Active volcanoes and serene tranquility
Galápagos cormorant, marine iguanas, active volcanoes, impressive vistas
Explore and experience
The largest island of the Archipelago, very recognizable by its shape of a sea horse. In the south lies the small village of Puerto Villamil. The west of Isabela on the Canal Bolívar, can only be visited by expedition cruise. A quiet place of the archipelago with an unprecedented active wildlife. Do you want to observe the endemic Galápagos cormorant up close? Then this is your destination! The national park has assigned to Isabela the large number of 14 visitor sites on land and 15 snorkeling / diving locations. We list the most important ones below.
Punta Albemarle (also the former name of the island of Isabela) is located in the far north of the island. During the second world war this area was used by the Americans as a radar base, remains of which can still be seen. A panga ride will take you through a beautiful mangrove area, rich in animal life. You can see various birds and marine life such as rays and hammerhead sharks. The marine iguanas of Punta Albermarle and the west of Isabela are the largest in the archipelago.
This bay, directly west of Isabela’s Volcano Alcedo, is very special. This land arose in 1954 as a result of volcanic activities. The bottom of the ocean was pushed up by no less than 4 meters, extending the coast by more than 1 km! You reach this unique area with a wet landing. After you have dried your feet you will walk around 5 km through this newly formed landscape. During the walk you can encounter remains of aquatic organisms and even parts of the coral reef, elements that remind you of the time that all this was still a seabed. Highlights of this excursion are the giant land iguanas and giant tortoises. You also have a second chance here (in addition to a visit to Fernandina) to see the Galápagos cormorant. Finally, you will have the opportunity for snorkeling or just relaxing on the coast.
Possible encounters: land iguanas, giant tortoises, sea lions, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, pelicans
At Caleta Tagus in the west of Isabela you go back in the history of the Galápagos, to the 1800’s when pirates and whalers roamed the waters. Pirates anchored their ships in this bay. When you go ashore you will find a small cave with ancient inscriptions, left by the crew of these ships. Via a wooden staircase you climb up to the edge of the crater to continue the path along Lake Darwin, a salt water lake with a depth of 9 meters. At the end of the hiking trail you have a spectacular view of your ship’s anchorage in the bay and of the Darwin and Wolf volcanoes.
Punta Vicente Roca
Punta Vicente Roca is located in the west of Isabela and is a prime location for snorkeling. You have the chance to see colorful fish, sea lions, penguins and sea turtles.
Punta Moreno is located on the west coast of the island of Isabela, between the volcanoes of Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul. The path runs over a solidified lava flow past saltwater lagoons. Here you will find many water birds and sometimes flamingos. In addition to animal life, the landscape is also impressive. The low vegetation consists of mangrove forests. You see beautiful shapes in the solidified lava rock and you will find three different types of lava cacti. You will enjoy a panoramic view of the three volcanoes Sierra Negra, Cerro Azul and La Cumbre (Isla Fernandina).
Volcanoes Sierra Negra and Chico
Volcano Chico is located northeast of the Sierra Negra volcano with a height of about 860 m. This volcano last erupted in November 1979. You often have a clear view when you visit this volcano; due to its favorable location, drizzle or fog is less common here.
The Sierra Negra volcano is considered the oldest volcano on Isabela. The Sierra Negra crater has a diameter of 10 km and is the second largest in the world. You can visit the crater rim. Especially in the dry season you have an unprecedented view from here.
The island of Isabela consists of several volcanoes: the youngest is Cerro Azul, followed by Wolf, Fernandina, Darwin, Alcedo and Sierra Negra. This zone is still volcanically extremely active. There were three eruptions in the 1990s. The Sierra Negra erupted very recently on June 27, 2018
This is the small port town of Isabela, located in the south. The town has a few hotels and from here you can visit a few beautiful sites. We give you a few tips:
La Calera is about a five minute boat ride with a panga from the pier “El Embarcadero”. Access to this site is via a wet landing. This land was used by the first settlers from the island of Isabela to process building materials for their houses (lime, sand, stone) and to attach the boats for fishing. You can still find remains of these materials in this area. You can snorkel in a tidal lagoon.
El Centro de Crianza de Tortugas. This turtle breeding center is 1.5 km from Puerto Villamil. Turtles from various locations in the Galápagos are raised here and returned to nature. The center also has beautiful gardens consisting of native plants.
Los Humedales is a versatile area of swamps, lava landscapes, lagoons and mangrove forests, located just outside of Puerto Villamil. A complex of paths leads you to the most important sites including the Cerro Orchilla (a viewpoint from where you have a wonderful view of Puerto Villamil, the volcanoes and the bay), and the Estero (here you can see the four types of mangrove present in the Galápagos). Other paths lead to lava plains, tunnels and the cemetery, where you can see various ancient tombs.
Concha de Perla – here you can swim and snorkel.
Cueva de Sucre is located in the agricultural zone of the island, about 14 km from Puerto Villamil. Here is a nursery that is used to reproduce native and endemic plants. By eradication of introduced species and reforestation with native and endemic plants the nursery is trying to restore the ecological balance in the agricultural area.
Muro de las Lágrimas. About 7 km outside of Puerto Villamil you will find this 100 meter long wall, built of lava rock. The wall was part of a penal colony that existed here from 1945 to 1959 and was built by the prisoners. It now stands as a monument to the many (people say thousands) who died during construction.
The islet of Las Tintoreras, just south of Puerto Villamil is a beautiful bay to visit. Explore the area through hiking, with a panga ride and snorkelling in the clear, turquoise water. You can see sea lions, sea turtles, marine iguanas, rays and white tipped reefsharks, who have given their name to this area. Las Tintoreras is one of the few places where iguanas can breed in peace because of the absence of natural enemies.
Visited on day tours, this is the most spectacular site for snorkelling near Isabela Island. This tour quickly sells out, booking in advance is advised. The water is shallow, calm and very clear- an absolute sanctuary for many marine species. A series of lava flows have produced unique geological formations, a series of arcs and tunnels underneath and above the water- a habitat for many local Galá pagos species, including white tipped reef sharks and marine turtles.
Isabela has many official diving locations that are located all around the island. Cabo Marshall, Isla Tortuga, Punta Vicente Roca and Roca Redonda are generally considered the best here. The water will be cold, but the animal life unsurpassed!
Other sites are: La Viuda, Punta Alfaro, Punta Garcia, Roca Blanca, Roca Cuatro Hermanos, Roca Unión, Bahía Elizabeth, Cabo Rosas, Caleta Shimpth, Isla Cowley, Islote Tortuga Oeste.Back to overview