Closer to nature at Isabela island

5th of June - 16th of June

Our last stop in the Galapagos would be the island of Isabela which is the largest of the islands but the least exploited, tourists have only been allowed here during the last 10 years so it has a completely different vibe to it. We had to motor all the eight hours here, again… the wind is still staying away from the archipelago. It was a nice day on the sea, we passed by the small island “Isla Tortuga” which is a volcanic crater that has sunken down into the ocean, making it possible to sail through it. Outside of this island Lukas spotted a school of tuna hunting and making the surface water boil. We chased down the school and Lukas managed to catch a nice yellowfin on his spinning rod, tuna a la Kenobi coming up!

Tuna fishing at Tortuga island on the way to Isabela.

We anchored up outside of Puerto Villamil, a laid back small town with basically one main street, made out of sand, and only a few restaurants and hotels. When we arrived there was only one other sailing boat here, Mary Ann II, who also we met in Santa Cruz. This was the opposite of the busy harbor we left behind us. A cute sea lion, that we named “Chica Linda”, welcomed us here by spending one hour together with us chilling at the back of our boat in late afternoon sun. The anchorage is in a well protected bay with much calmer waters compared the other islands. There are small islands and lagoons surrounding the bay, making the morning SUP paddling trip amazing. You saw penguins on the cliffs, sharks, big rays, sea lions, swimming marine iguanas and sea turtles everywhere. We heard a lot of good things about this island and we were looking forward to doing a few tours and a lot of surfing. Of course we also needed to take care of the final preparations and stocking up fresh food for our big leg to the Marquesas.

The village of Puerto Villamil.
The boat Mary Ann II is getting a final hull polish before heading to sea. The couple John and Juliet (or JJ as we call them) were always ready for a chat, even while in the water!

At “Los tunneles” the lava from the volcano meet the see in a spectacular way. There is a maze of small channels and tunnels covering a quite big area along the coast. Snorkeling here you could dive down through the tunnel formations that were everywhere. We saw a lot of fish, a sea horse, rays, penguins, many big sea turtles, sea lions and big sharks sleeping in underwater caves.

Trip to los tunneles, before the snorkeling begun.

There are five volcanos on the island and one of them is open for the public, Sierra Negra. This is the biggest volcano and it has the second biggest crater in the world with its 10km across. We went there on a beautiful clear day, we were lucky since the top is usually covered in clouds. This place was amazing! There was a 2,5 hour hike up the volcano to see both the main crater and the area on the north side called “el chico” where later eruptions had taken place making the landscape look moon-like with its harch landscape and basically no vetegation. Guava and passion fruit trees have been introduced, and taken over a lot of the vegetation of the island during the last decades, considered a problem here but we were happy to pick a lot of free fruits for the boat.

Sierra negra volcano hike. Freshly picked guavas

There is a long beach next to the village and the surfing here was perfect for us beginners. We did a beach drop from the dinghy leaving two of us with the surf boards in the water outside of the breaking waves, while the others went to park he dinghy at the dock on the way to the beach. Now we have been surfing a couple of times and it feels like we are getting some sort of grip of it, it’s nice to feel you are improving and are able to do some small maneuvers on the board. Now the boards will have to rest for a couple of weeks until we get to Marquesas, it’s supposed to be great surfing over there as well.

Surf drop take off. Far out!

To stash up on fresh fruits we went with a taxi to one of the local “Fincas”, smaller farms located on the mountain side of the volcano. Actually, we went here twice to have the fruits ripe for different stages of the crossing. On the way here from Panama it took a week for the bananas on our branch to start turning yellow, now we now how to plan this in a beter way. We got a tip from our surf instructor in San Cristobal that Finca Troja was the place to go. We picked all kinds of fruits straight from the trees and bushes of the farm, you don’t get it more fresh than this!
These were the fruits and veggies we picked:
- Banana - Passion fruit - Oranges - Mandarins - Pineapple - Chili fruits - Mint - Oregano - Aubergine - Plantains - Papaya - Yucca - Pomelo

Picking a lot of FRESH fruits and veggies.
Harvest from day 1 at Finka Troja.

During our volcano trip we bonded with our local guide, David. Four years ago he also went sailing from Galapagos to Tahiti with a 70 years old woman skipper and a Swiss guy on a random sailing boat passing buy the islands. He wanted to help us fellow sailors out, so the next day David took us to his own private Finca to give us some extra fresh fruits. He had a really nice place with lots of fruits, vegetables and animals, more or less for his own personal use. On the way there he showed us a few great sights where the tourists rarely go, it was fun to see some more random parts of the island. For this four hour trip with free fruits David didn't want to charge us ansingle dollar... At last he allowed us to pay him for the gas. Davids runs a tour operator and a nice hostel on the main street called Coral Blanca, if you ever travel to Isabela, this is the place to go to!

Our volcano and finca guide David.

Humps had to go back to Santa Cruz to pick up a few electronic devices we had ordered there through Electronautica and to do some last minute shopping. He came back surprising the others with a nice new haircut representing FSG, the “Four Swedish Guys”. You have to look your best while doing your first ocean crossing!

FSG fo' life!

We stayed in Isabella for about 10 days, again more the we planned for, but we wanted to take our time preparing for the big crossing to the Marquesas. Since internet on these islands are SUPER SLOW, we needed a couple of days just for updating the blog with these new posts. Hopefully you have enjoyed them!

/Hampus, and the rest of the crew

Isabela, Galapagos

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