Traditionally residents of Puerto Villamil have earned a living either through agriculture or fishing. Over the years the government has made policies to move the population away from fishing and into tourist-based activities. This move has been hotly debated, and has created political incidents including one in 2000 when a group of sea cucumber fishermen kidnapped baby tortoises in order to have the government extend their fishing limits.
On the southwestern edge of town a boardwalk was created by the park with assistance of US Aid. It leads through mangrove environments passing along saltwater lagoons filled with flamingo, common stilts, whimbrels, Bahama pintails, and gallinules that come here to sweep the mud in search of brine. At the end of the walkway is the Tortoise Breeding Center which was built in order to help preserve the many species of Isabela Tortoises.
To the southeast of town are a series of small islets including one known as Las Tintoreras where a colony of white tip sharks can often be seen resting in the lava channel.