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Isabela (Ecuador)

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Isabela Island, also known by its Spanish name of Isla Isabela and less commonly by its English name of Albemarle Island, is the largest of the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.


  • Puerto Villamil is the largest town on the island and has accommodation and restaurants for tourist.
  • Santo Tomas is just a collection of a few farms, barely large enough to have a name.


Located in the western part of the archipelago, Isabela is larger than all of the rest of the islands combined. Comprising six volcanos, the island is about 75 miles long and covers 1771 square miles. Its highest point on Wolf Volcano rises 5600 feet above sea level. Due to most of the visitor sites being on the western side of the island, far from Santa Cruz, only the longer (and hence more expensive) boat tours visit this island.

The town of Puerto Villamil at the southern end offers lodging and food to visitors wanting to stay on the island.

See the Galapagos wildlife page for information on the flora and fauna of the islands.

Get In[edit]


There is a public speedboat once a day from Santa Cruz that departs at 2:00 PM / 14:00. It is best to buy tickets at least one day in advance and costs $25-$30 each way. You must arrive 30 minutes prior to departure as your bags will be subject to an agricultural search. On departure from Isabela, foreigners must pay a $5 exit fee. The public speedboat back to Santa Cruz departs at 6:00 AM / 06:00. Again, you must arrive 30 minutes prior to departure. The transfer between Isabela and Santa Cruz is 2 hours - 2 hours 15 minutes.


There are two local airlines on Galapágos, Emetebe and AIR ZAB, flying between islands of Baltra, Isabela and San Cristóbal. Planes are small (4-9 passengers), and there is a strict weight limit of 20 pounds. Flight between Baltra and Isabela is less than 30 mins, and between Isabela and San Cristóbal is approximately an hour. Flights cost $160-$170 one way or $250-$260 round trip.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Wall of tears - there's a nice 2,5-3 hour (return trip) hike to the wall of tears. On the way there are lots of things to see; lakes with flamingos and other wildlife, beaches with hundreds of (really big) iguanas, beaches with sea lions, giant tortoises and view points. Take plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.
  • Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. In this center the giant tortoises from Isabela are bred and raised before being released into the wild. It's open to the public on weekdays. Follow the 1200m long board walk which starts west of Puerto Villamil just past the Iguana Crossing Hotel.
  • Flamingos. See flamingos at the lagoon in town or, in larger numbers, along the boardwalk to the tortoise breeding center.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Sierra Negra Volcano and Vulcan Chico. Sierra Negra is one of the five volcanoes on the island. It has the second largest crater in the world and, when the weather is clear, the views at the crater rim are impressive (the wildlife less so). Follow the rain forest trail along the Sierra Negra rim to the sunny and dry moon-like landscape leading to Vulan Chico. 16 kilometers total; rain gear, full water bottle, sunblock, and sturdy footwear recommended. Tours can be arranged in Puerto Villamil. The price is $75, but cheaper without English speaking guide or without a horse. If you want to camp or go without guide ask permission at the park office in Puerto Villamil first.
  • Las Tintoreras. Las Tintoreras is a lagoon where white tip sharks come to rest. They can be seen from the trail, but it's not allowed to go snorkeling in the lagoon. The snorkeling at the beach behind is excellent however, and eagle rays and sea turtles can be seen here. It has also been declared part of national park, so you need a guided tour to get there.
  • Concha de Perla. Follow the boardwalk from the docks. It's a natural pool good for snorkeling and playing with sea lions.
  • Los Tuneles. Canals in the lava rocks with bridges and caves. Cactus grow on the rocks and many big turtles, rays and fish can be seen swimming in the canals and pools filled with sea-water. The tour usually costs $70+ and includes snorkeling at a similar nearby site where sea-horses and sharks can be seen. Group sizes are limited to 10 people, so tours fill up pretty quickly.
  • Iguana Crossing. On the West side of town between the beach and the lagoons is the Iguana's crossing. Even the police stop to let them go. This is the only controlled intersection in Puerto Villamil.

On a live aboard cruise you can visit the following sites:

  • Tagus Cove
  • Elisabeth Bay
  • Urvina Bay

Underwater sites[edit]

You can dive the following sites from Puerto Villamil:

  • Isla Tortuga - Pelagic sightings include hammerheads, mantas, eagle rays, etc. Sea fans, coral, turtles, lots of tropicals to see.
  • 4 Hermanos - From June - Nov, trips are unlikely due to rough seas.
  • La Viuda - Advanced dive only due to currents.

On a dive liveaboard cruise, you can visit the following sites:

  • Punta Vicente Roca - Abundant coral, mola molas, bullhead shark, sea lions, penguins, flightless cormorants.
  • Roca Redonda - Underwater fumeroles, pelagics
  • Cabo Marshall - Mantas, sea lions, Galapagos sharks.
  • Roca Blanca - Abundant coral, sea lions, mantas, white tipped reef sharks, lots of tropicals to see.

Get out[edit]

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!



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