Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos.  Puerto Villamil is the largest settlement and is located on the island’s southern shore.  It is a relatively small settlement where the streets are still unpaved.  Puerto Villamil is blessed with a long beach that is easily accessible by walking. 

What To Do

Concha de Perla

Concha de Perla around 7 AM

This is a snorkeling area that is separated by mangroves from the open ocean.  As such, there are no waves to speak of but there may be a current at its southern opening (towards the boat dock) during tide changes.

Concha de Perla can be reached by a short boardwalk that ends at the snorkeling area. The park is open from 6 AM to 6PM.  There are some hard corals in the snorkeling area and some colorful fishes.  We also saw an eagle ray, penguins and sea turtles.  Marine iguanas and sea lions may sometimes be on the boardwalk.  The marine iguanas may be basking in the sun for warmth while the and sea lions may seek shade under the benches or on top of one under a shade.

Though the snorkeling area is large, the place tends to get busy around 9 AM.  Best time to go is when it opens as you have a high likelihood of having the place all to yourself. 

Spend an Idyllic Day on the Beach

Spend an idyllic day by the beach under the coconut trees

The beach near the village center has coconut trees.  Spread a towel and lie down to spend a relaxing day as you are cooled by the wind breeze.

Walk for Miles on the Beach

Typical afternoon sunset at Puerto Villamil

Puerto Villamil is blessed with a long shorline with white sand beach.  It is very relaxing to take a casual stroll during sunset.

Turtle Breeding Center

The turtle breeding center charges $10 pp to enter.  Here you will find giant Galapagos tortoise gingerly walking within their enclosures. A guide accompanies visitors around the park and provides some educational information. 


Posada de Flamengos
At Poza de los Flamingos

There are two places where you might see flamingos.  One is at Poza de los Flamingos which is in the center of the village.  The other is Posada de Flamengos which just a couple of hundred meters past the turtle breeding center.

Wall of Tears

Wall of Tears

The Wall of Tears is a stacked stone wall made by prisoners in the 1800’s.  It is too far to walk so you will need to rent a bicycle to get there.

Go On a Tour

A typical posted tour advertisement

There are both land and water tours offered by tour operators in Puerto Villamil. We have been told by others that went to Tintoreras that they saw baby hammerhead sharks in the water.  We asked one tour company about the Tintoreras tour and they quoted $110 pp. The trip is from 7AM to 1PM with pack lunch included.


There are a couple of dive shops in Puerto Villamil.  They quoted me $220 everything included for a drive trip that begins at 7AM and returns at 1PM.

Getting Around

The port town in Isabela is Puerto Villamil.  This is where the ferry boats go.

There are four means of getting around the island.  These are tours, taxis, bicycle rental and walking.  You need to sign up with a tour if you want to see the island other than Puerto Villamil.  Taxis here are pick-up trucks.  Some may have a taxi sign while others do not and look more like a private vehicle.  Taxis costs $1 a person for any ride within Puerto Villamil.  You may have to share the taxi with others too. 

There are bicycles for rent.  But most of the streets in Puerto Villamil are unpaved and sandy.  

You can always walk around.

How Many Days

We spent four nights on the island and did not do any tours.  It turned out to be a relaxing stay.  We woke early (6AM early) and walked where we wanted to go before it got hot. We spent the hot part of the day in our hotel room and went out around 4PM to hang at the beach or go swimming.

So the number of days to spend in Isabela all depends on what you want to do. For us, spending a week or more in Isabela would be fine.  Doing the same routine everyday did not get boring because we would not see the same thing everyday.  Every day is basically different.  One day it may be swimming with sea lions and penguins and another day we may see giant sea turtles and rays.

Where To Eat

Typical meal deal at restaurants alongs Antonio Gil Street

Most of the restaurants are on Antonio Gil Street across the Parque Infantil.  Most of the restaurants have $10 meal deals during lunch and dinner.  Some even have $6 meal deals.

We particularly savored the seafood plate (not a meal deal) at El Valero restaurant.  The food seemed fresh and not frozen, unlike at the other restaurants we tried.

ATMs and Credit Cards

We did not see any ATMs.  Our host at Santa Cruz mentioned there is one ATM but sometimes it does not work.  His suggestion was to bring enough cash as it is mainly cash transaction on the island.  Even our hotel did not have a credit card reader.