Isabela is the largest island in the Galápagos. However, it is the second smallest in terms of population. Isabela hosts the urban parish of Puerto Villamil and the rural parish of Tomás de Berlanga. Puerto Villamil is well known in the Galapagos for its natural beauty, where the scenery of its beach stands out. This beach is the largest in the Galápagos and extends over 2 km, covering a distance greater than the length of the town. Characterized by its white sand and crystal clear water, this beach offers ideal sites for bathers, surfers or simply for those who wish to walk and enjoy the sun. Additionally, on this beach you can spot sea lions and marine iguanas, as well as countless species of birds. The sunset landscape is one of the most iconic of the Galápagos Islands.
The only way to arrive to the Galapagos Islands is by airplane from Quito and Guayaquil to Baltra or San Cristobal islands.
If you arrive to Baltra Island you have two options:
First, you could take a plane with the company EMETEBE, which offers direct service to Isabela flight. The journey takes about 30 minutes and cost around $ 100.
The second option is to travel to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and then sail to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.
To get to Puerto Ayora you must take a bus from to El Canal -DO NOT TAKE THE BUS TO THE DOCK/PIER (EL MUELLE in Spanish). The bus service is free and takes about 15 min, you can take any bus regardless which airline you are travelling with. Then, you should take a barge to cross the channel, this section takes about 5 minutes and cost up to $ 2 per person, depending on the barge. Once across the channel you will be in Isla Santa Cruz.
There are also two options to travel from the channel to Puerto Ayora: the first is to take a bus, and the other is to rent one of the pickup trucks that offer taxi service. The bus takes about 1 hour and has a value of around $ 4 per person. The pickup truck takes about 40 minutes, but has a cost of $ 20 per trip. Because the trucks can carry up to 4 passengers per trip, it is recommended to ask people on the bus or barge to complete the number of seats in the pickup truck an split the cost. In this way, that trip is cheaper and quicker. Remember that the more people traveling per vehicle the better for the environment of the Galapagos Islands.
You should request the pickup truck driver to be drop at the pier (El Muelle in Spanish) -THIS IS DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE IN BALTRA ISLAND- there you can find several companies to buy the tickets. There you can buy a boat ticket to travel to Isabela. The journey takes between 2.5 to 3.5 hours sailing and has a value of USD 30 per person. The time of arrival to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island can be between 4:30 pm and 6:00 pm depending on the conditions of the sea. The boats leave from Puerto Ayora at 2:00 pm so it is recommended to calculate that the maximum time of arrival to Puerto Ayora is 1:30 pm.
Please consider that the time of arrival to Puerto Ayora in santa Cruz Island depends on the time of arrival of your flight to Baltra Island, and it can range from 09 a.m. until 12:30 pm. Thus, those arriving in the early fights to Baltra will also arrive to Puerto Ayora earlier and will have time for lunch and to walk around the pier. While those arriving in the last flights to Baltra will arrive after noon to Puerto Ayora. Therefore, if that is your case, you must give priority to buy the ticket for the boat and prepare for navigation, which sometimes imply a very short time to have lunch or no time at all.
If for some reason you cannot arrive on time to catch the boat to Isabela or the trip results too hard to do in one day, you can spend the night in Puerto Ayora and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, Tortuga Bay, La Playa de los Alemanes, Las grietas or the tunnels.
In the case you arrive to San Cristobal Island you have two options:
The first is taking a plane with the Company EMETEBE, which offers direct flights to Isabela. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes and costs about 150 USD.
The second option is to sail from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island and from there sail again to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.
There is a regular service departing from Puerto Baquerizo Moreno at 06:00 am and at 01:00 pm. The trip takes between 2 and 3 hours of sailing and has a value of USD 30. The only way to make it on time for the next boat from Puerto Ayora Puerto Villamil in the same day is taking the boat in the morning. If this is not feasible it is recommended to spend the night in Puerto Ayora.
Once in Puerto Ayora, you can buy the tickets to Isabela Island as it was previously explained
Taking into account that not all people find it easy to sail, the following is recommended :
1) If the visitor does not have sailing experience, not overeat at lunch.
2) Take a motion sickness pill at least an hour before embarking to sail. These pills can be bought in the pharmacies located at the pier in Puerto Ayora and Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.
3) If you experience sea sickness while traveling, inform the crew, they will provide appropriate assistance .