lot of water activities during the day so there are plenty of opportunities to cool off when needed. Rain can be expected from February to April, and while there are downpours, it is always refreshing to clear the air and be rewarded with fabulous blue skies. Rain tends to be intermittent and dramatic so clear skies are more the norm. There is plenty of wildlife activity throughout the year, so no matter what time of year your visit the Galapagos, there is always plenty to see and marvel at. During the rainy season the vegetation is lush and inviting, the landscapes are surprisingly green in some areas, in contrast to the barren, volcanic landscapes often associated with the Galapagos Islands. The seas are calmer and the water warmer, making this a good season for people intolerant to lower water temperatures and sea sickness.

The Galapagos Cool and Dry Season

weather in galapagos

Ocean currents

During the cool and dry season, the southern trade winds push the cold, nutrient-rich Humboldt Current up the coast of South America from Antarctica, before turning west at the equator towards the Galapagos Islands.

Running in the opposite direction of the Humboldt (west to east along the equator), the Cromwell Current (also known as the Pacific Equatorial Undercurrent,) is a much deeper current that carries nutrients from decaying matter on the ocean floor. When it reaches the archipelago, the cold, nutrient-rich water is deflected to the surface, an oceanographic process known as upwelling.

These nutrients sustain the phytoplankton on the ocean’s surface, and the increase in plankton growth attracts an abundance of fish and seabirds, making the waters especially exciting for snorkelers and scuba divers.

The islands in the south, such as Isla Floreana and Isla Española, are the most affected by the cold waters of the Humboldt Current. The islands to the west such as Fernandina and Isabella are most affected by the Cromwell Current. (Galapagos Safari Camp is located on Santa Cruz Island, in the middle of the archipelago, and is therefore less affected by these currents).


El Niño

During warmer years when this bottom layer of the food chain is not sustained, the consequences can be dire. For example, during El Niño of 1982 – 1983, the lack of food at the bottom of the food chain led to the death of many sea lions at the top of the chain.


Galapagos seasons


La Garua

In addition to feeding microscopic plant and animal life, this cold, nutrient-rich water is responsible for creating the fog (or garua) that prevails during this season by cooling the air directly above its surface.

Higher up, at about 1000-2000ft / 300-600m, where the warmer air sits on top of the cooled air, an ‘inversion layer’ forms, containing evaporated moisture from the ocean. This creates a layer of mist which keeps the highlands (and our home) lush and green compared to the lowlands which become very dry and barren during this season.


Air and Sea Temperatures

The cooler ocean currents also bring cooler weather with air temperatures ranging from 67 – 80°F / 19 – 27 °C.

Sea temperatures drop to 68 – 74°F / 20 – 23°C. For context, 70-78°F is the range where most people feel ‘comfortable’ swimming without a wetsuit, although this is a matter of preference. (Galapagos Safari Camp provides wetsuits for all ages, all year round).

Although described as ‘cooler’, it’s worth noting that these water temperatures are more or less the same as those in Cape Town, Africa in January (19°C), the Algarve, Portugal in July (20°C), the Costa del Sol, Spain in August (23°C), Jacksonville, Florida in May (°23C), and Malibu, California in August (19°C).



Wind and underwater visibility

Wind speeds pick up during the cooler months, ranging from force 4 (moderate breeze) to force 7 (strong, moderate/near gale). The open ocean can be choppy during these months, and those who prone to sea-sickness may prefer a land-based safari to a cruise.


Galapagos flora and fauna

Marine life is at its best during the cooler season and if lucky you may see migrating humpback whales passing through the marine reserve.

It is a great time for scuba-diving in the Galapagos.


The Cool and Dry Season at Galapagos Safari Camp


In the Cool and Dry Season at Galapagos Safari Camp, mornings are greeted with mist and evenings are graced with dramatic sunsets. During the coolest months (mid season), guests have the option to dine alfresco on the verandah, where tables are illuminated and warmed by solar-powered heat lamps, blending the experience of dining in nature with comfort. A fire is lit in the main lodge to create a cozy atmosphere, and for added warmth in the tents, hot water bottles are slipped into beds, ensuring a comfortable and restful night’s sleep.

Noteworthy dates:

September and; October: Darwin visited Galapagos
September 15 1835: arrival of the Beagle (and Darwin) in the Galapagos Islands.
September 17-22: Darwin visits San Cristóbal
September 24-27: Darwin visits Floreana
September 29-October 2: Darwin visits Isabela
October 8-17: Darwin visits Santiago


The Cool and Dry Season: A Summary

Stephanie Bonham-Carter
Stephanie Bonham-Carter
For those who are less tolerant of the heat, this is a better time to visit. It is never too cold, but you can expect a slight chill at night, requiring a jumper or fleece. I particularly love the air quality during this time of year, as it’s less humid and the views are sharper when it’s clear. Due to the garua, the weather is more temperamental and the “enchanted islands” effect becomes tangible, with islands appearing and disappearing on the horizon. During these months I find these luminous landscapes hauntingly beautiful and, reminiscent of the Romantic paintings of Turner and Whistler, evocative of a bygone era. Given the cold currents, this is a good time for diving, albeit with more challenging conditions. The open sea is rougher and the water much colder, making this a better time for the more adventurous souls. Wildlife is always interesting, but there is a more “grown up” quality to this time of the year without the effervescence of the mating or nesting moments. The general atmosphere is more serene but just as delightful.


Already have a month in mind for visiting the Galapagos? Take a look at our articles on what the the weather and wildlife are up to for each month of the year.

January, February, March, April, May. June, July, August, September, October, November, December.