Isabela Island

Isabela (Albemarle) Island - Ecuador

This island was named in honor of Queen Isabela. With an area of 4,640 square kilometers (1,792 sq mi), it is the largest island of the Galapagos. Two of Isabela's volcanoes lie directly on the equator - Ecuador and Volcan Wolf. Volcan Wolf is the youngest of Isabela's volcanoes and at 5,600ft (1707 m) the highest point in the Galapagos. The island's seahorse shape is the product of the merging of six large volcanoes into a single landmass. Isabela's rich animal, bird, and marine life is beyond compare. Isabela is home to more wild tortoises than all the other islands, galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, marine iguanas, pelicans and sally lightfoot crabs abound. At the skirts and calderas of the volcanos of Isabela, Land Iguanas and Galapagos Tortoises can be observed, as well as Darwin finches, Galapagos Hawks, Galapagos Doves and very interesting lowland vegetation. The third-largest human settlement of the archipelago, Puerto Villamil, is located at the south-eastern tip of the island.

When tortoises reach 20 to 25 years of age they become sexually active. Beginning approximately a month before the end of the rainy season the tortoises mate, after mating the females set out on a journey to lay their eggs. Alcedo females venture down to the sandy shores of Urbina Bay building nests in the sand. The female digs a hole with its hind legs approximately (30cm) deep. Once she is please with the hole she deposits between 2 and 16 eggs then covers the eggs with a layer of mud and urine before starting her journey back up the mountain. Baby tortoise take between 120 - 140 days to hatch usually happening between DeceWELCOMETOGALAPAGOSr and April.

On the west coast of Isabela the nutrient rich Cromwell Current upwelling creating a feeding ground for fish, whales, dolphin and birds. These waters have long been known as the best place to see whales in the Galapagos. Some 16 species of whales have been identified in the area including humpbacks, sperms, sei, minkes and orcas.

Puerto Villamil

Puerto Villamil is a town on Isabela. Most of the inhabitants live in agriculture and fishing, but also tourism is growing. It's a nice place to hang out on the beach for a few days or do some snorkeling.

Villamil is often considered the most beautiful site in the Galapagos with its long white sand, palm lined beaches. Behind Villamil are several brackish water lagoons where pink flamingoes, common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, gallinules are usually seen. The lagoons are nesting areas between NoveWELCOMETOGALAPAGOSr - April. The beaches and lagoons near Villamil are home to the best migratory bird viewing in the Galapagos. Villamil is also home to the Darwin center's tortoise breeding center on Isabela. Here you can see several species of Isabela tortoises next to each other and observe the way each evolved differently depending on their environment.

Elizabeth Bay

Is located on the west shore of Isabela Island, at the Perry Isthmus (6 miles wide), Elizabeth Bay is a marine visitor site; landings are not permitted. The tour is a panga ride that begins with a visit to a secluded cove, lined with large red mangrove trees. Here, marine turtles, rays, and shore birds can be seen.After on hour or so of quietly watching the sea turtles and the other creatures in this special place, the panga motors to a few rocky islets called "the Marielas" where a colony of nesting penguins is ususally found. The penguins prefer the cooler waters of the western portions of the archipelago. Flightless cormorants and giant marine iguanas are also seen. The largest marine iguanas in the Galapagos are found on Isabela, due to the umwelling activity which produces plentiful marine iguana food.

Tagus Cove

Lying directly east of Fernandina on the west coast approximately 2/3's of the way up Isabela is the narrow channel of Tagus Cove. Arriving here the boat will sail through the Bolivar Channel, these are the coldest most productive waters in the Galapagos, the upwelling of the Cromwell Current, where dolphins and whales are frequently seen. Tagus Cove, named for the British naval vessel that moored here in 1814, was used historically as an anchorage for pirates and whalers. One can still find the names of the ships carved into the rock above the landing (a practice now prohibited). The coves quiet waters make for an ideal panga ride beneath its sheltered cliffs, where blue-fitted boobies, brown noddies, pelicans and noddy terns make their nests, and flightless cormorants and penguins inhabit the lava ledges.

Urbina Bay

"Urvina Bay is situated on the west coast of Isabela at the base of the Alcedo Volcano. In 1954, almost 4 miles of its coastal seabed, marine life and all, were dramatically and suddenly uplifted about 15ft. This event is associated with an eruption of the Alcedo Volcano. The coastline was driven three-quarters of a mile further out to sea, forever exposing giant coral heads and stranding marine organisms on what was now the shore.The marine remmantgs and coral skeletons, some of them waist-high, are visited after a wet landing on the beach.The landing can be a bit rough, so protect your protographic equipment.

Urbina Bay is also a nesting site for the brown pelican and flightless cormorant. Giant marine iguanas are also seen in this area along the coast, which you will visit prior to the uplifted marine relics.While most groups do a short loop here (less tghan 2 hours), if you take the optional, extensive inland hike (well over 3 hours), carry water and wear long pants to prtect your legs from the thorm bushes.Either way, you will see a few large land iguanas.Occasionally, a tortoise or two can also be seen" travel´s guide to the Galapagos.

Punta Moreno

Punta Moreno is often the first or last stopping point on the island (depending on the direction the boat is heading). Punta Moreno is a place where the forces of the Galapagos have joined to create a work of art. The tour starts with a panga ride along the beautiful rocky shores where Galapagos penguins and shore birds are frequently seen. After a dry landing the path traverses through jagged black lava rock. As the swirling black lava flow gave way to form craters, crystal tide pools formed-some surrounded by mangroves

Sierra Negra

Sierra Negra is located 13 miles from Puerto Villamil and boasts the world's second largest volcanic crater, measuring 6 miles in diameter and 300 metres deep. This volcano has three visitor sites:

La Bocanilla

Volcan Chico

Volcan de Azufre


El Estero

The trail to the Estero allows you to closely observe the mangrove eco systems unique to Isabela and the largest black mangrove trees in Galapagos.

It is one of the most unique, interesting visitor sites in the archipelago. Here a freshwater spring forms a river during low tide that flows into a sandy bay where various sea birds and marine life can be observed.

Los Tuneles

Los Tuneles are located approx. 60 minutes by boat from Puerto Villamil. This site is one of the most spectacular places for snorkelling in Isabela as the water is shallow, clear and calm. This marine sanctuary is characterized by its unique geologic formations.

A series of lava flows have produced a Number of arches and tunnels both under and above water, where you find a Number of animal species that have taken up residence in these magnificent formations.

The entry into this site is shallow and the waves can be quite strong, for this reason it is not always feasible to enter this site. The best season to visit is between the months of January .

Wall of Tears

The Wall of Tears is a historic site in Isabela. Between 1946 and 1959 Isabela was a penal colony, where prisoners were made build a wall with huge blocks of lava as punishment.

The wall is 100 metres long and 7 metres high. Due to the arduous labour and harsh conditions in which the prisoners lived, this site is known as the wall of tears.

A set of stairs provides a bird's eye view of the wall and the surrounding landscape. You can still see the cement foundations of the USA base dating back to the Second World War.


Giant Tortoise Breeding Center

A 1.2km trail passes from Puerto Villamil to the Breeding Center through various ecosystems. Along the trail you will see many different types of plants and animals in the lagoon and mangrove, dry forest and lava ecosystems that are found only on Galapagos.

In the Breeding Centre you will be able to observe tortoises of all ages and sizes. You will also learn about the reproduction and rearing of giant tortoises and see all the work that is being carried out to help recover the wild populations of these species. There is also a visitor's centre and a gift shop where local handmade products are sold.

Las Tintoreras

A short distance from Puerto Villamil is the small island known as 'Las Tintoreras'. Here a colony of white tip sharks can often be seen resting in a lava canal. You can snorkel or swim in the unique habitat of these animals.

Nearby hundreds of marine iguanas can be observed, as 'Las Tintoreras' is one of their main breeding sites. On the nearby sandy beaches, sea lions play and relax in the sun. This is one of Isabela's most beautiful visitor sites.

Concha de Perla

This is the perfect spot for those who love swimming or snorkelling! Concha de Perla is a shallow, calm bay with crystal clear water that allows you to enjoy the fascinating marine life of Galapagos. If you are lucky you will be able to swim with sea lions and penguins.


Contact us at:
Main Office: Quito-Ecuador SMZ A, MZ7, PSJ 11, #Oe-238, Telephone(593 2)2672 337 / (593) 8 8418 106)
All Rights are Reserved