+44 1273 676712

Photo stories

When to visit the Galápagos: A year in the life of the archipelago

Ecuador galapagos islands espanola island galapagos with many sea lions sleeping on a beach

In the Galápagos there's a sunny/showery (Dec-May) and cool/dry (Jun-Nov) season. But rains are rarely persistent in the former and average temperatures seldom drop below 20c in the latter.

1 of 30

Galapagos blue footed booby dance c canva

So as much as weather patterns, it's the wildlife activity that marks out the passage of time. As you'll see, there's a sweet spot for mating dances, whale watching and snorkelling with sea lions.

2 of 30

Galapagos beach scene credit Michael Edey Pura Aventura 1

The new year begins with sunshine. The fog is long gone, mornings tend to be sunny and average temperatures can reach the mid-twenties, rising steadily through to April.

3 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands green sea turtle swimming underwater20180829 76980 windbn

Green sea turtles, the only of their kind to nest here, start to lay their eggs under the cover of darkness. They can often be seen on beaches, waiting for the cover of nightfall to bury their treasure.

4 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands galapagos marine iguana amblyrhynchus cristatus

Marine iguanas are the world's only sea-going lizard. Those found around Española and Floreana take on bright red/green colour during the mating season between January and March.

5 of 30

Ecuador galapagos flamingoes floreana island c jascivan carvalho

American flamingos, slightly smaller but no less colourful than their Caribbean cousins, begin to nest on Floreana in February and March. They are typically found in brackish lagoons.

6 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands land based galapagos jumping off boat to snorkel

February and March are very comfortable times to be out swimming and snorkelling in the water without a wetsuit, as sea temperatures peak and winds die right down.

7 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands land based galapagos penguins together on rock

Ever thought about snorkeling or kayaking next to wild penguins? The endemic Galápagos species, the only to nest in the tropics, are active in the waters around Isabela in March.

8 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands land based galapagos resting in shade of palm trees

Short, sharp showers, which do little to disrupt your travels, keep the archipelago refreshed. The landscapes will become increasingly lush over the first few months of the year.

9 of 30

Inca Trail

As a side note, on the mainland the Andean landscapes of Ecuador and Peru are lush and beautiful after the rainy season. Excellent conditions for a walking and wildlife combo with the Galápagos.

10 of 30

Galapagos waved albatross mating dance c canva

Waved albatrosses perform one of the most complex courtship rituals of all creatures, involving much circling, waddling and clacking of bills. The performances begin in April on Española.

11 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands land iguana

Land iguanas are one of the most distinctive but, as competition for food increases with domesticated animals, sadly now most threatened species. Precious eggs begin to hatch on Isabela in April.

12 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands marine iguana pile up fernandina island

Marine iguana eggs start to hatch on Santa Cruz in May. Marine iguanas often sun themselves on the rocks in the morning, then slip into the sea to feed, slowing their heartbeat to half pace.

13 of 30

Galapagos blue footed boobies mating dance c canva

One of the most colourful and comical spectacles begins on North Seymour in May and June, as blue-footed boobies perform mating dances. Their magnificent feet are, naturally, the star of the show.

14 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands guide photographing giant tortoise

From June, the ‘garúa’ misty cooler season settles in until November. Hiking in the highlands and along the beaches is a therefore a little more comfortable in the second half of the year.

15 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands santa cruz giant tortoise grassy nose

With the dry season around the corner, giant tortoises begin their slow and steady ‘migration’ back up to the misty highlands, where foggy conditions will ensure a more plentiful supply of food.

16 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands dolphin jumping

The latter half of the year is your best bet for whales and dolphins. Humpbacks are particularly prevalent around Isabela and Fernandina from July, as the Cromwell current draws up cooler water.

17 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands snorkelling lady

From July and August, the cool season brings lower sea temperatures but additional nutrients in the water. Don a wetsuit and brave the water - the marine life is at its most abundant and varied.

18 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands baby galapagos sea lion looking at the camera

Cuteness alert! The year’s first sea lion pups begin to be born in August. The pup spends its first week developing a distinctive call with its mother, on who it'll depend for the first year.

19 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands improvised crew football match santiago island

September is the 'low' season for the Galápagos - seas are at their choppiest and some boats go into dry dock for repairs. It's a time for some Galapagueños to take a bit of a breather.

20 of 30

Galapagos penguin c canva

But September can still be a good time to visit, not least because penguins and sea lions are active in the cooler waters. Mating season for the latter takes place between July and December.

21 of 30

Galapagos blue footed booby chick c canva

Those elaborate mating dances eventually make for some seriously fluffy blue-footed booby chicks. Española and Isabela are the places to see them being raised in October.

22 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands sea lion bubbles

One of the great wildlife experiences you can have in South America, actually probably anywhere, is to snorkel with playful, curious and fearless sea lion pups, active in the waters in November

23 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands sleeping fur seal

The latter part of the year is also the time to see adorable fur seal pups at their most active and playful. Santiago and Genovesa are generally the best spots to see them on a wildlife cruise.

24 of 30

Ecuador galapagos santa cruz II kayaks and ship

November into December is a time of transition. The dry 'guara' season gives way to the sun and showers of the rainy season. Temperatures creep up and visibility in the water increases.

25 of 30

Galapagos waved albatross chick c canva

The fruits of the albatrosses' courtship rituals are reaped in December as the new generation are born. They'll soon head off to raise their chicks in the waters between here and Colombia/Peru.

26 of 30

Galapagos tortoise babies c canva

The final highlight of the year is the arrival of new giant tortoises. As the rainy season arrives, some adults will begin their journey down to lowland areas where food is more abundant.

27 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands close up of feet of a blue footed booby

Hopefully you have a better idea of when to visit the Galápagos Islands. But we're here to answer your questions and help steer you through the tricky process of choosing your cruise.

28 of 30

Galapagos photographing tortoise c latin trails

Whether you're an active couple, a parent with teenagers, an amateur naturalist or a keen photographer, there's a right cruise for you and a wrong cruise. It's our job to help you pick the right one.

29 of 30

Machu Picchu

Our trips can then pair your small-ship cruise with Machu Picchu and Peru, with Ecuador's Amazon and cloud forest or with time staying on a Galápagos Island, for a deeper immersion.

30 of 30

Ecuador galapagos islands espanola island galapagos with many sea lions sleeping on a beach
Galapagos blue footed booby dance c canva
Galapagos beach scene credit Michael Edey Pura Aventura 1
Ecuador galapagos islands green sea turtle swimming underwater20180829 76980 windbn
Ecuador galapagos islands galapagos marine iguana amblyrhynchus cristatus
Ecuador galapagos flamingoes floreana island c jascivan carvalho
Ecuador galapagos islands land based galapagos jumping off boat to snorkel
Ecuador galapagos islands land based galapagos penguins together on rock
Ecuador galapagos islands land based galapagos resting in shade of palm trees
Inca Trail
Galapagos waved albatross mating dance c canva
Ecuador galapagos islands land iguana
Ecuador galapagos islands marine iguana pile up fernandina island
Galapagos blue footed boobies mating dance c canva
Ecuador galapagos islands guide photographing giant tortoise
Ecuador galapagos islands santa cruz giant tortoise grassy nose
Ecuador galapagos islands dolphin jumping
Ecuador galapagos islands snorkelling lady
Ecuador galapagos islands baby galapagos sea lion looking at the camera
Ecuador galapagos islands improvised crew football match santiago island
Galapagos penguin c canva
Galapagos blue footed booby chick c canva
Ecuador galapagos islands sea lion bubbles
Ecuador galapagos islands sleeping fur seal
Ecuador galapagos santa cruz II kayaks and ship
Galapagos waved albatross chick c canva
Galapagos tortoise babies c canva
Ecuador galapagos islands close up of feet of a blue footed booby
Galapagos photographing tortoise c latin trails
Machu Picchu

The Galápagos Islands are pretty much a year-round destination. Great news if you're limited to a certain travel window, but it's tricky to pick the sweetest spot if your travel plans are blissfully wide open. Nature dictates the calendar here - when the sun shines or the mist rises; when creatures migrate and when they mate; when the seas are nice and warm or a little too wobbly. So whilst we're all for a good temperature chart, nothing beats great photography to help you decide the best time to visit the Galápagos. Enjoy!

Share your story with us