When is the best season to travel to Galapagos Islands?

The Galapagos have the spectacular flora and fauna all rear round.

My preference are the month February and March because of the warm water temperature. During these 2 months the Galapagos are under the influence of the warm “El Nino Stream” and the sea can reach up to 86 F (24 Celsius).
February and March are also the rainiest and warmest months and the Air temperature can reach over 86 – 88 F (30 Celsius).

In contrast, during the month of August and September the water of the sea is only about 66 – 68 F (18 – 19 Celsius) and the Air 74 – 77 F (24 Celsius). During this period you have little rainfall and the vegetation on the islands is very dry and on some islands desert like. During this period the sea can be rough

What kind of tour is the best to explore the Galapagos Islands?

The best option to explore the Galapagos Islands is with a cruise where you sleep on the yacht.

There are the following kinds of cruises available in Galapagos:

Naturalist Cruises:
On this cruise you do guided land visits on foot. Depending on the island, you have time at a beach to swim and snorkel with sea lions and observe the marine life. You visit in the morning a spot, have lunch on the yacht when navigating to the next spot, and visit another spot in the afternoon.

– Active Cruises:
As Naturalist Cruises but you have the possibility to Scuba Dive. Depending on the cruise you can do up to about 4 immersions on a 8 Day cruise.
The responsible yacht operators use specialized diving operator that takes you to special diving spots during the cruise. That means that you will miss the land visits during your “Diving Days”.

Be aware that the diving spots are often not where land visits spots are and if the yacht offers you an immersion at the place where the boat is located for the land visit, you will often not see much more as when snorkeling.

– Diving Cruises:
These cruises are for the experienced diver only. To participate you should have at least 50 logged open water dives during the last calendar year. Make sure that the cruises includes Darwin and Wolf Islands. This kind of cruise is whiteout any interest for a non – Diving guest because you do only a very few land visits.

How long should I stay in Galapagos Islands?

The larger 90+ passenger vessels offer 4, 5 and 8 Day Cruises. All these yachts are fast, and even during a 4 Day cruise you will comfortably see a lot of the Galapagos Islands.

If you travel on a smaller yacht, – 20 Passengers, I recommend that you do at least a 5 Day cruise, but better an 8 Day cruise.

A general recommendation is that you do better a good 5 Day cruise than an mediocre 8 Day cruise.

With what kind of yacht should I cruise:

Large vessels up to 100 Passengers:
The Galapagos National Park authorities don’t allow vessels with more than 100 Passengers onboard. Most large Galapagos vessels are larger than for 100 Passengers, that means they are never sold out until the last cabin.

All these large vessels are very good organized when visiting the islands. You don’t really feel the large numbers of travelers visiting the same island at the same time. On all the yachts you have never more than 16 travelers for a naturalist guide.

Motor yachts for up to 20 Passengers
A motor yacht is a great option to explore the Galapagos Islands. You travel with an intimate group and make easy new friends onboard.

You travel overnight from island to island and especially lower deck cabins will have motor noise overnight. During the day you might hear the Electric Generator.

Make sure that you travel in an upper deck cabin. Unfortunately not all the yachts have cabin assignment in advance or if they have, the upper deck cabins are more expensive.

Depending on the yacht, there are cabins with upper / lower berths or two lower berths. Especially lower deck cabins on Motor Yachts tend to have upper / lower berths.

Sailing Yacht for up to 16 Passengers
That’s without any doubt the most authentic Galapagos Experience. Accommodation is in often in cabins with upper / lower berths on the lower deck. Engine and Generator noise you will have as in most Motor Yachts.

The sails will be used only during the day if the wind conditions permit.

Most sailing yachts in Galapagos have a beautiful interior, but to move around is not that easy as onboard a motor yacht. Often you have to go up a ladder instead of a stair and larger guests have sometimes to draw their head when moving around the yacht.

Is it a good idea to bring children to Galapagos?

Most quality yachts have an age restriction of 7 – 10 years for children. On all the yachts you have to sign a “Weaver of Liability” if you child is less than 12 years old.

Think twice to bring children less than 10 years to Galapagos if you like to enjoy the trip yourself too.

Consider that the sea can be rough at any time and the journey by zodiac from the yacht to the island that you visit can be wet for the guests and difficult for children.

Most yachts don’t offer an interesting children discount, and on most cruises is nobody on-board to look specially for your children.

The exception are special “Family Cruises” who leave usually during the US School Holidays and are offered on some medium sized deluxe class motor Yachts. On these cruises is the age limit for children by 7 years and there is a special naturalist guide onboard to look after the children.

Which ever tour you choose, a trip to Galapagos Islands is expensive and needs exact and professional planning. Make sure that you travel with an expert Galapagos Tour Operator who insures that you have have Your “Once in a Lifetime travel experience” you will be talked about for generations.

Peter Lauffer