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Galapagos Cruising 101

Want to know when you should go to the Galapagos? Find out what kind of traveller you are first

by Steve English Posted on 06 December 2012

When should you explore the Galápagos? Depends on who you are.

If you’re asking us, there are only two good times to visit the Galápagos: “soon” and “right now.” Seriously, though, the archipelago made famous by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is one of those destinations that never disappoints whenever you happen to find yourself there. The Galápagos National Park Service keeps the crowds manageable even in peak season, and the equatorial climate is usually ‘pleasant’ at worst. The only real variable in this equation is you.

Like any trip, your personal interests as a traveller determine how much you get out of your Galápagos experience. Below is a short list of the types of travellers we encounter most often in nature’s workshop. Come find yourself!

The Snorkeller

Snorkelers encounter a giant sea turtle

The chance to swim alongside the Galápagos’ array of exotic beasties is a major draw. Oddly, the best time to snorkel here is during the rainy season, from December to May. You won’t encounter as many fish, but since its mating season for turtles and sea lions, the wildlife are still pretty active. And while the water itself is warm, it can be chilly and often drizzles a few times each day, so make sure you’ve got a warm hoodie to slip into when drying off between swims.

The Naturalist

Galapagos crab

For wildlife enthusiasts, there’s really no bad time to drop in for a visit. December through May, the archipelago’s seabirds perform their annual mating dances while the turtles take over the beaches to nest. When things cool down a little from June through November, the birds take to the skies and busy themselves feasting on the abundance of fish. This is the best time to spot penguins and the mighty albatross. And if you’re after maximum cuteness, come in April when the newborn seal pups are at their most adorable.

The Photographer

Yellow finch striking a pose for the camera

There’s always something great to see in the Galápagos, but what you capture in your viewfinder depends on when you go. December through May is simultaneously the sunniest and rainiest time of the year, and you’ll find oodles of animals and eye-popping flowers all over the place. The drier months from June to November are typically cloudy, but the birds are more active. The colder water brings the region’s flamboyant fish, but you’ll have to dive deeper into the chilly, dark waters to find them.

The Landlubber

Calm Waters in the Galapagos

Eager to explore the Galápagos but worry about your weak stomach? You’d probably be best served stopping by in March and April, at the tail-end of the rainy season, when the waters are at their calmest. Better still, this is when the skies are sunniest, so you’ll have ample opportunity to get used to the ship while sunning yourself on deck when you’re not out and about in search of flora and fauna.