Floreana Island was named after Juan José Flores, the first president of Ecuador, during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the archipelago. It is also called Santa Maria after one of the caravels of Columbus. It has an area of 173 km² and a maximum altitude of 640 metres. It is one of the islands with the most interesting human history and one of the earliest to be inhabited. Pink flamingos and green sea turtles nest (December to May) in this island. The “joint footed” petrel is found here, a nocturnal sea bird which spends most of its life away from land.
Floreana was the first inhabited island and has an exciting human history. It includes the mysterious deaths of several inhabitants that have not been solved until today. If you are interested in the whole story, then read Margaret Wittmer’s book “Floreana”. She lived for over 60 years on Floreana and died at age 95 in 2000. Her descendants still run a hotel on the island.
Asilo de la Paz:
Asilo de la Paz (mountain, 450 m) is a visitor site that is situated a few kilometers inland from Puerto Velasco Ibarra. Because of a fresh water well, this area was inhabitated by the early settlers who found refuge in the caves nearby. Look out for the endemic medium tree finch that only exists on this island.
Post Office Bay:
On the north coast Post Office Bay is situated. In the early 1800s whalers started to leave their mail in a barrel there and took the letters from other sailors with them that were addressed to their destination. This tradition is still practiced by tourists (of course the barrel is not the original one anymore). The idea is to carry letters or postcards to their destination by hand. Apart from being the Post Office Barrel, this site was the landing area for some of the first colonists.
Punta Cormorant is a light-green beach (because of olivine crystals) situated between two tuff cones hosting a sea lion colony. The trail (100 m) ascends to a lagoon that is popular with flamingos. Usually you can observe several dozen flamingos there as well as oystercatchers, willets, whimbrels, black-necked stilt and white-cheeked pintail ducks. And a look up to the sky is also recommended because often Galápagos hawks hover over the lagoon. The path crosses the isthmus and leads to a beautiful beach with incredible white sand where you can go swimming. White-tipped reef shark and stingrays are common here so shuffle your feet when you walk into the water. From December to March pacific green sea turtles use this site to burrow their eggs.
Corona del Diablo:
One of the most magnificent snorkeling sites is Corona del Diabolo (Devil’s Crown), a half-submerged volcanic crater. The inside is sandy and protected from the waves, outside the currents can be quite strong. There are several underwater tunnels to be explored. The area is home to a great many of colorful tropical fish, marine turtles and sometimes you can also encounter sharks. For snorkelers and divers this is a must!