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Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 12:01 pm

How to spend 24 Hours on Isabela Island: A Hidden Gem in the Galapagos


Isabela Island is the largest and least populated island in the Galapagos and it very well could be one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire archipelago. If given the chance to visit Isabela Island for the day, here is what I recommend doing.

7:30 – 8:30 AM
Transportation to Isabela Island in the Galapagos

From Santa Cruz Island, take a short 45-minute water taxi to Isabela Island.

8:30 – 9:30 AM
Go to the hotel on Isabela Island in the Galapagos

Start you’re 24 hour trip to Isabela Island off in Puerto Villamil. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by beautiful turquoise-blue waters, so welcoming that you will be tempted to jump right into the water.  But first, you will want to check into your hotel room at the Iguana Crossing Hotel. This 5-star boutique hotel offers ocean views and easy access to the beach. You will fall in love with the outdoor lounge area complete with an infinity pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.


10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Bike Ride: After briefly exploring your hotel, rent a bike and head toward El Muro de las Lagrimas, also known as the Wall of Tears. This historical site was built by the hands of prisoners who once belonged to a penal colony on the island. The wall served but one purpose, as punishment. The intense heat of the sun made the labor so painful and unbearable that many of the prisoners died while working.

The ride up the road is beautiful.  It follows the coastline and is lined with native flora. Be prepared to work up a sweat as you pedal your way up the road to the top of the hill, but don’t worry your hard work will soon be rewarded!  The view from the top makes all the effort worth your while.  After exploring the wall and the viewpoints, coast back down the hill. Keep an eye out for giant tortoises or iguanas roaming around. If you spot one be sure to take a photo, but don’t get too close because this is one of the few places you can still see these gentle giants in their natural habitat.


Playa de Amor: Further down the road stop at Playa de Amor, a small beach covered in tiny colorful pieces of red, purple and white coral.  After a self-guided bike tour, a guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you back to the port. Embark on a speedboat toward an epic location in the Los Tuneles tour.


Los Tuneles Tour:  The Los Tuneles tour takes you to a unique location off the coast of the island to some amazing geological rock formations. Los tuneles are lava rocks that have formed into arches jetting out of crystal clear water. These rocks provide an excellent habitat for tons of marine wildlife. Here you can also see an abundance of blue-footed boobies, one of my personal favorites, and many other species of birds. After walking around the tunnels get ready for some snorkeling.  A typical snorkeling experience here consists of seeing an abundance of colorful fish, sea turtles, sharks and even penguins if you are lucky!  This is by far my favorite tour on Isabela Island because you get to see so many different kinds of wildlife. After a bit of snorkeling, enjoy some lunch and get ready to head back towards the port. Scan the horizon and see if you can catch a glimpse of the manta rays leaping out of the water. Los Tuneles is a classic Isabela Island Tour and a must on any quick or long trip to the Galapagos.


5:00 – 7:00 PM
Dinner on Isabela Island

After the tour takes a second to relax and recover at the snack shack near the port.  Pick a hammock, sip a coconut and sway in the warm sea breeze.  After a bit of R & R, take a walk along the beach back to the hotel.  As dinner approaches, head toward Booby Trap restaurant. With a wide variety of dishes to choose from, be sure to try the ceviche, a must while traveling to Ecuador. Scan the menu for jugo de maracuya, also known as passion fruit juice. There is nothing better than sipping a cold glass of fresh passion fruit juice on a warm day in the Galapagos.


7:00 – 9:00 PM
Cocktails on Isabela Island

After dinner head to happy hour at Casa Rosada, a fun little bar on the beach.  Try the local favorite, Coco Loco, a rum cocktail served in a coconut. Lay in one of the hammocks and try your luck on the slack line. Relax and enjoy the most beautiful sunset and watch the magnificent colors of Isabela Island change across the horizon.  As the sun disappears, don’t leave just yet, order another Coco Loco and wait as the stars come alive. The night sky on Isabela Island is something you will never forget. Lay back in your chair and stare up at the night sky, dusted with more stars than you’ve ever seen. Don’t leave until you have seen at least one shooting star and then retire to your room at the hotel.


5:45 AM
Rise & Shine for Sunrise in the Galapagos

The next morning, wake up before sunrise and head to the beach one last time. Watch as the colors light up the beautiful Isabela Island. After breakfast head back toward the port and say farewell. As you leave, enjoy the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.  Watch as they disappear into the distance and remember the gem that is Isabela.


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