A nature lover’s paradise, botanist’s dream and photographer’s haven, the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador offer a variety of holidays for people with a range of interests. Due to this, choosing the right style of trip is important, and there are so many things to consider, from land-based stays to Galapagos cruises. If you opt for staying on water, you need to decide whether you are looking at luxury cruises or the more simple options and which wildlife you want to see. There are many factors to think about when planning a Galapagos Islands trip. Here are five things to consider before booking your Galapagos Islands trip:

things to consider before booking a galapagos islands trip
Giant tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

1. Are luxury cruises for me?

One of the first things to decide is how you want to see the islands. The start of any brochure on the Galapagos opens with a section on Galapagos cruises, explaining the virtues of the numerous boats available. But once you browse through the brochure, you often find land-based arrangements that can either be done on their own, or as an extension to the range of luxury cruises. If you are prone to seasickness, or like waking up to a morning stroll, then one of these island based options may suit you more than a cruise. The land-based options may also be cheaper and the number of nights can be more flexible, as land based tours do not have to fit with a cruise itinerary. Of course, if seeing the less inhabited islands is your preference, then Galapagos cruises may be your only choice.

2. Size of the boat?

The range of Galapagos cruises available means there is a boat to suit everyone – from small catamarans that only have 16 guests, to the larger boats with a full range of facilities and on-board entertainment.

Yacht La Pinta

The decision of which boat is right for you comes down to what you are looking for – the smaller boats are often a more intimate experience and can have more flexibility in where they visit, however the larger boats are often more stable and have a broader range of things to do whilst on the water. Read about my Galapagos Islands cruise.

Athala II

3. When to go?

This is probably the most important factor to consider before booking a Galapagos Islands trip. The islands are a year round destination, however there is a slight seasonality – December to April is warmer, whilst May to November are cooler months. If you thinking of going somewhere between May and November, you’ll need some warmer layers. You’ll also have to swim in a wetsuit – your cruise provider will give you more information.

August and Christmas tend to be the busiest months due to school holidays, so if you can avoid these peak times, you will find better value at other times of year.

Off-peak seasons

If price is a factor for you, then the low seasons of April/May or September/October should mean that it is possible to find lower prices and boat owners usually lower their prices at these times of the year, although the weather is always suitable for boat tours.

June to December: dry season

From June to December, the waters are cooler and there can be more mist around, making sightseeing a little more difficult. This dampness, however, does mean that the islands are green and lush during this period. Surprisingly, there is not a significant amount of rainfall at this time, which is often referred to as the dry season, with the sky remaining blue, albeit usually with a short daily shower. One major attraction during this period takes place in October when the waved albatross performs its courtship ritual which is a fascinating spectacle to see. One word of warning though, if you suffer from sea sickness, you may wish to avoid this season as seas tend to be rougher than in the warm season!

December to May: warm season

December to May is called the warm season which brings a tropical climate with more rain and cloud although the weather is warmer. This is the time of the year when you can expect to see the most bird activity. The waters too are significantly warmer and are ideal for swimming and snorkelling.

The drawback to this warmer water though is that there are less fish to see at this time of the year compared to the dry season. During this period there is also a strong possibility that you will get a chance to see the sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches of the Galapagos. As this is the season for sea lions to mate, if you go during March and April, you will be able to see the new born sea lion pups roaming the islands too.

Sea lion pup

The best months to visit the Galapagos Islands

For sheer beauty though, the months of February, March and April are the best as this is the time when the colourful flowers bloom and fill the Galapagos Islands with a plethora of wonderful colours. Whichever time of the year you choose, the Galapagos Islands will always have something magical for you to remember for a long time afterwards.

Red-footed booby – Galapagos

4. What to wear?

This is another important thing to consider before you leave for the Galapagos Islands. As an island destination, clothing tends to be more casual. If you are travelling in the cooler months, do remember to bring a warm layer or two such as a fleece and long trousers. Also note that some of the luxury cruises may have a smart casual dress code for dining. There will be numerous hikes so bring sturdy hiking shoes and other lightweight gear. In addition, don’t forget your swimwear for snorkelling trips.

Blue-footed booby – Galapagos

Due to the erratic weather, I advise dressing in layers, especially during the cooler months. I also recommend bringing a wind/rain-proof coat for all outdoor activities.

5. Your guides?

One of the things most people find interesting when visiting the Galapagos Islands is the information they get on the flora and fauna from their guides. Generally, the better the guides on board, the more your cruise will cost. Furthermore, the better guides will generally have a higher standard of English, which may be an important consideration unless you are fluent in Spanish. Checking out the quality of the guides before you book is important. My guides on Yacht La Pinta were excellent!

Read about other recommended places to visit in Ecuador.

6 Responses

  • […] from when to go and what to wear, to your likelihood of encountering seasickness.  Read this travel blog in full on Velvet Escape, where I guest posted. Sunset on Floreana, the Galapagos Islands Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe […]

  • Very useful information you have shared with us Pamela. I will keep those points in mind while preparing for a trip. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Awesome! Have a great trip Pamela! 🙂 I’m sure you’ll love every second of it.


  • […] a land-based Galapagos trip, but in the meantime, to read more of this article, visit travel blog Velvet Escape where it was originally […]

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