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Isabela Island Galapagos Tours

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Isabela is the largest and one of the most volcanically active islands in the Galapagos. In fact, it's made up of six volcanoes that flowed together to make a landmass: Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra, and Wolf, and all of them except for Volcan Ecuador is still active!  Isabela provides a habitat for five subspecies of giant tortoise that reside in and around the different volcanoes. West of the island, humpback whales are sometimes seen breaching completely out of the water. Stingrays, small sharks, and turtles are found in mangrove and lava rock lagoons on Isabela. Puerto Villamil is the only town on the island filled with small beachfront hotels, wildlife, and outdoor activities. Contact us for help planning your Isabela Island Galapagos tour. 

Top Galapagos Cruises Visiting Isabela Island for 2024-2025

10 Best Galapagos Luxury Cruises & Tours Visiting Isabela Island for 2024-2025

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Volcanic Wonders$97508Jun 9, 2024On this comprehensive 8-day tour of the Galapagos Islands aboard the M/V Origin, see unusual wildlife such as marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, …
Western & Eastern Islands$94908Jun 22, 2024Join the M/C Elite on a spectacular 8-day small ship cruise of the Galapagos Islands. Visit San Cristobal, North Seymour, Santa Cruz, Isabela, …
Western Islands$81955Apr 6, 2025Set off on a 5-day Western Islands Galapagos cruise aboard the Hermes Ultra Luxury Cruise. Begin at Baltra and sail to Bachas Beach for wildlife …
Private Charter - Western Islands Aboard Ocean Spray$932906Jun 15, 2024Experience Galapagos penguins, Elizabeth Bay, and more on a cruise through the Western Islands aboard Ocean Spray. Enjoy hiking, snorkeling and …
Northwestern Islands$129958Apr 3, 2025Embark on an 8-day Hermes Ultra Luxury Cruise in the Northwestern Galapagos Islands. Explore unique wildlife, including giant tortoises and lava …
West & Central Islands + Genovesa$94908Jun 16, 2024Enjoy an exceptional trip to the West & Central Galapagos Islands as you sail across one of the most magical destinations in the world. Discover the …
Private Charter - Islands Circumnavigation - West Aboard Ocean Spray$1237908Jun 1, 2024Circumnavigate the Western Islands of the Galapagos on this 8-day private charter cruise aboard the Ocean Spray. Explore striking volcanic landscapes …
Western & Eastern Islands$144959Apr 6, 2025Explore the Western & Eastern Galapagos Islands on this 9-day cruise aboard the Hermes Ultra Luxury Cruise. Discover Bachas Beach, Tagus Cove, Urbina …
Western Islands$58455Jul 13, 2024This 5-day cruise offers incredible snorkeling, hiking, and kayaking adventures all around the Galapagos archipelago in style. Gourmet cuisine, the …
Private Charter - Western & Eastern Islands Aboard Hermes Ultra Luxury Cruise$2754059Apr 6, 2025Embark on a private 9-day Western & Eastern Galapagos Islands trip aboard the Hermes Ultra Luxury Cruise. Discover Bachas Beach, Tagus Cove, Urbina …

Isabela Island Travel Guide

About Isabela

Isabela Island is the largest and the second most volcanically active of the Galapagos Islands. On the western side of the archipelago above the geological hotspot from which these islands are born, Isabela is geologically young compared to the eastern islands. It is just across the Bolivar Channel from the giant shield volcano that has formed Fernandina Island.

Because of its size, there are plenty of places to explore, ranging from multiple fascinating marine sites to the six towering volcanoes that are still actively forming this island.

From the tranquil port town of Puerto Villamil, you can enjoy the time simply relaxing on the beach as the waves lap against the shore or touring all of the different sites that this island has to offer.
Isabela Island Facts and Highlights
  • Isabela Island is home to several active and dormant volcanoes, including Sierra Negra and Wolf Volcano. Explore unique and dramatic landscapes for a glimpse into the island's geologic past.
  • Isabela Island is home to a large population of giant tortoises. Take a chance to observe them up close and marvel at their abilities to adapt to this harsh environment. 
  • Isabela Island is surrounded by crystal-clear waters that offer some of the best snorkeling and diving opportunities in the Galapagos. Get close to a variety of marine life, including sea turtles, rays, and colorful fish.
  • Explore the islands most incredible visitor sites, including Tintoreras Islets, Wall of Tears, the wetlands, and Sierra Negra Volcano.

National Park Visitor Sites on Isabela

Wetlands (Humedales): The wetlands comprise a network of trails that wind through the low-lying estuaries of Isabela. With several different trails of varying length to choose from, this is one of the best sites in the archipelago if you want to see land birds like flamingoes and pintail ducks that enjoy the expansive ponds and lagoons that form this area.

Wall of Tears: Harkening back to the period of time in the mid 20th century when Isabela was used as a penal colony, this wall strikes a harrowing chord on an otherwise idyllic tropical island. Prisoners were brought to the island to labor in the brutal sun building a tall wall of lava rock, and many died in the process, giving the site its current name. A bike ride or a short hike are a couple popular ways visitors can gain access to this bitter part of Isabela’s human past. This site features several good photo opportunities of this sun-baked wall in the arid grasslands of Isabela’s interior.

Urbina Bay: In 1954, a surprising and sudden geological uplift at the base of the Alcedo Volcano actually brought over three miles of the ocean floor out of the water and extended the beach by nearly a mile. The drastic change resulted in a fascinating visitor site, where exposed coral heads can still be seen on the rock wall. Along the inland trail, you’ll likely see large burrows from land iguanas.

Punta Vicente Roca: As far as marine sites go, Punta Vicente Roca is among the best on Isabela Island. With opportunities to dive, snorkel, or navigate the area via panga, explorers will likely encounter sea turtles, rays, puffer fish, and perhaps even the elusive mola mola (sunfish), which has been described as a giant floating head. As you explore both coves, keep a sharp eye out for small seahorses bobbing through the water too or the trademark blue-footed boobies that have come to define the Galapagos Islands.

Punto Moreno: Birdwatchers will delight in the diversity of land birds that call this place their home. Just a short way from Elizabeth Bay, this site features a mangrove colony and a lava rock trail which host flamingos, gallinules, and pintail ducks, among other native and endemic species. If you explore the area by panga, you might see reef sharks and sea turtles gliding gracefully through these waters.

Elizabeth Bay: This is a great spot for snorkelers and birdwatchers alike. As you navigate around the rocky islets, you will probably see the endemic Galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies. If you choose to take a dip, you will be immersed in the mangrove forested home of tropical fish, sea turtles, rays, and perhaps even sharks.

Tintoreras: Just 10 minutes from Puerto Villamil, this site is named after the reef sharks that can be seen patrolling these clear turquoise waters.  Although swimming is not allowed here, a dinghy grants visitors access to the shallow pools, where sea turtles, rays, and tropical fish share the water with the sharks. The beachfront trail leads past nesting sites for marine iguanas and sea lion colonies as it crosses from a white sand beach to a black stone beach enclosed by a mangrove swamp.

Tagus Cove: Tagus Cove does a nice job balancing Isabela’s fascinating human history with the natural beauty of the landscape. First, you will see a small cave where the names of ships that used to anchor here are carved into the wall. This reflects the time in the 19th century and before when Isabela was used as a hideout for whalers and pirates, who would come to the island to stock up on food (including, unfortunately, the giant tortoises). Continuing further inland, a trail that is just over a mile will lead you up the side of the tuff cone of Darwin Volcano to the rim of Darwin Lake – a saltwater lake that has formed in the volcano’s caldera. The arid biome is home to few species, but among them are several birds, like penguins and the curious flightless cormorant.

Tortoise Breeding Station: Similar to the breeding station on Santa Cruz, the goal of this station is to raise endangered tortoises in the safety of captivity from egg all the way to maturity, when they can be repatriated into their natural environments. The tortoises here are kept in pens of varying sizes and (having been raised in captivity) are not shy in front of visitors, often coming right up to the edge of the pen to greet people. It’s a really engaging way to see these majestic creatures up close.

Sierra Negra Volcano: A short ride to the base of the volcano followed by a winding hike up the slopes will take you to the record-setting caldera of the Sierra Negra Volcano. With an impressive diameter of 10 km across, this is the second largest volcanic crater in the world and on a clear day offers a tremendous 360-degree panorama of the western Galapagos.

Chico Volcano & the Sulfur Mines: From the base of the Sierra Negra Volcano, two paths split. One trail leads to the well preserved Chico Volcano; the other is much longer and extends to the Sulfur Mines, where bright yellows contrast with the almost lunar landscape.

Concha de Perla: Featuring a boardwalk trail that passes through a mangrove colony, this site is a favorite spot of the locals for swimming and snorkeling in a tranquil intertidal pond that changes depths throughout the day as the water rises and falls.

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