Floreana Island is one of the smaller islands that is often visited in the Galapagos Islands archipelago. It is located directly to the south of Santa Cruz Island and is considered to be one of the southern islands. The island covers an area of 67 square miles (or 173 square kilometers. The highest point on the island is Cerro Pajas at 2,100 feet in altitude (or 640 meters). Given its proximity to Santa Cruz Island, Floreana Island is a popular stop on many Galapagos Islands cruises. Those on Galapagos land based options will also be delighted to know that it is possible to take a day trip to Floreana Island, starting at Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. There are also trips from San Cristobal. A popular cruise option that includes Floreana island in its itineraries is the Infinity yacht and another very good option is the always popular and comfortable Cormorant cruise. A population of approximately 100 people lives on Floreana Island at the current point in time. Most of these people work in the agricultural industry. There is very little transportation available for them to move between the islands.
Floreana Island history started when the island was formed during a volcanic eruption. Fast forwarding to the 19th century, it has been reported that in 1820 there was a massive fire on the island which could be seen out at sea. The belief is that some species living on the island became extinct as a result of the devastating fire. Later in Floreana Island history, Charles Darwin paid a visit to the island, during 1835, not long after Ecuadorians had begun to settle there in 1832. The original Ecuadorian settlement was a penal colony which only lasted there for a few years, due to the struggle to find fresh water. There is still only limited fresh water on the island today.
Later still in Floreana Island history during the early part of the 20th century there were some settlers involved in an intriguing murder mystery scandal which later became known as “The Galapagos Affair”. The incident occurred between a group of German settlers there. Ask your guide to explain all about it.
One of the Floreana Islands highlights is a trip to Post Office Bay. Post Office Bay has a very interesting history. In the past, whalers that were in the region would leave letters at Post Office Bay, and those boats that were on their way back to their home country would collect the post for that country. The post would then be delivered in the relevant country. This system began in the 19th century. There are still letters and postcards placed in the wooden barrel “post box” to this day. You can pick up any that are in your country and post them, if you so wish. It is interesting also just looking through the end destinations of the letters and cards. In this way you can interact with Floreana Island history.
Another important Floreana Island highlight is a visit to Cormorant Point. This is particularly special as the best flamingo lagoon in the Galapagos is here. Viewing these large, bright pink birds against their very green backdrop provides some superb photographic opportunities.
Floreana Island weather is cooler and drier in the months between June and December, and warmer and wetter between June and May. While the Floreana Island weather may vary, any time of year is good to go here, and there is no “best time to go to Floreana Island” from a weather perspective.
When considering the best time to go to Floreana Island you might want to consider the wildlife. If you visit Floreana Island between December and May, you might be lucky enough to see pink flamingos and green sea turtles nesting.
Whatever time of year you visit Floreana Island you should be able to enjoy guided naturalist walks to learn more about the weird and wonderful array of creatures that reside here, some of which that are endemic.
Floreana Island highlights also include the wildlife found at Punta Cormorant. Here, Floreana Island wildlife resides on an unusual green colored beach. There are good opportunities to see a range of wildlife. Pink flamingos, Sally Lightfoot crabs and green sea turtles can be found here, along with the joint footed petrel. Other Floreana Island wildlife includes blue footed boobies, Darwin finches and penguins. All-in-all, Floreana Island is an excellent place to see a lot of the Galapagos species.
Another superb highlight at Floreana Island, which is not to be missed is the snorkeling and diving site which is situated close to the north east of the island. This is named Devil’s Crown, and it is an underwater volcano cone. There are many fascinating marine creatures to observe here in the water including sea turtles, sea lions, sharks and a multitude of different pretty colored fish. Some lucky snorkelers will also get the opportunity to watch graceful rays gliding past either in front of them, or lower down in the depths. The underwater Floreana Island wildlife is not to be missed.
If you’re thinking, “Floreana Island sounds like a great place to spend a few days”, the good news is you can. However, Floreana Island has few hotels and not a lot of infrastructure, so you need to be prepared for your trip. Those on a Galapagos Islands cruise may possibly moor up nearby to Floreana Island for the night, and those on Galapagos land-based options from Santa Cruz and San Cristobal will most likely head back to the more populated islands for the night. In case you do want to spend the night on the island, options include Floreana Lava Lodge (the most expensive), Black Beach House (the cheapest) and Casa de Lelia, which is priced mid-way between the two. There is a handful of Floreana Island restaurants as well, some of which overlap with the hotels. The only settlement on the island is called Puerto Velasco Ibarra, and this is a tiny town that has a distinctly deserted feel about it a good deal of the time.