The Galapagos - the name itself incites your imagination and brings to mind a world very different from our own. These stunning islands have long captured the imagination and for good reason! Inhabited by fascinating wildlife and plants - many found nowhere else in the world - the Galapagos is truly a bucket list destination. The good news is that today, it is easier than ever to visit.
So what is the best time to visit the Galapagos? It really depends on your personal preference. From December to June is the hot and rainy season - think high humidity with daytime highs averaging in the 80s. The sea, however, is generally calm at this time of year. From June until November there will be cooler temperatures with daytime highs averaging in the 70s. It could be windier though so there is the chance of choppier seas out in the open water. That being said, June, July, and August are the most popular times for tourism since the animals tend to be more active at this time. Naturalist tours tend to be during the time period between December and May as the seas are calm and the weather is quite warm. If you are interested in diving, opt for July through November if you are hoping to see whale sharks.
There are a number of activities that you can do while you are visiting the islands. Snorkeling is always popular and Wolf and Darwin islands have been consistently ranked as some of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. Hiking through the highlands is, of course, one of the most popular activities that is not-to-be-missed while visiting the Galapagos. There are also several locations for surfing - just make sure you rest your surfboard in the marked areas so as not to damage the land. You can also explore the island with a bike ride or even on horseback, and rent a kayak to check out the coastline you can't reach in a larger boat.
You have a couple options for visiting the islands - either by air or on a cruise. I personally think that a cruise is a fantastic way to experience the area. Even if you aren't typically interested in cruising, you are sure to love the small ships that head to the Galapagos. These are not the typical, enormous cruise ships since they do not hold more than 100 people (the maximum allowed by law), so it is more like a small luxury hotel than anything else. The ships also make it easy to experience the various islands and no matter where you are you will have gorgeous views of the countryside.
When heading to a destination such as this, we recommend bringing a good camera - not the one on your phone! The breathtaking photos you take will be well worth it. Try to bring one with as much zoom as possible, you never know what fascinating creatures you will see! We also recommend you bring along a GoPro for taking underwater shots as well as videos along the way. You will be so glad you did! Also, don't forget your proximity to the equator, so a hat and sunscreen will go a long way towards making your travel more comfortable!
We also recommend considering a trip extension to visit more of the stunning country of Ecuador. The colonial capital Quito is set high in the Andes between mountain peaks - in the shadow of the Pichincha volcano - and the views from up there are simply gorgeous. Head deeper into the Andes to Otavalo where you can see the indigenous craftspeople at work over their looms, and explore the cloud forest where countless hummingbirds flit in and out of the mist. Ecuador may be a small country, but it is a truly remarkable land full of welcoming people, breathtaking vistas, and unusual wildlife - a bucket list destination indeed!