Post Office Bay

Historic Site in Isla Floreana (Santa María or Charles)

Most groups spend several perfunctory minutes on the north coast at Post Office Bay, where scraps of wood covered in graffiti surround a a few gone-to-seed barrels. Although a functioning mailbox for American and British whalers from the late 18th century, these days it’s tourists who leave postcards, hoping they will find their way, like a message in a bottle. Actually, it’s more prosaic than that: visitors are asked to grab a few to post when they return to their home countries.

About 300m behind the barrels is a lava cave that can be descended with the aid of a short rope and flashlight. The path is slippery and involves sloshing through some chilly water. Nearby is a pleasant swimming beach and the remains of a canning factory; a wet landing is necessary.