The Rugged islands was formed by non extinct volcanic activity and is old enough for several endemic vertebrates to have evolved here. Early settlers left a legacy of scandal, murder and intrigue, but their impact on Floreana's natural environemment was disastrous. Galapagos hawks were presecuted to extintion, feral animals such as donkeys, pigs and goats contributed to the demise of giant tortoises, Galapgos land iguanas and large ground finches, charles darwin mockingbirds survives on only two small offshore islands. Only a few human inhabitants still eke out a living in the hills and the tiny settelement of puerto Velasco Ibarra. If you are a bird watcher, you must visit this island to see the endemic medium tree finch.

Floreana has three important sites: Punta Cormorant, Devil's Crown, and the Post Office.Flamingos Spreading Wings

Punta Cormorant is probably one of the best flamingo’s lagoon. It is nested between two  volcanic hills and it is also possible to view a variety of shores birds, as well as numerous and unique species of plant life. 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.

Attractions: Flamingoes, green-colored beach
PR = Panga Ride, HK = Hiking, SN = Snorkeling     Landing: wet

Isla Champion is a small island located very near Floreana, snorkeling around Champion can be excellent. This is solely a water visit because on shore excursions are not permitted. This island is home the extremely rare Charles mockingbird and sometimes it can be seen from the water.

Attractions: Frigate birds, Nazcar and Blue-footed boobies, Sea-lions, fish, Sally Lightfoot crabs   Activities: PR = Panga Ride, SN = Snorkeling       Landing: none

Devil's CrownDevil's Crown Consists of the picket fence-like remains of small volcanic cone which has been eroded away by the sea, creating in its interior an ideal habitat for several types of corals and marine life, it is perfect for snorkeling. It may even be possible to see hammerhead sharks here.

Attractions: One of the best snorkeling sites in Galapagos; sharks, rays, rock formations, tropical fish.   Activities: SN = Snorkeling     Landing: none

Post Office Bay is one of the few visitor sites, that is visited for its human history. Whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in 1793. At this time whaling was a big industry, ships were typically gone for 2 years at a time. Floreana was a frequent stop for these ships. Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the cape and the ships returning home would pick the up and deliveried in time by hand. Near Post Office Bay, we explore the north shore of Floreana along narrow channels teeming with life. Rays, turtles and sea lions can be seen
gently swimming next to the panga.

Attractions: Barrel Post Office, History, beach    Activities: HK = Hiking      Landing: wetMirador del la Baronesa

Mirador de la Baronesa is a vista point on the northside of Floreana, in La Olla Bay. It is a basaltic rock formation between Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay. You will take a panga ride to reach this point. On the panga you can observe several marine species such as golden eagle rays, sea turtles, sea lions, mullets and eventually Galapagos penguins. 

Mirador de la Baronesa is a good place for understanding the mangroves. The red mangrove is characterized by a hanging elongated fruit, which in reality is a new daughter plant that grows from the parent plant, a rarity in the plant kingdom. The red mangrove is a pioneer in the coasts and has a very hard and resistant wood. 

This location has a history. It was known to be loved by Baroness Eloisa von Wagner, where she would spent hours watching ships and acquiring knowledge of vessels approaching the island. Within walking distance (30 m) are the ruins of what is known as the House of the Baroness.

Attractions: view, sea turtles, history and mystery...stories of the first inhabitants on Floreana     Activities: hiking       Landing: wet 

Asilo de la PazAsilo de la Paz is a 450 meter high hill. The main attractions are a Pirates Cave (Cueva de los Piratas) and the other is the freshwater spring. The two sites are located at the base of the hill.

The spring found in Asilo de la Paz provides water to the entire population of Floreana (100 people approx). There is a pipe that runs from there to Port Hill behind the Straw. The settlers did the work of installing the pipe in the form of a Minga (community volunteers).

The cave of the pirates has its history since it was the home of the first settlers of the island, Patrick Watkins lived there first, then Dr. Ritter and his companion Dora Strauch and then the Wittmer family. The cave was used temporarily by the latter as a den till they built a proper house.

Cerro Alieri is located east of Port Velasco Ibarra, reaching an altitude of 340m.

One of the interpretive resources Cerro Alieri has is its vegetation. Of 48 species identified, 56% are native and 33% are endemic. They are shrubs and trees Darwiniothamnus tenuifolius, Lippia salicifolia, Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, Linum cratericola, Scalesia pedunculata, and so on. The latter is a tree that blooms in February and whose population is estimated at 15 individuals. Settlers long knew them as "the unknown tree" and were an abundant species 50 years ago. It is believed that its decline was probably due to goats and the fact that they were used in the construction of homes. 

The Cratericola Linum plant is a species that is critically endangered; only 40 individuals are found, and have not yet regenerated. It was believed extinct until 1997, when GNP and CDRS personnel La Loberia Floreanarediscovered it.

La Lobería site has a path 900 m long that goes through the Galapagos National Park. The main attraction of this site is the presence of Galapagos Sea Lions on the beach and in the bay of the Lobería. You can also see Marine iguanas along the shores and lots of sea turtles.

Punta luz del dia a.k.a. Punta Daylight is a snorkeling point on the northwest side of Floreana and it may be possible to see Galapagos penguins, sea lions, and tropical fish along the rocky shore with crystal clear waters.

Location: Central island 55 km south of Puerto Ayora.

Facilities: None at visitors sites, wet landing at all sites except Puerto Velasco Ibarra.

Photo opportunities: Medium Tree-finches, greater flamingos, hammerheads, marine life.

click on the map for a larger image.

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