Floreana Island is well known as a favorite spot for snorkeling and diving, boasting beautiful coral reefs and thriving marine life. Interestingly enough, it was also the location of the first post office in the Galápagos Islands.
The wonders of Devil’s Crown
We spent the morning hiking at Punta Cormoran on Floreana Island on the seventh day of our cruise.
After an easy hike, we reached a lagoon filled with the largest flamingo population we saw during our entire trip. It was incredible. This was just the beginning of what would be an unforgettable day.
In the afternoon, we snorkeled at a spot called Devil’s Crown, which is considered one of the best snorkeling spots in the Galápagos Islands, and for good reason.
Devil’s Crown is an underwater volcanic crater with abundant wildlife living amongst the oasis of coral reef formations that shape the area.
As we pulled up to the snorkeling area, the panga was swaying heavily in the water. Waves were splashing violently into the massive boulders that protruded from the water around us.
The current was so strong in certain areas that swimming felt like losing an uphill battle. I was initially impressed with how well I was able to swim through it.
I apparently got a little too eager because I ended up pulling a muscle in my neck while trying to swim against the current. I guess I’m not as young as I think anymore! Still, it was completely worth the snorkeling experience.
We saw so many whitetip reef sharks that I could not count. There were several occasions when at least six sharks were circling underneath us in just one view. It was thrilling to be surrounded by them.
I knew they were not a real threat to us by this point, but at times I would still find myself having brief moments of panic due to the sheer number of sharks being so close to us.
At one point, Nick was diving down to get a closer look at a sea turtle, and he was completely oblivious to the shark that was swimming up right behind him. It was uncomfortably close to him.
I don’t think he saw the shark until it was past him. If the shark wanted to take a bite, Nick wouldn’t have even noticed until it had already happened. But, of course, nothing happened.
Several spotted eagle rays gracefully glided past us as we explored the area. We kicked our flippers, swimming alongside them for as long as possible, and just gazed at them as they moved through the water.
Watching any type of ray swim is mesmerizing. As their bodies elegantly flutter up and down, they almost look like they are soaring through the water.
Spotted eagle rays are particularly stunning to me, with their lovely speckled pattern and odd, protruding mouths. These were probably about 3-4 feet long, and they had zero fear of us swimming alongside them.
We also saw a few giant stingrays that were probably longer than I am tall. I may be short, but that is still massive! You can get an idea of the size of one of the stingrays from the reef shark swimming next to it in the picture below.
Throughout the snorkel, there were countless starfish, some of which looked completely different than any starfish I had ever seen before and what I considered to be some of the most beautiful and unique I’ve ever seen.
Asilo de La Paz
We took a short bus trip to visit a site called “Asilo de La Paz” after the snorkel.
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the Scalesia forest on the property, seeing giant tortoises of varying species roaming around this large enclosed area. In certain areas, small groups of tortoises were feeding on fresh leafy greens.
Asilo de La Paz is also historically important because it is the home of the first family to settle on Floreana Island. One interesting thing to see there is a giant face that the father of the family carved into a massive boulder many years ago.
The area where we got picked up by the panga to return to our ship was filled with large marine iguanas. These iguanas were quite colorful, with shades of green and red painted across their scaly exteriors.
As we watched the iguanas crawl along the rocks bordering the shoreline, we saw two males face off with one another.
Bobbing and shaking their heads, each iguana warned the other to stay clear. The situation escalated and the iguanas began fighting.
Each iguana held its ground and pushed the other with the top of its head. Head to head, the iguanas continued pushing on one another, until eventually one accepted defeat and walked away.
Ending the evening anchored near Santa Cruz Island meant that we had access to an actual town, Puerto Ayora. After dinner, a group of us went to a bar called Bongo. A few games of pool, several conversations with locals, and hours of dancing later, we had no regrets that the next morning would be a bit tougher after such a fun-filled, late night.
Continue reading about our encounters with tortoises, flamingos, volcanoes, and more on Santa Cruz Island and Isabela Island!
In case you missed it, go back and read about the epic wildlife and landscapes of Española Island that we experienced on our sixth day of the cruise.
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