Iguanas swim here in the ocean, which, separated only by a line of palm trees, nearly laps right up to the front of La Casa de Marita. The three-level building began 20 years ago as a house, literally Marita’s house. It has continued to expand over the years, adding a room here and a wooden deck there. The idea was not to create a large hotel, but a family-friendly inn that’s just friendly and comfortable enough that everyone feels welcome. They’re short of being luxurious, but the colorful, funky rooms have clay-tile floors and are equipped with eclectic wooden furniture; those on the ocean side have small balconies crisscrossed with hammocks. An on-site restaurant caters mostly to hotel guests, often preparing buffet dinners or beachside tables for groups or special occasions. There are a few chairs and tables with umbrellas on the beachfront, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but here, it is all one needs.
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La Casa de Marita is set on the southeastern corner of the two-mile long beachfront of Puerto Villamil, which is the third-largest human settlement of the Galapagos Islands and set on the southeastern tip of Isabela. There is little in town in the way of amenities, aside from a few basic tourist shops and restaurants. Nearby attractions can be found a short walk away, like the Concha de Perla, a sheltered bay with good snorkeling to the east, or the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center, which can be reached by a 20-minute walk to the west beside flamingo-filled salt water lagoons. For spotting marine life, the best option is Las Tintoreras, a series of black-lava grottoes a short boat ride from the port, where one can see whitetip reef sharks.
Need to Know
Rooms: 19 rooms; from $141. Check-in: 1 p.m.; check-out: noon Dining options: At the hotel’s restaurant, much of the produce comes from the owner Marita’s own organic plantation or from local fishermen. Meals are simple, with Ecuadoran and international touches. Spa and gym details: Neither is available.
Who's it for: Families and budget travelers looking for a comfortable base without the frills. Our favorite rooms: The hotel’s sprawling Master Ocean View Suite adds a second bedroom, plus beamed ceilings and sea grass furniture. Other ocean view rooms are also available, though none have a terrace quite as big. Plan ahead: Despite being the largest island in the archipelago, Isabela is one of the least populated and has few facilities. Bring cash, as there is no ATM here, and any luxury items, as you won’t find them here.