Galapagos Isabela Island

Isabela Island with an area of 4,580 Km2 is the largest in the Galapagos Archipelago. It's capital is Puerto Villamil, and has many beautiful visitor sites worth exploring.

Galapagos Isabela


galapagos isabela island

It is also one of the four inhabited Islands in Galapagos, the other three inhabited Islands are Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Floreana.

Isabela is the result of six large volcanic domes combined together. Wolf volcano is located here with an altitude of 1,700 mts.

It is the highest point in the Galapagos Islands. You can find on this Island a large number of Galapagos tortoises.

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Galapagos Isabela is becoming more and more a major attraction to tourists, and the first official visitor site on the western side of this Island is Punta Tortuga, a Galapagos Beach at the base of Darwin volcano (1280 mts).

Part of the land here was formed through a recent uplift. Now let's review another important visitor sites on Isabela:

URBINA BAY: Is located at the central-west coast of Isabela Island at the foothills of Alcedo and Darwin volcanoes.

You will land on a beautiful dark volcanic sand beach. You will see large and colorful land iguanas and Galapagos Giant Tortoises in the wild all year round.

Along the rocky shoreline you will see flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, penguins and large marine iguanas. The best highlight is the coral uplifting from 1954.

TAGUS COVE: Is a natural harbor where centuries ago whalers and pirates left their ship's names painted or carved on the rocks. Take a walk uphill to Darwin's Crater salt-water lake for a superb view.

A trip along the shoreline will let you see penguins, flightless cormorants, boobies, pelicans and Sally Light foot crabs.

ELIZABETH BAY: You must visit this spot on board a dinghy (small boat) since there are no landing sites yet. You will come across a small group of islets known as Mariela that are frequented by a large concentration of penguins.

The end of the bay is long and narrow surrounded by three species of mangroves. Galapagos Sea Turtles and rays can usually be seen in the water.

PUNTA MORENO: This Galapagos Site is located in the central-south western coast of Isabela Island. You will witness and impressive view of Alcedo, Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcanoes.

Its main highlights are the impressive lava flows from eruptions years ago, an extremely pristine landscape, and unusual Galapagos Vegetation

Another main attraction is a compound of small brackish lagoons with lagoon birds, including seasonal flamingos.

It is an ideal spot for observing sea birds like frigates, pelicans and the rare and reclusive gallinules.


 It is located at the northern tip of Isabela Island. Here you can have a view of a magnificent landscape that shows the uniqueness of the western Galapagos Volcanoes

This area is part of Ecuador Volcano, where a collapsed caldera floor is revealed after a major sinking of half of the whole volcano structure.

The anchoring place lies in front of tuff-stone layers of a parasitic cone, next to the slopes of the host volcano.

Lava intrusions, called sills and dikes, reveal the relatively recent volcanic activity of this area.

The wildlife at this point will definitely surprise everyone, see dolphins, whales, sea lions, sea birds, turtles, and more.

All this wildlife appears thanks to the Cromwell Current which is a deep submarine current.

These cool nutrient-rich waters attract plenty of sea-depending species which also include brown pelicans, blue-footed boobies, noddy terns, shearwaters, and Galapagos Penguins which are the only tropical penguins on Earth.

PUNTA ALBEMARLE: It used to be a US radar base during WWII. There are no trails, and the site is known for the flightless cormorants.

You can also spot Galapagos penguins and other seabirds, but there are no visitor sites here so you must view the birds from your boat.

PUERTO VILLAMIL: Is the capital city of Isabela Island. You can find more than 20 species of migrant birds here (especially waders).

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One of the highlights is Sierra Negra volcano, located in the southern side of Galapagos Isabela Island. This volcano is considered to be the oldest in Galapagos and also with the largest crater measuring about 5 miles by 6 miles across.

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You will start your trip to the volcano at Puerto Villamil and will take you around 3 to 5 hours to reach the summit. (Horses for rent are available if you want).

The Galapagos Landscapes along the way are quite impressive! Once you reach the peak you will see a series of fumaroles inside small craters.

WALL OF TEARS: This is a visitor site west of Puerto Villamil and it was built by prisoners. It provides an interesting fragment of the History of Galapagos and the trail along the coast provides excellent opportunity for scenic views and wildlife observation.

PUNTA GARCIA: Is located on the eastern coast, across the Isabela Channel from James Island. This is the only visitor site on Isabela Island that is reachable without sailing around the west coast.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading! There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers. Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in. Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier. But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you. Small, well-priced, and reliable!

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table. This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!

More Galapagos Islands

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Bartolome Island

Baltra Island

Genovesa Island

Rabida Island

Espanola Island

Santa Fe Island

Pinzon Island

If you have questions about Isabela Island in Galapagos, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you'd like to request more information about our Best Galapagos Cruise to explore this Archipelago, You can Contact us here

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