Isla Isabela

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Isla Isabela        21° 50.855′ N

                         105° 52.709′ W

Frigates strutting
their stuff

Isla Isabela lies around 31 nautical miles north from San Blas on the very northern edge of the Riviera Nayarit and aproximately 85 miles south of Mazatlan. The island reminds me much of Isla Martir,

Fisherman hack apart giant manta

only with a much greener aspect ratio. With the greatest concentration of Magnificent Frigates to be found just about anywhere, or at least anywhere i have seen,  it is impossible not to see why  this island is a national park but confounds me to no end to see the dozen fisherman’s shacks that line the coral ridden southern beach. Mexico is nothing if it is not a land of compromise and Isabela is no exception. Commercial fisherman abound there. They use equipment that is prohibited by law but do not seem to fish at the island thus the government for the moment leaves them to fish. I will find out if there is an agreement between the government and fisherman that allows them to use the beach as long as they do not

commercially fish within the bounds of the national park. At the western end of the south anchorage difficult to see by sea there stands an enormous building, or rather slowly dilapidating concrete palapa if you will, that stands testimony to so much of what you will see in Mexico. Someone came up with some serious funding to build this structure. Of course the one thing that is rarely planned for after these structures are built is the funding for maintenance. I suspect as the building runs down ever more someone will come up with the dinero to put it back in shape.

Mr. Iguana

The day I arrived at the island there was not a soul, a homo sapiens soul at least, any where on the island. Plenty of iguanas inhabited the fisherman’s shacks

Trail from Monas Beach
to Crater & South Anchorage

and the Concrete palapa as well. It was a morning straight out of Jurassic park and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I knew it would not last. On closer inspectoin of the fish shacks it was obvious it would not be long until the fisherman showed up with the days catch. But I was surprised to see no game warden at the research station. I was told later by fisherman that day that the game warden would show up later in the week on Friday. As you walk from the beach to the biology station Frigates have all but taken over the fringes of the basket ball/ volley ball court adding to that Jurassic Park feel I had!!!

The tourist map on the south side shows the location of the several trails on the island with good accuracy. I eventually hiked the trail from las monas beach back to the south end anchorage. During the rainy season you have to search for that particular trail head just past the point at Las Monas but once you find it you wont have much of a problem staying on

Isabela’s crater lake green as the trees that surround it

it. Mosquitos abound on the trail during the rainy season so dress in long paints and long sleeves and keep moving. I was amazed to find several frigates deep in the jungle. One old fellow and almost dead and half blind was awaiting his imminent demise on the steps that lead to the crater lake. Another younger frigate was desperately trying to escape the jungly prison of a mess he had gotten himself into. On our

Boobie nest

return back to Las Monas he as a little closer to a way out.

We had planned on staying a bit longer than we did but a powerful chubasco chased us out of the anchorge at La Monas and we decided to take the favorable winds and head north. I will certainly go back to Isabela, hopefully in winter time when there are less mosquitos and less rain and humidity.

Anchorages: Since we only spend a brief two nights at the island I only anchored myself personally just south of the two islands called Las Monas and just east of the beach that goes by the same name. We anchored in 21 feet in a bottom of mixed sand and Rock. The day we arrived there was a light southwesterly swell so this was actually the calmest spot on the island. The south end would most likely be very inviting in winter time northerlies. and I suspect the north end to be the sport in a strong southerly. Charlies Charts mentions an anchorge on the west side indent as well but we never made it to that side.

islas Monas y Playa
Monas Trail to Crater








Conservation: In 2009 a group of conservationists, that I have worked with on isla martir before, came to the island and eliminated one all of the many black rats that had infested the island for many years. Black rats were most

leaving Isabela under stay sail

certainly brought be large fishing vessels and my hat is off to the NGO, Conservasion de Islas A.C.,  that put the eradication program together.

Below in the gallery are some of my favorite pics of the island, as mentioned earlier we were kind of forced out by a summer storm and I could have easily moved to the north side and dropped the hook and waited it out but since the wind was blowing from the right direction we decided to hit the road north back towards home. Notice the color of the sky’s in one of the pics below and the shot to the right during the storm. A lovely shade of blue and gray. We will with little doubt call on Isabela once again!!