December is a very popular month to visit the Galapagos Islands. However, prices are higher, thanks to the arrival of high season and Christmas. This leads some visitors to question whether Galapagos Islands in December is the right choice for them. There is a lot to think about when deciding on the best month to visit the Galapagos – though in actuality much of what you get to do in the Islands does not vary greatly from month to month. Regardless, here we fill you in on everything you need to know to decide if you should spend December in Galapagos.
From a weather perspective, Galapagos is great in December. The Galapagos weather in December is starting to heat up. The average maximum temperature rises to 81 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, the coldest you can expect it to be is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 degrees Celsius. This means that it does get nice and warm during the day, but is mostly not too hot, and it does not get too cold at night either. The average temperature you can expect is 74 degrees Fahrenheit, or 24 degrees Celsius. The sea temperature is similar to this, and it is around 73 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 degrees Celsius. What is noteworthy about the weather in December is that it is very much a transition period between the cooler drier season and the warm wet season. This means you might very well experience a range of different weather. Do not expect much rain, however, as the average monthly rainfall in November is 0.5 inches (1.3 centimeters) in the highlands of the islands.
An exciting Galapagos Islands highlight in December is that giant tortoise eggs start to hatch. If you are very lucky you might get to see baby tortoises on Isabela Island. Meanwhile, Galapagos green turtles are also busy during this month, as December is the month that they begin mating. Marine and land iguanas also being their mating season at this time. Both marine and land iguanas will often be aggressive and defensive about their territory at this time. Marine iguanas are pretty colorful at this time of year, as they brighten up to try and attract a mating partner.
Looking at bird life, this is the last month of the year when you might get to see the Waved Albatross in the Galapagos Islands, as they head off in December. You might spot one in January, but this is a less common event. One of the best parts about a Galapagos Islands visit in December is that you will see the young chicks starting to gain their wing feathers, growing these so that they are ready to take off. This is possible to see on Espanola Island, so if you want to experience this, make sure your Galapagos Islands cruise involves a visit to this Island.
All of the Galapagos activities that visitors enjoy can be done during any month of the year. That said, December is an excellent month for snorkeling and diving in the Galapagos Islands for many reasons. One reason is that the water becomes clearer, and visibility improves. This happens because the Humboldt current starts to subside at this time. This also leads to warmer waters that are calmer. That said, it can still be pretty chilly in the water at this time of year, and some may want to bring a wetsuit with them to spend more time in the water. Another reason for good snorkeling at this time, is that the sea lion pups are becoming more confident in the water, and you will often find they enjoy playing with snorkelers in the shallow waters. This is a very memorable experience as the pups will swim right up to your face before darting away.
Other activities in the Galapagos continue much as they have for the rest of the year. You will have access to all of the Galapagos visitor sites that your cruise takes you to, and you’ll be able to enjoy hiking the trails and photographing the animals, just as you can during the rest of the year. As the weather is becoming warmer in December it is more suitable for beach time, and relaxing in the sunshine on the deck of the boat – or at your Galapagos hotel.
December is very much the high season in Galapagos. With the approach of the Christmas holidays for much of the Western world, the Galapagos cruise boats and hotels become very busy. Prices are inflated during this period, due to the high demand. If you want to spend Christmas in the Islands you will want to book months, if not years in advance. It is very unlikely that you will find a cheap Galapagos Islands cruise or hotel at this time – although it can happen sometimes. You can expect the Islands to be pretty busy during this period. However, the great thing about taking a Galapagos Islands cruise is that cruises are scheduled such that there are never too many people at any particular visitor site at a given time. This means that it will never really feel that crowded.
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December is not a cheap month to visit the Galapagos Islands as demand for spots is high, particularly over the Christmas period. However, if you have the cash to spent, it can be an excellent time to visit the archipelago. The weather is warm but not oppressively hot, there is not too much rain and the snorkeling can be great, with improved visibility compared to the months before. There is a lot of interesting activities in the Galapagos Islands wildlife during this month, and it is the last chance of the year to see the Waved Albatross on Espanola Island. If you do not have the money for a December visit, do not despair! You can enjoy all the same Galapagos activities at any other time of the year, and likely at a cheaper price too, depending on when you go. Contact us and start planning your trip to the Galapagos Islands in December!