Galápagos - When is the best time to travel?

Posted by Marianne Salmans

“In Galápagos you will find penguins that swim together with tropical fish. How is this possible?”

The archipelago is an all-year destination. Although there are differences in the weather, every season is pleasant in its own way. Due to its location at the equator, the climate is mostly dry and warm and is considered “tropical”. Contrary to what you would expect in this climate, however, you will not find exotic palm beaches on Galápagos, but you will find arctic penguins swimming with tropical fish. How is this possible?

The four most important sea currents that converge on the islands are the key factor in determining the weather and animal life in the archipelago. These are the Cromwell undercurrent and the Humboldt and Panama current that merge into the Equatorial stream. Because the islands are at the intersection of these sea currents, there is a huge difference in temperature and humidity. The currents together with the rotation of the earth and the change between summer and winter in the northern and southern hemisphere give the islands a distinct seasonal feeling.

The seasons

The dry season is from June to November. The strong southeast winds drive the cold Humboldt and Cromwell currents to the islands. The temperatures are falling. The humidity is trapped in clouds. It doesn’t rain, but it is cloudy and foggy, especially in the morning and in the highlands. In the Galápagos this period is known as “garúa” which means “fog / drizzle”. You can expect an average temperature of 15˚C to 25˚C and the water temperature varies between 18˚C and 24˚C.

The wet season takes place from December to May, when the northeast wind drives the mighty hot stream of Panama. During these months you will experience short, heavy monsoon rainfall, often at the end of the day or at night. The extent to which this happens is highly dependent on the power of El Niño. The islands turn lush green due to the rain. In addition to the rain showers, these months also have the most sunny days of the year with clear blue skies. The temperatures are high and can rise above 30˚C, the water temperature is very pleasant from 21˚C to 26˚C.

The Cromwell

And what about the Cromwell undercurrent? The Cromwell flows at about 100 meters depth, from west to east along the equator. When this stream reaches the Galápagos from the west, it is pushed up to the surface, bringing even more cool, nutrient-rich water to the marine reserve. The Cromwell stream is (together with the Humboldt) the reason why the waters on the Galápagos are so rich in animal life; here they find sufficient food.

For more detail, below you can read what to expect from month to month.

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