One of the most common questions we get asked: when is the best month to travel to Galapagos? Is our vacation to Galapagos in September a good idea, or should we go in August or October? Is it too hot / cold / rainy in September? Are the September seas warm enough for swimming? Our answer is always the same – September 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, September is as good a month as any to visit Galapagos.
Read on for everything you need to know about Galapagos in SEPTEMBER – temperatures, rainfall and wildlife highlights.
September is in the middle of the COOL & DRY season at Galapagos. Skies are often cloudy or misty, and temperatures are cool and comfortable compared to the more tropical months. Even under clouds do remember to use good sun protection - it's easy to burn even under cloudy skies close to the equator and often deceptive. September is a very dry month - apart from occasional light drizzle in the highlands it is unsual to encounter any strong showers.
In COOL & DRY months like September, the cool ocean currents from Antarctica bring rich nutrients to Galapagos, making great feeding grounds for marine species like Sealions, Sea Turtles, and species of Seabird. Various whale species are also frequent September visitors, as are huge whale sharks in the north west of the archipelago.
The highlands are dry and bare come September. Don’t worry though, the land Galapagos species are still easily spotted in September, even though there is less green food available for them.
September sees LOW demand for Galapagos Islands cruise spaces, making it a great month to avoid the crowds or maybe pick up a last minute bargain price. Some yacht operators take advantage of this to send their ships to dry dock for September maintenance. It's also a good month for land tours.
September at Galapagos is in the middle of the cool and dry season - that means cloudy skies, low humidity, and nice temperatures of around 26 degrees celcius. September is one of the drier months, registering an average of just 0.5 inches of rainfall. Even on cloudy September days at Galapagos the sun is extremely strong behind teh clouds, and many visitors are surprised at the end of the day to find themselves covered in sunburn - so do remember to use sunscreen and protect yourself.
September water temperatures at Galapagos are a cool 22 degrees celcius - one of the colder months in the ocean, so a wetsuit is recommended. The good news is that September is a spectacular month at the Galapagos islands for underwater action - marine species are very active, including whales, making for unforgettable snorkeling and diving.
Is September in Galapagos a good month for wildlife? Remember, every month at the Galapagos Islands (including September) 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.
September is another great month to see cute new born sea lion pups. They stay close to their moms for food and protection - don't get too close as female adults can be aggressive if they feel their pups are endangered.
Booby and Frigate bird chicks have hatched so proud parents are busy looking after them. Parents usually take turns to guard the nest while the other fishes in the ocean to bring back food for the family. For visitors this is a special time to see the cute fluffy hatchlings that make for great photo opportunities. On Española island the Waved Albatross is still nesting high up on the cliffs at Suarez Point.
Migratory whale species are very active too. The best spot for Galapagos whale watching is the Bolivar channel between Isabela and Fernandina so try to join a cruise heading that way. An element of luck is always required to spot whales, with Humpbacks sometimes providing spectacular displays as they breach and jump from the water. September is also one of the easier Galapagos months to spot dolphins.
Far up in the north west of the archipelago at Darwin and Wolf islands something special is happening too. September is one of the peak viewing months for whale sharks. These gentle giants of the ocean pass through Galapagos waters to feed on the rich nutrients. The area around Darwins Arch in particular is renowned as one of the best sites on the planet to share the water with these amazing creatures.
Other Galapagos birds begin to nest in September. At Bartolome the Galapagos penguin starts courtship - they lay only 1 or 2 eggs per clutch, and parents are kept busy keeping eggs in the shade to avoid exposure to the strong equatorial sun. Meanwhile on land Galapagos hawks court one another in impressive sky diving spectacles. Unusually the Galapagos hawk practices Cooperative Polyandry - a single female will mate with various different males, and leave them to incubate the eggs and feed the young.
Check out the infographic below for some of the special wildlife highlights to expect at Galapagos in September.
We really hope that this September 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.
If you need any help planning your Galapagos Vacation (in September or any other month!), then just drop us a line.
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.
In conclusion, September is a top month to visit the Galapagos islands. The weather is very comfortable for exploration and adventure, and there are some amazing wildlife experiences. Marine species of birds and mammals are very active in courtship, nesting or hatching. Giants of the ocean are also to be found in Galapagos waters, feasting on abundant fish and krill. All things considered, September is one of our favorite months at the Galapagos islands.