You might not associate the word “cheap” with Galapagos, but it is possible to see a variety of sights without spending any money and enjoy activities on a budget. Here’s our list of the best free things to do around Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island. Any additional costs are noted in the description.
Isabela Budget-Friendly Sights
Malecón – The experience of walking on the malecón in Puerto Villamil is quite different than in San Cristóbal. That’s because here it’s simply a small road along the beach near the center of town that extends onto rocky outcroppings in two places (see above photo). Grab a drink at one of the restaurants/bars and find out who’s got live music scheduled.
The Beach – Practically the entire coastline of Puerto Villamil is one long beach. You can walk for hours on this picturesque expanse of white sand while observing birds and marine iguanas. In the developed section near the town center, there are several bars where you can relax in a hammock and try a “coco loco.”
La Playita – This is a great place to cool off on your way to or from the Wall of Tears (see below). There are lots of marine iguanas and pelicans, and you may be swimming with sea lions and whitetip reef sharks. It is 3.2 km from Puerto Villamil so is best reached by bike or taxi.
La Playa del Amor – This is a small, rocky beach just a few hundred meters beyond La Playita. It opens to a shallow pool of water that is perfect for wading and observing fish and iguanas.
El Muro de las Lagrimas (Wall of Tears) – About 6 km west from Puerto Villamil, you’ll find the remains of this lava rock wall. It does not serve a purpose; its construction (from 1945-1959) was simply a way to punish the prisoners from the penal colony. Be sure to climb up to the lookout point for a better view of the wall and the surrounding scenery. Along the way to the wall there are numerous paths that lead to little lagoons, a lava tunnel, small beaches (see above) and volcano summits, with clear signage telling you where they all are, and you can see various animals like flamingos, iguanas, sea lions, etc. Be sure to take plenty of water, some food, and sun protection. We recommend renting a bike in town (~$10 half day) and taking your time exploring this part of the island. You can also pay for a taxi (~$20) to drop you off and pick you up later.
Laguna Concha y Perla (Shell and Pearl Lagoon) – To the right of the pier where you arrive by inter-island ferry there’s a wooden walkway which leads to a little lagoon. This spot is a perfect place for beginners and kids to practice their snorkeling skills. You might see manta rays, sea lions, tropical fish, penguins, white tip reef sharks, sea turtles, iguanas and more.
Pozas Salinas – Just beyond the Iguana Crossing Hotel at the far end of the developed beach, you’ll find the entrance to a boardwalk trail that winds through an interesting wetlands habitat. The “pozas” is a large pond with mineral-rich water where pink flamingos and other birds spend their time feeding. Further along, you’ll see various species of mangrove forest and Opuntia cactus. The trail ends at the tortoise breeding center (below).
Centro de Crianza Tortugas Terrestres (Tortoise Breeding Center) – After an enjoyable 20-minute (1.5 km) walk from Puerto Villamil along the beach and then following the wetlands trail (above), you’ll reach this breeding center, where you can observe several species of tortoise. If you don’t want to walk back, you can take a taxi for about ~$5.