Isla Isabella: The best choice for a “one-stop” visit to the Galapagos

Published 10 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Report as of 1 April 2013

We are John and Cyndi Martin, an American flagged sailing vessel (Lagoon 440) currently anchored at Isla Isabella.

First, the current information posted on noonsite is correct regarding legal issues.  One thing, however, is it should be noted it is easy to arrive with no prior arrangements and without an agent at Isabella.  One simply comes into the anchorage flying your “Q” and upon getting settled contact “JC” on VHF-67.  He will be your agent and take care of all the legalities for check-in.  The port captain is professional and polite but speaks Spanish only.  JC does speak English and is one of the very few people here who does.

For us, we very much wish we had not paid in advance for a 5 port “autograph”.

First San Cristobal in our opinion was a waste of time.  The Sea Lions are everywhere and if you have any kind of sugar-scoop they will be on-board despite your best efforts.  If they get on your cushions you might as well toss them. They are in town on the park benches, on the walkways, just about everywhere and they are very smelly and pretty mean!

Also, the Autographo is kind of worthless in that only Isabella is at all protected and nowhere can you do anything without taking a (very crowded) “tour” with an official guide.  We got in trouble just snorkelling by our boat with no guide.  You already pay about $720usd just to check in, and the autographo takes that up to $1,000.

The distance between the islands is typically in the 40nm range but one can take “speed-boat” ferries between the islands for day trips etc.  We did take tours on each island as we went along, but honestly about everything and anything one wants to see can be done on Isabella.

For us, the bottom line is if one is on a bit of a budget I would bypass the Galapagos, but if you don’t mind the cash outlay for check-in and any and all “tours”, just go to Isabella and take the tour boats to visit other islands from there.

John and Cyndi Martin

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