Heralding the start of the warmer season, and offering stacks of unique wildlife-watching experiences, December is a popular time to visit the Galapagos Islands for very good reason. To help you plan your trip, read on to find out everything you need to know about the Galapagos weather in December, along with info on what to expect of crowds and costs, and what to do in this unique Ecuadorian gem through the month.
Is December a good time to visit the Galapagos Islands?
In short, December is a great time to visit the Galapagos Islands. First up, the Galapagos weather in December is starting to warm up. Indeed, December marks the start of the warm season.
This period offers clear, blue skies and warmer sea temperatures that are ideal for diving, snorkelling and swimming.
Back on land, December also kicks off the breeding season for many of the islands' unique species, including magnificent frigate birds and sea lions.
Being holiday season, December is high season around these parts, which means you might not consider it the best month to visit if you’re not keen on bigger crowds, or higher costs — more on those subjects later.
Average temperatures in the Galapagos Islands in December
You’ll find the Galapagos weather in December pleasantly warm with average temperatures ranging from 22°C to 30°C (72°F to 86°F) as the area shifts into the warm season.
This month also marks the start of the rainy season, but don't let that put you off — the rain is usually short-lived and often comes in the form of light showers, leaving plenty of sunshine for exploring.
At the same time, the sea temperature is also warming up, averaging around 25°C (77°F) — ideal for diving, snorkelling, and swimming in waters brimming with marine life.
What about crowds and costs?
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Galapagos Islands are busy in December. In fact, this is peak season at its peak.
Given its popularity, it's essential to plan your trip well in advance. Booking tours, accommodation, and flights early will help you make the most of your trip.
As is usually the case, peak season visitor numbers go hand in hand with having to pay peak prices. Higher demand for flights, accommodation, and tours leads to higher prices, and it’s fair to say the Galapagos Islands can be expensive in December.
Still wondering when to visit? Read our guide to the best time to visit Ecuador.
Ready for your dream trip to Ecuador in December?
Before booking your December adventure to Ecuador and the Galapagos, take a look at our itineraries for more inspiration.
Fully customisable, with a local expert on hand to take care of booking exactly what you want, they take the hassle out of planning your perfect trip. Here are a few sample itineraries:
- Galapagos Special — three islands in 10 days: the start and end of this extraordinary trip is Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital of Ecuador, with visits to a trio of incredible islands (San Cristobel, Santa Cruz and Isabela Island) offering travellers utter immersion into wildlife and nature.
- Luxury Galapagos cruise and mainland highlights: spend seven nights on a luxurious super yacht in the Galapagos to explore the natural wonders of this island paradise in style. Afterwards, fly to the mainland and discover Ecuador, from Guayaquil to Quito. Volcanoes, waterfalls, markets, and much more await.
- Ecuador Highlights — Amazon and Galapagos: into adventure? This trip takes you from Quito and Otavalo to the Amazon, where guided boat tours unveil flora, fauna and indigenous customs. Next, you'll venture to the glorious Galapagos islands for more exploration and adventure.
Browse more itinerary ideas.
What to do in the Galapagos Islands in December
Visiting the Galapagos Islands in December offers a mix of wildlife encounters and outdoor activities as the warm season ramps up, along with peak season buzz. Here are some of the top activities to enjoy here in December.
Snorkelling and diving
With the water temperatures starting to rise, December is an excellent time for underwater exploration.
The clearer waters allow for better visibility to see an array of marine life, including sea turtles, rays, sharks, colourful fish, and playful sea lions.
Editor's tip: in the market for a trip of lifetime that’s packed with incredible underwater experiences? Check out our customisable Galapagos Diving Adventure.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands in December offers a plethora of unique wildlife watching experiences. That’s thanks to its diverse ecosystem and it being breeding seasons for various species.
Here are some special wildlife watching experiences you can enjoy in December.
Experience sea lion pupping season
December is a great time to see cute lion pups playing on the beaches and interacting with their mothers, especially on San Cristobal and Santa Fe Islands.
See Galapagos giant tortoises nesting
December marks the beginning of the nesting season for these iconic creatures. A highlight is witnessing female tortoises laying their eggs in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
Editor’s tip: visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to learn about conservation efforts and see the giant tortoise breeding program.
Be wowed by unique avian mating rituals
December is the peak of the breeding season for the islands’ iconic blue-footed boobies.
Head to North Seymour or Española to see their elaborate courtship rituals, including the distinctive "sky-pointing" dance.
December is also the prime time to observe waved albatrosses engaging in their elaborate mating dances and courtship rituals on Española Island. Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, this species is known for its synchronised mating displays.
Overserve Galapagos penguins
December marks the start of the nesting season for Galapagos penguins. Take a trip along the shores of Isabela and Fernandina Islands for a great chance of seeing them.
December is a good time to see marine iguanas at their most active as they warm themselves up after foraging in the cold ocean waters.
Kayaking and paddle-boarding
Explore the coastlines of the islands by kayak or paddleboard. It's a peaceful way to see the cliffs and beaches, with a good chance of spotting the likes of sea lions, marine iguanas and penguins.
Hiking and biking
Take advantage of the warmer weather to enjoy the islands' hiking and biking trails. There's no better way to soak up breath-taking views of the islands' diverse landscapes — from volcanic formations to lush highlands.
Book a boat tour
Embark on a boat tour to explore the archipelago's more remote areas. These tours can take you to spectacular snorkelling spots, uninhabited islands, and hidden coves, providing a deeper understanding of the Galapagos' natural beauty.
Bliss out on beaches
In between all that adventuring and wildlife-watching, be sure to allow yourself tine to relaxon the Galapagos' beautiful beaches.
Postcard-worthy spots like Gardner Bay and Tortuga Bay offer white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and the opportunity to relax and swim in the company of sea lions.
Editor’s tip: remember, December is a peak travel period, so be sure to book activities and accommodation in advance. Alternatively, look into tailoring your trip to the Galapagos Islands to make sure you don’t miss out — and to forgo the hassle of planning.
Visit the Galapagos Islands in other months
To be better informed before booking your trip, find out what to expect of the Galapagos Islands around the year.
- January: this full swing warm season month means blue skies, occasional rain showers and the chance to see curious courtship rituals.
- February: warm on land and sea, February is fabulous for snorkelling, diving and hiking, and seeing green turtles come ashore to lay eggs.
- March: this rainy season month means lush landscapes, high temperatures and morning showers. It’s also nesting time for land iguanas and many birds.
- April: end of the rainy season, April offers warm waters, and opportunities to see waved albatrosses, giant tortoise hatchlings and green turtle hatchlings.
- May: transition month between the rainy and dry seasons, May means cooler temperatures, small crowds and remarkable avian activity.
- June: start of the dry season, June sees cooler temperatures and is a top time to see waved albatrosses’ mating rituals and humpback whales.
- July: cool and dry, July is ideal for hiking, biking and watching whales and dolphins. It’s also prime whale shark season.
- August: still cool and dry, this peak season month draws increased crowds to see whales, dolphins, sea lions, and blue-footed boobies.
- September: quiet and cool, this is a top month for marine activity, especially whales, dolphins, sea lions, Galapagos fur seals and Galapagos penguins.
- October: this dry low-season month is ideal for hiking and biking, and seeing sea lion pups and blue-footed booby chicks.
- November: this transition month between the cool dry season and the warm wet season is ideal for snorkelling, diving and seeing sea lions and penguins.
- December: start of the warm season, December heralds breeding season for frigate birds and sea lions, and peak season crowds as the month wears on