Highlights and main attractions of Isabela Island

The sea-horse shaped island of Isabela is the largest of the Galapagos Islands and at only one million years of age, it is also one of the youngest. Thought by many to be the most beautiful, Isabela is home to the typical white-sandy beaches, palm trees, rocky islets and mangroves you would expect from a pacific island.

There is an abundance of wildlife, and the island is famous for having more wild tortoises than all of the other islands put together.

Where is Isabela Island?

The furthest island from mainland Ecuador, Isabela was formed from six shift volcanoes; Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf. Of these, Ecuador is the only one of these now inactive, making this island one of the most volcanically active places on the face of the earth. The myriad geological sites include the uplifts at Urbina Bay and Bolivar Channel and tuft cones at Tagus Cove. The young age of the island means it has very different vegetation to the others, and as the lava fields are so ‘fresh’ they have not yet developed the nutrients needed by wildlife found in other areas of the Galapagos.

World renowned for its population of tortoises, there are five subspecies found on the island, each living in the calderas of the five remaining active volcanoes. These subspecies are thought to have developed as the slow moving creatures could not cross the topographical barriers that the volcanoes presented. On the west coast there is the Cromwell Current providing a feeding ground for fish, dolphins and whales. Birders will not be disappointed either, with Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants nesting nearby. Elsewhere on the island you can also spot Galapagos hawks, mangrove finches, brown pelicans, pink flamingos and blue herons.

Isabela Island is also home to the mysterious pink iguana. First spotted in 1986 by park rangers, it was originally thought to be a myth and was soon forgotten about, only being rediscovered in 2009. Living on the Wolf Volcano, an area unexplored by Darwin, has led to its late discovery and little is known still about this large land loving iguana.

Despite being the largest of the Galapagos Islands, Isabela is one of the less visited as the main areas of interest are so far apart. Usually it is only accessed by those on faster ships or on longer itineraries, stopping at Isabela on either side of a visit to Fernandina Island. Please speak to us if you would like to corporate this fantastic island into your itinerary.

This is the best spot in the Galapagos Islands to spot whales, with the possibility of 16 species including humpbacks, sperm, minke, sei and orca.

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