Enjoy the Tranquility of Puerto Villamil
Situated on the southeastern edge of Isabela Island in the Galapagos, Puerto Villamil is a small port village offering a laid-back destination for eco-conscious tourists. Tourism and fishing are the town’s main source of income and visitors are welcome in Puerto Villamil, with lagoons, beaches and the harbor all within easy walking distance of one another. The harbor and a long sandy beach are located in front of the town and the majority of the town’s visitors arrive by boat via Santa Cruz Island. There are many boat owners willing to take visitors out into the harbor and beyond to view the sleek sea lions gliding through the water or lazing in the sun on rocky outcrops and unoccupied boats. Blue-footed Boobies and Galapagos penguins are also a common sight on these harbor cruises.
Walking along the main beach visitors will see a variety of seabirds, iguanas, crabs and other resident wildlife. Visitors can walk along the boardwalk through the mangroves to Concha de Perla where they can snorkel, with a good chance of seeing penguins, marine turtles and manta rays, along with masses of colorful fish.
To the west of the town, the lagoons form a system of shallow wetlands, mangroves and sandbanks. A network of boardwalks and viewing platforms allow birding enthusiasts to enjoy the amazing diversity of avian wildlife, including spectacular flamingos. In acknowledgement of the area’s biodiversity and its value as an ecosystem, particularly for waterfowl, in 2002 the Villamil wetlands were declared a Ramsar Convention wetlands site of international importance. (The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty facilitating international cooperation for the conservation of wetlands with the goal of sustainable development.)
Not too far from the town of Puerto Villamil is the Tortoise Breeding Center for the island’s five sub-species of Giant Tortoises, all of which are in danger of becoming extinct. While in the past these tortoises were captured by pirates as a food source, today they are primarily threatened by feral cats, rats, goats and pigs. The center raises tortoises and releases them once they are large enough to survive in their natural habitats on the five major volcanoes of the island.