Floreana Island Travel
Tales of piracy, a quiet hamlet and isolated beaches characterise the Galapagos island of Floreana.
Floreana could be seen as an island of firsts; named after the first president of Ecuador, it was also home to the first full-time resident of the Galapagos, Patrick Watkins. Furthermore, it was the site of the archipelago's first post office – although not in a form that we would recognise today! Floreana tells the tale of early settlers in this region while also being home to a number of coastal birds. In the sea that surrounds it, Hammerhead Sharks, Turtles and Galapagos Sea Lions can all be seen regularly.
Since Floreana suffered significant human impact over the years, conservationists have been working hard to care for the remaining wildlife on the island. Most notably the Floreana Mockingbird, a delicate creature that can no longer be found on the island itself, instead inhabiting two islets just off the coast. After numbers dropped to a critical level, due to the arrival of dogs and cats, every effort is now being made to protect this endemic species.
Elsewhere on the island wildlife is thriving, with Galapagos Flamingos populating lagoons and Sea Turtles nesting on the beach, while the iconic Tortoises peacefully reside in the highlands. With around 100 people living here, some of whom are descendants of the first settlers, Floreana gives a fascinating insight into life on these islands over the last 200 years. Long before there was any kind of settlement here, pirates are known to have used the island for fresh water; travel up to the highlands and you will be able to explore the caves that they created during their time here. In fact, the first baby on the island was born in these very caves, sometime after the pirates abandoned them.
The majority of Floreana’s population now live in the sleepy coastal village of Puerto Velasco Ibarra (including relatives of the aforementioned baby, who run the guesthouse). Although there is not a huge amount of facilities in the village, if you are passing through, you may want to stop to watch the world go by around you for a little while.
Post a letter at the historic Post Office
Several hundred years ago whalers began to leave letters for their loved ones in a barrel on Floreana. As time went by, people travelling through would collect them and take them back to the mainland. Although the barrel itself has since been replaced, the tradition of leaving post continues. Visit the site, leave an unstamped postcard for your family and be sure to have a look through to see if there are any letters you can take back to your homeland for the intended recipient.
Look out for hatchlings on Flour Beach
The powdery white sand of Flour Beach is a known nesting site for Green Sea Turtles. It is important not to disturb these precious eggs, but you may be lucky enough to see these turtles making their way up the beach, leaving their well-known tracks behind them.
Snorkel the Devil’s Crown
The Devil’s Crown is a sunken volcanic crater that’s now home to a plethora of sea life. Above the water, watch patient Pelicans eye up their lunch, while below the waves, beautiful coral reefs play host to countless rainbow-coloured fish, Eels, Sharks, Sea Lions and Rays, to name a few. This ring of volcanic rock creates a dramatic backdrop to admire, however it should be noted there is a strong current so is best suited to confident swimmers.