September is one of the coldest months of the year in the Galápagos Islands (cold being a relative term. It's still warm enough to enjoy hiking, walking, and land-based sightseeing tours. You can expect daily temperatures around 67-70 °F with sea temperatures around 70 °F. It's also one of the driest months with almost no rain, and there is no humidity during this time. It is a good idea to bring warmer clothes for the evenings as well as for cruises since it can get a bit chilly.
Crowds & Costs
Similar to the rest of the year, traveling to the Galápagos Islands is popular, but as September marks the beginning of the low season, it becomes a lot less crowded. After August, it calms down significantly across the islands, which makes for a quieter getaway. You will also find better deals on flights and hotels, as well as on water-based and land-based tours. Wildlife is particularly active and you will have the chance to see animals without the crowds of other travelers. Now is also the time to find last-minute deals on cruises and other tours.
Where to Go
One of September's highlights is the active wildlife. It is the last month to see dolphins and humpback whales around the islands before they migrate to colder waters, as it gets warmer in late fall and winter. Another September highlight is seeing the Galápagos penguins, who are more active than usual. Visit Bartolome Islands to see them in abundance, both on land and in the water (go snorkeling to see them eye-to-eye).
Head to Isabela Island—one of the largest islands—to see incredible wildlife and beaches, and spot the cute newcomers—the Galápagos fur seals. You'll also see marine iguanas, pelicans, and napping sea lions on the beach and even on the pavements. You might have to step over them to get past since they probably won't move for you.
Take a trip to Las Tintoreras—an islet just off the coast of Puerto Villamil. The islet is a protected reserve, which means you have to take a tour to get here, but it is well worth it. It consists of a small group of rocky islands where to can enjoy a wide variety of wildlife and snorkel with starfish, eagle rays, sea turtles, and stingrays—to mention a few.
Remember to respect the wild animals and never touch them. Sea lions are mating during September and can get more aggressive during this time of the year, especially the adults.
What to Do
You can enjoy snorkeling, swimming, and diving even with the colder water temperatures. It is a good idea to bring a wetsuit with you to keep you warm (or rent one in town). In addition to the abundant wildlife sightings, September is the perfect time to enjoy walking, hiking, and visiting different islands.
Hike on Bartalóme Island and visit the Pinnacle Rock for fantastic sea views. Head to the Buccaneer Cove with its red cliffs and beaches, located northwest of Santiago Island. In the 17th and 18th centuries, buccaneers used to take sanctuary on this island, stopping in this protected bay. Pirates and marauders used to take shelter in the cover and stock up on water and food before heading back out into the seas.
Take a tour to El Muro de las Lágrimas (The Wall of Tears)—one of the Galápagos Islands’ most interesting historical places. The wall was constructed by prisoners belonging to a penal colony by hand in the 1940s-1950s. As part of their punishment, they had to cut and carry the volcanic rock, as well as construct the 26-foot (8 m) high, and 328-foot (100 m) long wall.
Make sure to visit Los Tuneles as well—one of the most biodiverse places on the Galápagos Islands. It's located about an hour from Isabela Islands and is ideal for snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters. Los Tuneles consists of lava formations looking like tunnels and are home to sea turtles, albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, penguins, flamingos, and many more species.
Events in September
September Equinox, (September 22-24). Celebrations all over the country celebrate autumn's arrival. The September equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above Earth's Equator – from north to south.
Traveling to the Galápagos Islands in September? Check out these great itineraries.
Land-Based Adventure Tour - 10 Days. Experience wildlife, culture, and a 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. Each day will offer more exciting experiences, including snorkeling trips, kayaking, and plenty of opportunities to observe the fantastic wildlife of the Galápagos Islands.
Galápagos Islands Land-Based Adventure Tour - 6 Days. This island-hopping tour enables you to see a diverse range of sites in the Galápagos. You will hike the Sierra Negra Volcano, visit Tintoreras on Isabela, and more.