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When is the Best Time to Visit the Galapagos Islands?

Written by
Emily Opie & Lily Bunker

Wildlife activity in the Galapagos Islands varies throughout the year, so there's always something to see depending on which islands you’re near.

For snorkelling, June to December is usually the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands. Sea lions and frigate birds can be spotted throughout the year. Mating and nesting season for many other species of animals usually starts around February and lasts until April.
August to October is peak season, and it’s a bit windier so the seas can be choppy. There’s a brief rainy season from January to March, but it's also the warmest time of year and the rain is sporadic, so it shouldn’t deter you from going.

From June to August the Humboldt current causes a mist over the sky, as a result of which there’s neither sunshine nor rain and temperatures are slightly cooler.

Wildlife Activity
All year
Peak Season
August - October
Warm/Rainy Season
January - March
Turtle Galapagos

When is the best time to see wildlife in the Galapagos?

The warmer weather after the winter signals the beginning of mating season. Scores of animals usually begin their nesting season in February, lasting through April.

Because sunlight is good all year round however, most species on the Galapagos are “tropical breeders,” meaning they don’t particularly rely on seasons. It’s different every year for most species, and very few species are seasonal. A few notable species that are seasonal include:

The Albatross

Restricted to Espanola, they usually leave between December/early January and return after March (otherwise there's no wind and they can’t get off the ground).

Nazca boobies

Nazca boobies have colonies in Espanola and Gereveza.

Turtles and marine iguanas

Turtles and marine iguanas are seasonal because they depend on the warm season to incubate eggs in the sand.

Marine life species

Some marine life species come in for reproduction every year. They migrate from south seas to give birth and stay until their calves are large enough to swim back to the south.

JUN-DEC

Go snorkelling

The dry, cooler season runs from June to December. During these months, the water is much cooler because of the Humboldt current but also more nutrient rich so the snorkelling is great at this time of year. Plankton brought over by the currents also serves as food for seabirds.

September and October tend to be windiest so the seas are a little more choppy, making them less ideal for snorkelling than some of the earlier months.

APR-DEC

Go bird watching

In April, you have the greatest chance of seeing the mass arrival and courtship of the waved albatross on Espanola. You can also see the mating dance of the blue-footed boobie on Espanola and North Seymour Islands. To catch a glimpse of the Galapagos Albatross, head to Espanola Island between late April and early December, when they flock the island to nest.

Frigate birds - with their beautiful red throat pouches - normally begin their mating rituals around April.

All year

Spot sea lions

The Galapagos sea lion pups can be seen during most of the year. Breeding season takes place in October and November, but on South Plaza, it extends from July to April. During breeding season, dominant males can often be seen along the shore defending their territories, and they are notorious for getting aggressive if they feel threatened.

JUN-SEPT

Spot whales

Humpback whales normally pass through the Galapagos from June to September on their migration route. Because it’s the mothers that come and give birth, it’s mainly females and their calves that can be seen during these months and there’s lots of surface activity.

Orcas, pilot whales, blue whales and sperm whales tend to spend all year in the area. They usually go to feed, so you may not always see too much of them, as they stay underwater a lot of the time.

All year

Go diving

The Galapagos islands are a destination to tick off every diver's bucket list, and depending on what you want to see there are great options available all year round. Peak season for diving runs from July to December, when increased nutrients in the water attract migratory Whale Sharks. From January to May the weather is at its calmest, and you're likely to see Hammerhead sharks and Manta Rays populating the gentler waters.

See giant tortoises

December usually marks the start of hatching season for giant tortoises, and they continue hatching throughout April. Green sea turtles come to the beaches to lay their eggs around January with the eggs beginning to hatch in April.

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