Located in the Galapagos Archipelago, Floreana Island gets its name after the first president of Ecuador Juan Jose Flores. However, it is officially called Santa Maria. It was formed by a volcanic eruption and was once a favourite stop for whalers.
With an area of 173 square kilometres, it is filled with diverse wildlife. It is home to about 100 inhabitants in Puerto Velasco Ibarra. Floreana Island is also known for its strange and curious history.
More About Floreana Island
In the early 19th-century, whalers used a wooden barrel set on the beach to send and receive mail. The area came to be known as Post Office Bay. In 1820, while it was still called Charles Island (after King Charles II of England), some whalers set fire to the island as a “prank”.
This led to it being turned into a black wasteland for a time and likely led to the extinction of some species originally on the island. When Charles Darwin came here in September 1835 on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle, he recorded the numerous animals, plants, insects, and reptiles found on the island, but found no sign of its native tortoise.
Where to stay: There are several lodges and hotels on the island that offer rooms to visitors.
What is Floreana Island known for?
There are many great things to do for visitors on Floreana Island.
- Devil’s Crown: This dive site is considered to be one of the best snorkelling sites in the Galapagos. A volcanic crater eroded by waves, the coral reef in the middle of this site offers amazing opportunities to view marine life. Schools of fish, sea turtles, sharks and sea lions all gather here.
- Punta Cormorant: The island’s “Cormorant Point” hosts a large flamingo lagoon. Its distinct beaches are also home to other birds such as common stilts, joint-footed petrels, and white-cheeked pintails, as well as sea lions, sea turtles, ray fishes, and Sally Lightfoot crabs.
- Champion Islet: Named after whaler Andrew Champion, this small island just off the southern coast of Floreana Island is an excellent place for dolphin watching.
- Asilo de la Paz: This is a historical site near Puerto Velasco Ibarra. These caves were home to some of the first human settlers on the island. It is also where the Galapagos tortoises from San Cristobal Island are kept.
- Post Office Bay: Visitors can still use this old barrel to send home past cards and letters without any postage.
- Did you know that Floreana Island has its very own football field? Though the field is miniature in size, it is frequented by tourists and boat crews.
Some Great Travel Tips
- Get lots of snack food and water as there are not many places to buy food on the island.
- Carry along your snorkelling gear so that you can enjoy the marine life of the island
- Pack lots of sunscreen as it can be quite costly on the island and the sun shines brightly here.
Read more: The other Islands of the Galapagos.