Floreana Island review of the Post Office bay in Galapagos
Santa Maria Island
Floreana is best known for its colorful history of buccaneers, pirates, whalers, convicts, and colonists. In the early 1800s British whalers set up a Post Office barrel for letters to and from England. The practice has continued over the years, and even today visitors may drop off letters, without stamps, to be picked up by others and hand-carried to remote destinations.
Punta Cormorant offers two highly contrasting beaches. The landing beach is of volcanic origin and is composed of olivine crystals, giving it a greenish tinge. At the end of the short trail is a carbonate beach of extremely fine white sand. Formed by the erosion of coral skeletons, it is a nesting site for green sea turtles. Between these two beaches is a salt lagoon frequented by flamingos, pintails, stilts, and other wading birds. An old eroded volcanic cone called Devil's Crown is a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans, and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds nest in rocky crevices. The center of the crown is an outstanding snorkeling spot full of sea lions and colorful fish.
Land Visitor Sights
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:
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.
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
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..
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