Marine iguana, Española island, Galapagos islands

Galapagos Islands: What Happens in January

In January, the rainy season begins in the Galapagos Islands. This marks the start of the mating season for land species, both birds and reptiles.

January is also one of the best months for snorkeling, as water temperatures are warming up and visibility is excellent (through March).

On Land
  • Throughout the Galapagos Islands, marine iguanas are mating. On Española Island, these iguanas, famously known as the “Christmas marine iguanas,” are turning bright green and red to attract mates.
  • The land iguanas are also having their season. Especially on Isabela, you’ll see the males fighting each other for females.
  • Giant tortoises are laying their eggs in the wild.
At Sea
  • Green sea turtles are laying eggs on Galapagos beaches. To prevent destruction of the nests, stay on marked paths when visiting Tortuga Bay or other beaches.
In the Air
  • Darwin’s finches, Galapagos mockingbird and other land birds begin nesting after the first rain.
  • The rare lava heron, unique to the Galapagos Islands, are also nesting.
  • Migrant shore birds are visiting, taking a rest stop on their long pilgrimage from the Northern winter.
  • The winter holiday high season continues, with vacationing Northern Hemisphere visitors.
  • The onset of the rainy season begins in the Galapagos Islands also heralds warmer temperatures now, both on land and in the sea. These tropical conditions continue until June. The sun is strong now; use SPF 30+ sun screen or other protection.
  • The rainy season is in full tilt on these desert isles. Expect 2.5 – 5 centimeters (1 – 2 inches) of rain, especially in the highlands.
  • Air temperatures are much warmer than in previous months, reaching a high of 29 – 30ºC (84 – 86ºF). In the evenings, temperatures dip to 21 – 22ºC (74 – 76ºF).
  • The seas around the Galapagos Islands are pleasantly warm: 23 – 25ºC (74 – 76ºF). Visibility is good, creating fantastic conditions for snorkeling adventures.


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

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Photo credit: Vince Smith

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