The Galápagos Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean, about a thousand kilometers (600 miles) west of Ecuador, have a peculiar climate, tropical and semi-arid, with a hot, relatively rainy season from January to May and a cool, dry, cloudy, and misty season, from July to November.
The landscapes are barren, except in the highlands of the largest islands, which receive more abundant rainfall. As was already noted by Charles Darwin, who, as we know, stayed on the islands and was intrigued by the peculiarities of the species living there, their climate is cooler than one would expect from a place located near the Equator. This is due to the Humboldt Current, which reaches the area after flowing in the ocean to the west of South America. However, there are different sea currents that meet or take turns in the area; in fact, there is also a warm current coming from Central America, which runs at no great distance and is more active in El Niño years (vedi sotto). Therefore, in this area, the climate is variable from one year to another, and the weather is difficult to predict.

Sea currents around the Galápagos Islands

On these islands, as mentioned, there are two seasons: a warm season from January to May, with maximum temperatures around 29/30 °C (84/86 °F), and a relatively cool season from July to November, called Garúa, with daytime temperatures around 24/25 °C (75/77 °F). In the latter, night-time temperatures remain acceptable, around 18/19 °C (64/66 °F), but there are often mists, which cause the condensation of tiny droplets (called garúa from which the season takes its name), and the sky is often covered with low clouds (due to the thermal inversion generated by the cool sea current). This period is the least rainy of the year on coasts and plains (because the Garúa does not produce significant rainfall accumulation), while on inland hills and mountains, there can be some real rains. The highest peak is the Volcán Wolf, 1,707 meters (5,600 feet) high, situated on Isabela Island.
The warm season, from January to May, is instead the rainiest period, but the rains are normally not abundant, and in any event, they occur in the form of afternoon showers, which do not overshadow too much the sun. The rainiest month is March.

Temperature and rainfall

Here are the average temperatures in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital, located on the island of San Cristóbal.
Puerto Baquerizo - Average temperatures
Min (°C)232323232221191918192021
Max (°C)293030302927252424252627
Min (°F)737373737270666664666870
Max (°F)848686868481777575777981

On the coasts, the rainfall amounts to less than 500 millimeters (20 inches) per year, so it's not abundant. Here is the average precipitation in Puerto Baquerizo; we can notice that in the dry season, a few millimeters (a few tenths of an inch) per month accumulate, mostly because of drizzle and dew formation.
Puerto Baquerizo - Average precipitation

However, tourists flock to the beaches during the rainy period, since in addition to being the sunniest, it is the one in which the sea is the warmest.

El Niño

It must be said that rainfall is irregular, and can become more abundant in El Niño years. During the most intense El Niño years, such as in 1982-83 and 1997-98, the climate on these islands becomes fully tropical, with higher temperatures and abundant rainfall. In contrast, in La Niña years, the rains become scarcer, and there's a decrease in both air and sea temperature.



All in all, the sun at the Galápagos shines for a good number of hours in the hot and relatively rainy period, while in the cool period, clouds and mists become more frequent. Here are the average sunshine hours per day in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
Puerto Baquerizo - Sunshine

Sea temperature

The sea is warm enough for swimming from January to May (when it's also calmer), while it becomes a little cool from July to November, when the water temperature drops to around 21/22 °C (70/72 °F).
Galápagos - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)242626262523222121222223
Temp (°F)757979797773727070727273

Best Time

In general, you can visit the Galápagos all year round. However, the best time to visit the islands, if you also want to swim and sunbathe, runs from February to May, since it is the warmest and sunniest, although there may be some downpours or thunderstorms in the afternoon.
The cool season, from July to November, can be recommended to explore nature, since it almost never rains in the plains and the temperature is pleasant, even though you have to take into account mists, haze, and cloudy skies. From September to November, the sea can be a bit choppy, and this can disturb those who suffer from motion sickness, during boat trips between the islands.

What to pack

From December to May (warm period): bring light clothing, a light sweatshirt for the evening, a light raincoat or umbrella for rain showers, and a sun hat (after all, we are at the Equator). When going hiking on inland hills and the Volcán Wolf, you need a sweatshirt a bit warmer and a raincoat, and hiking shoes.
From June to November (cool period): bring light clothes, a sweatshirt or sweater and a light jacket for the evening. When going hiking in inland hills and the Volcán Wolf, bring hiking boots, a sweatshirt, and raincoat.

When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.

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