Floreana, Charles, or Santa Maria, those are the three names given to this Island by different people who came to Galapagos at various times. The official name is Floreana, after the first president of Ecuador, who allowed General Jose de Villamil to annex the islands in 1832. Floreana was a favorite stop for sailors in the 18th and 19th centuries who came for fresh water to drink and for giant tortoises to eat. Among those visitors was Charles Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle in September 1835. Floreana was the first capital of Galapagos and the first to be colonized, partially for use as a penal colony. The island would continue to attract colorful characters, such as the Baroness and Dr. Richter who arrived in 1934, hoping to start a utopian community away from the difficulties of life in Europe at the time. In Floreana, they made a fresh start but unfortunately, things ended on a tragic note. The story has been chronicled in books and movies. More interesting to us is the beauty and biodiversity of Floreana. There is much to see, such as the Post Office barrel that once served as an informal mail service, and so much to do, including kayaking, snorkeling, and walking on the beach. Something for everyone.
National Geographic Islander II
Our day began with a mesmerizing exploration of Roca Redonda and Punta Vicente Roca. The morning sun cast a golden glow on the towering cliffs that define this part of Isabela Island. We navigated along the coast, observing the diverse marine life that thrives in these nutrient-rich waters. Notable encounters included playful Galapagos sea lions, elegant flightless cormorants, and sea turtles. Snorkeling enthusiasts were treated to a world beneath the waves and non snorkelers saw just as much from our glass-bottom Zodiac. In the afternoon, our expedition led us to the pristine shores of Fernandina Island. This uninhabited island is a haven for wildlife. The highlights were undoubtedly the iconic Galapagos marine iguanas basking on black lava rocks. As we carefully navigated the island's trails, we marveled at the otherworldly landscapes shaped by ongoing volcanic activity. A sighting of a Galapagos hawk soaring overhead added a touch of wild majesty to our exploration. The sense of isolation and raw nature in these untouched Galapagos corners reminded us of the importance of preserving these ecosystems. Our journey continues tomorrow, promising new wonders in this extraordinary archipelago.