Isabela is the largest and second youngest island in the Galapagos. With six active shield volcanoes, it is one of the world’s most volcanically active places. Roughly one million years old, the island is a geological infant, and is still growing today. Puerto Villamil, home to Isabela’s population of roughly 2,000 people, is located on the south coast. Iguana Crossing, our flagship waterfront hotel, is located here at the base of Volcan Sierra Negra.
Isabela is physically distinct from other islands in the Galapagos, and its unique geology makes it a prime destination for any visitor. Volcan Sierra Negra is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has the second-largest caldera in the world – roughly six miles across. Volcan Wolf forms Isabela’s high point at 5,600 feet (1,707 meters). Other attractions in Isabela include Las Tintoreras, a group of rocky islets that are home to the endemic Galapagos penguin, and the Wall of Tears, a relic of Isabela’s penal colony.
Isabela’s flora and fauna is also unique, due in large part to the island’s youth. Isabela has not developed as much soil as other islands and the vast majority of its surface is covered by barren lava fields. This leads to the absence of vegetation zones, which in turn creates a very different environment for native species. Most notably, Isabela is home to the largest tortoise population of the Galapagos, with five of the eleven tortoise subspecies living here.