Penguins - near Elizabeth Bay - Isabela Island - Galapagos Islands (2)
photo by Mark Rowland

Isabela Island, also known by its Spanish name of Isla Isabela and less commonly by its English name of Albemarle Island, is the largest of the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.


Located in the western part of the archipelago, Isabela is larger than all of the rest of the islands combined. Comprising six volcanos, the island is about 75 miles long and covers 1771 square miles. Its highest point on Wolf Volcano rises 5600 feet above sea level. Due to most of the visitor sites being on the western side of the island, far from Santa Cruz, only the longer (and hence more expensive) boat tours visit this island.

The town of Puerto Villamil at the southern end offers lodging and food to visitors wanting to stay on the island.

See the Galapagos wildlife page for information on the flora and fauna of the islands.


  • Puerto Villamil is the largest town on the island and has accommodation and restaurants for tourist.

  • Santo Tomas is just a collection of a few farms, barely large enough to have a name.

Visitor sites

The following sites can be visited from Puerto Villamil without a boat trip.

  • Wall of tears - there's a nice 2,5-3 hours (return trip) hike to the wall of tears. On the way there are lots of things to see; lakes with flamingo's and other wildlife, beaches with hundreds of (really big) iguana's, beaches with sea lions, giant turtoises and there are some view points. Take plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat.

  • Giant Tortoise Breeding Center. In this center the giant tortoises from Isabela are bred and raised before released into the wild. Its open to the public on weekdays. Follow the 1200m long boardwalk which starts west of Puerto Villamil.

  • Sierra Negra Volcano and Vulcan Chico. Sierra Negra is one of the five volcanoes on the island. It has the second largest crater in the world, and the views at the crater rim are impressive. Follow the trail along the rim across the moonlike landscape to Vulan Chico. Tours can be arranged in Puerto Villamil. The price is $75, but cheaper without English speaking guide or without a horse. If you want to camp or go without guide ask permission at the park office in Puerto Villamil first.

  • La Tintoreras. Las Tintoreras is a lagoon where white tip sharks come to rest. They can be seen from the trail, but it's not allowed to go snorkeling in the lagoon. The snorkeling at the beach behind is excellent however, and eagle rays and sea turtles can be seen here. To get there take a watertaxi at the docks. The price is around $3 per person depending on group size and bargaining skills.

  • Concha de Perla. Follow the boardwalk from the docks. It's a natural pool good for snorkeling and playing with sea lions.

On a live aboard cruise you can visit the following sites:

  • Tagus Cove

  • Elisabeth Bay

  • Urvina Bay

Get out

  • Fernandina

  • Santiago

Contact & location

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

Mark Rowland, Eric Schmuttenmaer

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Bill Johnson, Ravikiran Rao and Ryan Holliday, Tatatabot, PerryPlanet and Ronald

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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