Mail box in Post Office Bay, Floreana Island, Galapagos.

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Post Office Bay

The Galápagos Islands

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.