Galapagos » Islands » Isabela Island

Isabela Island

Galapagos tourists

This sea horse-shaped island constitutes over 58% of the archipelago's land mass. Created by the fusion of six volcano lava flows, Isabela Island proudly bears its title as the island with an abundance of land tortoises and the greatest number of active volcanoes, four are waiting to erupt at any moment.

One can explore much of the island from the tranquil southern town of Puerto Villamil, but the remote western coast is visited only by the longest of tours, making this part of the Galapagos unseen by most visitors. The highest point on this island is the Volcan Wolf which sits at an altitude of 1,707 meters. A product of six volcanoes coming together over millions of years ago into one single island, Isabela Island is undeniably one of the best places to tour in the Galapagos.

Home to a huge variety of plant and animal species including the endemic Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, Sally Lightfoot crabs, boobies and pelicans, this island is also the habitat of the rare and endemic Darwin Finches, Galapagos Hawks, Galapagos Tortoises, land iguanas and the Galapagos



Located at the ‘mouth’ of the head of the sea horse, which forms the northern part of the Isabela is Punta Vicente Roca. Here the remnants of an ancient volcano form two turquoise coves with a bay well protected from the ocean swells. The spot is a popular anchorage from which to take panga rides along the cliff where a partially sunken cave beckons explorers. Masked and blue-footed boobies sit perched along the point and the sheer cliffs, while flightless cormorants inhabit the shoreline.

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Adventure Life

The upwelling of coldwater currents in this part of the Galapagos, give rise to an abundance of marine life which, in combination with the protection of the coves, make Punta Vicente Roca one of the archipelago’s sough after dive spots. The passage opens to calm waters of the hidden cove where sea lions like to laze on the beach having traveled along the underwater route. The entire area of Punta Vicente Roca lies on the flank of 2,600 foot Volcano Ecuador. This is the island’s sixth largest volcano. Half of Volcano Ecuador slid into the ocean leaving a spectacular cutaway view of its caldera.


On the way to Tagus Cove, the boat will sail through the Bolivar Channel. These are the coldest, most productive waters in the Galapagos, the upwelling of the Cronwell Current, where dolphins and whales are frequently seen.

Tagus Cove, named for a British naval vessel that moored here in 1814, was used historically as an anchorage for pirates and whalers. The cove’s quiet waters make for an ideal panga ride beneath its sheltered cliffs, where blue-footed boobies, brown noddies, pelicans and noddy terns make their nests, and flightless cormorants and penguins inhabit the lava ledges.

From our landing, a wooden stairway rises to the trail entrance for a view of Darwin Lake, a perfectly round saltwater crater, barely separated from the ocean but above sea level! The trail continues around the lake through a dry vegetation zone, and then climbs inland to a promontory formed by spatter cones. The site provides spectacular views back toward our anchorage in the bay, as well as Darwin and Wolf Volcano farther north.

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