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Floreana is one of the more historic islands in Galapagos, although there is little left there today to remind visitors of the past. Charles Darwin visited the island in 1835: at the time there was a penal colony there, with between 200 and 300 prisoners. Floreana had many giant tortoises at the time, and they were taken as food by the prisoners and by passing ships, eventually becoming extinct.


Perhaps because of the abundant tortoises, Floreana was popular with pirates and whalers who could take on food and water easily there. One remnant of this time is Post Office Bay, where whalers would leave letters for home (and pick up any if they were headed back). There is still a place to leave postcards and letters, and other visitors will deliver them for you!


Floreana was also the site of the infamous 1934 “Galapagos Affair” that left five people dead or missing in a few short months. The Wittmer family, which was involved in the affair, still lives on Floreana.


Floreana is also known as Santa María or Charles. The island was named for Juan José Flores, the first President of Ecuador. He never visited the Galapagos.


Because of the long human history on Floreana, it is also one of the worst (if not the worst) off in terms of introduced species. The island has always suffered from more than its share of introduced vermin, including mice, wasps, fire ants, and more. The island also has a problem with introduced plants such as the blackberry. In many places on Floreana, it is possible to see efforts to remove them, as Floreana has been targeted by the Charles Darwin Research Station for urgent removal of these dangerous species.


There are several places to visit on Floreana. The first is the tiny town of Puerto Velasco Ibarra, the smallest settlement in Galapagos, with fewer than 200 inhabitants. There is now a small hotel there, so it's possible to spend the night.


Post Office Bay includes a look at the famous post office site and some lava tunnels. The Baroness Lookout is a great site with a nice view. Punta Cormorant is a nice ocean walk and a good place to see flamingos. The Devil's Crown is one of the best snorkeling sites in the islands. Offshore, Champion Islet is a superlative snorkeling spot. 

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Galápagos Island Visitor Sites: North Seymour, León Dormido/Kicker Rock, Other Visitor Sites on Santa Cruz, South Plaza, Central Island Visitors Sites, Marchena, Santa Cruz, Darwin & Wolf, Pinta and Santa Fe.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
02 Dec 2009

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