The mystery of a disappearance
flamingos, olivine beach, human history
Darwin finches, yellow warbler, blue-footed booby, pelican, Galápagos penguin, petrel, flamingo, robin, green sea turtle, Galápagos shark, rays, white-tipped reef shark
Explore and experience
The island of Floreana is officially called Santa Maria and her English name is Charles. Yet everyone knows this island under the most common name Floreana. This southernmost island of the archipelago also has the most fascinating history of all the islands in the Galápagos. Over centuries this place has attracted a very colourful group of visitors: pirates, whalers, convicts and a small group of somewhat peculiar settlers, including a self-proclaimed baroness (Eloise Von Wagner de Bousquet) who chose a Robinson Crusoe existence that ended in death and is covered with mystery. Eventful human history and nature unite in this place.
The island of Floreana is still inhabited today with a very small population. Puerto Velasco Ibarra is located on the north western part of Floreana; you will find only a few accommodations on Floreana.
With a wet landing you arrive at a beach that has a beautiful green shine due to the sparkle of olivine minerals. From the beach there is a path which will eventually lead up to a lagoon. This lagoon is frequently visited by the beautiful pink flamingos. Here you will also find pintail ducks, common stilts and white-cheeked pintails. At the end of your walk you will arrive at a second beach. This beach is deemed by many as one of the most beautiful in the Galápagos. It consists of white coral that is so fine and soft that it feels like you are walking on feathers. From December to May sea turtles come here to lay their eggs.
Bahía Post Office
In 1793, British whalers erected a barrel, which served as a post office, to send letters home with passing ships. This beautiful tradition continues to this day! The unique system works as follows. You put your postcard in the barrel without a stamp. In exchange, you take a card addressed to someone who lives in your area. To really honour the system to its true essence, you should then personally hand this card over to the addressee when you return home. There is no stamp involved and you will sometimes be amazed how quickly the mail that you have left is delivered. Aves Travels saw all her cards in the hands of friends and family within a month after our cruise.
Mirador de la Baronesa
Between Punta Cormorant and Bahía Post Office lies a hill called Mirador de la Baronesa.
A beautiful hiking trail leads to the viewpoint where you have a wonderful view of the surroundings of Floreana and La Loberia. Here you will hear more about the intriguing story of Baroness Eloisa von Wagner and her two lovers Rudolf Lorenz and Robert Philippson. A “Darwin meets Hitchcock” history from the 1930s, complete with conspiracy theories about murder and mysterious disappearances.
A beautiful beach with a large colony of sea lions. You will also find many sea turtles and marine iguanas here among the rocks. A nice place for snorkelling.
Cerro Alieri en Asilo de la Paz
Visitors disembarking in Puerto Velasco Ibarra can travel to the highlands by vehicle to visit two sites of historical value. The first, Cerro Alieri, is around 15 minutes’ drive from the port. This site is especially interesting if you like the flora of the Galápagos. More than 48 different species of plants have been identified here, 33% of which are endemic.
In addition, this is the location of a major conservation program for a critically endangered plant, Linum cratericola. It was believed that this plant was extinct until it was rediscovered by rangers in 1997. The second site, Asilo de la Paz, is a 45-minute drive from the city. Here you will visit a cave that was used by pirates and you will see the freshwater spring that enabled human life on this island.
Corona del Diablo
Corona del Diablo is the name of an old volcano crater that rises from the sea; an important snorkelling spot. Blue-footed boobies, red billed tropic birds, lava gulls, frigate birds and pelicans nest on the crater itself. The wealth of life above water competes for your attention with the colourful marine life below the surface of the water. Immerse yourself in the current around the rocks and look out for sightings of white-tipped reef sharks, parrotfish, white-and-yellow surgeonfish, large, colourful parrotfish and king angelfish. You may even catch a glimpse of a hammerhead shark.
Islotes: Champion, Enderby, Watson, Gardner
These 4 islands south and southeast of Floreana are considered to be one of the best locations in the Galápagos for diving and snorkelling. Large schools of sharks are regularly spotted at Islote Enderby. Islote champion gives you the opportunity to swim with dolphins. Large schools of tropical fish add lots of colour to the blue waters, sea lions play around you, you see sea turtles, Galápagos and hammerhead sharks.
The islands themselves are also of great importance. The very last and endemic Floreana mocking birds are found on Champion and Gardner. The species is threatened with extinction, the greatest threat is extreme precipitation. The current population on Champion varies between 20-40 birds, while Gardner has a population of 60-80 birds. With the Floreana recovery project, the Charles Darwin Foundation tries to expand the population and protect it from extinction.Back to overview