Ecuador (Republic of Ecuador)

Languages: Spanish

Currencies: USD · United States dollar ($)

Capitol: Quito

Continents: South America

Borders: Peru, Colombia

More useful information

Area: 276,841km2

Population: 17,643,060

Traffic/driving side: right

Landlocked country: No

Independent country: Yes

United Nations member: Yes

IDD Prefix: +593

Timezones: UTC-06:00, UTC-05:00

Last updated on April 19, 2024

Galapgos Islands are in the top 3 destinations I have visited when traveling the world. They are exceptional in every way! Isla Isabela is the largest island of the Galapagos archipelago and has some of the most stunning landscapes and wildlife in the world. 

The island is one of the world’s most biologically rich environments. There are many great activities on Isla Isabela that will leave you breathless: from snorkeling and wildlife watching to hiking one of the most active volcano – the Sierra Negra.  

Best tours and activities on Isla Isabela - Galapagos Islands

Can you believe – fifteen years ago almost no tourists reached Isla Isabela. This island is a peaceful natural environment and the majority of the area is covered by National Park. Few years back most of the inhabitants were fisherman. Since the island has become more popular tourist destination they had to change their profession and now most of them work as tour guides.

iguana at isla isabela

How to get to Galapagos?

The easiest way to get to Galapagos is flying from Ecuador mainland. You can get really affordable prices if book flights in advance, for best deals check on

Never travel without a medical insurance, over the year I tries number of options and now I am only with SafetyWing. 

How to get to Isla Isabela?

There are two ways to get to Isla Isabela:

  • Taking a FLIGHT from Baltra Airport to Isla Isabela airport – Puerto Villamil.
  • Taking a boat from Santa Cruz to Puerto Villamil. The trip takes 2 hours.

If you booked a guesthouse in Puerto Villamil you will be able to reach it on foot, it shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes. If you decide to take a taxi it’s 1$/per person. 

Isla Isabela facts.

  • Isla Isabela is the biggest island of Galapagos Archipelago.
  • Galapagos are considered polution/plastic free.
  • The island is almost 120 km long.
  • There are 1700 residents on the island. 
  • The island is a protected area under Galapagos National Park.

Puerto Villamil in Isla Isabela.

There’s plenty of restaurants on the island, cash machines and small shops. However carry cash! Card payments are not always accepted, cash is much more preferred. 

Food is quite cheap – an average dinner costs around 15 $. Sometimes it even includes a drink or cocktail. Galapagos cuisine is delicious! Try ceviche – fresh shrimps and fish marinated in lime sause. 

Breakfasts are widely served in the morning for $6-$7. Food tasting was one of my favourite activities on Isla Isabela 😉 Galapagos offers high quality sea food. Grilled lobster cost $30, there’s good choice of best fish and crab species. 

Where to stay on Isla Isabela?

Most of the stays are located in Puerto Villamil. We stayed in a mid-range guesthouse, the host was super friendly. Some recommended stays:



Best activities on Isla Isabela.

This island is a pure paradise. I would highly advise to spend at least 4-5 days to explore this spectacular land.

Lots of the attractions are located in the harbour – Puerto Villamil or a 15 min walk from the main beach. 

There’s lots of bike rentals so go ahead and explore the coastal road on a bike. The islands are formed by the juncture of three tectonic plates: the Pacific, Cocos and Nazca. The main Galapagos island and few small nearby islands are gradually sinking, when some other keep changing their shape.

Flamingo Lagoon - bird watching!

To reach Flamingo Lagoon take a short walk through a long wooden bridge, located just 15 minutes from the harbour beach. This is an amazing bird watching area. You’ll spot giant marine iguanas everywhere on the bridge and swimming in the river. 

On the way to the Flamigo Lagoon we met an amazing guy – Omar, who told us very interesting stories from the past and present life of Isla Isabela. He used to be a fisherman, now he’s an enthusiastic tour guide. 

He mentioned about huge popularity of fake marriages. People arrange fake marriages to became a residents of Galapagos. But since the government has become aware of that trend it’s very difficult to avoid being caught.

Snorkeling in Concha Perla.

Concha Perla is one of the best spots for snorkeling near Puerto Villamil. 

The waters around Isla Isabela are home to incredible marine life, including sea turtles, colourful fishes and sea lions.

Concha de Perla bay is perfect for beginners. There are convenient stairs taking you to crystal clear waters of the bay. 

Wildlife watching.

This won’t be difficult 😉 This is the only example on earth when animals did NOT develop fear toward humans. You will swim, walk and eat with them.

Isla Isabela wildlife is considered exceptional even comparing to the rest of Galapagos islands. Most popular species are:

  • Galapagos giant tortoise 
  • Marine and land Iguanas
  • Sea lion 
  • Flamingos
  • Blue footed oobies 
  • Brown Pelikans.
  • and many more!

Playa Peurto Villamil.

Play Perto Villamil is a beautiful long beach near the harbour. Take a walk and meet the wildlife – it’s so fascinating to be surrounded by all these animals. Sea lions are the best – they occupy all best places and benches of the beach. 

Kayaking in Isla Isabela.

Kayaking is a very popular activity on Isla Isabela. You can rent a kayak and paddle through the calm waters of the bay or even across the nearby islands and rocky formations that are home to a variety of wildlife, including sea lions, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies. It’s a peaceful and relaxing way to explore the island’s unique ecosystem.

Hiking the Sierra Negra Volcano.

The Sierra Negra Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the Galapagos Islands. So you will need to check the volcanic activity before embarking on a hiking adventure. The hike is among one of the most populat activities on Isla Isabela.

The trail is quite demanding, it’s about 10 km long and takes you through stunning landscapes of lava fields. The highlight of the hike is the panoramic view of the Sierra Negra crater, which is one of the largest volcanic craters in the world.

Popular Viator hiking tours:

Visiting the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center.

The Giant Tortoise Breeding Center on Isla Isabela is a must-visit for anyone interested in the conservation of these magnificent creatures. Here, you can see giant tortoises in all stages of life, from hatchlings to fully grown adults. You can also learn about the center’s efforts to protect and breed these endangered species.

Snorkeling in Isla Isabela in the caves of Los Tuneles.

One of the best activities on Isla Isabela is snorkeling in Los Teneles – the underwater caves! This is one of the most amazing snorkeling trips I’ve done while traveling the world. The lava landscape looks like from another planet! Black rocks covered by giant cactuses sinking in green colour crystal clear waters! The landscape and wildlife are mind blowing! 

The cactuses play a major part of island’s flora and are very important for the ecosystem. They only grow 1-2 cm per year. You’ll be able to spot lots of the famous Blue Boobies. 

In October the cold currents bring lots of plankton, which means water visibility might not be perfect but plankton attracts the most diverse and unique marine life.

Check the full video from snorkeling in Los Teneles in Isla Isabela.

Sassari Sardinia

Hey - I'm Eva!

Hiker, adventurous traveler and the author of this blog. My biggest joy is mountaineering and writing reportage travel stories here on this blog, to help you create a unique travel experience. Traveling is freedom, allows you seeing the world truly, meet communities, grow. Taste it!

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