Isabela is a beautiful name for a beautiful island. In fact, the Spanish name is so much nicer than its British counterpart, Albemarle, that hardly anyone refers to the island by its colonial designation.
Visiting the island of Isabela is a little more complicated than just flying in. Although there is a small runway, it accommodates the smallest of planes and visitors may only bring bags weighing no more than 10 kilos aboard. Therefore, most tourists arrive on one of the daily boats that departing from the larger, more populated Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz.
These photos were taken on two different trips to Isabela. One was a day trip from Santa Cruz Island which I don’t recommend. We spent two hours in the early morning on a wind-tossed boat crossing. One of us was slightly seasick (can you see me raising my hand?). With only a couple of hours to tour an island, seasickness be damned. We had the quick and dirty tour that included a visit to Las Tintoreras, a small island outcropping of volcanic rock that is home to Blue-footed Boobies, Galapagos Penguins, and Marine Iguanas. A quick trip to the Tortoise Hatchery, a lunch, and we were back on the boat returning to Santa Cruz. My poor stomach.
So when my family planned a land-based trip of 12 days, we spent a few of them on Isabela. Then we were able to really explore! We snorkeled with sea turtles and sea lions at Los Tuneles, we ate fresh ceviche from tuna caught on our tour of Cuatro Hermanos, we hiked the highlands out to Volcán Chico past the second-largest volcanic crater in the world, Sierra Negra. Be warned, as of January 2018, Sierra Negra is once again rumbling and the trail to Volcán Chico is currently closed.
Isabela is an island full of opportunity for those who want to explore but with quiet beaches in walking distance to many of the small, family-run hotels, it is also a quiet oasis compared to much of the Galapagos Islands.
These photos were published August 2016 in partnership with the Geographic Military Institute of Ecuador in the book Ecuador Por Mis Ojos.
Would love to know where you stayed and any further recommendations for land tours as my son and I will be navigating the islands on our own. How many to stay on each? Where to stay? Where to eat as we are vegetarians? How much money to carry? And what to pack. Would love to hear your recommendations. Thanks in advance.
The best article we have on our longest trip, a 12-day land-based tour, is here: https://notyouraverageamerican.com/galapagos-land-based-tour/
As for the other information, why don’t you register (it’s free) and ask those questions in the forum: https://notyouraverageamerican.com/forums/
We would love to have a back and forth conversation that just isn’t manageable in a comment form 🙂