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Galapagos Islands

A Month to Month Guide

JANUARY

  • Birds: Land birds (red-footed boobies, masked boobies, frigatebirds, flightless cormorants, penguins, and greater flamingos) start breeding and nesting after the first rain (most are year-round).
  • Reptiles: Española’s marine iguanas get a bright coloring to attract mates. Marine and land iguanas courtship period. Green sea turtles start laying eggs. Hatching of Giant Tortoises eggs.
  • Water: Average water temperature 76F (24.5C). One of the best months for underwater visibility (along with February and March).
  • Weather: Beginning of warm and rainy season, but one of the best months for clear skies with intense sunshine. High 83F (28.3C) / Low 65 F (18.3 C).

FEBRUARY

  • Birds: Greater flamingos start nesting on Floreana Island. Nazca boobies are at the end of their mating season on Espanola. Peak of Galapagos doves nesting season. Penguins migrate away from Bartolomé Island to cooler waters of Isabela and Fernandina Island.
  • Reptiles: Marine iguanas nest on Santa Cruz Island.
  • Water temperature: Reaches peak temperature of 77F / 25C; stays at this termperature until April. One of the best months for underwater visibility (along with January and March).
  • Weather: Rainy season, but one of the best months for clear skies. Windiest month. High 84F (28.9C) / Low 65F (18.3 C).

MARCH

  • Birds: Frigate birds mating season starts on San Cristóbal and Genovesa islands.
  • Reptiles: Marine Iguanas nest on Fernandina and North Seymour Islands.
  • Water: Average water temperature 77F (25C). One of the best months for underwater visibility (along with January and February).
  • Weather: Peak of rainy reason, but one of the best months for clear skies, accompanied by intense sun and heat, after sporadic tropical rains. High temperatures of 86F (30 C) / Low 65F (18.3 C).

APRIL

  • Birds: Waved albatross come back to Española Island and begin nesting.
  • Reptiles: Sea turtles, marine iguanas and land iguanas nesting.
  • Water: Average water temperature 77F (25C). Good visibility for snorkeling and water is the warmest.
  • Weather: Rainy season comes to an end. Hottest month. High 86F (30C) / Low 66F (18.9 C).

MAY

  • Birds: Waved albatross lay eggs on Española Island. Blue-footed boobies begin their world-known courtship. Ban-rumped storm petrels begin their first nesting period.
  • Plants: Palo Santo trees begin shedding.
  • Reptiles: Sea turtles continue hatching their eggs.
  • Water: Average water temperature 76F (24.5C).
  • Weather: Fine and clear. Peak weather conditions (with June) due to the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the garua (cool dry) season. The arid vegetatation zone in the islands changes from green to brown, with only the highlands remaining green. High 84F (28.9 C) / Low 66F (18.9 C).

JUNE

  • Birds: Magnificent Frigatebirds on North Seymour start displaying red mating pouches.
  • Reptiles: Santa Cruz giant tortoises migrate to lowlands searching for good nesting places.
  • Sealife: Whale sharks could be seen in the northwestern islands toward the end of the month. Humpback whales can be seen around the islands due to their migration to the north.
  • Water: Average water temperature 73F (23C). Currents become stronger with waves becoming stronger. Southeast trade winds return.
  • Weather: Beginning of garua season, known for its blue skies and mid-day showers. Together with June, peak weather conditions. High 83F (28.3C) / Low 66F (18.9 C).

JULY

  • Birds: Nesting season for blue-footed boobies, American oystercatchers, waved albatross, and flightless cormorants. Opportunity to see all five life stages for the blue-footed boobies - eggs, chicks, juveniles, subadults, and adults.
  • Reptiles: Lava lizards start mating season (continues to November).
  • Sealife: Possibility of seeing whales and dolphins off the western coast of Fernandina and Isabela. Start of sea lion breeding season.
  • Water: Average water temperature 72F (22C). Wetsuits are usually needed during snorkeling. Humboldt Current begins to strengthen, bringing extra nutrients to the islands' wildlife, making this time a great time to snorkel.
  • Weather: July and August are the months with strongest winds. High 83F (28.3C) / Low 66F (18.9 C).

AUGUST

  • Birds: Frigatebird chicks are hatching. Mating season for Galapagos hawks on Espanola and Santiago. Swallow-tailed gulls and Nazca boobies nest on Genovesa Island. Migrant shore birds begin to arrive for the season.
  • Reptiles: Giant tortoises go back to the highlands of Santa Cruz after laying their eggs.
  • Sealife: Sea lions give birth during this time, particularly in the western and central islands.
  • Water: Average water temperature 71F (21.5C). Wetsuits are needed for snorkeling. Humboldt Current continues, with good snorkeling opportunities.
  • Weather: Still in rainy season. Ocean currents are at their strongest, with possible choppy conditions and surge along west and south coasts. High 83F (28.3C) / Low 66F (18.9 C).

SEPTEMBER

  • Birds: You can spot Galápagos penguins during their courtship on Bartolomé Island. Most sea birds are tending to their nests.
  • Sealife: Male sea lions are busy building harems by fighting and barking, especially in the Western and central islands. Possibility of sighting dolphins and whales. Possibility of swimming with sea lion pups.
  • Water: Average water temperature 72F (22C). Wetsuits are needed for snorkeling. Humboldt Current continues, with good snorkeling opportunities.
  • Weather: Wettest month. High 82F (27.8C) / Low 65F (18.3 C).

OCTOBER

  • Birds: Blue-footed booby chicks can be seen on Española and Isabela. Lava herons start nesting.
  • Reptiles: Giant tortoises are still laying eggs.
  • Sealife: Galápagos fur sea lions mating season. Possibility of sighting dolphins and whales. Possibility of swimming with sea lion pups.
  • Water: Average water temperature 72F (22C). Wetsuits are needed for snorkeling. Humboldt Current continues, with good snorkeling opportunities.
  • Weather: Peak of garua season and coldest month. Western islands have a better chance of sunshine after the mists burns off in the morning. High 81F (27.2C) / Low 65F (18.3 C).

NOVEMBER

  • Birds: Breeding season for brown noddies. Band-rumped storm petrels begin their second nesting period.
  • Sealife: Sea lion pups are old enough to be curious about human snorkelers. Great opportunities for swimming and snorkeling with baby sea lions. Green sea turtle mating season starts. Chance of seeing whale sharks in the far northwest of the Islands.
  • Water: Average water temperature 73F (22.5C). Wetsuits may be needed for snorkeling. Seas are calmer and water temperatures are rising. Humboldt Current continues, with good snorkeling opportunities.
  • Weather: Clear and warmer. End of dry season / beginning of warm season. High 82F (27.8C) / Low 65F (18.3 C).

DECEMBER

  • Birds: Waved-albatross fledgings begin their explorations.
  • Reptiles: Baby giant tortoises start hatching (continues to April). Green sea turtles begin to mate. Marine and land iguanas begin mating.
  • Sealife: Sea lions and fur sea lions breeding.
  • Water: Average water temperature 73F (22.5C). Wetsuits may be needed for snorkeling. The Humboldt Current loses its strength.
  • Weather: Sunshine and great for enjoying the water. High 82F (27.8C) / Low 65F (18.3 C).
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