Isla Santa María Travel Guide

  • Isla Santa María
    by MalenaN
  • Isla Santa María
    by MalenaN
  • Tortoise on Floreana
    Tortoise on Floreana
    by MalenaN

Isla Santa María Things to Do

  • Tortoise Corral

    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...

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  • Asilo de la Paz

    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...

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  • Snorkelling at La Lobería

    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...

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  • Playa Negra

    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...

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  • Puerto Velasco Ibarra

    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...

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  • Morning at Punta Cormorant

    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...

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  • Snorkelling at Devil’s Crown

    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...

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  • Afternoon at Post Office Bay

    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...

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  • You can’t walk everywhere

    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...

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  • POST A LETTER OR CARD AT POST OFFICE BAY

    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...

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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...

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  • The Greater Flamingo

    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...

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  • Black-necked Stilt

    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...

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  • Yellow Warbler

    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...

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  • Great Blue Heron

    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...

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  • Send a postcard from Post Office Bay

    Post Office Bay on Floreana is visited because of its history. Already in 1793 British whalers put up a Post Office Barrel here. At this time the whalers could be on the ship, away from home, for as long as two years. Crew on outbound ships could leave a letter in the barrel and it would be picked up by members on a ship returning home. This...

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  • Sally Lightfoot Crab

    The beautiful Sally Lightfoot crabs (Grapsus grapsus) can be seen all over the shores of the Galapagos Islands. With its bright orange colour it stands out from the black lava rocks where you often see them. The young ones are dark in colour though, and this make them well camouflaged on the rocks. The adult crabs can be as big as 20cm. Sally...

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  • Look for waders

    There were waders along with flamingos in the salt water lagoon. Here is a picture of a Black-Necked Stilt along with a duck. You will see them right along the edge of the lagoon.

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  • Colorful Crabs

    Enjoy the colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs that are all over the rocks at Sand Flour Beach. They are black and match the lava rock (more natural selection at work) when they are young and vulnerable but start turning dramatic shades of red, yellow and blue as they age.

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  • Ghost Crabs

    There were a few ghost crabs on Sand Flour Beach. We did not get to see the crabs but were able to see the results of them burrowing into the sand. They leave all of these round sand pellets when the burrow into the sand looking for food.

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  • Wade with the Stingrays

    Head over to Sand Flour Beach (end of wildlife hike) and stand in the water directly ahead of where the trail comes in. You need to stand still to keep from possibly being stung, but there are dozens of gentle stingrays in the water there. They will swim into the very shallow water - just a couple inches deep. It is an odd sensation when you feel...

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Isla Santa María Restaurants

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    by MalenaN Written Sep 28, 2013

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    There are not many restaurants in Puerto Velasco Ibarra, but Lelia’s Restaurante is one of them and that is where we ate lunch when I visited Floreana on a daytrip from Puerto Ayora.

    We got a plate of fish, rice, lentils and some salad. While we waited for the food we also got some snacks. To drink we got maracuja juice served in big jars. It was a good lunch. It was included in the price of the daytrip so I don’t know what you pay if you come here on your own.

    It is a tranquil place and there are two hammocks that guests can use. On the edge of the porch some ground finches were jumping around.

    Lelia���s Restaurante, Floreana Lelia���s Restaurante, Floreana

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Isla Santa María Transportation

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    by MalenaN Written Oct 10, 2013

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    Daytour to Floreana
    When I was in Puerto Ayora in 2013I decided to take a day tour to Floreana. I had visited Florean two years previous, but then the visitor sites Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay while on a cruise. The day trips are not allowed to go there but go to Puerto Velasco Ibarra and the highlands, and some time for snorkeling is also included.

    In Puerto Ayora different operators had different prices for the day trip to Floreana, ranging between $60 - $90 (June 2013). I asked at the agency where the tour was $90 why their tour was more expensive and they told me it was a difference in service and boat. At Galapagos Mockingbird Tours where the price was $75 they told me they use the same boat as the agency where it was $90. I’m not sure the agencies offering the tour for $60 go to La Lobería for snorkeling. Anyway I had got good information at Galapagos Mockingbird Tours and booked with them. Included in the price was transport, guide, lunch and snorkel equipment.

    The next morning we left Puerto Ayora at 8.15. We were back at 16.00. The boat trip took 1.5 each way.

    On Floreana we took a chiva from Puerto Velasco Ibarra to Asilo de la Paz in the highlands. There we visited a large corral with Giant Tortoises and the caves where early settlers once had lived. Back in Puerto Velasco Ibarra we ate lunch and visited Playa Negra. Before we returned to Puerto Ayora we snorkeled at La Loberia.

    There are no daily speedboats between Puerto Ayora (Isla Santa Cruz) and Puerto Velasco Ibarra (Floreana). If you want to visit on your own and stay the night you can travel with the day tour boats, but of course only if there is space and if there are boats going that day.

    Floreana, Galapagos Islands Puerto Velasco Ibarra The boat we were travelling with The chiva we took to the highlands Controlling the bags
    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • National/State Park

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Isla Santa María Local Customs

  • kathymof's Profile Photo

    by kathymof Updated Aug 23, 2008

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    You can help continue the wonderful tradition of Post Office Bay on Floreana Island. The Post Office has been in existence since 1793/4 when it was set up in a waterproofed barrel. Ships often stopped here and sailors would "drop off" mail and go through the mail that was there to see if there was anything they could deliver because they were heading to that destination. People still leave letters and postcards here and avoid the $1.60 postcard postage to USA or $1.80 postage to Europe. We went through the letters that were there and two of us found cards that we could deliver. One of the cards we dropped off made it to the recipient in 2 weeks! I have spoken by phone with the person who is getting a postcard delivered by me. It is going to be a lot of fun to deliver it and meet the recipient. I hope someday to meet the person who sent it as well.
    Update: I am back from Flagstaff and delivered my postcard. it was a blast - we talked and talked and talked. What a wonderful tradition. And the one I sent home got here as well. I practically screamed when I answered the door the the couple said they had a postcard from the Galapagos.

    Me holding the postcard that I will deliver The postoffice today

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Isla Santa María Warnings and Dangers

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    by MalenaN Written Oct 3, 2013

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    The photo is blurry and you can only see the back of the rat, but it is the only photo I have of a rat on Floreana. This one was running in the large tortoise corral at Asilo de la Paz.

    Floreana has a long history of human presence, pirates and whalers who stopped for water and food supply, and early settlers. Because of this the presence of introduced plants and animals like goats, feral cats and rats is big and damage to the ecosystem is significant. The Floreana Tortoise was thought to have been extinct for 150 years. But recently scientists have found young hybrids on Wolf Volcan and it is thought that one of the parents might be a pure Floreana Tortoise still alive somewhere out there. The endangered Floreana Mockingbird can now only be found on the small islets Champion and Gardner where there are no rats.

    The invasive goats have successfully been eradicated from Floreana, but rats are still a big problem. After successful eradication of rats from smaller islands like Rábida it is now time for Floreana in 2014. To get rid of the rats on Floreana will be more complicated though as it is a populated and larger island.

    Rat on Floreana
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Eco-Tourism

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Isla Santa María Favorites

  • Vegetation

    Different vegetation zones on Floreana are the coastal zone, the arid zone and the humid transition zone. In the humid transition zone there is some open farmland, but in the highlands it is also quite green. More than 20% of the flora on Floreana is introduced. The most invasive plants are blackberry, guava, supirosa (Lantana camera) and hoja del...

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  • Giant Tortoises

    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 and it is thought that one of the parents might be a pure Floreana Tortoise still alive somewhere out there.The Giant Tortoise in the large corral at...

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  • Galapagos Penguin

    When leaving Floreana, after a day tour there from Santa Cruz, we drove along the coast and were then lucky to see a few penguins standing on the rocks. The Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is endemic to Galapagos Islands and it is also the only penguin that can be found here. They are not very common, but there are only around a thousand...

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