Galápagos Islands
Photo Courtesy of Joao Canziani
Now is always the right time to spy baby sea lions gamboling in frothy surf, experience life on an island populated by nothing but boobies, and peek inside an iguana’s stinky hibernaculum. The Galápagos Islands are a year-round destination—they’re on the equator, after all—though the islands' peak seasons, from June through September and again from December to mid-January, see prices of accommodations and cruises soar. The Galápagos National Park Service strictly limits visitor numbers and island access, so you’ll never feel like you’re lost in a crowd—unless the lizards smell the chocolate in your pockets. Light rain falls nearly every day from December through May, though the sun still shines brightly for hours, and visitors are frequently gifted with grandiose sunrises and sunsets. The water is warmest early in the year, providing excellent conditions for swimming and snorkeling, though the best diving is done in December, when fish, turtles, sea birds, and penguins compete for food. Early in the spring is when you’ll find tortoises wandering down into the lowlands in search of love, land birds shaking their tail feathers at one another, and sea turtles popping out eggs on the beach. Sea lions get frisky during the rainy season and then birth outrageously cute—and curious—pups through the end of April. The stark moonscapes of the Galápagos come to life at this time of year, when flowers bloom and blanket the islands in an array of colors.