This post is part 12 of 20 in the series Galapagos Islands Travel Guide

A long and sometimes mysterious history of human habitation gives the natural wonders on Floreana Island–including green sand and pink flamingos–extra intrigue. Here are our highlights from visiting Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador including Post Office Bay, Punta Cormorant, La Loberia, and snorkeling in the Devil’s Crown.

floreana island galapagos

Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

Exploring Florena Island in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador

Of all of the islands in the Galapagos archipelago, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978, the history of Floreana is most intertwined with and molded by humans. In the 1700s, Floreana was used by pirates and whalers who established a makeshift post office on the island. Floreana was also home to the first full-time resident in the Galapagos, an Irishman named Patrick Watkins who lived on Floreana from 1807-1809.

post office bay floreana island

This may be the first post office in the Americas, established on Floreana Island by whalers n 1793.

In the 1920s, Dore Strauch came to Floreana as the lover (and former patient) of German doctor Friedrich Ritter. They managed to live off the land and even thrive for a while. Then the Wittmer family arrived on Floreana and tensions between the new neighbors were immediate. The addition of Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, who called herself a Baroness, and her two lovers further stirred the pot of personalities on the island. Soon, something had to give and boy did it. To get into the full mystery, watch the 2103 docudrama The Galapagos Affair: the Devil Came to Eden.

Ecuadoreans started coming to Floreana from the mainland in 1932. For a while, the island was also home to a bunch of prisoners too until a lack of water made officials rethink the idea of a penal colony in the Galapagos.

floreana sunset

Sunset over Floreana Island.

All that human habitation did more than just up the gossip factor on Floreana. As the inhabitants planted gardens and raised animals for food, invasive species were introduced to the island and, over time, animals like feral goats devastated the landscape. Native wildlife suffered or even disappeared from Floreana.

After a lot of hard work, the island was declared free of feral invasive animals. However, some native species have still not bounced back including the Floreana mockingbird. It’s extinct on the main island of Floreana, but can still be seen on two small islets offshore.

Today, about 100 people still live on Floreana, most in the tiny town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra. We visited four areas of Floreana Island as part of the itinerary during our trip aboard the Origin with Ecoventura.

Punta Cormorant: where flamingos flourish

Maybe this place should have been called Flamingo Point not Cormorant Point since a brackish lagoon that’s visited by flamingos is the main draw here. In fact, there are no cormorants at all (this place was named after a ship).

flamingo punta cormorant floreana

Greater flamingos flock to a brackish lagoon at Cormorant Point on Floreana Island.

During our visit, we took the short trail (about 3/4 of a mile or 750 meters) through a remarkable amount of vegetation to the lagoon where we saw six of the long-legged pink stunners.

flour beach floreana island

Flour Beach on Floreana Island.

Punta Cormorant is also known for the white sand, created from pulverized coral, of aptly-named Flour Beach and a green sand beach where the color is caused by olivine crystals. Green sea turtles like to nest on Flour Beach (we saw tracks, but no turtles). We’re not sure why the green sea turtles don’t choose the green beach, but that’s just another mystery on Floreana.

We visited in: May

Activities: wet landing, hiking

Animal highlights: We saw greater flamingos, a whimbrel, and great blue herons.

Part of: the southern group of islands

Here are more photos from Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos.

great blue heron floreana

A great blue heron on Floreana Island.

whimbrel floreana island

A whimbrel hunts in the shallows on Floreana Island.

Post Office Bay: you’ve got mail

This spot was established by whalers in 1793 when they installed a wooden box and called it a post office. Passing whalers (and pirates and random other seamen) would put addressed letters in the box and take out any letters they were able to deliver.

post office bay galapagos

The “post office” that gives Post Office Bay its name.

During your visit, you can leave an addressed postcard (the box has been replaced by a barrel) in exchange for taking one out of the box and delivering it.

We visited in: May

Activities: wet landing, hiking

Animal highlights: None. This is a cultural/historical stop.

Part of: the southern group of islands

Devil’s Crown: snorkeling over a submerged crater

Just off the coast of Floreana Island is a volcanic crater that’s been eroded by waves and is now submerged. A few of its spiky rock spires jut out of the water and the submerged part of Devil’s Crown (Corona del Diablo in Spanish) is a spectacular snorkeling spot with dramatic underwater topography and plenty of life including a reef.

We visited in: May

Activities: snorkeling

Animal highlights: We saw three spotted eagle rays, four whitetip reef sharks, two green sea turtles, a pufferfish, triggerfish, and many other species of reef fish.

Part of: the southern group of islands

La Loberia: sea lion point

Hiking a short beach trail and snorkeling in the bay are also possible from this rocky beach, but we traveled past the beach and bay and then along the nearby coastline in a zodiac.

la loberia galapagos islands

Part of the sea lion colony around La Loberia on Floreana Island.

La Loberia is quite close to Floreana Island’s only town and the beach is often visited by locals.

We visited in: May

Activities: zodiac tour

Animal highlights: We saw Galapagos sea lions, a Galapagos penguin, a greater flamingo, and blue-footed boobies.

Part of: the southern group of islands

Here are more photos from our zodiac ride around La Loberia beach on Floreana Island.

la loberia floriana galapagos

A zodiac takes Galapagos travelers along the coastline around La Loberia.

la loberia floriana island

The diverse landscape around La Loberia includes lava, sand, and mangroves.

blue footed booby floreana

A blue-footed boobie around La Loberia on Floreana Island.

floreana galapagos penguin

A Galapagos penguin around La Loberia on Floreana Island.

flamingo la loberia floreana

A greater flamingo near La Loberia on Floreana Island.

More Galapagos travel tips

Use our Galapagos Islands Travel Guide index post to quickly navigate through the entire series, or choose specific posts below.

 

Here’s more about travel in Ecuador

Here’s more about Island Travel

Here’s more about Galapagos Travel

 


Series Navigation:<< Highlights of Visiting Española Island – Galapagos Islands, EcuadorHighlights of Visiting Santiago Island – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador >>

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