Galapagos penguins

Galapagos Islands in September

To read an updated version of this article click here.

We take a look at what’s going on in the Galapagos Islands during the month of September.

  • September is the start of the breeding season for sea lions so you’ll be sure to see a lot of sea lion activity – males can often be observed aggressively patrolling their territories (be sure to keep well out of their way!) 
  • Penguins are also very visible during this month: it’s a great time to spot and even snorkel with them, particularly on Bartolome Island
  • The cooler waters at this time of year means lots of potential whale sightings
  • September sees the lowest rainfall of the year, while temperatures are comfortable (18-24°C) – ideal for walking
  • Waters can be choppy in September, so if you’re prone to sea-sickness a land-based tour is recommended
  • September and October are low season, meaning you can find some great deals on tours and cruises, and tourist numbers are generally lower

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Photo credit: Flickr/Benjamin Jakabek

Galapagos sea lion with pup

Galapagos Islands: What happens in August

Updated August 2016.

In August, the cold Humboldt Current becomes stronger through the Galapagos Islands, making the waters rich with nutrients. This is a boon for nursing sea lion and fur seal moms – and for human snorkelers and scuba divers!

On Land
  • On Santa Cruz Island, giant tortoises are returning to the highlands. You’ll have a greater chance of seeing these gentle giants.
  • Lava lizards continue their mating rituals. Look for the blushing females and their potential mates doing push-ups to attract their attention.
  • It’s pupping season for the Galapagos sea lion, especially on the central and western islands. Be aware that the mothers can be aggressive if they feel threatened.
  • Fur seals are beginning their breeding season on Fernandina Island.
At Sea
  • Humpback whales are migrating through the Galapagos Islands.
  • Whale and dolphin sightings are common near Isabela and Fernandina Islands.
  • Whale sharks are still hanging out up at Darwin and Wolf Islands.
In the Air
  • Migrant shore birds are arriving in the Galapagos Islands. Many will stay until March.
  • The Greater Flamingo continues to perform its courting dance.
  • Blue-footed boobies and their downy chicks are seen, especially on Española Island.
  • Also on Española Island, the Waved Albatross are nesting and the chicks appearing.
  • Courtship rites of the Galapagos Hawk can be witnessed on Española and Santiago Islands.
  • On North Seymour Island, the Frigatebird babies are hatching.
  • On Genovesa Island, Nazca Boobies and Swallow-tailed Gulls are nesting.
  • The high season continues, with highlander Ecuadorians and Northern Hemisphere visitors on vacation.
  • At the end of August, the villagers of Santa Rosa in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island will be celebrating their patron saint.

The strengthening Humboldt Current brings brisk conditions to the Galapagos Islands.

  • The fine garúa mist makes the mornings and evenings damp. Have a rain slicker on hand for the light afternoon shower that might fall.
  • August is the coldest month in the Galapagos Islands, with air temperatures ranging from 18-23ºC (64-74ºF) with a strong breeze. Be sure to pack a sweater or jacket.
  • The ocean is roughest in August, with strong currents. High waves can occur along south and west-facing shores. If you are prone to seasickness, don’t forget seasickness medication, or you may want to consider land-based tours.
  • The sea temperature can drop as low as 18ºC (64ºF). You will definitely need a wetsuit for snorkeling.


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


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Photo credit: Jan Hazevoet