There is never a bad time to visit Ecuador and the Galapagos. We recommend traveling to the Galapagos year round. The differences will be in the air temperatures and the water conditions. From December to May it’s going to be warmer and calmer. From June to November it will be a little cooler and rougher water. No matter when you go, you won’t notice a flux in the crowds because the number of visitors is very carefully monitored all year round.
Ecuador & the Galapagos by the Seasons
Even though Ecuador is a small country on the equator, the weather varies greatly because the country contains three distinct types of terrain: the Sierra (the mountains), the Costa (the jungles and coastal plains) and the Oriente (tropical Amazon rain forest). Quito, which is the capital and sits at 9,350 feet is most common city to fly into. Quito is in the Sierra and most often has t-shirt weather during the day but can cool down when the clouds roll in.
Generally speaking in the Galapagos Islands there are two seasons. There is the warm/wet season and the cool/dry season. The Galapagos only gets an annual average of 10″ total rainfall so it’s not considered “rainy.” Unlike many other countries so close to the equator it’s neither hot or humid, averages run from a high of 88 to a low of 64.
Warm/Wet Season (January – June)
The warm/wet season is a great time to go to the Galapagos because it is actually has more sunlight and calmer seas. There can be an afternoon drizzle but the islands only get 10 inches of rain each year so no one is getting soaked. The air temperatures average 78-88 degrees during the day with a nighttime temperature between 68 and 74. The water is warm, coming from the south of Panama, making for great opportunities to explore in the water for longer.
Cool/Dry Season (July – December)
During this time of year the “cool/dry” season the air temperatures average 74-80 degrees during the day, night time temperatures average 62-68 degrees. The average sea temperatures are 66-74 degrees. This is because of the Humboldt Current coming Northward from the Antarctic.
1. Packing for your land based activities.
Overall, hiking in the Galapagos isn’t strenuous, unless it’s the Sierra Negra Volcano Hike and Volcan Chico hike on Isabela. You will however be walking over uneven surfaces and in and out of the water when you have wet or dry landings. You might consider a versatile water sandal. No flip flops please. Pack quick dry clothing, cotton is slow to dry. Don’t forget your sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, camera, binoculars and water.
2. Packing for your water based activities.
Don’t worry about including a beach towel when you are packing at home, they take up a lot of room and can get other things wet in your suitcase. It’s normal for the boats and the lodges to provide them for you. Bring more than one swimming suit, you will be using them daily (sometimes more than once a day). You can always bring your own snorkeling or scuba gear, but it will be provided for you on most boats.
3. Dinner attire.
Dressing for dinner in the Galapagos is just like spending the weekend at the beach. Forget the tux and fancy dresses, you won’t need them. Casual wear is OK everywhere. If you’re not sure toss in a pair of your favorite yoga pants, they double nicely morning noon or nighttime. Meals on the boat are always casual and few restaurants in Ecuador are too nice for jeans.
4. Staying healthy
There aren’t any required vaccinations to visit the Galapagos. You should make sure that your routine immunizations are up to date. Carrying an ample supply of OTC prescription medications is a good idea. If you’re not sure if you will suffer from motion or sea sickness ask your doctor about the available options. You can also bring Dramamine or Sea Bands. Filtered water is available for drinking.
Travel Tips for Visiting the Galapagos
The Galapagos is an archipelago if 18 islands, located 562 miles off of the mainland coast of Ecuador.
As you prepare for your visit to the islands keep these simple tips:
1. Flora and Fauna
The Galapagos Islands has an abundance of wildlife in a concentrated area. Visitors will notice immediately how tolerant the wildlife is of human presence. Please do not touch the wildlife – allow at least 6 ft. between you and any of the animals. Feeding the animals is obviously not allowed but neither is flash photography – professional photographers and film makers need special permits from the park.
2. Currency in Ecuador
No need to worry about exchanging your money, the official currency in Ecuador is the US dollar. However, depending on where you are traveling, you may not have access to an ATM and few businesses take credit or debit cards. You will need to have sufficient cash on hand when traveling throughout the mainland.
4. You don’t need a converter.
The electrical current in Ecuador is the same as the US 120v so you can bring all of your own chargers.