Galapagos Travel Guide: Isabela Island by ChokoTrip
In this travel guide, you’ll find information about what to do, how to get there and where to stay for 3 days without depending on a tour.
Isabela Island is one of the four inhabited islands of the famous Galapagos and the biggest of them all. The comments that I always hear from travelers about this island is that it’s the most beautiful; I agree, because, for me, it’s also my favorite for the following reasons: proximity to beaches for swimming, ease of getting to the viewpoints, the tortoise reserves, naturally occurring pools, etc.
With little urban development, this island maintains a small-town feel with a wild touch making it stand out from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal Island, considered to be more like small cities.
WHEN TO GO ISABELA ISLAND
There are only two seasons in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: cold and hot (sometimes described as wet and dry). The summer months (June-August) are actually our winter and the winter months (Dec – Feb) are our summer.
BEFORE YOU GO
HOW TO GET TO ISABELA ISLAND
You can get to Isabela Island by:
- Inter-island flights: There are two airlines that offer flights from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal. These are: Emetebe and FlyGalapagos
- Ferries: If you want to go from San Cristobal to Isabela, you’ll have to take two ferries, first to Santa Cruz then to Isabela (no way around this!).
Recommendation: One hour prior to traveling by ferry, take seasickness medication. Try to sity in the back of your vessel or ask to go above, where the captain is.
PLAN YOUR TRIP AND YOUR TIME
If you’re traveling to the Galapagos, I recommend dedicating 3 days of your itinerary to exploring and fully appreciating Isabela Island.
– WHERE TO GO:
– WHERE TO GO BY CRUISE SHIP:
Some yachts/boats that visits Islands in the North and West include visits to locations only accessible by cruises that depart from Santa Cruz Island.
– IF YOU WANT TO:
– WHAT TO DO EVERYDAY:
- DAY 1
07h00 – Travel by ferry from Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz. Departs at 7am and 2pm
09h00 – Arrival to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.
09h30 – Check-in at your hotel
Every time you reserve through my blog, I get a commission that ensures the information provided here is up to date. ▪ Accommodations and hotels recommended by Choko
11h00-17h00 – Cabo Rosa Tunnels Tours
17h20 – Snorkel at Concha Perla, a natural swimming pool. You’ll see many sea lions on the way to the pool!
You can make the most of the rest of the day by going out to eat and buying snacks or fruit for the following day.
- DAY 2
08h00 – Breakfast
09h00 – Rent bicycles
It will cost you between USD $15 – $20 to rent a bicycle for the whole day.
09h00-16h00 – Follow the following bike route on Isabela.
It’s of moderate difficulty; try not to go to fast because, if you fall, you’ll get pretty scraped up by the volcanic rocks. ▪ Humedales ▪ Mirador ▪ Muro de las lagrimas ▪ Poza de los Flamencos ▪ Centro de Crianza Tortugas Gigantes Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan ▪ Concha Perla
- DAY 3
06h30 – Breakfast
Ask you hotel if they can provide an early breakfast for you.
07h00-14:00 – Sierra Negra Volcano Tour
14h00 – Check out at hotel
14h30 – Take a ferry from Puerto Villamil on Isabela. Departures at 6h00 and 15h00
– EXPLORING ISABELA ISLAND
I can help you looking for availability in the following daily tours that leave from Isabela Island:
Surf and bodyboard
The ‘El Faro’ beach is ideal for learning how to surf and it’s on the way to Humedales.
This tour descends into the Trillizos Volcano, located near Sierra Negra Volcano. It begins as a nature hike then you reach a point where you can rappel 150 meters down. The entire tour lasts 3 hours.
Price: USD 60
Contact: Ulise Alvarado // Whatsapp: +593997685275 // Phone: +59352529146 // email@example.com
Tortoise Breeding Center and flamingo pond
These two locations are near each other and you can observe giant tortoises in the breeding center, as well as some flamingos, if you’re lucky. You can get here by foot or bicycle.
A natural swimming pool near the Puerto Villamil dock and a cool spot to snorkel. You’ll see many fish and along the way you’ll pass many sea lions.
Humedales and Wall of Tears
These are usually part of a bicycle route – you can reach the Wall of Tears and along the way stop through marshlands and beaches. There’s also lookout point (mirador) with a spectacular view of Isabela Island.
Sulfur Mines / Las Minas de Azufre
Soon, you’ll be able to do a hike to the Sulfur Mines at Sierra Negra Volcano. It’ll be a similar tour as that of the volcano but focus on the western part of the crater.
This tour lasts for approximately 3 hours. It includes a Panga ride to observe turtles and manta rays while a guide summarizes the tour. Afterwards, you head to a small island to observe pelicans, blue-footed boobies and penguins (depending on the season).
Then, you arrive at Tintoneras Island for a 45 minute hike. You’ll see adult and juvenile marine iguanas since this is one of the their breeding areas. The trail will take you to a canal where the Tintonera sharks rest and, finally, you’ll reach a sea lion beach. From there, you return to the boat to snorkel and observe marine life.
Price: USD 60
Morning schedule: 08h00 – 08h30 – 09h00 – 09h30 – 10h00 y 10h30
Afternoon schedule: 12h30 – 13h00 – 13h30 – 14h00 – 14h30 – 15h00
Scuba Diving at Tortuga island
Islas Tortugas are a group of small islands found 30 minutes from Isabela island and it’s a good spot for intermediate to advanced divers. Share some rare moments with incredible sea creatures such as manta rays, Galápagos sharks, and occasionally hammerhead and Mackerel sharks. Sea turtles, marble fish and other varieties of open-water fish also inhabit this area.
Cost: $180 USD
Includes: SCUBA equipment and 2 dives
* There must be a minimum of 6 people for the trip to take place.
– TRIP BUDGET
This is an estimate of what your costs may be for 3 days on Isabela Island:
– TRAVELER’S CHECKLIST
Here’s a list of items that may improve your overall experience on Isabela Island, regardless of season. Some of these items you can purchase on the Island itself.
* Not allowed:
Check out the map of Isabela Island with some points of interest