With six active volcanoes (and one dormant), Isabela is the largest island in the Galapagos. Isabela occupies 50% of the total area of the archipelago, and it is one of the most beautiful islands with its diversity of fauna and flora and its incredible underwater world. Isabela was named after Isabel de Castilla, the queen of Spain during the late 1400s who helped Columbus discover America.
After a short navigation from Vicente Roca (Isabela Island) early in the morning, National Geographic Endeavour II anchored in front of Urbina Bay, one of the most spectacular sites due to its incredible natural history. In 1954, two square kilometers of underwater floor lifted towards the sea surface, bringing with it gigantic coral heads, marine animals, and tiny crustaceans whose exoskeletons are still petrified in the rocks.
After breakfast, we boarded our Zodiacs and headed towards the Urbina landing beach. We walked inland, spotting the first land iguanas basking along the trail. Many of them looked at us indifferently, while others simply walked through the bushes looking for food. Near the end of the trail, we came across some tortoises that probably came down from the top of the Alcedo Volcano to nest. Just before noon, National Geographic Endeavour II began the voyage north toward Tagus Cove. The cove was one of the most popular sites for visitors of yesteryear, including pirates and buccaneers who used the site as a hideout after attacking and looting the Spanish galleons.
At 2:00 p.m., our activities began in Caleta Tagus. Our guests chose between kayaking or deep-water snorkeling. The ocean was completely clear and calm, perfect for discovering the incredible underwater world that surrounds the island of Isabela. A pleasant surprise was meeting Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, sea turtles, and sharks. Our most incredible siting was probably observing three or four cat sharks face to face as they swam very close to us without even flinching.
Then we got ready for the last outing. Many guests opted for a walk around Lake Darwin. They observed the beautiful natural area, which includes a brackish lake located just behind Tagus Bay. We observed many finches throughout the palo santo forest, and at the end of the trail, gigantic lava flows rose in front of us like silent witnesses to the explosive past of the Galapagos.
I stayed with guests who preferred a dinghy ride. Along the seashore, we saw many pelicans, sea turtles, and, of course, penguins and cormorants returning to their nests. Just before sunset, we return to our beloved National Geographic Endeavour II, tired but with the best memories of a day that will stay with us forever.