Isabela is considered the largest island of the archipelago, and also the most visited. Isabela was formed by the union of five young volcanoes, giving rise to regions with extensive lava fields and little vegetation. In contrast, the southern highlands and other regions have extensive vegetation.
Isabela offers spectacular landscapes to all visitors. The island also offers various activities such as snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Puerto Villamil, is the main town on the island and home to many Galapagueños. Here you can enjoy the town and its beautiful beaches. You can choose to visit the island aboard a cruise ship or on a land excursion.
In this post you will learn about Isabela island’s best attractions, all its charms and great natural beauty.
FACTS ABOUT ISABELA ISLAND
- The name of the island in English is Albemarle.
- Isabela is home to most of the Galapagos penguin population.
- You can learn more and see different species of tortoises up close at the Arnaldo Tupiza tortoise breeding center.
- Isabela is one of two islands in the archipelago where flightless cormorants live.
- The island’s five volcanoes continue to produce volcanic activity.
- Area: 1771 square miles
- Highest point: 1,500 meters
ISABELA ISLAND BEST ATTRACTIONS
On the northern part of Isabela Island lies the nesting area of the flightless cormorant. This is the only bird of cormorant species in the world that has lost the ability to fly. This is because its wings are too small to support it in the air.
Albemarle is also home to the largest marine iguanas in Galapagos. This area isn’t accessible for visitors to land, but wildlife can be spotted aboard a dingy.
Additionally, one of the highlights of Albemarle is having served as a U.S. base at the time of World War II.
Sierra Negra Volcano
The Sierra Negra volcano has the second largest crater in the world, with an extension of seven by nine kilometers. In this attraction visitors will have the opportunity to take a tour to the top of the volcano. Here you will be able to observe the shape of the crater, all the vegetation and see up to 7 species of finches.
From the north side of the caldera you can see the remains of its recent volcanic activity in 2005.
Volcán Chico is located northeast of Sierra Negra Volcano at an altitude of approximately 860 meters above sea level. Its last eruption was in 1979. Here visitors can walk a trail over the lava flows created. They can also observe the vegetation and birds.
Concha Perla is located in Puerto Villamil, this is a bay of clear, calm and crystalline waters, with a small yellow sand beach. This is the perfect place to enjoy water activities and observe all the marine life. You can go swimming and snorkeling with tropical fish, sea lions, penguins and turtles. Also from here you will be able to see many birds.
The Wall of Tears
The famous and iconic Wall of Tears holds a great history. This 25-meter high wall was built by the convicts of the former penal colony that operated in Isabela between 1945 and 1959.
In this place many of the convicts lost their lives. So many of the locals claim that here you can hear the lamenting screams of the victims. Creepy truth!
Urbina Bay is located on the west coast of Isabela. In 1954, a volcanic uplift occurred, causing the coast to expand half a mile, exposing coral reefs and fossils. Urbina Bay is one of the best spots for snorkeling, you can see sea turtles, rays and colorful fish. This coastal area is also frequented by flightless cormorants.
The Tintoreras are small islets that are home to a great variety of fauna. In its turquoise and crystalline waters you can observe white tip reef sharks, galapagos penguins, sea turtles and sea lions. One of the islets has mangroves, being one of the few places where marine life can reproduce effectively.
Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center
The Tortoise Breeding Center also known as the Interpretation Center is located near Puerto Villamil. In this center 5 different subspecies of Galapagos giant tortoise have been raised. Here, giant tortoise eggs are carefully incubated in a special hatchery. The adult tortoises are also monitored and controlled in large corrals.
The Interpretation Center aims to increase the tortoise population as well as to ensure their survival.
Puerto Villamil is the most populated town in Isabela, this quiet port city offers its visitors to enjoy its beautiful beaches. Here you can observe sea lions, galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies. North of the city are the Villamil lagoons, which contain shallow wetlands, mangroves and are an excellent place for bird watching.
Puerto Villamil is a busy town, offering a variety of bars, restaurants, and stores. From here you can set off to visit the different attractions of Isabela.
The Isabela wetlands are located on the shores of Puerto Villamil. Here there are several lagoons, marshes and mangroves. Thanks to the characteristics of their ecosystem, they are home to a variety of unique bird species, such as common stilts, curlews, white-cheeked stilts and coots. A large population of
can also be seen in this area.
The wetlands are undoubtedly one of the best places to visit on Isabela Island.
Now you know more about the largest island in Galapagos. Don’t think twice about joining one of our tours and get to know the Isabela Island best attractions.