Isabela is the largest of all islands in the Galapagos archipelago but is one of the youngest and less populated. The northern section of Isabela passes straight through the equator and being one of the most western islands, it has huge natural diversity. Isabela is probably the most authentic out of all inhabited Islands with the locals emitting a chilled out and relaxed vibe. The roads are not paved, instead being made of compacted white sand. Isabela is known for its flamingos and having the largest population of wild tortoise when compared to the other islands. As you can see Isabela has a lot to offer, so let’s get into it!!
Los Tunnels is a magical place, if snorkelling through lava tunnels gets you excited, this activity is for you. You will need to organise a tour guide for this activity as it is a fair distance from Isabela’s main marina and they know what areas to focus you time on if you want to see wildlife. They will collect you from Isabela’s main marina the morning of and you will board a small boat that will take over the expanses of ocean to get you to Los Tunnels (this takes about 30-45mins). You will arrive at a little natural rock platform that gives access to the Los Tunnels network. You will be allowed to walk along the top of the natural tunnels and view the wildlife that call this place home.
Next is the fun part and something I cannot say I had ever done. Snorkelling through lava tunnels!!! I suggest asking your guide to bring along a wetsuit for you as the water can be a little chilly. If you are up for it I suggest submerging yourself and exploring some of the lava caves. This incredible geological formations only competitor are the animals that call this place home. Whilst snorkelling the tour guide will take you through a series of tunnels with many different species. On this dive you can expect to see sea lions, turtles, baby white tip sharks, manta rays, many fish, sea horses and much more!! If you are pressed for time in Isabela and can only do a select few activities I suggest choosing this one.
Concha Perla Beach
This is a great place to spend some of your free time. We would come here in the mornings or afternoons that we had free and spend some time exploring along the boardwalk and snorkelling in the small bay amongst the mangroves. This little gem is a few metres from the El Embarcadero pier, the place you would have first arrived (by boat) on Isabela.
Follow boardwalk as it weaves through a mangrove forest until it eventual open out to a small ‘bay’. Along the way you will see many iguanas sunbaking and a small colony of sea lions resting, when we visited there were little baby ones resting on the boardwalk – just remember they are wild animals and can get distressed and cranky if you constantly bug them!! At the end of the boardwalk there is some bench seat which provide a great photo taking platform (say cheese!). You can snorkel just off the boardwalk and see some penguins, sea lions and many fish.
Beach near ferry terminal
This might sound strange but do you remember that little beach that looked quite unimpressive when you arrived via boat and debarked onto the pier? Well this place is GREAT for marine iguanas but most importantly large schools of penguins, that with a little patience you can get close enough to photograph. You are also likely to see the odd sea lion, turtle and cheeky pelicans along with many other birds. I suggest spending an hour or so here and see what you can spot, you will be surprised at what you find!!
Tortoise breeding station (Centro de Tortugas Gigantes)
HOLY TORTOISE!! This place is FULL (and i mean full) of baby tortoise. No Galapagos Island trip would be complete without seeing a giant tortoise in the flesh and no one does giant tortoises quite like Isabela. The Tortoise breeding station is located approximately 1.5 km out of town and is the perfect after lunch stroll to stretch the legs and get some fresh air.
This breeding station has been instrumental in bringing the giant tortoise back from the brink of extinction. If you think you saw lots of turtles at the Charles Darwin Research Centre – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!!! There are literally hundreds ( maybe even thousands) of giant tortoise at multiple ages just roaming around. If you have some free time, this is definitely worth your time.
These incredible creatures can be difficult to spot but on Isabela, no problem at all!! If you keep walking past the Tortoise Breeding Station and continue on down the packed sand road you will eventually come to a large lagoon (you will feel lost, trust me). It looks a lot like an old quarry but inside this lagoon there is a small group of flamingos feeding. I suggest doing this after visiting the Tortoise Breeding Station – don’t forget your camera!!!
You can find more on the Galapagos Islands here.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I loved Isabela and I am sure you will to!! Let me know how you go!!