The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands that lies 926 km west of continental Ecuador. Due to its unique flora and fauna, the islands were declared world natural heritage by the UNESCO. The archipelago consists of 13 main islands of which only five are sparsely populated.
GALT (Galápagos Time) UTC/GMT – 6 hours
In spite of its location on the equator, there is no typical tropical weather but a unique microclimate determined by sea and air currents.
The archipelago provides seven vegetation zones from arid coastal zones to evergreen cloud forests to treeless pampas zones.
The Galápagos Islands are a fantastic year-round destination.
The Galápagos is a major intersection of several currents, which vary in intensity and consequently bring two distinct seasons to the islands. These currents also control the pattern and variety of Galápagos flora and fauna.
Hot/Rainy Season December - May/June Warm Panama Current
Dry/Garua Season June – November/December Antarctic Humboldt Current
Temperatures 22°-30°C / 71°-86°F
Sea Temperatures 16°-25°C / 61°-76°F. Varies significantly from island to island.
Northern waters (near Genovesa) are warmed by the Panama Current; whereas the cold Cromwell Current from the west is cause for the always chilly water to the west of Isabela.
|Air Temp °F||77||80||82||80||77||72||73||70||69||71||72||74|
|Water Temp °F||75||76||76||76||74||73||68||67||66||70||72||74|
January Galápagos High Season. Hot, sunny, odd cloudbursts. Warm, relatively calm seas.
February Hot, sunny, rain showers. Warm calm seas.
March Hot, humid, sunny, cloudbursts. Warm calm seas.
April Hot, sunny, rain showers. Warm calm seas.
May Changeover Period. Still hot, occasional rain, less sunshine. Still warm sea but a little more swell.
June Warm, still few rain showers, stars to be cloudy and maybe misty at times. Still warm sea, more wind causes a bit of a swell.
July Warm, cloudy, windy. Choppier sea, start to cool off with the cold waters brought in by the Humboldt Current.
August Cooler, cloudy, windy, mostly dry. Cool, choppy seas.
September Cool, little sunshine, cloudy, windy, little rain. Rough seas. Many Galápagos cruise boats are out of action for low season maintenance.
October Warm, windy, cloudy, mostly dry. Cool, less rough sea.
November Warmer, less windy, still cloudy, little rain. Cool choppy seas.
December Temperatures and prices go up. Galápagos Christmas season. Changeover period. More sunshine, some rain, vegetation greens up. Calmer seas.
In some years, the trade winds in the South Pacific change which causes a weakening of the Humboldt Current and the flow of warm waters increases: an "El Niño" year results. Surface water temperatures are higher, rainfall can increase up to ten times the usual level and "normal" weather patterns may not apply. Wildlife populations and activity are also affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
The seas around the Galápagos are generally shallow and despite being the crossroads of several currents, the waters are not terribly rough. The seas are at their calmest January through April. December, May and June are transitional months during which seas are relatively calm, though it varies year to year depending on the shift in the currents. July through November one will find choppier seas, with August through October being the roughest.
Certain vessels are more stable than others and cabin location can also help avoid seasickness.
Most travel is done at night while passengers are sleeping with only exception being the short midday transit (two hours or less). During the day, vessels dock in calm waters near shore. Passengers spend most of the day on land or snorkeling. These factors lessen the risk of seasickness.
Dry season (June to December) is ideal for diving because of the Antarctic Humboldt Current that brings cold eutrophic water which increases the plankton. Lots of sea dwellers and birds seize these nutrient-rich months to reproduce.
The months from August throughout November are especially interesting for divers because there are the highest activities of sub-marine life. During these months the possibility to see whales, whale sharks and dolphins is highest.
Do not forget that you will be far off the mainland, so bring what you need. There are only few small towns on Galápagos and stores might not offer what you need. Furthermore, costs are higher than on the mainland.