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Floreana (Charles) image

On the north coast of Floreana island is the only village (officially called Puerto Velasco Ibarra) with a military base, a church, pier, medical clinic for the hundred or so inhabitants, a couple of stores and a few scattered houses. The Ritter and Wittmer families were the first permanent inhabitants (the Wittmers arrived in 1929), and several books have been written that describe their hardships and adventures. Before this the island had been a penal colony in the 19th century, and before that a refuge for pirates raiding the Spanish merchantmen as they sailed from Peru to Panama with their colonial riches. In the centre of the island, which is lower and therefore drier than either Santa Cruz or Isabela, are agricultural lands and the village’s only water source (via a 1¬inch PVC pipe!). An area of lava rock formations that forms natural walls and corridors was fashioned by the pirates into crude living accommodation and is a popular destination for visitors. There is also a release pen for captive-bred Floreana tortoises.

Elsewhere yacht visitor sites include: Punta Cormorant - a green beach (from olivine crystals) and large lagoon where flamingos, great blue herons and stilts are often seen. A short walk away another beach often has marine turtles. Post Office Bay - a famous landmark because of the barrel which has served as a post drop since the 18th century. There are interesting remains of former habitation and a long lava tube which can be explored. Floreana has tales of murder, mystery and Baronesses which always enliven a visit! Devil’s Crown - an eroded volcanic cone just offshore makes a particularly good snorkelling site to see corals, white-tipped and black-tipped sharks.

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