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The volcanic slopes of the largest island in the archipelago, are home to some 6,000 Galapagos tortoises. On the coastline, South American fur seals are abundant and can be seen whilst snorkelling. Galapagos penguins and iguanas are also a common sight here, and the island's lagoons are home to egrets, flamingos and white-cheeked pintails. 

Some of the potential landing sites and highlights around Isabela Island are shown below.  There are two kinds of landing: a “dry” landing, where you step from the panga (dinghy) that takes you ashore directly onto rocks or a jetty, and a “wet” landing, where the panga edges into a sandy beach, and you step out into knee-deep water and wade ashore.

Concha de Perla

Concha de Perla

Located in the Port of Villamil, the bay known to all as the Concha de Perla (pearl oyster shell) is reached by a wooden boardwalk. The calm, clear, shallow water of the bay is an ideal place to see an incredible array of marine life. You can swim and snorkel alongside tropical fish, sealions, penguins and turtles, while on shore up to 20 bird species can be seen.

  • Location highlights: Calm, clear, shallow water
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Swimming, Birdwatching
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Gentle

Elizabeth Bay

Elizabeth Bay

Lying on the east coast of Isabela, this bay – which can only be visited by panga – contains many rocky islets where you can spot Galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies. With its clear water and abundance of marine life, the area is perfect for snorkelling – you can see shoals of colourful fish, sealions, and possibly even sharks.

  • Location highlights: Mangrove forest, Rocky islets
  • Activities: Panga ride (2 hour ride), Snorkelling
  • Physical demand: Gentle

Flamingo Lake

Flamingo Lake

West of Puerto Villamil lie a series of saltwater and brackish lagoons which are home to an impressive variety of coastal and seabirds; this includes the largest concentration of flamingos in the Galapagos.

  • Location highlights: Saltwater and brackish lagooons
  • Activities: Birdwatching, Walking
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Gentle

Las Tintoreras

Las Tintoreras

Close to Puerto Villamil, these islets are home to a great variety of wildlife. The crystal-clear, turquoise waters are inhabited by white-tipped reef sharks, Galapagos penguins, marine turtles and sealions. One beach, surrounded by mangroves, is one of the few sites where marine iguanas reproduce successfully.

  • Location highlights: Crystal-clear turquoise waters, Beach surrounded by mangroves
  • Activities: Panga ride
  • Physical demand: Gentle

Moreno Point

Moreno Point

This headland is located near Elizabeth Bay on the west coast of Isabela. A dinghy ride along the rocky shores or a hike along a path across lava past tidal pools and mangroves reveals a plethora of birdlife to delight any birdwatcher. In the tidal pools you can see green sea turtles or white-tipped reef sharks.

  • Location highlights: Tidal pools, Mangroves
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Panga ride, Walking (Approximately 2km hike)
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Challenging

Puerto Villamil

Puerto Villamil

Home to many native Galapagueños, this town lies close to several important visitor sites. The harbour is surrounded by extensive white sandy beaches bordered by lagoons and wetlands. It’s a great place to absorb history and culture, and the town offers a rare opportunity to shop for souvenirs.

  • Location highlights: Beautiful white sandy beach, Giant mangroves
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Walking
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Gentle

Punta Vicente Roca

Punta Vicente Roca

Located on the northwestern coast of the island and consisting of two separate coves, separated by a headland, this large bay is full of spectacular marine life. It’s a great place for diving and snorkelling, where you can see seahorses, sea turtles, and the strange yet fascinating mola-mola  (sunfish).

  • Location highlights: Large bay
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Scuba diving, Panga ride
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Moderate

Tagus Cove

Tagus Cove

Located across from the island of Fernandina, beside the Bolivar Channel that divides the two islands, this cove which offers a sheltered anchorage has been frequented by ships since the 1800s.  Trails wind pass Lake Darwin up to a ridge, from whence there are exceptional views. A bit further north, Punta Tortuga is another lovely beach surrounded by mangroves.

  • Location highlights: Darwin Volcano, Darwin Lake, Exceptional views, Beach surrounded by mangroves
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Panga ride, Walking (Long hike)
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Challenging

Tortoise Breeding Station

Tortoise Breeding Station

The centre was established to protect giant tortoises in their first years of life from the threats of non-indigenous species such as pigs and donkeys. Eggs are collected and brought here, where they are hatched and the young tended for five years before being released back into the wild. This guarantees the best chance of survival.

  • Activities: Walking
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Gentle

Urbina Bay

Urbina Bay

Located at the base of Alcedo Volcano on the west coast of Isabela between Tagus Cove and Elizabeth Bay, this area experienced a major uplift in 1954 as a result of volcanic activity. The land rose by more than five metres, while the coastline expanded almost one kilometre out to sea, leaving much marine life stranded on the new shore. This is also a great place for snorkelling.

  • Location highlights: Coral reef
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Panga ride, Walking (Approximately 1km and 3km hikes)
  • Landing conditions: All times: Wet
  • Physical demand: Moderate

The Wall of Tears

The Wall of Tears

Between 1945 and 1959 prisoners incarcerated in this isolated penal colony were forced to build this wall, stone by stone. The historic, 25-metre-high Muro de las Lágrimas towers over the surrounding countryside, a monument to the thousands who lost their lives during its construction. Local people claim to hear gruesome cries emanating from the area.

  • Location highlights: Historic site
  • Activities: Walking
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Gentle

The Wetlands

The Wetlands

Isabela’s wetlands, located just outside Puerto Villamil, consist of a series of lagoons, swamps and mangroves that are home to a variety of bird species such as common stilts, whimbrels, white-cheeked pintails, and gallinules. The wetlands can be visited on foot via a path that winds its way through the swamps.

  • Location highlights: Giant mangroves
  • Activities: Walking
  • Landing conditions: All times: Dry
  • Physical demand: Gentle

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: Galapagos penguin, South American fur seal, white-cheeked pintail, Galapagos hawk, land iguana
  • Where: Western Islands, Galapagos Islands

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Galapagos Islands: Luxury on Land

Discover the natural wonders of the Galapagos archipelago and its unique wildlife by land, sea and air. Accommodation is a tented safari camp on Santa Cruz Island, with daily excursions to some of the surrounding islands, where you will find Galapagos sealions, green turtles, flamingos and white tip reef sharks.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 10 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,595 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Wildlife of Ecuador & the Galapagos

Combine two of South America’s finest wildlife destinations – the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands. View the outstanding variety of wildlife on walking trails and by boat from a luxury eco-lodge in the Amazon jungle, and cruise the unique Galapagos archipelago for close-up wildlife encounters.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,945 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Amazon & the Galapagos

Take a look at the fantastic wildlife of Ecuador with three days in the Amazon jungle in a private reserve, taking guided boat trips and enjoying bird’s eye views from the canopy walkway. A week’s cruise around the Galapagos Islands tops off the trip with close bird and marine life encounters.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 16 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £9,195 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Galapagos & Ecuador in Style

Take a journey to the enchanting cloud forests of the Andes, staying in a unique biodiversity reserve, and viewing the varied wildlife from walking trails or a rainforest canopy. A luxury naturalist-led cruise in the Galapagos Islands offers emerald waters, rugged coves and a remarkable number of endemic species.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £8,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

8 day First Class Galapagos Highlights

Spend a week exploring in depth some of the larger islands in the Galapagos, including Isabela, the largest of the archipelago and home to flamingos, Galapagos penguins, green turtles and land iguanas. Discover a host of unique bird species, including magnificent frigatebirds and iconic blue-footed boobies.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration exc. flights: 8 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £3,695 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour

8 day deluxe Western Islands cruise

A comprehensive voyage of discovery covering the western islands, discovering pristine island environments and an amazing wealth of wildlife. Landings include Rábida, one of the most colourful islands in the archipelago, home to Galapagos penguins, sea lions and some of the rarest birds in abundance.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration exc. flights: 8 days
  • Price exc. flights: From £4,285 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Iguana Crossing Hotel

Perched on the waterfront looking out over the beach of Puerto Villamil on Isabela, the Iguana Crossing is a small boutique hotel with an idyllic location in the Galapagos Islands. It has 14 well appointed rooms, each with a stunning view of either the Pacific Ocean or the Sierra Negra Volcano.

Recommended cruise vessel:

Mary Anne

The elegant Mary Anne is an environmentally friendly ship with an astonishing 1,000 metres of canvas sail. She accommodates passengers in 12 well-appointed cabins, all with air conditioning and private facilities. On board there is a lounge and bar area, solar deck and outdoor dining area.