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Exploring Post Office Bay on Floreana

April 2019

 

Post Office Bay is probably the most famous attraction on Floreana and named after its unique postal system. Historical records show that the British left a wooden barrel in the bay of Floreana at the end of the 18th century, which was used for mail. The system has been in operation for centuries and has been used successfully by pirates, whalers, explorers and visitors.

 

Nowadays, tourists leave postcards in the barrel in the hope that they will find their way back like a message in a bottle. Visitors are then asked to take a look at the postcards left by previous tourists. When they find a letter which they can deliver in person or mail to someone in your hometown, they become a personal postman.

How to get there?

Post Office Bay is located on the north side of Floreana. It is accessible by a cruise ship and can also be visited during day trips which start from Santa Cruz and San Cristobal. You can even stay on Floreana as it is one of the four inhabited islands of the archipelago. We were on board of our cruise ship Santa Cruz II and had left Isabela the previous evening. We finally reached Post Office Bay in the morning and started to explore it after breakfast.

Exploring the coast

 

We got on a smaller boat, also called panga, and explored the coast of Floreana. We drove past small white sandy beaches and mangrove islands in the water and had a great view of the island's huge volcano. The whole time we were on the panga we were constantly surrounded by sea lions, sea turtles, flamingos and many other birds.

Participating in the unusual mailing process

 

Afterwards, we drove to the beach in Post Office Bay and wet landed on the beautiful white sandy beach. Therefore, bring your water shoes or flip-flops. Just a 5-minute walk from the beach, you can reach the historic barrel, which has served as a post office for over two centuries and gave the bay its name.

 

There you can observe and even participate in this unusual postal system. In former times, letters and postcards used to be stored in the barrel in Post Office Bay and picked up by those passing by heading in the same direction as the mail and they delivered the mail. Today, tourists continue this tradition, collecting postcards and bringing them back to their hometown. You can leave your postcards there and are asked to take the postcards of others with you for people living near you.

Enjoying the beach and snorkeling in the bay

 

Once we were back on the beach, we stayed there a bit and enjoyed the sunshine and after a short while jumped into the water. We had our snorkeling gear with us and snorkeled in the bay for a while. However, there wasn't much to see except for a few tropical fish. It was still a great refreshment. If you are lucky, you can spot sharks, rays, sea lions and sea turtles in the bay.

Kayaking in the bay

 

Our cruise ship also offered kayak tours. That is why we didn't relax too long on the beach. We entered the little speedboat that took us to the kayaks. We drove back to the place in the bay where we had been on our panga tour. There, the two of us got into our kayak and were able to explore the bay. It was great because we didn't have to follow a route and could stay in one place longer. On our path, sea turtles were swimming right next to us and we met the sea lions again, who were relaxing on the beach and playing in the water.

 

LOGISTICS

Departure

Cruise ship, Floreana

Duration & Distance

2,5 hours

1 hour beach/snorkeling

1 hour kayaking

Cost

No extra charge

Equipment

Swim suit

Snorkeling gear (optional)

Sun screen

Towel

Camera (optional)

Underwater camera (optional)

Water and snacks

TIPS

Bring enough (biodegradable) sun screen because normal sun screen will damage the reefs and hurt the wildlife.

Bring your underwater camera and your good camera. You can keep it dry and safe on the boat while you are snorkeling.