For many, a cruise holiday to the Galapagos Islands is a bucket-list worthy experience that will enrich you with culture and history. With wildlife that’s straight out of Walking with Dinosaurs, flora and fauna that thrives upon the volcanic landscape and an abundance of history to discover, a Galapagos cruise is a must for any world traveller.
Although you’ll find cruises departing year round, the best time for a Galapagos cruise is considered June to September (the dry season) and mid-December to mid-January (the hot season). There are pros and cons to both of these seasons so depending on what you’re looking to see, you’ll need to pay attention to departure times.
Best Time For A Galapagos Cruise: Dry season
Timeframe: June to November
During this period the Humboldt Current brings colder, better-quality water and with it, a huge variety of fish. This in turn attracts many seabirds, making it a great time to spot numerous vibrant species and watch as they take turns diving into the sea. The temperature on land is also cooler with rougher wind and seas. You’ll spot blue-footed boobies and a plethora of other species as they flock for mating season, a truly fascinating sight to see.
Galapagos wildlife opportunities during the dry season
While much of the wildlife residing in the Galapagos Islands can be spotted year-round, there are some species which you'll only see during these summer months.
- Blue-footed boobies
- American flamingo
As well as these two striking birds, you'll spot countless other favourites such as the Galapagos sea lion, Sally Lightfoot crabs and more.
Best Galapagos activities during the dry season
Thanks to the cooler temperatures, for those who may struggle usually, hiking is best during the dry season. While you may miss out on some lush vegetation that blooms in the heat, the breeze makes for comfortable conditions to explore the islands on foot. Similarly, other more active excursions such as bike rides and kayaking may also be more enjoyable during this season.
Best Time For A Galapagos Cruise: Hot season
Timeframe: December to January
This season is warmer with gentler waters. There will be a light shower of rain each day but you’ll also experience brilliant sunshine and warmer weather either side. Flora and fauna will bloom, some birds go into mating season and sea turtle nesting also takes place. If you’re desperate to go snorkelling but aren't good with chilly temperatures, this season is the best time for a Galapagos cruise (though we still advise using a wetsuit!).
Galapagos wildlife opportunities during the hot season
For spotting land-based wildlife, many highly recommend the hot season. As the temperature increases, vegetation flourishes which, in turn, encourages many different species to come out and forage. Marine and land iguanas will often be seen sunbathing on rocks, while Galapagos giant turtle eggs will begin to hatch.
Best Galapagos activities during the hot season
For keen divers and snorkelers, the hot season is a great time for a Galapagos cruise. There's plenty to see beneath the waves, and the warmer temperatures will be a nice addition! On land, hikes will showcase the most vibrant vegetation, and will provide ample wildlife spotting because of this, but remember to bring your sunscreen when going onshore.
This natural climate change can trigger huge disruptions to the weather, creating more rainfall, wind and changes to the temperature. Fortunately, El Niño only occurs every two to seven years though the pattern can shift irregularly.
Galapagos average weather guide
Generally, the best time for a Galapagos cruise depends on what you're looking to see during your cruise, and your own preferences. Not a fan of the heat? Opt for the dry season instead for cooler breezes. Desperate to discover unique flora and fauna? Then the hot season is the one for you! With numerous cruise lines embarking on Galapagos voyages throughout the year, you're guaranteed to find the perfect Galapagos cruise deal for you. If you want to learn more about a Galapagos cruise, be sure to read our Galapagos cruise tips or Galapagos itineraries blogs.