Isabela Island. A paradise for wildlife lovers, the Galapagos Island Isla Isabela offers much more than just its famed giant tortoises.
Home to a multitude of endemic flora and fauna species and scattered with dramatic volcanic formations, Isla Isabela provides visitors with more than just a pretty picture. The largest of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands, Isabela spoils tourists with her rare natural beauty and profusion of outdoor activities. From a relaxing stroll along Puerto Villamil’s white, sandy beaches to a fascinating exploration of the wildlife-rich lagoons to an adventurous trek to the world’s second largest volcanic crater, Sierra Negra, every tourist will find themselves in awe of the sheer diversity of Isla Isabela’s striking landscapes.
- The birthplace of the largest tortoises in the world, the Galápagos Islands welcome visitors to observe these intriguing, prehistoric-looking creatures who are most numerous on Isla Isabela with a separate species on each volcano.
- It was Charles Darwin’s visit to the Galápagos Islands in 1835, and in particular his research of the various island finch species, which inspired him to write his globally-renowned scientific work, The Origin of Species.
A paradise for wildlife lovers, Isla Isabela offers much more than just its famed giant tortoises. Beginning in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, Isabela’s seven dive sites treat visitors to the mesmerizing vision of gracefully-swimming manta rays, rapidly-darting moray eels and endearingly-playful sea lions. Thanks to the upwelling of the Cromwell Current, Isabela’s west coast equally enjoys an abundance of marine activity. From wave-leaping bottlenose dolphins to mighty humpback whales, the nutritional richness of the eastward-flowing current draws in the best of the Pacific’s marine species as they arrive to feed and provides visitors with unforgettable sights.
Back onto dry land, keen ornithologists will certainly not have to look far to lay their eyes on Isabela’s wealth of bird species. Whether charmed by the island’s smaller species including the red-breasted vermillion flycatchers and adorable blue-footed boobies or captivated by the larger endemic Galápagos hawks and carefully-protected cormorants; bird enthusiasts can wile away endless hours watching the unique movements of these enchanting feathered friends. Moreover, although not the first creatures to spring to mind when thinking about birds, Isabela’s flamingoes and penguins unsurprisingly win the hearts of numerous island visitors. With regard to the Galápagos penguins, their presence is truly fascinating as, despite the islands’ close proximity to the equator; they are able to survive owing to the Humboldt Current’s cool temperatures.
Having observed Isabela’s rich wildlife, the island’s more energetic visitors are often eager to accept the challenge to walk the popular 16-km long volcanic trail. Beginning along the rim of the Sierra Negra and finishing in the crater-filled landscape of Volcán Chico, the trail takes trekkers on a lava-centered journey in which they can appreciate the sheer immensity of the island’s 10-km long caldera – the second largest in the world. Dropping considerably in altitude, Isabela’s port town, Puerto Villamil, greets former volcanic explorers with the perfect final sight of the trip: a vast expanse of beaches in which they can rest their tired legs and take in the splendor of the beautifully-white sand, palm tree-lined walkways and spectacular evening sunsets.