The Galapagos are volcanic islands, created as the result of activity far beneath the surface of the ocean. Isabela, located on the western side of the Galapagos, is together with its neighbor Fernandina, one of the younger islands to have emerged—though it is still around a million years old. For students of geology, Isabela should perhaps be their first stop when visiting the archipelago, with its tuff cones and volcanic uplifts.
Isabela boasts the largest population of tortoises of any of the islands and they provide a textbook example of Darwin’s theories. Unable to cross the island’s lava flows, the tortoises here have developed into several different species isolated from each other. This is also one of the few islands where you can see the Galápagos penguin and the Caribbean flamingo. If all this biology and geology feels like too much thinking, however, hop on a board at the end of the day and take advantage of the waves here that draw local and international surfers.