What is the weather in Galapagos like?
The Galapagos Islands are a year-round vacation option. Galapagos weather is regulated by the coming together of cold water currents from the west and south (mainly the Humboldt Current) and warm water streams from the north (mainly the Panama Stream and El Niño current). This means that the Galapagos climate is uncharacteristically dry and moderate for the tropics and is generally classified as sub-tropical. In general, Galapagos islands weather is considered equatorial and is characterized by two main seasons:
Galapagos Weather December to May - The warm / rainy season:
December to May is considered the "warm/ rainy season" in Galapagos. During this warmer season, the Galapagos weather is more tropical with occasional, short showers and sunny skies. The sea is at its warmest, due to the warm Panama current, and is usually calmer at this time of year - great for swimming and snorkeling fans!
During the warm / rainy season in Galapagos, the Panama Stream is predominante and brings warm waters to the Archipelago. This water, however is less rich in nutrients than during the dry season and less clear, so you might see less animals in the water than from June to November.
Galapagos weather June to November - The dry season:
June to November is generally called the "dry season" or "Garúa Season" which is known for its blue skies and mid-day showers. Air temperature is lower, with highs in the upper 70°Fs or mid-80°Fs (25-30°C). The strong Antarctic Humboldt Current, coming from the south, strongly affects the Galapagos weather at this time of year. The water temperature, therefore, is at its coolest, at about 68°F (20°C).
Along with cooler weater and clearer waters, the Antarctic Humboldt Current also brings nutrient-rich waters to Galapagos, which attract large sea mammals such as whales and dolphins. We can only repeat, however, that the Galapagos really are a year-round destination, so don't be fooled into thinking either season might be significantly better than the other!
What impact does El Niño have on the weather in Galapagos?
During some years, the infrequent El Niño weather effect may cause a much greater flow of warmer water, increasing the surface temperature and provoking increased rainfall. During this period, the islands will be full of life, lush and green. It's fantastic for the land animals. On the other hand, the long term effects of increased El Nino events is harming the marine life, as algae die in the warm water because it contains less nutrients than colder water. Did you know that Algae are the sole food source for Marina Iguanas?
The El Nino from 1997 hit the marine iguana population hard, but luckily they have recovered from the decimation. Many other species suffered during this period and are still recovering. Scientists quote that this weather phenomenon may appear every five to seven years but it can't be predicted when exactly we might expect the next one to affect the weather in Galapagos.
The weather in Galapagos during the next days (Fahrenheit)
The weather in Galapagos during the next days (Celsius)
Sea breezes in the Galapagos make for a marvellous climate, but don’t be fooled into lying out in the sun without full protection. What you can easily get away with in the southern United States you will pay for on the equator in the form of serious sunburn. Always wear sun protection, including a hat to shield the top of your head and face as well as sunglasses and light, loose clothing. Use waterproof sunscreens with an SPF rating of at least 15, higher if you have light skin or burn easily. Take a bottle with you everywhere, and remember to apply it all over, including less obvious places like the tops of your feet and ears. We also suggest bringing a bottle of high-quality aloe vera gel. All these recommendations also apply to the Ecuadorian mainland, including the Amazon. Being at altitude can also contribute to terrible sunburn for the unwary. The bottom line: please bring plenty of sunscreen for your visit to Ecuador and Galapagos!