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Floreana Island

Floreana Island - Galapagos Travel Guide

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Floreana Island is the smallest of the four inhabited islands in the Galapagos, but also has one of the most fascinating human histories. Regarded as the birthplace of the first “Galapagueño” (the first person actually born in the archipelago), it hosts tales of pirates, whalers, and even a murder mystery. The tiny town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra is the only town on this island and has a meager population of around 100 people. Although there aren’t many lodging options here, Floreana’s visitor sites are definitely a fascinating part of any Galapagos vacation.

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Floreana Island Highlights

One of only four inhabited islands in the Galapagos, Floreana is the least populated. Most of the residents live in the town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra and nearly all of the island is protected by the Galapagos National Park.

The most famous spot on the island is the "Post Office", existing in a similar form as it has since pirates corresponded here. The descendents of some of the first, and most famous, residents of Floreana, the Wittmers, still reside here today.

There's one hotel on Floreana Island, the Floreana  Lava Lodge which can only be visited as part of a three day itinerary, as the National Park doesn't allow multi-day cruises to stop and leave people on the island. 

The other highlights of any trip to Floreana are the official National Park Visitor Spots below.

Floreana Island Visitor Spots - Hiking & Snorkeling

Baroness Viewing Point – This scenic viewpoint is currently a popular lookout, but hosts an eerie tale of lovers who mysteriously vanished. Murder and mystery surround Baroness Eloise von Wagner, for whom this viewpoint is named. In the early 20th century, she and her two lovers disappeared, and ever since mystery has shrouded this otherwise gorgeous lookout. A nearby cave served as the home of the Wittmer family – Were they merely neighbors to the Baroness and her love triangle? Or were their intentions a bit more murderous? No one knows for sure.

Post Office Bay – Long before the Internet or even formal mail systems, the Galapagos Islands housed an informal post office of its own ­­–  what started off as a single wooden barrel where sailors left their addressed letters home in the hopes that a future sea-farer would find it and return it to its intended has slightly evolved into an amalgamation of something resembling mailboxes. Although this system has long since been replaced by more effective means of communication, the barrel still stands where it was originally placed and now eager travelers enjoy placing stamped and addressed post cards in it to see how long it will take before another passerby picks it up and delivers it home.

Asilo de la Paz – Before the Galapagos were a major tourist destination, they were a sanctuary for all manner of sailors navigating the Pacific. After spending months at sea, they would use the Islands to stock up on water and food. Asilo de la Paz is the only spot on Floreana that has a freshwater spring, which provides drinking water to the whole island. In the days of buccaneers and pioneers, a nearby cave provided sanctuary while they enjoyed the crisp water issuing from the spring.

Cormorant Point ­– This site features two distinct beaches. The first beach is peculiar for its green color, the result of a heavy concentration of volcanic olivine crystals in the sand. This contrasts with the other beach, which is composed of white coral. An easy hike inland takes one to saltwater lagoons, where flamingos, stilts, and pintails can be spotted. If you choose to snorkel, the soft, fine sand of the beach provides the ideal habitat for stingrays.

Devil’s Crown – Considered by many to be the best snorkeling site in the Galapagos, this ring of rocks from a partially submerged volcanic cone, has healthy coral and hosts a wealth of sharks, rays, and tropical fish in a vibrant underwater display of biodiversity. Its name refers to the jagged tip of an eroded volcanic caldera that peeks just barely out of the water, like a crown. Once you strap on your snorkel and fins and begin exploring the impressive underwater rock formations you will see why so many people think this offers the best Galapagos snorkeling.  

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