There is no “best” or “better” time to fly to Galapagos because the weather in Galapagos is pleasant reasonable all year round due to its proximate location to the equator. The climate is divided into two seasons.
The warm wet season is from January to May with March and April usually being the hottest and wettest months with approximately 30°C.
During this warmer season, the Galapagos’ climate is more tropical with daily rain and cloudier skies. Also, the ocean temperature is warmer for swimming and snorkeling. The water temperature ranges from 70°F (21°C) to 80°F (27°C). Since the water’s warmer, snorkeling is highly recommended during these months.
During this season the tourists may observe a large number of species around the islands such as marine iguanas, sea turtle, land iguanas, flamingos, white-cheeked pintails, masked boobies, marine iguanas, albatross, and blue-footed boobies.
Cool dry season
The cool dry season from June to December with August being the coolest month with approximately 22°C and is also known as the “garua season” when it is relatively cool and dry with more overcast skies and occasional drizzle or mist (garua) during the day. During this dry season, Galapagos weather is pleasant, the water temperature is lower (65°F (18°C) to 75°F (23°C)) and there are often clouds on the higher elevations. Water visibility is usually lower in due to plankton bloom, but this combination of conditions brings in the whale sharks and there is a lot more activity in the water and food is abundant. Because Galapagos climate is not too hot during this season, it is also the breeding period for many sea birds and shore birds, marine iguanas, sea lions and fur seals.
When flying into the country of Ecuador, you can choose to arrive either to the Andean capital city of Quito or to the costal city of Guayaquil.
Quito is Ecuador’s capital, located in the Andes Mountain Range at 2,800 meters/9,180 ft. above sea level. Quito’s “old” town is one of the most beautiful colonial centers of any Latin American city and is nearby several Andean indigenous markets like Otavalo and Cotacachi.
Guayaquil is located at the coast of Ecuador and is the country’s largest city with a population of 2.5 million. It is a modern city and Ecuador’s largest port.
There are domestic flights to the Galapagos originating from the cities of Quito or Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands. The main airports are Baltra (close to Santa Cruz) and San Cristobal Island ; which airport you fly to will depend on where your Galapagos tour starts.
Flights departing from Quito stop in Guayaquil before continuing to the Galapagos Islands. The flight time between Quito and Guayaquil is roughly 35 minutes and from Guayaquil to Galapagos is roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The national airlines that serve Ecuador mainland are Tame, Avianca and Latam. You can not fly internationally into the Galapagos Islands.
All travelers should arrive at the airport at least 2.5 hours in advance of their flight and approac the Consejo de Gobierno counter before their check-in to obtain the Transit Control Card (20 USD per person, cash only). This document gives you permission to enter the islands as a tourist. At the end of your Galapagos trip this card will be retained by the local authorities. In case of loss of the Transit Control Card you will be charged a penalty fee.
To be able to check in with the airline check you also will need to pass a luggage control with the ABG institution (Quarantine department for Galapagos) who prevents the entry of prohibited items and avoid introducing species that could affect the Galapagos ecosystem such as vegetables, fruits, animals, animal products, dairy products and live animals. Once the immigration process is complete and the ABG have sealed your luggage you can approach your airline counter to checkin.
At your arrival at the Galapagos airport you will have to make your way to the according line (Foreigners, Nationals and Galapagos Residents) to pay the Galapagos National Park entrance fee in cash.
Children under 12 (foreign nationalities) $50.00
Galatrails will not be held responsible for visa issues. Please check with your embassy if a visa to enter Ecuador is required.
For entering Galapagos no visa is needed but a Transit Control Card (Cost 20 USD) must be obtained in Quito or Guayaquil airport (please check information above Get ready for your trip).
The currency in Ecuador is the American Dollar (USD). In 2000, Ecuador adopted the US dollar as its official currency. You will need cash upon arrival to the islands in order to pay the Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee (see information above).
The Galapagos Islands due to their remote location are more expensive then Ecuador mainland.
Please consider while planning your trip that living costs are higher as well as your personal spending might be.
Here are some references regarding costs on the islands:
Small Beer – 4 to 5 USD
Glass of wine – 7 -10 USD
Local meal (set menu) – 5 to 8 USD
Lunch or Dinner in a restaurant – 15-25 USD
The only ATMs available in the Galapagos are in Baltra, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal available. If your tour visits Isabela Island make sure to carry enough cash with you.
Credit Cards are only accepted in major hotels or restaurants. You will need cash for local expenses in smaller stores, taxis and/or souvenir shops. Some establishments might apply a surcharge on a credit card purchase.
Galatrails recommends to have enough cash on hand preferably in smaller nominations (20 USD notes). Please consider that torn notes are not accepted.
Tipping is not compulsory but at the same time very much appreciated by the locals if you have received a service that met your expectations.
In some restaurants a 10% service charge is included on your bill while in more local eateries this is not the case and a 10% tipping on top of the bill is recommended. Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips due to safety reasons. Please keep in mind when travelling to Galapagos you are travelling remotely and certain medical facilities are not available or limited. Therefore an mandatory travel insurance is helpful in case of emergencies.
As part of our booking policies you need to provide us before the start of your trip via email with your complete insurance information (name of insurance company, policy number, insurance emergency contact number) in order to be able to participate on the trip.
FYI, for the Galapagos Islands there are no required or recommended immunizations. If you, however, intend to spend more time in Ecuador, especially in the jungle, immunization is highly recommended. As this changes from time to time please check with your local health office (or the Institute for Tropical Diseases) a few weeks in advance of your trip.
For your Galapagos trip we recommend you to travel as light as possible as it facilitates easier traveling between inter islands on the speedboats. The national airlines usually have a luggage allowance of 20kg per person.
Depending on your travel plans before or after your Galapagos trip you might be able to arrange with your hotel in Quito or Guayaquil to leave part of your luggage in the hotels’s storage room.
Please check with your hotel.