Mist, whales and sea lion pups
As we move through June and July, the ‘garúa’ or misty cooler season settles in until the next transition in November.
Over these months the temperatures ease down, settling between the upper teens and mid-twenties, the rains ease and the seas become a little livelier. Changes in ocean currents bring new marine life to the seas around the archipelago, with dolphins and whales passing by early on in the season. Hiking up into the highlands and along the beaches is a little more comfortable in the second half of the year.
June: The Humboldt current drags cold water up from the Antarctic, bringing a greater diversity of marine life to the archipelago. Humpback whale sightings are possible as early as June. Sea temperatures hold steady and the winds are yet to really pick up, so this is still a good month for snorkelling. On land, the blue-footed boobies might still be dancing, the turtle eggs still hatching. Giant tortoises begin their ‘migration’ down from the misty highlands to lower areas in preparation for nesting and a raft of migratory birds take a pit stop on the islands.
July: This is probably the best month to see whales and dolphins in the seas - humpbacks, minkes and, if you’re really lucky, blue whales can be spotted west of Isabela. Winds continue to pick up, sea temperatures begin to fall and the highlands are getting mistier. There’s still plenty of courtship behaviour going on in the bird population, notably the flightless cormorants on Fernandina. Blue-footed booby chicks start to hatch and the lava lizard mating season begins.
August: This is typically the coolest and driest month of the year, with choppy, cold seas. For divers, the marine life below the surface makes this a great time to go and explore. For the rest of us, there are better months to get wet. On land, there are more birds nesting and hatching, the giant tortoises begin their climb back up to the highlands and the year’s first sea lion pups always attract much attention.
September: One of the windiest, foggiest and coldest months of the year, with the choppiest seas. Snorkellers are rewarded for their bravery with daliences with penguins and sea lions. Birds continue to busy themselves on their nests whilst the sea lions are getting rather rowdy on the beaches.
October: Another cool and choppy month. The fog gathers around the shores in most areas, burning away out west after a few hours. Fur seals begin their mating season and blue-footed boobies raise their chicks on Española and Isabela.
November: Things begin to warm up and calm down a little as we head out of peak garúa and towards the transition period. This is a great month to swim alongside playful sea lion pups in the water, with underwater visibility improving.
Trip idea: Our Ultimate Galápagos Holiday: Cruise & Island Stay