One of the most common questions we get asked: when is the best month to travel to Galapagos? Is our vacation to Galapagos in May a good idea, or should we go in April or June? Is it too hot / cold / rainy in May? Are the May seas warm enough for swimming? Our answer is always the same – May is a great month at Galapagos, and so too are all the other months! The Galapagos Islands are an all year round travel destination, with comfortable weather and great wildlife viewing every month of the year. So yes, May is as good a month as any to visit Galapagos.
Read on for everything you need to know about Galapagos in MAY – water and air temperatures, average rainfall, tourist season and the top wildlife highlights.
May is a TRANSITION month at Galapagos, changing from the WARM & WET season into the COOL & DRY. So expect changeable and variable weather conditions - usually some sunny moments, and a few cloudy skies, as the hot, tropical temperatures begin to cool down.
In TRANSITION months like May, the island highlands are still lush and green, perfect for the land species such as the Giant Tortoise, Land Iguanas, Darwin Finches & other land birds, who find food plentiful. But this is about to change as the rains stop, and the highlands start to become bare in the months ahead.
The seasons are about to change, so the colder Humboldt sea current is starting to flow up from the south, bringing more food and richer nutrients for marine Galapagos species, which are also easily spotted in May. The coming months will be a bonanza for the sea lions and marine birds, many of whom will start seeking a mate and building nests for the breeding season.
May sees REGULAR demand for cruise spaces throughout the month. It is also a good time of year for Land Trips. May is the last Galapagos month before the high season starts to kick off, a good time to visit before tourist volumes pick up and cruise spaces are harder to find.
May at Galapagos is a month of change - the skies become cloudier, with temperatures dropping down to 28 degrees celcius - still very comfortable for visitors to be out and about in shorts and tshirts of course. The rains have also stopped, with just 0.75 inches average rain fall. Don't forget that the May sun is still strong and burns white skin quickly, so don't be fooled - you'll still need sun cream and a hat, but can most likely leave the umbrella and raincoat at home.
May water temperatures are starting to drop, but are still a fairly comfortable 24.5 degrees celcius, so snorkeling is a must! Most May Galapagos visitors will not need a wetsuit to enter the waters in May, but if you are susceptible to the cold then it could be a wise option.
Is May in Galapagos a good month for wildlife? Remember, every month at the Galapagos Islands (including May) is amazing for wildlife spotting, and almost all land and marine species can in fact be found all year-round.
That said, each month does bring something different to the archipelago. Subtle changes in animal behavior such as breeding, nesting, hatching, feeding, growing, migrating. The Galapagos natural world is in constant change. Something not to miss in May is the continued nesting season of the Waved Albatross. These majestic and graceful birds only nest at one place on the entire planet - on the cliffs of Suarez Point on Española island. The Galapagos albatross mates for life, so nesting season is a wonderful time to watch the tender bonding behavior they share as a lifetime couple.
On Galapagos beaches like Bachas on Santa Cruz island sea turtle eggs are hatching. Fighting their way to the surface they face a fierce battle for survival. First they have to make it safely to the sea, getting past hungry Frigate birds and Galapagos Hawks. Those that do make it that far now have to avoid sharks and other marine predators. As few as 1% of turtle babies make it to adulthood. For visitors it is tough to see turtles emerging from nests - they tend to hatch at night - but if you look overboard from your yacht they are often attracted to the light at night.
Baby flamingos are hatching at nesting sites in brackish lagoons across the archipelago. Flamingos form a community creche to look after all of the chicks together, allowing adults to take turns looking for food.
Check out the infographic below for some of the special wildlife highlights to expect at Galapagos in May.
Happy Gringo has over 15 years of experience as the trusted choice in Galapagos travel and has received special recognition from TripAdvisor for 6 consecutive years. We specialize in Galapagos Cruises, Diving Tours, and Custom-Made Galapagos Land Trips. We’d love to hear from you.
We really hope that this May in Galapagos blog was useful. If you are looking for a complete summary of Galapagos climate across the year, then also check out our general Galapagos Weather blog.
In conclusion, May is a very interesting month for Galapagos visitors, as you get to witness the changes in season - a mix of sun and cloud, but mostly dry, and with some wonderful wildlife spotting opportunities. The tourist high season has not yet begun, so it's still possible to avoid the crowds and find spaces aboard a cruise. Above all the May temperatures are perfect for exploring the islands - more comfortable than the tropical hot season, and preferred by many Galapagos visitors.