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Floreana Island


Galapagos snorkelling

Floreana was named after Juan Jose Flores, the first president of Ecuador, during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the archipelago.  It is also known as Charles or Santa Maria Island. Although Galapagos visitors today may distinguish the islands from one another mainly by their animals and landscapes, the unique history that has developed since the discovery of the archipelago gives many of them a unique personality beyond the lava formations and boobies.

VISITOR SITES

PUERTO VELASCO IBARRA

This port is the only settlement on Floreana Island, which has only about 70 permanent inhabitants. There is not much to do in this tiny town, but a black beach nearby boasts a sea lion colony, and there’s a flamingo lagoon within walking distance.

POST OFFICE BAY

In 1793, a British whaling captain erected a post office barrel on the quiet bay of the then-uninhabited island. For years, this barrel was the only postal facility for hundreds of miles. Whaling ships from around the world left their letters in the barrel and picked up those that they could deliver during their travels. Although the first barrel is now long gone, the tradition is maintained by the island's thou-sands of visitors each year, who arrive via a wet landing at a mahogony beach on Floreana's northern shore.

Today's barrel is quite different from the original: no longer content to leave letters, numerous visitors have added signs, pictures, and other wooden messages to this growing piece of public art. Drop off a postcard, letter, or hastily scrawled note and see if any are addressed to an area near you.

PUNTA CORMORANT

While many people come to Floreana for its history, they go to Punta Cormorant for other, more colorful reasons: glistening green stones, red mangroves, gray hills, pink flamingos, white sand, and blue water. Visitors arrive on a wet landing at the northern end of the island, on a beach littered with thousands of tiny green crystals.

This unique mineral, called olivine, formed centuries ago from the erosion of pyroclastic volcanic cones. Olivine gives the sand a subtle greenish tinge; scoop up a handful and you'll easily see the smooth, green crystals. A short walk inland leads to one of the largest flamingo lagoons in the Galápagos. The rare cutleaf daisy, a flower that grows nowhere else in the world, can be seen here as well.

At the other end of the trail sits Flour Beach, named for its strikingly soft, fine white sand. Shadowy gray ghost crabs, bright red sally lightfoot crabs, and green sea turtles frequent nearby waters. The main attraction, however, is the opportunity to see the numerous stingrays that lurk in the shallow waters near shore panning for sand crabs. Stay alert when entering the water, as the stingrays are somewhat dangerous, but chances of getting stung are slim.

LA CORONA DEL DIABLO (THE DEVIL'S CROWN)

Just off the coast of Punta Cormorant, this underwater crater formation was once a fully submerged volcano. Subsequent eruptions and the powerful ocean have eroded the cone into a jagged ring of black lava spires rising from the sea floor. The area's sharp drop-off and strong currents attract fish of all sizes, making for great scuba diving and some of the best snorkeling in the islands

These currents can be dangerous, however; snorkelers should be cautious. Sharks are perhaps the biggest attraction of La Corona del Diablo, and the probability of seeing the elegant creatures is high-both white-tipped reef sharks and hammerheads frequent the area.

Swimming with parrotfish, sea lions, marine iguanas, surgeon fish, and triggerfish is also quite likely.

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