Splashing with Sea Lions on Isabella Island

We visited Isabella Island after spending time on Santa Cruz, where we experienced the giant tortoise of the highlands, blue footed boobies, marine iguanas and a few lazy sea lions. I was already impressed just a few days into our Galapagos adventures. Just when I thought “it can’t get any better than this”, we pulled up to the dock at Isabella Island, and I was blown away.


We were greeted by thousands of birds, hundreds of iguanas and dozens of sea lions. The abundance of diverse wildlife was unbelievable. Isabella’s gorgeous, white sand beaches, with winding docks over crystal clear waters, provide the perfect environment for hanging with island creatures.


What amazed me most was how comfortable these wild animals are with humans. It seems that because the Galapagos Islands and its wildlife inhabitants have always been protected, they are not fearful of our presence. Quite the opposite actually! The most memorable moment of my time in the Galapagos was splashing with a playful sea lion who seemed to be taunting me with his impressive swimming skills.

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We spent our first moments on Isabella exploring the beach by the harbor’s dock, watching birds dive for fish, blue footed boobies paddle along and sea lions swarming the water. These sweet and playful, stray water dogs of the Galapagos seem to run the island and tend to steal the show. They make themselves comfortable, lounging on nearby boats and throughout the eclectic restaurants and beach bars. They hop around on the docks and swim in the shallow waters, putting on a playful performance. Everywhere we went, we made sea lion friends!


We did, eventually, venture beyond the docks surrounding the main beach. It’s a quick drive to an incredible lookout point allowing you to capture panoramic views of Isabella’s beauty.


There are also a few, less popular and more peaceful areas (like Playa de Amor), where thousands of Marine Iguanas have created a zen-like atmosphere on this grainy beach filled with seashells. The iguanas cover the rocks, holding their chest high to the crashing waves, soaking up the sun. They don’t mind sharing their beach, so long as you keep your distance!


Incredible wildlife isn’t all Isabella has to offer. I’ve never seen more uniquely wild, untouched scenery. Cacti are scattered across the island, with beautiful flora painting the white sand and dark lava rocks with colors that are a perfect match to the marine iguana’s camouflaged skin.

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Isabella is the largest island in the Galapagos, making it difficult to explore all of its natural treasures in one day. I wish we had more time as Isabella has much to offer, and considering its size we were only able to experience a taste. We enjoyed snorkeling with Isabella’s marine life, hiking the beautiful beaches, and gazing at swarms of birds. On our way back to the  boat docks, we stopped to spy on some pretty flamingos bathing in the lagoon.

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I had heard that Isabella was known to have a population of penguins and I kept an eye out during our adventure, searching while I snorkeled in hopes to spot one of these cute little water birds. As we boarded the dock to leave, still without a penguin sighting, I was too giddy from our incredible experience to care. I looked back as we pulled away, spotting a flock of blue footed boobies resting on the rocks and, lo and behold, one lonely penguin looking confused among a crowd of blue feet. I spy a lost little penguin. Can you find him? 😉



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