Isla Isabela is the biggest island in Galapagos and it's so beautiful...
As a backpacker you usually look for cheap ways to visit nice places and Galapagos is not the cheapest one. But if you don’t want to book a cruise in advance you can do many things on your own and discover the island with day tours or book a cruise on the island. That even supports the local people on the island much more. Did you know that the local people only get a fraction of the amount people spend to visit Galapagos?
I took a boat from Santa Cruz to Isla Isabela (30 USD). There are two boats going to the island each day - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. On the Island there are hostels available for a minimum of 18 USD per night (if you travel alone; if you travel as a couple it might be cheaper, usually around 30 USD per room). I stayed at Posada del Caminante. It's a nice and clean hostel and the guy who runs it is really friendly. All the people on the island are so kind - even more than the people on the mainland.
I stayed three and a half day. On the first day I went to the Centro de Crianza de Tortugas, which you can get to by bike or walking, where you will find the Giant turtles. You will find baby turtles as well and can see the different types and the different ages of the turtles. So amazing!
On the way to the Center you will pass the beach in front of the Hotel "Crossing Iguanas". You should stop there! You will find a lot of iguanas!
If you like flamingos you should walk very slowly to the Center. You will find them on the way. Also if you walk out of the center and instead of heading left back to the beach, you take the road to the right, you will find a lake with a lot of flamingos in it.
After I went by bike to the Wall of Tears, what is has quite an interesting history. There is also a beautiful beach on the way to relax on.
In the afternoon I went to Concha y Perla. It's an awesome spot for snorkeling. I saw a lot of turtles and small fish. On the way you will see a lot of sea lions and iguanas! So cute! The water is really cold so it's better to rent a wetsuit! The place is really nice for snorkeling.
I went there every afternoon! Next to this spot/next to the pier you can find a little beach for relaxing after the snorkeling. You can watch the sea lions and relax with them.
On the second day I went to Las Tintoreras by kayak. The tour was with a local guide (35 USD) and I went alone with him. I booked the all my tours with the travel agency Natural Selection and every tour was amazing. If you go by kayak you can stay as long as you like at the great spots. I saw sea lions, the little cute Galápagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, crabs, iguanas (going in the water to eat), turtles and eagle rays. So nearly everything I hoped to see! The trip was so amazing and because you do it on your own the experience is much better than I imagine it would be with a boat trip. I paid 5 USD more and went snorkeling. The places were great. I was the only person in the water so the animals were not that afraid and many turtles looked curiously at me and I also saw some eagle rays. I wasn't lucky enough to see sharks on this day. After the trip I took a short nap at the beach close to the port and after, went snorkeling at Concha y Perla again.
The third day I booked a tour to Los Tunnels (90 USD fixed price). The tour is amazing and a must do if you are on Islabela. We went by boat to these lava tunnels. The lava tunnels were formed as the outer skin of molten lava solidified but the liquid magma inside continued flowing, leaving behind a series of empty tubes. It looks so interesting!
The moment we arrived we jumped into the water and went snorkeling. We saw a lot of turtles, sea horses, eagle rays and many white tip sharks. We snorkeled around this gorgeous area and even though it was cold after one hour I wanted to keep on snorkeling! The guides were so kind and we saw a lot! After we went further inside the lava tunnels and walked through them to the blue-footed boobies and their babies! WOW how cute! I didn't expect to see little baby birds. I couldn't stop taking pictures!
On my last day I went on a volcano tour (35 USD). Make sure your tour goes to the volcano Chico and Sierra Negra. The landscape is amazing! Volcanos in combination with the sea are great pictures! The walk is nice as well and if the weather is good you will have an awesome view.
In the evenings I went out for dinner. You will find a lot of places that offer local food on the menu for 6/7 USD. You usually get a soup, main dish and a dessert. Delicious!
As a summary you should make sure you see these interesting places on Isla Isabela:
-Concha y Perla for snorkeling (free!)
-Las Tintoreras by kayak or boat (half day tour)
-Los Tunnels (half day tour)
-volcano tour (half day tour)
-Centro de Crianza de Tortugas and Lagune las Minas as a walk
-Wall of Tears by bike
Isla Isabela is not that touristy like the other islands, which is what I really enjoyed. On the Galápagos Islands I felt safe at all times even as a woman solo traveler. The hostels also host a lot of other solo travelers, which makes it easy to get to know new people. On the island you will find a lot of interesting animals, a gorgeous landscape and so many kind people. I enjoyed my time on this island so much! It's really easy to traveling by your own. It was a gorgeous time!