Galapagos Calendar

The climate of the Galapagos is always conducive to boat tours, but there are slight climatic variations throughout the year. From June to December, the dry season, the southern trade winds bring the colder Humboldt Current north to the islands. The sea is generally cooler at this time and a sea mist occurs ensuring the highlands remain lush.

From December to May, the warm season, the Galapagos’ climate is more tropical with daily precipitation and more overcast. Ocean temperatures are increased during this season.

Whatever the time of year the Galapagos Islands are a unique, spectacular destination to visit.

 January

  • Rainy season begins. Dry zones flourish and the Galapagos becomes green
  • Land birds start nesting, generally after the first rain
  • Adult marine iguanas on Española (Hood Island) become brightly coloured (green, red & black)
  • Green sea turtles arrive at beaches in Galapagos for the egg laying period
  • Land iguanas begin reproductive cycles on Isabela Island
  • Both water and air temperatures rise and stay warm until June

 February

  • Greater Flamingoes begin nesting on Floreana Island
  • Bahama pintail ducks (black-tailed pintail) start their breeding season.
  • Nazca (masked) boobies on Española are at the end of their nesting season
  • Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz
  • The highest water temperature reaches 25C (77F) and remains constant until April  
  • Fewer penguin sightings on Bartolome Island; most have followed cool western waters
  • Peak nesting season of the Galapagos dove

 March

  • Highest precipitation period, rain likely daily with intense sun and humidity. Air temperature 30C (86F)
  • Marine iguanas nest on Fernandina
  • Summer equinox (March 21st) signals the arrival of the waved albatross to Española.
  • Snorkeling excellent in the western islands, especially Isabela) where combined sightings of penguins and tropical fish are frequented
  • Some shorelines, particularly north facing, can receive deep surges (ola de fondo) from northern currents (warm).
  • Disembarking at certain areas like Puerto Egas, Gardner Bay, and Bartolome can be challenging

 April

  • End of the rainy season and yet the islands continue to flourish
  • April and May are often the best months to visit  the Galapagos for weather & wildlife
  • Massive arrival of waved albatrosses to Española where their amazing courtship rituals begin
  • End of hatching season for the giant tortoises
  • Green sea turtle eggs begin hatching
  • Land iguana eggs begin hatching on Isabela
  • Good visibility in the water for snorkelling

 May

  • Blue-footed boobies begin courtship rituals on North Seymour
  • Sea turtles continue hatching on Gardner Bay, Punta Cormorant and Puerto Egas.
  • The majority of marine iguana eggs hatch from nests on Santa Cruz
  • Palo Santo trees begin to shed their foliage
  • Waved albatross on Española start laying eggs
  • Band-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period.

 June

  • Beginning of the garúa season
  • Giant tortoises on Santa Cruz migrate from the highlands to the lowlands for suitable nesting areas
  • South east trade winds return, currents become stronger and surges increase wave action
  • Red pouches of male magnificent frigate birds are visible on North Seymour
  • Southern migrants begin their north bound journey with some species of cetaceans
  • Galapagos sightings of humpback whales are possible during their migration to equatorial latitudes along the coast of Ecuador

 July

  • Breeding season for many sea bird communities especially blue footed boobies on Española.
  • Flightless cormorants perform beautiful courtship rituals and nesting activities on Fernandina
  • American oyster catchers begin nesting along the shores of Puerto Egas (Santiago Island)
  • Lava lizards initiate mating rituals from now until November
  • Cetaceans (whales & dolphins) sightings more likely especially off the western coast of Isabela
  • Ideal observation period for the four nesting stages (eggs, chicks, juveniles & sub adults) for blue-footed boobies and nazca boobies
  • Maximum water temperature 21C (68F)

 August

  • Galapagos hawks begin courtship rituals on Española and Santiago
  • Nazca (masked) boobies and swallow-tailed gulls nest on Genovesa Island
  • Ocean temperatures generally drop to 18C (64F), although water temperature vary according to the geographic zones among the islands
  • Migrant shore birds arrive and stay on the islands until March
  • Giant tortoises return to the highlands of Santa Cruz
  • Oceans become choppy, strong currents and surges can be expected along south and west shores
  • Sea lion pupping season (births) begins. Sightings in western and central islands are likely

 September

  • Peak of the cold (garúa) season
  • Air temperature reaches its lowest levels (19C-66F)
  • Galapagos penguins show remarkable activity on Bartolome frolicking with swimmers and snorkellers above and below the ocean surface
  • Female sea lions reach estrus stage and harem-gathering males are constantly barking and fighting particularly on western and central islands
  • Sea bird nesting sites remain active

 October

  • Lava herons start nesting from now until March
  • Breeding period for Galapagos fur sea lions
  • Blue footed boobies begin raising chicks all over Española and Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela)
  • Giant tortoises continue laying eggs
  • Garúa likely in most locations except in western islands where most days begin with mist but gradually brighten
  • Sunrises in the west can be quite beautiful after the garúa covers only certain locations of the western volcanoes. Summits are clear but low-lying fog covers the shoreline

 November

  • Sea lion pupping season continues
  • Sea lions are now sexually active on the eastern part of the archipelago
  • Breeding season for brown noddies
  • Jellyfish sightings likely especially genus physalia around Gardner and Tortuga Islets. Stranded jellyfish likely on the shores of Flour Beach at Floreana
  • Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period
  • Seas calmer
  • South east trade winds have decreased in strength
  • Water temperatures are slowly rising
  • Weather much improved due to transition of seasons
  • Good visibility for snorkelling
  • Sea lion pups (especially at Champion Islet) play aqua-aerobics next to snorkellers. Most pups here are curious enough to nibble at fins of snorkellers. The average age of most pups is now 3-4 months  

 December

  • Good weather generally anticipated with little wind from the south east.  
  • Western islands remain dry and water temperatures gradually rise
  • Giant tortoise eggs begin hatching from now until April
  • Green sea turtles display mating behaviour
  • The first young waved albatross fledglings are observed
  • First red pouches of great frigate birds are seen on Genovesa Island
  • Northern migratory birds begin their journey southward
  • Some species of Cetaceans begin their migration

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