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For more information on each of Galapagos Islands click on name
Baltra Island Bartolome Island Pinta Island Española Island Fernandina Island
Floreana Island Genovesa Island Isabela Island Marchena Island Darwin Island
Rabida Island Santa Cruz Island Santiago Island San Cristobal Seymour Norte
  Santa Fe Island Santa Maria Island Pinzon Island  

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands Located approximately 4 to 5 hours west of Española and equal distance south of Santa Cruz, this island has long been a favorite site of visitors including pirates, whalers and early settlers.

One of the oldest islands Floreana illustrates the aging process of a volcanic island.  Unlike the younger western islands, Floreana's volcano has been long extinct and is in the advanced stages of erosion. The erosion process gave the island the nutrients and soils need to sustain plant life. The combination of this rich soil and a good water supply have given the highlands of Floreana a diversified landscaping of native and introduced flora.

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands Floreana is best known for its colorful history of buccaneers , whalers , convicts, and colonists. In 1793 British whalers established the Post Office Barrel to send letters to and from England. This tradition has continued over the years, and even today visitors may drop off and pick up letters, without stamps, to be carried to far 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 .

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands In the 1930's Floreana was the setting for intrigue and mystery. A German dentist and his mistress, a young family (the Wittmer family who still live on the island) and a self-styled Baroness with three men came to settle in the island. Shortly after the baroness and her lovers arrived chaos began. They terrorized the other inhabitants while planning to build a luxury hotel.

Eventually the Baroness, her two lovers and the dentist all turned up missing or dead. There has been much investigation searching for what really happened on Floreana, but there have never been any hard answers. John Treherne wrote of these people in "The Galapagos Affair".

Visitor Sites

Blacks Beach

Unofficial Visitor Site

Devil's Crown

Snorkeling Site

Post Office Bay

Land Site

Punta Cormorant

Land Site

Post Office Bay

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands This is one of the few visitor sites, that is visited for its human history. Whaling captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in the early 1793. At the time whaling was a big industry, ships were typically gone for 2 years at a time. The Galapagos Islands were a frequent stop for these ships. Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the cape and the ships returning home would mail them.

Over the years thousands of ships have stopped to send and receive mail at Post Office Bay. Many have posted a sign of driftwood or other materials memorializing their visit. This is the only area in the Galapagos were graffiti is still acceptable.

Arriving at Post Office Bay you will land on a brown sand beach, passing the sea lions lying in the sun. At the post barrel the guide will pull a hand full of letters for the group. Continuing the tradition, the letters are brought home with the traveler and then mailed to the addressee. Visitors also have the opportunity to send letters of their own.

The Wittmer family who lives near by run the post barrel and by special arrangement it is possible to get your letter stamped at their pension.

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands There is also the remains of a Norwegian Fishing Village a commercial fishing operation established in 1926 and abandoned a couple of years later. The group of Norwegians arrived with dreams of riches started a fishing and can operation on $900 each. The tough Galapagos life and a few misfortunes had them abandon their dreams.

Located a few feet past the post barrel this lava tube requires an adventurous spirit to explore. The adventuresome descend into the tube by repelling down a rope (mountaineering style). Once you arrive on the floor of the tube you will walk for a few minutes until water fills the floor of the tube. Then it's time to take off your shoes and roll up your pants to wade through the water. By the time you reach the cave's mouth you'll be swimming in the water. The entire adventure takes about an hour.

Quick View
 

Landing:

Wet Landing

Highlights:

Sending mail anywhere in the world via other travelers to the Galapagos

Conditions:

Easy walking with the exception of the Lava Tunnel, which is only for the adventuresome.

Notes:

Early Settlement area opportunity to explore a Lava Tunnel.

Punta CormorantSanta Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands The visit to Punta Cormorant offers two contrasting beaches.  Arriving on shore you will encounter a green sand beach (the green sand is caused by the olivine crystals derived silicates or magnesium and iron) from here you will follow the trail leading to a lagoon where Pink Flamingoes and other shore birds can be seen in the distance making their home. Looking into the mud of the lagoon there appears to be 'cracks' in the mud. These cracks are not caused from dryness but are actually the footpaths of flamingos. This is also a good spot for seeing Large-Billed Flycatchers , Small-Ground Finches, Medium-Ground Finches or Cactus Finches .  The walk continues to another beach on the other side made of fine white sand particles known as "Flour Beach". In the waters Ghost Crabs and Rays can be seen swimming. Time permitting you may even go for a swim.

 

Quick View

Landing:

Wet Landing

Highlights:

Green Sand Beach, Flamingo Trail, Ghost Crabs and Sting Rays

Conditions:

Easy walk one of the favorite Galapagos sites.

Notes:

Be careful not to step on the sting rays.

Devil's Crown

Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands Located just off Punta Cormorant this is the best snorkeling in the Galapagos! To see the crown you need to go underwater, an almost completely submerged volcano, which erosion has transformed the cone into a series of jagged peaks creating the  "Devil's Crown".  The remains Santa Maria Island Florena - Galapagos Islands of the volcano create a haven for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates.  Red-billed tropical birds can be seen nesting in the crevices. 

The highlight of the visit is snorkeling in the center of the crater.  You will play with sea lions, while swimming with schools of colorful king angel fish, balloon fish, hawkfish, scrawled filefish, yellowtail grunts, tiger snake eels, white-tipped sharks, eagle rays, amberjacks, wrasses, hammerhead sharks, and sea turtles. The water is a bit rough and the current is strong. The east to west current provides a fun ride as it pushes you through the crown. There is a tube on the western side that you can swim through if you are a strong swimmer (approximately 10-15 feet down) and come out on the other side.

Quick View

Landing:

Snorkeling from the panga

Highlights:

Submerged crater and colorful fish

Conditions:

Strong current and rough waters

Notes:

Good swimmers can swim through tunnel on the western side

 

For more information on each of Galapagos Islands click on map or name
Baltra Island Bartolome Island Pinta Island Española Island Fernandina Island
Floreana Island Genovesa Island Isabela Island Marchena Island Darwin Island
Rabida Island Santa Cruz Island Santiago Island San Cristobal Seymour Norte
  Santa Fe Island Santa Maria Island Pinzon Island  
For a unique Galapagos Vacation, Galapagos Vacation Cruises &Tours proudly presents a collection of exceptional collections of cruise ships and boutique yachts for the travel packages that will make your visit to Galapagos Islands an treasured experience. Call us for your next Galapagos Vacations
1-888-319-8233

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