What is the Panama Current?

About Galapagos Islands, Planning Your Trip

The Panama Current flows into the Galapagos waters in November.  Along with the Panama Current come warmer waters, which replace the cooler waters of the Humboldt Current. These warmer waters are not as nutrient rich as the waters of the Humboldt Current, making the underwater visibility clearer.

This Current flows south from Central America and raises the water temperature around 4°C (increasing it to a range of 21°C – 27°C) or 5°F (increasing it to a range of 70°F – 80°F) making it slightly more comfortable for swimming and snorkeling. The air temperature is also warmer because of this current and the skies are generally clear.

How does the Panama Current Affect the Galapagos Islands?

During this time of the year there are short, sometimes strong rains.  These occasional rains are responsible for this season being called the wet season.  Don’t let the term “wet season” fool you, the Galapagos Islands only experience slight changes in climate throughout the year, and are therefore a pleasure to visit all year round.

At times (every 2 to 7 years) the trade winds that are responsible for moving the Panama Current out and bringing the Humboldt Current in, fail or weaken. This causes the water to stay warm for a longer period of time, allowing what is referred to as “El Niño,” which can cause many changes to the climate and animal life of the Galapagos Islands.


The waters of the Galapagos are rich in underwater life all year round, so don’t forget your underwater camera. And, if you visit during the months of November through May when the Panama Current is in town, your pictures will be even clearer.

Meet the Author

Hi, I'm Dena Haines! I'm an traveler, photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for travel brands. I blog at GringosAbroad (Ecuador travel) and Click Like This (How to Use a GoPro).

1 comment… add one
  • Fabio Peñafiel Jan 9, 2015, 1:39 pm

    What could an inn managed by andeans possibly know about oceanography??
    Stop feeding the chalatanry on the Galapagos, there is NO Panama Current!
    As a qualified sailor I recommend checking a Pilot Chart or talk to any skipper arriving from Panama on the way to Polynesia or try to find this mythical cuurent in the internet.
    Sorry for the ranting.

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