Island Hopping in the Galapagos – Isla Isabela
Swimming with turtles, sea lions and sharks, sun bathing on a beautiful secluded beach, eating fresh lobster and watching amazing sunsets – all in one day? That’s life on the Galapagos Islands.The current blog posts will all be dedicated to my experiences on the secluded archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, 973 km off the coast of Ecuador. Last week’s article was about my experiences on the island of Santa Cruz. This one is about the island of Isabela, next week’s article is dedicated to the island of San Cristóbal. The final one will be about useful tips and tricks for traveling to the Galapagos Islands. The second island I visited was Isabela, which is very different from Santa Cruz. The population of the town Puerto Villamil consists of only 2.200 inhabitants. Most of the streets (and there aren´t many) are sandy paths and overall it’s “más tranquilo”.
My personal highlights in Isabela:
Starting from the island of Isabela, I did another snorkeling tour: los Tunéles. The tunnels were formed (like everything on the Galapagos) by an erupted volcano. When the lava hit the water, it cooled down on the outside and kept floating on the inside, forming formations of tunnels and caves – above and below sea level. Our first stop was a land stop at the tunnel formations above sea levels. There we walked around a bit and got really close to blue footed boobies – an endemic bird species in the Galapagos. The guide explained their way of living and breeding to us and we were able to take cool pictures. Afterwards we went snorkeling. First we were looking for sea turtles and sea horses –and found them. We swam with the turtles for a while before the real fun began: the tunnels and caves below water. The guide will show you different ones and there will be sharks waiting for you – don’t worry, they are small and don’t attack. They just hang out in the caves. The guide will help you stay under water: he pushes you down and a little into the caves, holds you there for a few seconds before he pulls you back up. The first time he did that, I had no idea what was going on and for a few seconds I thought he was going to drown me. Of course he didn’t but a little heads up would have been nice. Overall it was an amazing tour, seeing the blue footed boobies up close, penguins, swimming with turtles, looking sharks in the eye and getting a delicious lunch on the boat.
Biking to the Wall of Tears
Between 1946 and 1959 there was an infamous prison camp on Isabela. The guards on the camp where known to abuse their power and the prisoners were treated horribly. They were forced to build the Wall of tears or Muro de las Lágrimas, under harsh conditions. Today, the wall still remains as a reminder of that era. It is some 6km out of the town of Puerto Villamil and you can reach it either by foot or by bike. Bikes can be rented per hour in many agencies in Puerto Villamil. The beginning of the road was a little hard to bike, because it was next to the beach and very sandy, but once you reach the entrance of the national park, the roads are good – except that it goes uphill. You will find a few stops along the way: viewpoints and beaches. Once you reach the wall, there is a path leading up to a beautiful viewpoint. The way back to Puerto Villamil is much quicker than the way to the wall, since it is only downhill from there.
Snorkeling at Concha de Perla
Another great place for snorkeling is at Concha de Perla close to the main pier – and it’s free, you just have to rent snorkeling gear at one of the agencies in town. The water is warmer compared to the snorkeling spots on the tours and you can see fish, starfish, marine iguanas and my favorite – sea turtles. I swam with one of them for a couple of minutes and just watched in amazement how long they can hold their breath to find something to eat on the rocks.
The nicest thing about Isabela, especially in comparison to the other two islands, is that the beach is beautiful and easily and quickly reached. There are nice waves for surfing or just swimming in the waves and then sunbathing at the white sandy beach.
These were my experiences on the Island of Isabela. To find out more about the Galapagos, stay tuned the next couple of weeks! Next week’s topic: Island Hopping in the Galapagos – Isla San Cristóbal.
If you rather want your tour to be preorganized, check out this page
Written by Ayke Sander