Southern Isabela Island – Puerto Villamil – up close and personal with marine iguanas, penguins and sea lions
The only town in Isabela is Puerto Villamil, a small, charming village set along the most beautiful beach in the Galapagos—five kilometers of white sand and beautiful surf—a perfect place for walks, sunbathing, wildlife watching and swimming.
There are nice restaurants around the square. A range of small, charming hostels and hotels can be found in town and on the beach. You should definitely spend a few days here to enjoy the seclusion, tranquility and proximity to the animals.
In walking distance from Puerto Villamil is the Arnaldo Tupiza Breeding Center for giant tortoises (supported by the Swiss Association of Friends of the Galapagos Islands). Over the last decade, the center has done remarkable work to greatly increase the wild population of these creatures. On the way there, you can optionally walk past a flamingo lagoon.
The Sierra Negra volcano is worth a day trip. At 1,500 meters high and with a crater measuring 11 kilometers in diameter, it is one of the world’s largest craters. There are a number of different hiking options, including combinations with the small and extinct Mt. Chico volcano.
The Tintoreras are an offshore archipelago just a hop, skip and a jump from Puerto Villamil. From there, visitors can take three-hour excursions in small boats to the marine iguanas, penguins, blue-footed boobies and sharks. The excursion includes around an hour of snorkeling with sea turtles, rays, sea lions, colorful schools of fish and friendly sharks.
Typical endemic plans:
Scalesia, Galapagos tree ferns, Galapagos prickly pears, lava cacti
Typical endemic animals:
three volcanic subspecies of the Galapagos giant tortoise, 10 species of Darwin’s finches, marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, Galapagos mockingbird, Galapagos flycatchers, Galapagos land iguanas, Galapagos sea lions, lava herons