If you prefer a tropical climate and warm waters, then January is the perfect month to travel to the Galápagos Islands. The first month of the year brings summer to Ecuador, making it one of the best months to visit the islands.
On land, daily temperatures usually remain around 85 °F, while sea temperatures hover around 76 °F. Afternoon showers are quite frequent in January with an average rainfall of approximately 2.5 inches of rain during the month. Even with the rain, the overall weather and warm temperatures allow for plenty of exploration and activities.
Crowds & Costs
January is the peak season on the Galápagos Islands, which means accommodations and flights are more expensive during this time. However, if you book your trip further in advance, or do the opposite and take a chance on a last-minute deal, it might save you quite a bit—especially on hotel bookings. Of course, the busy season brings many tourists to the islands, but most consider it worth it due to the unusual animal activities during this time.
Where to Go
January is ideal for experiencing a unique wildlife scene on the Galápagos Islands, as it is the nesting season for many species that typically stay hidden during the rest of the year. On Española Island, green sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, while on Pinzon Island and Santa Cruz, the Galápagos giant tortoises begin to nest.
The giant tortoise, a species endemic to the archipelago, arrived on the islands almost three million years ago. After suffering population losses, baby tortoises recently hatched on the islands—for the first time after 100 years. On Española Island, you will also get to see the female marine iguanas up-close. It is the only lizard species that swim in the ocean, and during this month, the males turn on their charm with bright colors to attract males. To see land iguanas begin to reproduce and sunbathe on the volcanic rocks, head to nearby Isabela Island.
What to Do
January is when many bird species arrive back to islands for the summer, and you'll have a high chance of spotting rare seabirds. You will most likely see red-footed, blue-footed, and masked boobies, enormous frigate, and flightless cormorants. Greater flamingoes, Galápagos doves, and Nazca boobies also have their nesting season, and waved albatrosses begin to arrive.
A month filled with wildlife migrations makes this is a particularly good time for snorkeling and birdwatching. You can also enjoy kayaking and surfing, and landbased tours such as hiking and mountain biking. The Galápagos’ turquoise waters are possibly at their best during January with clear and calm conditions, offering incredible visibility for scuba diving and swimming.
Some of the world's best white sand beaches await you in the Galápagos in January, and you’ll be fortunate enough to share them with lazy sea lions. Other species you may spot include sea turtles, penguins, iguanas, and even dolphins.
Events in January
Epiphany (Three Kings) Holiday (January 6). The Three Kings festival is held throughout Ecuador, celebrated by musicians playing traditional instruments, big parades featuring folk dancers, and civic groups in local costumes.
Traveling to the Galápagos Islands in January? Check out these great itineraries.
Land-Based Adventure Tour - 10 Days. Experience wildlife, culture, and the unique ecosystem of the archipelago as you see sights by bike, by foot, and in the water. This extraordinary adventure includes snorkeling with sea lions, tropical fish, and beautiful manta rays.
Galápagos Cruise: Wildlife Watching, Snorkeling & Hiking - 11 Days. This 11-day cruise is a perfect excursion for those wanting to maximize their time on the Galápagos Islands. You'll experience around a dozen islands, including lesser-known sights and activities, such as the unusual Rábida Island, which has a Mars-like rocky surface.