Isla Santa María Things to Do

  • Puerto Velasco Ibarra, Floreana
    Puerto Velasco Ibarra, Floreana
    by MalenaN
  • Puerto Velasco Ibarra
    Puerto Velasco Ibarra
    by MalenaN
  • Puerto Velasco Ibarra
    Puerto Velasco Ibarra
    by MalenaN

Most Recent Things to Do in Isla Santa María

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    Tortoise Corral

    by MalenaN Updated Oct 11, 2013

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    Near Asilo de la Paz there is a large Tortoise Corral built by the National Park service. You are allowed to go inside and walk among the tortoises, but of course you need to show consideration and not go to close to them, and absolutely not touch them.

    The Giant Tortoise in the large corral at Asilo de la Paz on Floreana are sub-species originally from other islands. They have been owned by residents on the islands, but are now all in the corral.

    Because of pirates, whalers, early settlers and introduced animals the Floreana Tortoise was thought to have been extinct for 150 years. But recently scientists have found young hybrids on Wolf Volcan (Isla Isabela) and it is thought that one of the parents might be a pure Floreana Tortoise still alive somewhere out there.

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    Asilo de la Paz

    by MalenaN Written Oct 11, 2013

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    Asilo de la Paz
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    From Puerto Velasco Ibarra we went to Asilo de la Paz with a chiva. It was a ride of 8km and we passed some farmland (cattle and fruit trees) on the way there. Asilo de la Paz is a 450 metre high hill and at its base we visited the only fresh water source on the island. Near the fresh water source there are some caves where pirates and early settlers once lived. There is also a large carved stone head. That is not an old Inca head as some people say but it is much more recent.

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    Snorkelling at La Lobería

    by MalenaN Written Oct 8, 2013

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    La Loberia, Floreana
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    When I was on the daytrip to Floreana we stopped at La Loberia for snorkeling, before returning to Puerto Ayora. I was the first one in the water and went off immediately to discover what there was to see. Unfortunately the visibility was not the best, but in the water there were lots of big sea turtles, some sea lions and I also saw a large sting ray (Raya Sarten) swimming close to me. It was very cold in the water.

    The snorkeling equipment was included at the travel agent were I had booked the tour, and I had tried it out the previous night. Not all people on the boat had snorkel equipment though, but they could rent snorkel and mask for $3 (July 2013) on the boat.

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    Playa Negra

    by MalenaN Written Oct 8, 2013

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    Playa Negra, Floreana
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    In Puerto Velasco Ibarra there is a small beach with black sand. By the beach is Hostal Wittmer, with some rooms facing the sea.

    On the day tour to Floreana we came here for a while after lunch. On the side of the beach there are some rocks, and walking around here I saw several Sally Lightfoot Crabs and a few Marine Iguanas. Before we left the beach another group of tourists came and it seemed like they were going to snorkel from the beach (we were going to do that at La Loberia).

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    Puerto Velasco Ibarra

    by MalenaN Written Oct 1, 2013

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    Puerto Velasco Ibarra, Floreana
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    Puerto Velasco Ibarra is the only settlement on Floreana, but it is not a big place, only about 150 people live here. There are a few hotels and restaurants in Puerto Velasco Ibarra, a store and a small school, but there is no bank. One of the hotels is owned by the Wittmer family, descendants of German settlers who arrived in the 1930. Their hotel is situated by Playa Negra, and a few minutes away is the more expensive Red Mangrove Floreana Lodge.

    I didn’t stay in Puerto Velasco Ibarra, but only came here on a daytrip from Puerto Ayora. After arriving we got some time to visit the public bathroom and buy snacks in the store. Then we took the only road to the highlands. When we came back we ate lunch at Lelia’s Restaurant and visited Playa Negra.

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    Morning at Punta Cormorant

    by MalenaN Written Dec 3, 2011

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    Palo santo, Punta Cormorant
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    After breakfast we took the panga ashore to visit Punta Cormorant. Here there is a wet landing by a dark sandy beach. This beach is dark because it contains crystals of olivine, a green mineral. On warm days the sand can be very hot and that is something the sea lions don’t like.

    From the dark beach we followed a trail some hundred metres over the isthmus to a small white sandy beach where a Great Blue Heron was standing and Sally Lightfoot crabs were running over the black lava rocks. In the shallow water of the sea we saw a few sting rays. Because there are many sting rays here swimming is not allowed from the beach.

    We walked the same trail back and now stopped at the Flamingo Lagoon. Unfortunately there was only one flamingo there at the time (so I’m glad I saw more flamingos later on Isla Isabela). In the Flamingo Lagoon there is also a chance to see other wading birds, like the Black-necked Stilt.

    The vegetation at Punta Cormorant consists of Palo santo, Palo verde, Leather Leaf, Floreana Daisy, different mangrove species and much more. The isthmus and lagoon is situated between two volcanic tuffs.

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    Snorkelling at Devil’s Crown

    by MalenaN Written Dec 2, 2011

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    Devil's Crown, Floreana
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    Devil’s Crown is said to be one of the best sites for snorkelling around the Galapagos Islands. Here the cone of a small submerged volcano has been eroded to look like a crown. The rocks of Devil’s Crown are situated just a few hundred metres of the coast from Punta Cormorant. So after visiting Punta Cormorant, we went back to M/S Cachalote to quickly change to swimwear and wetsuit and to grab out snorkelling equipment.

    The current at Devil’s Crown is quite strong so we drifted with it while snorkelling. And as always when we snorkelled Roberto followed with the panga (dinghy).

    Here are some of the species we saw: King Angelfish, Yellow Tailed Surgeonfish, Moorish Idol, Mexican Hogfish, Blue-chin Parrotfish, Cornet Fish, Guinea fowl Puffer, cardinal fish, triggerfish, wrasses, an Eagle Ray, a Sting Ray and a White Tipped Reef Shark. Two persons saw a Galapagos Shark, but I didn’t, I wish had though as I have never seen one before. We were looking for Hammerhead Sharks which can be seen here, but unfortunately we didn’t see any. To see a Hammerhead Shark is still high on my wish list!

    When we were in the panga going back to Cachalote to have lunch, one of the tourists said that he had dropped one of his fins, so we went back to the place where he thought he had dropped it. Our guide Darwin threw the other fin into the water to see how it moved with the current. He dived in after it and it took quite long until he came up to the surface again with the fin. Then he went back down to look for the other fin and after a long time he came to the surface with the lost fin in his hand. Very impressive!

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    Afternoon at Post Office Bay

    by MalenaN Written Dec 1, 2011

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    The beach at Post Office Bay
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    After lunch the boat moved to Post Office Bay. Besides M/S Cachalote there were already three other boats anchored in the bay and soon after we arrived several crewmembers from the boats hopped into the pangas and went ashore. It turned out there is a soccer field there and that gives the crewmembers form different boats a good opportunity to meet and get some exercise.

    On the boat we rested until 15.00 when it was time to go ashore to visit the sites. There is a wet landing on a sandy beach and from there we walked up to the Post Office, an historical place, which I have written about in another tip on this page, so I won’t do it again.

    From the Post Office we walked a few hundred metres further, to a lava tunnel. Along the way we passed the remains of a fishing village and canning factory. It was established in the 1920s by Norwegian fishermen, but it was soon abandoned.

    A ladder leads down to the lava tunnel and we all climbed down. In the first part of the tunnel there is no water but soon we had to wade in super cold water,. We came to a narrow passage on the side of the tunnel and here I, another tourist and our guide put on our masks and snorkels and swam inside, using waterproof torches. In the passage we had to swim in a line, but soon it opened up to a cave. The brackish water was very clear and did not feel cold anymore, only refreshing. Somewhere there was a small opening to the sea, which you can scuba dive through if you have taken off the tank and BCD, but I didn’t see it.

    After visiting the lava tunnel we walked back to the sandy beach to swim, snorkel and just relax. We were the only group at the beach as all other groups seemed to have returned to their boats.

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    You can’t walk everywhere

    by MalenaN Written Dec 1, 2011

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    Turtle nest at Post Office Bay

    Outside the populated areas visitors are only allowed to visit certain sites, and then always accompanied by a certified naturalist guide. When visiting these visitor sites you can only walk on the trails or on the beach. But even there you should be careful where you put your feet. On the beach at Post Office Bay someone had put stones in a circle to indicate the place of a turtle nest (you can see there is a small cavity), so don’t walk over it! Usually the turtle nests are a bit higher up, where you are not allowed to walk, but sometimes the nests can be found on the beaches where many tourists walk.

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    POST A LETTER OR CARD AT POST OFFICE BAY

    by DennyP Written Nov 24, 2011
    THE UNIQUE BARREL POST OFFICE AT POST OFFICE BAY
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    POST OFFICE BAY
    I was really amazed when I first saw the Post office at Post Office Bay..The post office consisted of a drum surrounded by the names of boats and yachts that had previously visited the Island..The deal was to post a card or letter in the Box which is and ols rum barrel and then the "unstamped" card or letter would be picked up by another traveller going to the destination of the mail. Then this would be hopefully delivered by hand...This really unique method of mail has been this way here for 200 years .Even if you don't want to post anything ..this is definately worth a look...its really something.

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    Galapagos Flycatcher

    by MalenaN Written Nov 18, 2011

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    Galapagos Flycatcher

    The Galapagos Flycatcher (Myiarchus magnirostris) is also called Large-billed Flycatcher. It can be seen on most islands, but not on the northern islands of Genovesa, Darwin and Wolf. The Galapagos Flycatcher is a common bird in the dry forests and shrub lands of the lowlands. It often come close to humans.

    It is a cute little bird, about 16cm long. The head and upper part has a light brown, greyish colour, while the breast, throat and chin are grey. The belly has got a pale yellow colour. It actually looks very similar to the female Vermilion Flycatcher, but it is paler. The Galapagos Flycatcher has got a black and quite thick bill and feeds mostly on different insects.

    The Galapagos Flycatcher in the photo was tripping around by the path near the Post Office on Floreana.

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    The Greater Flamingo

    by MalenaN Written Nov 12, 2011

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    Flamingo on Floreana
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    There is a population of about 400 - 500 flamingos on the Galapagos Islands. They can mainly be seen on Floreana (Punta Cormorant), Isla Isabela (Villamil), Isla Santa Cruz (Las Bachas Beach), Santiago and Isla Rábida.

    As you can see in the photo there was only one flamingo in the lagoon when we visited Floreana. That was a disappointment, as there usually are many more to be seen. However, I got the chance to see the flamingos again when I visited Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela after the cruise with Cachalote.

    The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) is a big wading bird with a bright pink plumage. The legs and neck are long and it has a big curved bill. It can be up to 120 cm tall and the wingspan is about 140 cm. The flamingo flies with its neck extended and then you can see that it is black under the wings.

    Flamingos feed on crustaceans, algae and small water plants. It is actually the pigment carotenoid which is found in the crustaceans that gives the flamingo its pink colour. When the flamingo is young the feathers are white/light grey. The flamingo feeds in shallow coastal lagoons and because their feet are webbed they can walk in the mud without sinking to deep. When the flamingos eat they move their head upside down under water and filter the mud and water. If you have taken photos of flamingos you have probably, like me, been waiting long for them to lift their head above the water surface. It seems they can keep their head under water for ages.

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    Black-necked Stilt

    by MalenaN Written Nov 11, 2011

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    Black-necked Stilt, Floreana

    The Black-neck Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is a graceful wader which can be seen in shallow pools of saline water or freshwater. It can be found on several of the Galapagos islands, in the lowlands near the coasts. The Black-necked stilt is also found in many other parts of America, from California and Florida in the north to Peru in the south.

    The male and female look very much alike. The length is around 35-40 cm. The wings and back are black as well as the crown and the back of the neck. There is a white patch above the eyes and the underparts and tails are also white. The bill is black, long and thin. The pink/red legs are very long. I wish I had seen one flying as it looks beautiful with the long legs stretched out behind it.

    The Black-necked Stilt feeds in shallow water where it finds aquatic insects, small fish, crustaceans and molluscs to eat.

    The Black-necked Stilt in the photo is walking around in the Flamingo Lagoon at Punta Cormorant, Floreana.

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    Yellow Warbler

    by MalenaN Written Nov 3, 2011

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    If you see a small bright yellow bird on the Galápagos Islands it will be a Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia). The Yellow Warbler can be found all over Galápagos Islands and in all habitats.

    The male has a bright yellow breast with reddish streaks, and the upper part is more yellow-green. On top of the head there is a reddish patch. The females are usually paler than the males and they don’t have the reddish patch on the head. Juveniles are greyer and only have a little yellow in their plumage.

    The Yellow Warbler feeds on insects which it finds in vegetation or on ground. It is nesting between December - May.

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    Great Blue Heron

    by MalenaN Written Oct 18, 2011

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    The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) can be seen on most big islands of the Galapagos (you can also see them in the West Indies and North- and Central America). The Great Blue Heron is a wader and when you see one it will probably be near shallow water, where they are often seen standing still waiting for prey. They feed on fish, crabs, young marine iguanas, lava lizards, small birds and insects.

    With their tall legs and neck the Great Blue Heron looks majestic. The feathers are blue-grey and the head is white with a black strip. The beak is long, sharp and yellow. An adult Great Blue Heron can have a wingspan of over 2 metres and it can be over 1.30 metres tall. They are beautiful birds.

    I saw Great Blue Herons on Floreana, Isla Isabela and on Isla Santa Cruz. The one on the photo is from Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island.

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