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Floreana Island, Galapagos

Named for the first president of Ecuador, Juan Jose Flores, Floreana has a unique human history to accompany the natural intrigue of its coral reefs. A stopover point for 19th century whalers, Floreana had the archipelago’s first “post office” long before the other islands had human developments. After several pioneering European families settled here in the 1930s, the island became infamous due to a string of mysterious disappearances.

Post Office Bay – This bay in on the northwestern tip of Isla Floreana pays tribute to an old island tradition. Whalers stopping off on the island in the 19th-century developed a system in which they would drop off letters and postcards in a wooden barrel. If they noticed a letter addressed to somewhere they were headed, they’d pick it up and deliver it on their way. The first “post office” in the Galapagos, this system still exists today. In keeping with tradition, visitors can drop off and pick up mail while enjoying this serene beach.

Devil’s Crown – An underwater volcanic crater with a crown-like outcropping, Devil’s Crown is a hotbed for marine and avian wildlife on Isla Floreana’s northeastern corner. Below the surface, a coral reef attracts stingrays, sea turtles, and tropical fish like king angel fish, yellowtail surgeonfish, and needlefish. The visitor site is considered one of the best places to snorkel in the Galapagos. Above water, boobies and pelicans roost on the volcanic rock.

Cormorant Point – Clear waters and coral reefs make for excellent snorkeling at Cormorant Point, and a peaceful lagoon hosts pink flamingos, common stilts, and white-cheeked pintails. The uniquely colored “Green Beach” is known for its olivine crystals, making for a surreal and colorful seaside visit.

Baroness Viewing Point – This inland preserve on Isla Floreana features a hike up to the point where a 1930s Austrian baroness lived before her mysterious disappearance. The trails offer an opportunity to experience the interior of Isla Floreana and enjoy view that extend out to the sea.

Champion Islet – This small islet off the northeast corner of Isla Floreana is off limits to visitors, but a panga ride and a snorkel around it affords opportunities to see Galapagos penguins, sea lions, Nazca boobies, and sea turtles. It’s also one of the only places in the world to see Charles (Floreana) mockingbirds, which have disappeared from Isla Floreana.