Floreana Island Visitor Sites
On this island there is actually nothing organized for sport fanatics or for visitors in general, except for those who like to walk. The highlands of Floreana are actually a very pleasant place to walk. It is a very lush and green area where a lot of inhabitants have their farms. It is a zone where you can find some of the most famous historical sites of the island, like the caves where the Wittmers lived or the Mirador de la Baronesa named in honor of the eccentric baroness who arrived at Floreana in the mid 30’s and disappeared mysteriously with one of her three lovers.
Bird watchers will be enchanted with this zone. The Galapagos National Park is constructing a corral for tortoises close to the famous caves. To get there you can take a bus and then walk for 15 minutes. You can reach all these tourist sites easily by bus or on foot.
Floreana for a long time has been known as the “Post Office” of the Pacific Ocean. A wooden barrel was located to act as a mail box until the end of the 18th Century (in the year 1790), so that the boats returning home could collect mail and deliver it for each other, today it is used mainly by tourists. The decendents of the Wittmers, the Cruz, the Zavala and other families of the first inhabitants of the island, continue to live in Floreana.
Land Visitor Sights
Wet Landing Named not after the bird but a US ship, there is a wet landing onto a, literally, green beach – so coloured because it is made from olivine crystals (volcanic silicates of magnesium and iron). Pencil sea urchins may be found on the beach. The trail soon leads to a brackish lagoon, where there are usually a few flamingos at the far end, often too far for good photos. The lagoon is also home to white-cheeked pintail ducks and common stilts (and occasionally other shore birds, including western sandpipers, sanderlings, semipalmated plovers, and phalaropes). Surrounding the lagoon are several of the steep, palo santo-covered hills that dot Floreana; the stark, grey color and the twisted, usually barren branches give an eerie feeling to this island, whose history is mysterious enough.
Post Office Bay
Wet Landing Not very scenic location. However, what it lacks for in appearance it makes up for in history. In the late 18th Century, whaling ships started to leave letters for home in a barrel. The idea was that ships on their outward voyage would leave letters for ships on the homeward voyage to collect. The tradition has continued and it is possible to leave postcards which will be collected by other tourists from the same part of the world and posted by them.
Black Beach (Dry / Wet Landing)
An unofficial visitor site only visited under special arrangement. Visit the Wittmer pension and small settlement of Puerto Velasco lbarra. It’s famous resident, Margaret Whitmer, arrived to Floreana in the 1930’s and just recently passed away. Today the pension is managed by her daughter. Here you can have your post cards stamped with one of four seals, sample the homemade wine. Items for sale include Floreana t-shirts and signed copies of her book, Floreana.
Marine Visitor Sights Devil's Crown:
The Devil’s Crown, located just off Punta Cormorant, offers some of the best snorkeling in the Galapagos. In fact, the only way to see the Crown is by water; it is termed a Marine Visitor Site, and no landings are allowed. Sometimes referred to as Onslow Island, this is an almost completely submerged volcano, and erosion has transformed the cone into a series of jagged peaks; as a result, this Site really does look like a devil’s crown.
There are no operators based in Puerto Velasco Ibarra – Floreana Island: All tours must be arranged from San Cristobal, Santa Cruz or Isabela Islands. You do not need a guide to visit Black Beach and you can get assistance from the people at Pension Wittmer if you want to hike in the highlands.