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Isabela Island Guide Galapagos travel

Isabela Island: The most complete guide to traveling on your own

4.9/5 - (20 votes)

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.




  • Download Maps.me and download an offline map of the Islands. Mark the locations you wish to visit in advance.
  • Choose activities you want to do based on the days of your trip and make sure those activities are possible to do on those dates (i.e. some day tours are only possible on certain days of the week, not every day, due to permits and official regulations by the Galapagos National Park.
  • Book your tickets well in advance (4-6 months, if possible – last minute bookings in person are a thing of the past!): ferries (speedboats between Islands), accommodation, day tours or cruises.


  • High tourist season: The months of June, July, August and 20th December to 5 of January are considered high season in the Galapagos.
  • Low tourist season: September is the only month considered low season and the weather and currents aren’t favorable. However, it’s one of the best times to see wildlife.
  • Climatic seasons: From December to May is beach season, as we call it. It’s hot and always sunny. From January to February there is a high probability of rain and from June to November it is dry season. The ocean water gets colder. August to September there is a high likelihood of drizzle and mist.


    To get to Isabela Island in the Galapagos, you must take a flight from Quito to Guayaquil to Baltra Airport (Santa CRuz) or to San Cristobal Airport. After that, you can get to Isabela Island two ways:

    1. Inter-island flights to Isla Isabela: There are two airlines that operate between the islands from Santa Cruz or San Cristobal to Isabela Island. These are Emetebe y FlyGalapagos
    2. Inter-island ferries to Isabela Island: If you want to go to from San Cristobal to Isabela on an inter-island boar, also called ferries, you will have to take 2 speedboats. First, one that goes to Santa Cruz and then you’ll wait for the ferry that goes to Isabela.

    Recommendation: One hour prior to traveling by an inter-island ferry or speedboat, take seasickness medication, like Mareol or Anautin. Try to sit in the back of your vessel or ask to go above, where the captain is seated.





    If you’re traveling to the Galapagos, I recommend dedicating 3 days of your itinerary to exploring and fully appreciating Isabela Island.



  • Sierra Negra y Chico Volcano Hie
  • Kayak in Tintoreras
  • Rapelling in Los Trillizos volcano
  • Snorkelling in Concha Perla and Cabo Rosa Tunnels
  • Scuba diving at Tortuga Islet
  • Cycling to marshlands (humedales)
  • Panga ride at Uníon Rock
  • Beach activities on Isabela: Surf
  • Wildlife observation at poza de los Flamencos and Galapagos Tortoise Breeding Center


    I’ll help you find the best day tours from Isabela Island

  • Cabo Rosa Tunnels
  • Sierra Negra Volcano
  • Tintoreras
  • Los Trillizos
  • Sulfur Mines (upcoming/TBD)
  • Tortuga Islet scuba diving

    Cabo Rosa en Isabela


    Sierra Negra Volcano



  • Tintoreras Tour
  • 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

  • Isla Isabela scuba diving
  • 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.
    Price: USD 180
    Includes: All scuba equipment and 2 dives.
    *A minimum of 6 people need to be signed up for the dive to take place.

  • Trillizos Volcano
  • 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. The tour includes all security equipment, make sure to take comfortable clothes and hiking shoes.
    Price: USD 60
    Contact: Ulise Alvarado // Whatsapp: +593997685275 // Teléfono: +59352529146 // alvarado_ulise@hotmail.com

  • Sulfur Mines
  • 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.



  • Isla Isabela Surfing
  • The ‘El Faro’ beach is ideal for learning how to surf and it’s on the way to Humedales. The waves are formed at the beach break and you have a lot of space to wait for the next round. You might be surfing with manta rays and sea turtles, so be careful!

  • Centro de Crianza Tortuga gigante y Poza de los Flamencos
  • 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.

  • Concha Perla
  • 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.

  • Marshlands (humedales) and Wall of tears / muro de las lagrimas
  • 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.



    This is an estimate of what your costs may be based on a 3-day itinerary on Isabela Island:

  • USD 60 Accommodation (2 nights)
  • USD 125 Tour of Cabo Rosa Tunnels
  • USD 45 Sierra Negra volcano tour
  • USD 60 Inter-island speedboat (roundtrip)
  • USD 15 Dinner
  • USD 10 Breakfast
  • USD 5 Entrance fee to the island for Ecuadorians
  • USD 10 Entrance fee to the island for foreign tourists
  • USD 2 Taxi boat to the ferries/inter-island boats
  • USD 20 for snacks, water etc.
  • USD 20 Bicycle rental



    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.



  • 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 a 17h00: Cabo Rosa Tunnels Tour
    17h20: Snorkel at Concha Perla, a natural swimming pool.

  • DAY 2:
  • 08h00: Breakfast
    09h00: Rent bicycles
    It will cost you between USD $15 – $20 to rent a bicycle for the whole day.
    09h00 a 16h00: Bicycle route until the Wall of Tears / Muro de lagrimas
    This bike route is of moderate difficulty; try not to go to fast because, if you fall, you’ll get pretty scraped up by the volcanic rocks. Places you can visit along this route: ▪ Humedales ▪ Mirador ▪ Muro de las lagrimas ▪ Poza de los Flamencos ▪ Centro de Crianza Tortugas Gigantes Arnaldo Tupiza Chamaidan ▪ Concha Perla.

  • DAY 3:
  • 06h30: Breakfast
    07h00 a 14h00: Sierra Negra Volcano
    14h00: Check-out at Hotel.
    15h00: Take a ferry from Puerto Villamil on Isabela towards Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.


    Some yachts include in their itinerary islands of the West and North, including stops at these places on Isabela Island, which are only accessible by sailing on cruises that leave from Santa Cruz Island.

  • Fernandina Island
  • Punta Vicente Roca
  • Caleta Tagus
  • Urbina Bay
  • Elizabeth Bay


  • Banks and ATM: At the main park you’ll find a Banco del Pacifico ATM (takes international cards)
  • Cellphone: The best provider (with the most coverage on Isabela Island) is Claro.
  • Hospitales y Centro de salud: There is only one health facility (Centro de Salud) located on the streets 16 de Marzo and Malecón / Opening hours: 07h30 to 17h00.


    Below are a few links to different types of content related to the Galapagos, including a few guides. All of this content is updated and based on my annual trip to the Islands.






    Iguana Point / Breakfasts, Lunch and Dinner / Ecuadorian and International food / Recommended dish: fried Bacalao or rice and seafood / Average price between $9 USD and $18 USD / Open from 07h00 to 22h00 / Located beachfront on Av. Malecón and 16 de marzo (See in Google Maps).

    La casa del Asado / Dineers / Ecuadorian grill / Recommended dish is the seafood grill/bbq / Average price between $8 USD and $20 USD / Open from 18h00 to 24h00 / Located on Calle Pinzon Artesano and Tero (See in Google Maps).

    El Faro / Breakfasts, Lunch and Dinner / Gourmet Ecuadorian food / Recommended dish is the seafood grill/bbq / Average price between $9 USD and $18 USD / Open from 07h00 to 22h00 / Located on Calle Fragatas and Tero real (See in Google Maps).



  • Hostel on Isabela:
  • Hostal Villamil ⭐⭐⭐ / Standard double rooms, small double and economy triple / Average price between $45 USD and $71 USD / Check in 12h00 to 18h00 / Located on Avenida 16 de Marzo. / RESERVE HEREÍ

    Hostal Cerro Azul ⭐⭐⭐ / Single, double and triple rooms / Average price between $40 USD and $65 USD / Check in 10h00 to 18h00 / Located on Calle Tero Real y Gaviotin. / RESERVE HERE

    Hostal Insular ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ / Single, double, triple and quadruple rooms / Average price between $24 USD and $85 USD / Check in 10h00 to 18h00 / Located on Calle Tero Real and Gabiotin. / RESERVE HERE

    Hostal Galapagos ⭐⭐ / Single, double, extra large double, triple and suites with ocean view / Average price between $32 USD and $108 USD / Check in 07h00 to 19h00 / Located on Calle Los Flamingos. / RESERVE HERE

  • Hotel on Isabela:
  • Hotel La Laguna Galapagos ⭐⭐⭐ / Double rooms / Average price $115 USD / Check in 12h00 to 18h00 / Located on Av. Los Flamingos / RESERVE HERE

    Hotel San Vicente Galapagos ⭐⭐⭐ / Standard double and quadruple rooms / Average price between $90 USD and $179 USD / Check in 08h00 to 18h00 / Located on Av. Cormorant y Escalecias / RESERVE HERE

    Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ / Double rooms with a view and main suite / Average price between $275 USD and $411 USD / Check in 13h00 / Located on Av. Antonio Gil s/n vía Malecón. / RESERVE HERE

    Cormorant Beach House / Double rooms / PAverage price $136 USD / Check in 13h00 to 17h30 / Located on Av. Antonio Gil y Pinguinos. / RESERVE HERE

  • Bed & breakfast on Isabela:
  • Hotel Coral Blanco / Single, double, triple, quadruple rooms / Average price between $40 USD and $108 USD / Check in 10h30 to 18h00 / Located on Avenida Antones Gil and Pinguinos. / RESERVE HERE

    Drake Inn / Double rooms and suites with ocean view, junior family suite, and two room suite / Average price between $98 USD and $250 USD / Check in 13h00 to 18h00 / Located on Calle Antonio Gil s/n. / RESERVE HERE

    Hospedaje Casa Soleil / Double and double standard rooms / Average price between $70 USD and $80 USD / Check in 09h00 to 18h00 / Located on Via Malecón. / RESERVE HERE


    Isabela Island Map


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    My name is Christian but you came call me Choko. Together with my wife we have created this blog to help all travelers going to Galapagos 🐢🦀🐧🐬 🐦🦎 I am from Ecuador, born in Guayaquil. Passionate about traveling and everything related to social media. In my free time I travel the americas. I have given conferences and workshops revolving around my work and tourism 2.0 // WRITE ME USING WHATSAPP: +593978990910 - 🇪🇨 BLOG IN SPANISH ChokoTrip


    • M

      I went to Trillizos cause I heard good things about it. However, your safety is not their concern. The harness goes all the way up the volcano and all the way down to the ground. Some of the steps are broken (and broke on my way being pulled UP the volcano). But, isn’t the harness supposed to stop you from hitting the ground? Cause this one does not.

      I was there with another tourist and the tour guide. Luckily, the other tourist was from Spain and was SO nice and helped me out a ton while also staying the whole day and waited until I was dragged up the volcano hours later.

      Long story short, I fell off the last ladder about 30 feet (5 meters) and the harness brought me all the way to the ground, where I broke 3 bones in my ankle/leg. I had to be pulled up the volcano after spending 4 hours at the bottom because I couldn’t climb my way back up and had to wait for help. The police and firemen pulled me up the volcano and while being pulled up, multiple steps broke which was a bit scary since I fell.

      I had to get surgery on my left leg and now have multiple screws and metal plates inside of my leg.

      I do not recommend doing this. I heard after my fall that they haven’t updated this in 40 years (since making it) so that was reassuring….

      Also, the guy in charge told me he’d help pay for my medical expenses in Ecuador (since healthcare is free you only have to pay for the medicine). He initially agreed but now has been dodging my messages.

      This volcano is dangerous and I wish I had done my research and asked around before going into it. I have a total of 6 months of recovery. I hope people read this and decide for themselves instead of finding out the hard way like I had to. I would not want anyone else to go through what has happened to me.

      I hope people read this and recognize how dangerous this is. From the broken ladders to the unsafe harness, please be aware of how unsafe and risky this activity is.

      March 19, 2022 at 5:44 pm

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