Things to do in Isabela Galapagos – a suggestion of the best day trips from Isabela

So, you’re traveling to Isabela Island in Galapgos soon. Lucky you! Isabela is one of the most beautiful of the inhabited islands in the Galapagos archipelago. From hiking in petrified lava of an active Volcano to snorkeling with white-tipped sharks, Isabela Island easily holds the quintessential Galapagos natural beauty.  If you are planning to explore Galapagos with a hotel-based itinerary, then you spend the night at Puero Villamil. From here, you can arrange several day trips.

Laid-back and filled with wildlife, Isabela is a must visit during your Galapagos trip. So, to make things easier, here’s a quick guide of the best things to do in Isabela Galapagos. Take a look!


1. Snorkel at Los Tuneles aka. Cabo Rosa, of course!

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Snorkeling at los Tuneles aka. Cabo Rosa

This is probably one of the most beautiful sites in Isabela and definitely a must-do. Located at the south west of Isabela, it takes about 45 min by speed boat to get to Cabo Rosa.

This spot is ideal for snorkeling and observing wildlife. You will first take small hike at the tunnels, natural lava formations and home to nesting blue-footed boobies, sea lions and colorful marine life (the water at this site is crystalline). A trip here also includes a snorkeling stop nearby where you can spot sea turtles, manta rays, sting rays, white-tipped sharks and tons of fish.

Los Tuneles is surely one place not to miss; it is a essential hotspot for Galapagos wildlife.  

Trip Duration: 4 – 5 hours
Requires Guide: Yes


2. Kaya to Tintoreras Islet and observe white tipped sharks

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Kayaking towards Tintoreras Islet from Puerto Villamil

This small islet is inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife, but the best sight is a small channel where white tipped sharks (aka. Tintoreras) come to rest daily. This spot it offshore of Puerto Villamil, however, you do need a guide to visit it.

 You can choose kayaks (1 hour) or a speed boat (20 min) to reach this site. A half-day trip to Tintoreras starts with a dry landing to hike on the rocky terrain where you can spot blue footed boobies and the lovely Galapagos Penguins. Snorkeling is also a must do, you can catch sight of sea turtles, rays and colorful fish.

Trip Duration: 3 – 4 hours
Requires Guide: Yes


3. Take a long hike along Sierra Negra’s giant caldera

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Sierra Negra Volcano offer scome of the most spectacular views in Galapagos

A hike to one of the largest volcano craters in the world is a must. Sierra Negra is certainly a sight to remember. This rather though hike provides a beautiful view from the rim and of Elizabeth Bay on the opposite end of Isabela.

The long hike (12 km) is totally worth it, the terrain itself is surreal.

You can walk around the caldera and reach Volcan Chico, a collection of small craters where you can see fumaroles and an impressive volcanic landscape.

This is one site which is definitely worth the hike. Just remember to pack a rain jacket , hiking shoes and dressing in layers, as weather changes quite dramatically.

Trip Duration: 6 – 7 hours
Requires Guide: Yes


4. Grab a bike and visit the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center and the Wetlands

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The Wetlands (Humedales) are a network of trails surrounded by mangroves

A trip to the “Wetlands” may take you the whole day if you go by foot. You can also take a bike tour or rent a bike and explore it in half the time. This site, also known as Humedales Complex, comprises a network of trails, nearby Puerto Villamil.

There are nine tracks which will lead you to: The Wall of Tears, Cerro Orchilla, El Estero, Poza Escondida, Poza Redonda, Tunnel del Estero, Playa del Amor, Bay of Tunis and Pozas Verdes, La Playita and Cemetery. These sites include historical locations and amazing viewpoints.

You can combine a trip to this site with a morning visit to Isabela’s Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, and making a stop at the Flamingos Lagoon.

Trip Duration: 6 – 7 hours
Requires Guide: No


5. Relax at the lovely beaches at Puerto Villamil

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The beach at Puerto Villamil has 3km of pristine-sand and relaxing views

Puerto Villamil, holds 3km of a pristine white sand beach, one of the longest in Galapagos. The beach on Isabela is a great place to take a calming walk, on the way you can spot marine iguanas, sally light foot crabs, Galapagos birdlife and even flamingos. You can also simply relax in the sand, the beach is super beautiful and quiet. In case you are a surfing aficionado, this site is also popular between surfers.

Trip Duration: Your choice
Requires Guide: No


6. Hike at the Minas de Azufre

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The Sulfur Mines in the opposite side of Sierra Negra Volcano are a great hiking activity

The Sulfu Mines (Minas de Azufre) are somewhat a hidden gem in Isabela, especially for geology aficionados. This site is located on the west side of the Sierra Negra Volcano, about 11km from the control booth “El Cura”, here you will find various active sulfur fumaroles. Visibility is at its best during the summer

A great hiking option, as the trail hosts a variety of bird species, such as hawks, paradise fly catchers and martins.

Trip Duration: 5 – 6 hours
Requires Guide: Yes


7. Elizabeth Bay

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Elizabeth Bay is only visited by a panga and reachable by cruises only

This spot located to the west of Isabela Island can only be reached by cruises, dry landing is not allowed here, so you will mostly enjoy thw view of wildlife from a panga or a kayak. This spot is home to a large colony of Galapagos penguins inhabiting the Marielas islets nearby, and a group of large marine iguanas.

The dinghy will take you through a narrow cove, flanked by some unusually tall mangroves of the three species (red, black, and white mangroves). You can observe Blue-footes boobies and the clear waters allow you to catch sight of  golden rays, spotted eagle rays, white-tip sharks and green turtles swimming around. This is a great spot for snorkeling, too. So, make sure your  Galapagos Cruise visits this site. 

Trip Duration: 5 – 6 hours
Requires Guide: Yes, only reachable with a cruise


So, these are our top suggestions on things to do in Isabela Galapagos. Do you have any special spot in Isabela Island you would like to share with other travelers?