Green Sea Turtles mating, Galapagos islands

Galapagos Islands: What Happens in December

December is an exciting time in the Galapagos Islands as life springs anew.

For many animals, the mating season is either beginning or ending.

After months of the garúa mist, the landscape is greened with flowering plants.

Northern birds, dolphins and whales are passing through on their southward journeys.

On Land
  • Fur seals are breeding, especially on Fernandina Island.
  • Giant tortoise eggs are hatching. This lasts until April.
At Sea
  • Green sea turtles are mating in shallow waters. (Don’t be surprised if you bump into a happy couple while snorkeling!)
In the Air
  • The big bird news in the Galapagos is with the spectacular Waved Albatross. Chicks are fledging and this month the Waved Albatross will be leaving Española Island. They won’t return until March.
  • The Galapagos Islands’ endemic Lava Herons are nesting.
  • Blue-footed Boobies are also nesting.
  • And as always, you may catch the year-round breeding and nesting of Red-footed and Masked Boobies, or up on North Seymour, nesting Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds. If the food supplies are excellent, Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes will also be breeding and nesting.
  • The high season begins in mid-December with school vacations and Christmas holidays. This continues until mid-January.
  • New Year’s Eve is an interesting time in the Galapagos Islands. In the days before December 31, people build stages with comedic scenes featuring sports, political and other public figures. On New Year’s Eve, the viudas alegres (Merry Widows) of Old Man Year will be out. These men dressed as women later participate in a beauty pageant in the park on Puerto Ayora’s seafront.
  • December marks the beginning of warmer weather in the Galapagos Islands. Days are mostly sunny and there is little wind.
  • The sun is more intense. Be sure to use a sunscreen of at least SPF30 or other protection.
  • It is getting hotter in the Islands, with air temperatures ranging from 22 to 27ºC (72-81ºF).
  • As the Humboldt Current weakens, the sea becomes warmer, averaging 22-23ºC (72-74ºF).


Have you visited the Galapagos islands in December? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Photo credit: Brian Gratwicke

2 replies
  1. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    I did a ten day cruise with my husband and two young boys just before Christmas last year and it was the most wonderful holiday we have ever taken. So much wildlife! And we could get so close. The highlight for the boys (and me!) was snorkeling with sea lions. Unforgettable.

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