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Galapagos: Isla Isabella
11 Jan 2014

Isla Isabella is a three hour boat ride from Isla Santa Cruz and it’s the largest island in the archipelago, being composed of five separate volcanoes.

The town on Isabella is a sleepy beach town with a main street running along the beach. The rest of the town appears to be under either perpetual construction or destruction.

We didn’t have a reservation when we arrived so we asked our taxi driver to give us some recommendations. The first place we went to looked like a bomb had hit it and cost $40/night, so we decided to keep looking. We ended up at a lovely place named after - and run by - an even lovelier woman, Gardenia.

We spent our first full day on the island snorkeling at La Concha de Perla, a small lagoon just off the docks. The next day we went on a five hour scorcher of a hike around a volcano and spent the rest of the evening reading and watching the sun set over the ocean.

Overall Isabella was a pretty quiet island for us. We thoroughly explored the small town and its many restaurants and didn’t eat anywhere that really blew our minds other than the dinner Gardenia made for us. Given the remoteness of Isabella it seems if you want good food you may have to be part of a tour or be willing to shell out the cash.

On that note there aren’t any ATMs on the island that we saw so make sure to bring plenty of cash.


Jan 11, 2014

from Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos


Jan 15, 2014

to Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos

Weather (Celcius)

Elevation (m)

Travel Planning: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Friday, December 06, 2013 17:47


My favorite island was Isabella–it’s isolated and is constructed of 5 volcanos. It is easy to see incredible sea life with just a pair of flippers and some goggles and you are surrounded by unique land creatures.


  • The highest mountain amongst the islands is Volcán Wolf on Isla Isabela, 1707 m (5600ft) high.
  • hot/rainy season, from December to June, when humidity is high and average temperatures are in the 80s F (26°-30° C)
  • Peak season for naturalist tours is typically December through May when the seas are the calmest and the weather the warmest.

Getting There

  • May be cheaper to fly in from Guayaquil instead of Quito.
  • The Baltra airport is a short bus ride, to a quick ferry trip, to another 45 minute bus ride to get to Puerto Ayora. It is not expensive, the full trip costs $2.30 per person ($.50 for the ferry & $1.80 for the bus), but it can be a bit inconvienent.


  • $373 roundtrip from GYE <-> GPS Jan 7 - 15
  • $349 roundtrip from GYE <-> GPS Jan 10 - 17
  • $350 roundtrip from UIO <-> GPS Jan 9 - 16

Use momondo to book flights from/to SCY, which is not found on chipmunk.

hipmunk queries



San Cristobal

  • Playa Mann- One of the more popular beaches due to its central location, the waters are decently calm and there are many sea lions that play here.
  • El Junto- Here you’ll view a crater lake inside an active volcano. It’s fun to hike around the rim of the volcano and explore some of the forest trails.
  • Puerto Chino- Although a bit far out of town, this white sand beach offers calm, clear waters and the chance to see a lot of wild life and unique rock formations. Climb to the top of the big, black volcanic rock formation for aerial views of the clear water and marine life. When I was here, I actually witnessed a shark jumping out of the water.
  • Jacinto Gordillo Breeding Center of Giant Tortoises- Here you’ll see the giant tortoises that the Galapagos Islands are so famous for. You’ll also see baby tortoises, walk through an informational museum and possibly see the tortoises in the mating process.
  • Diving at Kicker Rock is awesome.

Santa Cruz

  • Darwin Research Center- An easy (15 minute) walk from the center of town, here you’ll find a giant tortoise and iguana breeding center.
  • Ship Ports At Night- Visit the ship ports at night for some shark viewing. The animals are attracted to the lights given off by the docks. You may have to wait a bit, but if you’re patient, there’s a good chance you’ll see some. When I was there I saw baby sharks, manta rays, sea lions and many tropical fish.
  • El Chato Tortoise Reserve- Located in the highlands of the island, you’ll be able to observe giant tortoises and an array of bird life like Darwin Finches, Short-eared Owls, Vermillion Flycatchers and Paint-billed Crakes. Here, you’ll also have the option to visit El Chato Lagoon.
  • Hike to Media Luna Hill- Media Luna means “half moon” in English, and the hill is named after the shape of this ancient volcanic crater. It’s about a two-hour uphill hike from Bellavista.
  • Taxi boat to beach isla Las Alemana - beautiful beach.
  • Taxi boat to isla Las Rietas - jumping cliff.


  • Volcan Sierra Negra- This picturesque hike will allow you to see great views of northern Isabela.
  • National Park Tortoise Reserve- Here, you’ll be able to see a species of tortoise that isn’t found anywhere else in the world.
  • Laguna Concha Perla- This is a prime snorkel spot where there are manta rays, sea lions, fish, penguins, sea turtles and more.

Getting Between Islands

Isabella -> Santa Cruz at 6am is $25.


Does not include

  • $10 “visa” fee
  • $100 entrance upon arrival in cash


Blue House Suite on Santa Cruz$50/doubleJan 6Yes + $18 cab +593 052-527-378
Casa Mabell on San Cristobal$40/doubleJan 6Yes + $30 water taxi/person
Hostal Leon Dormido on San Cristobal$40/doubleJan 6Yes + $30 water taxi/person
Galapagos Twins$115.90/queen bedJan 6Yes
La Fortaleza$80/doubleJan 6Yes
Galapagos Hotel Fiesta$100/doubleJan 7 one nightYes
Galapagos Safari Camp$500/doubleUnknownFuck it
Hotel Galapagos Inn$90/doubleUnknownNo
Red MangroveUnknownUnknownCalled, no response

Casa Mabell on AirBnb

Once you arrive in GPS, you will take a bus, then cross the canal, then take another bus that will bring you to the port/pier where the boats are, you can buy your tickets there. You basically follow the crowd (Galapagos style). Yeah, the room you were inquiring about got taken today. But we have this one available https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2051589 (spacious one bedroom apartment) it’s only $10 more than the other one, but it’s twice as big. with new tile. You will have Free wi fi, cable tv, private bathroom with hot shower, ample closet space. We are located one block and a half away from the pier where you will be arriving from Santa Cruz.

Twin Suites Galapagos

3.5 X 6 meters with bed Quen Zize private bathroom hot water, hammocks in the corridor against nature attached photo for your approval the price is $ 115.90 dollars includes tax, breakfast daily in the restaurant, WIFI

Hostal Leon Dormido

The hostal is a short 9 minute walk from the airport and a 2 minute stroll from the main municipal dock if you are arriving in San Cristobal by boat. The pavements and streets are well maintained if you are rolling your luggage instead of carrying it. Another option is to take a taxi that should cost you no more than $1.00.

If you are coming from the airport follow the only road the leads out of the facility. Turn left when you reach Jose de Villamil (Barrio Los Cactus Parque is on the right hand side). Hostal Leon Dormido is two blocks down on the left hand side, right before the waterfront.

To reach the hostal from the municipal dock, take a right when stepping off the dock and walk 2 minutes along the waterfront, turning left on Jose de Villamil. It will be on your right hand side.

El Castillo

La Fortaleza

Hotel Fiesta

  • Availability starting on the 7th.

Blue House Suite

Posada del caminante

Isla Isabella

Dive Spots in the Galapagos

Thursday, January 09, 2014 08:30

These are all of the dive spots in the Galapagos Islands.

Taxi Boat from Isla Santa Cruz to Isla Isabella

Saturday, January 11, 2014 13:35
1:25PMAt the ticket booth waiting for instructions.
1:36PMAt agriculture inspections.
1:54PMStill waiting for our boat.
2:01PMOn a taxi boat.
2:16PMOn board with captain Gaby.
4:42PMTransferred to a taxi boat.
4:57PMPaid $5 entrance tax to the island.
5:05PMIn a taxi for $1/person. Adolfo. 099 415 0865.

Las Gardenias

Saturday, January 11, 2014 18:01

We’re staying here while we’re on Isla Isabella. Only $30/night!

El Encanto de la Papa

Saturday, January 11, 2014 18:38

Sand flies all over and tiny portions that left us starving. Ended up getting a street meat chicken skewer shortly after that was mostly bone and tasted disgusting.

Cafeteria Booby Trap

Saturday, January 11, 2014 19:19

Decent brownies for $2. Also had a chicken enchilada for $6 that was just ok - it only had chicken, tomato sauce, and some cheese on top.

Sea Lions Chillin’

Sunday, January 12, 2014 14:45

Loved these sea lions that had taken over the benches near the port of Isla Isabella.

More Sea Lions

Sunday, January 12, 2014 14:50

These guys were blocking the path to a lagoon right by the docks. They were harmless though and hardly cared if you walked over/around/on top of (I kid!) them.

Snorkelling at Concha de Perla

Sunday, January 12, 2014 14:54

We went snorkelling today in a small lagoon by the dock. Saw a manta ray and tons of fish.

A Weird Fish in the Lagoon

Sunday, January 12, 2014 15:24

We’re not sure what this fish was but it looked pretty strange.

Sea Lions Taking Over the Docks

Sunday, January 12, 2014 16:03

The sea lions weren’t afraid to jump in to boats and cover the docks as they lounged around.

Flamingos Hangout Spot

Sunday, January 12, 2014 18:13

Apparently this spot is where all of the flamingos hang out, but they’ve sadly migrated away.

Dinner at Gardenia's

Sunday, January 12, 2014 19:21

Gardenia made us an absolutely delicious dinner at home! We started with some delicious homemade soup and garlic bread. The main course was a huge slice of fish that was perfectly seasoned. We devoured our plates and were quite content afterwards. Gardenia even joined us for dinner which was really nice!

Volcán Sierra Negra Hike

Monday, January 13, 2014 08:01
7:42AMHeading over to Hotel San Vicente.
8:01AMMade sandwiches.
8:04AMIn a cab truck.
8:35AMArrived at the trail.
8:45AMAnd we’re off.
9:32AMFirst volcano.
9:47AMOn to the next one.
11:20AMEating our sandwiches at the end of the trail.
11:43AMHeading back.
1:44PMBack at the trail head.
2:32PMBack home.

Head of the Volcano Trail

Monday, January 13, 2014 08:44

Our hike/run through these volcanoes was filled with gorgeous views of the island and the massive crater created by one of the world’s largest volcanoes.

We sadly didn’t learn much about the geology of the volcanoes because our guide insisted on running along the entire trail, often spreading the group thin along the trail. On the way back I thought this kinda worked in our favor because we were able to get lost finding our way. Apparently this was pretty dangerous because of the number of massive hollow caverns created by the flowing lava. Thankfully we didn’t find any!

Volcanic Hills

Monday, January 13, 2014 11:16

This was near the end of the trail.

Playground on the Beach

Monday, January 13, 2014 17:51

Stumbled upon this on a walk to the beach!

Sunset Swingset

Monday, January 13, 2014 17:54


Los Delfines

Monday, January 13, 2014 18:57

Pretty decent almuerzo. Really good home-made hot sauce.

Restaurant Kellita

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 12:35

Just ok almuerzo.

Ermagerd Baby Turtle

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 14:41

It’s crazy to think that, assuming this guy lives to its maximum lifespan, there will be an entirely new set of humans around by the time it passes away.

Tortoise Breeding Center

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 14:53

For our last day on Isla Isabella we decided to take it easy and go visit the tortoise breeding centre about a kilometre out of town. We strolled twenty minutes along the road under the scorching sun and were hella happy to arrive at the abundant shade of the complex.

El Faro

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 20:02

Decent burger and good cena plate.

Taxi Boats from Isla Isabella to Isla San Cristobal

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 05:40
5:31AMIn the cab to the docks.
5:38AMAt agriculture inspections.
5:59AMOn a taxi boat.
6:10AMOn board the Neptuno.
8:16AMTransferred to a taxi boat.
8:19AMWaiting for bags.
8:29AMUnloaded at San Cristobal.
1:28PMOn our way to the docks.
2:04PMOn a taxi boat.
2:09PMOn our way to San Cristobal!


Jan 11, 2014

from Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos


Jan 15, 2014

to Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos