Isabela Island was my favorite island in the Galapagos. Less touristy than Santa Cruz, much more chilled, and I dare to say, more beautiful.
We went from sunbathing to trekking in the same afternoon, and I had my first snorkeling experience there. If we ever go back to the Galapagos Islands, Isabela will be my first choice.
Spending time at our hotel’s beach was one of the best moments of the day, especially in the morning when we were the only ones there.
What do you normally do on a beach? You sunbathe right? Well, here you can do that, and admire the wildlife. No biggie. There were just some penguins playing in the water at one point, colorful crabs hiding in the sand, iguanas sunbathing etc.
I didn’t think of the Galapagos as a beach destination at all. I thought we would do some tours to see the unique species. But no, besides the beach here, Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island was just as enchanting.
We also loved the chilled atmosphere in the village which is miles away from the very touristy and loud, Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island.
Snorkeling on Isabela Island – The Tintoreras Tour
The Tintoreras tour with Red Mangrove Hotel was unforgettable. I had my first snorkeling experience which was epic. The first moment in the water was weird, not knowing how to breathe through the mask, and feeling like I was losing control. But my God, once I got the hang of it and let go, it was amazing. Looking into the water seeing fish, marine turtles, and just a few of those, what are they called? Ahh, sharks :).
I’m so happy I did this. I’m 32 and it is only now that I’m really experiencing things. Being the control freak that I am means I have avoided situations that required me to let go because of my fears. And although it’s still hard to let go, the feeling of freedom that takes over you once you do it, it’s priceless.
Trekking on Isabela Isalnd – The Sierra Negra and Chico Volcano
We started the day by the beach, and after a few hours, we left for our first trek in the Galapagos Islands.
In less than an hour, we experienced a massive change of scenery; from the blue clear water view to lava rocks, and the second biggest caldera in the world, Siera Negra. Our next stop, Volcano Chico equally amazed us with surreal views over Isabela Island. We felt like we were walking on a different planet, and we were quite fascinated by it.
The tour started at around 7am when we were picked up at the hotel and driven to the entrance of the National Park. From there we started our 16km return trek. My easiest experience of the kind – normally I get tired and with knee pain.
The first hour was fairly easy as we went through thick vegetation – guanabana trees mostly – whilst getting to know some of our trekking companions. The first view of the Caldera, although foggy, was quite impressive. We had a much better and clearer view on our way back, though.
Continuing our walk, the vegetation was less present, being substituted by lava rocks and some cactuses. Very soon, we were arriving at Volcan Chico, where a surreal view was awaiting.
On our way back the sky had cleared given us the opportunity to see the impressive caldera. Along with a group of 15 photographers and more tours coming. Maybe not the ideal situation for taking pictures, but good enough for a great visual experience.
We took about 5h altogether with two breaks and the transportation to and from the hotel, which is great because it allowed us to walk during the less harsh hours of the day.
How and where to
How to get to Isabela Island: We took a boat from Santa Cruz Island which was not a smooth ride. Prepare a plastic bag, is all I can say. The price was $30.
Where to stay: We stayed at La Casa de Marita which is ideally situated by the beach. There were a few days when we went to the beach quite early, and we were the only ones there. Ohh, and the iguanas :). Best feeling in the world!
Which agency to use: We took both the volcano trek and the Tintoreras tour with the same company, Red Mangrove Hotel, and we were very happy with their services.
The Volcanos trek: They give you a pack containing a sandwich, a banana, a fruit juice, some biscuits, and chocolate. Bring water, SPF, and a hat with you.
The Tintoreras tour: They give you the equipment, water, and some snacks. Don’t forget your SPF.
This post is in collaboration with La Casa de Marita.
Photography by Bertrand Delvaux.