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Stepping onto Floreana Island’s Post Office Bay is more than the start of a new adventure. It’s a step into the history of the Galapagos Islands and an introduction to communal correspondence. While most travelers think of exotic wildlife and lush landscapes when visiting the Galapagos Islands, few realize Isla Floreana was once a key 19th century communications hub. Once the capital of the Galapagos Islands, Floreana Island was a frequent stop for travelers the world over. Adventurous pirates. Buccaneers. Whalers, sailors and more. As they hunted and feasted on everything from fish to the giant tortoises, these swashbucklers often grew lonesome and homesick. Like anyone else would, they wanted a way to keep in contact with their loved ones. But that often seemed impossible when you spend weeks and months on the high seas.
This dilemma lead to a bit of ingenuity and communal innovation from the sailors. The sailors placed a barrel on the island which they used as a rudimentary mail delivery system. That practice has endured to this day. And you can take part in this time-honored tradition by placing your own letters and post cards into the Floreana Island barrel. To honor tradition guest must pick up an envelope addressed near their own home and hand deliver it. Consider it sending a little piece of Galapagos Island love back to your own loved ones back home.
Of course, there’s more to take in on Floreana Island than old mail delivery procedures. No visit to the Galapagos Islands is complete without a zodiac ride through the lush mangroves and coves. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll spot some exotic fish, sharks, sea lions, turtles as you make your way to your destination. The Isla Floreana’s Baroness Viewpoint offers a breathtaking view of the island’s landscape as well as the bay. This position is the ideal vantage point for photographs as you document your once-in-a-lifetime visit to the beautiful Galapagos Islands.
Floreana Island was once the island capital. One of the reasons for this is that Post Office Bay was essentially a beacon for sailors and it served as a natural resting locale. Their days were often long, and sleepless nights were common for the world’s adventurous swashbucklers as they navigated the treacherous seas. Eventually, the sailors and pirates took advantage of this high traffic zone and placed a barrel at the center of the Post Office Bay.
The barrel served as a rudimentary mailbox, and deliveries were made on an honor system. Sailors would drop their own letters addressed to their friends and family into the barrel. In turn, they would deliver letters addressed to recipients on the path to their own destinations.
Cormorant Point lies on the north coast of Isla Floreana. As you explore the sands of the beach, you’ll likely encounter some sea turtle nests. However, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you may want to take a step off the shore and into the water. There’s a chance you’ll be greeted by some blue-footed boobies, the Galapagos Islands native marine birds. Pressing further, with rays of sunshine soaking your skin, you’ll notice the coast’s most distinctive, breathtaking attribute.
Isla Floreana’s north coast is actually comprised of two contrasting beaches. The first you’ll likely encounter is the Flour Beach. Its sand is comprised of fragments of coral, shells, and other material from the sea. But the second is truly an unexpected marvel. The sand on the second beach is green due to the presence of olivine crystals. The olivine crystals erode out of volcanic rocks. To your senses, the scene may look like snippets from a dream or an impressionist painting. But it’s all part of Isla Floreana’s natural phenomena that results in a vivid cascade of beauty and wonder.