Post Office Bay -- whalers

Whaling Times in the Galapagos Islands – Part 3

In Part 1, we learned about whaling in the Galapagos Islands and some of the captains’ exploits. In Part 2, we saw the historical, literary and environmental influences of Galapagos whalers. Today, we shall follow in the footsteps of Galapagos whalers.

During your cruise through the Galapagos Islands, you can visit some of the places where whalers hunted the celebrated cetaceans. Some may be visited on day cruises or land-based tours. Others are only accessible on multi-day cruises.

Post Office Bay, Floreana Island

This is the most famous site in the Galapagos Islands associated with whalers. Its establishment is credited to Captain Colnett as a means for mariners to send letters back home. The correspondence would be picked up by homeward-bound ships. Captain Porter used the information in these letters to track British whaling ships’ movements. This site may be visited only on a multi-day cruise.

Asilo de la Paz, Floreana

Floreana’s caves, called the Pirates’ Caves or Asilo de la Paz, were used by pirates and whalers alike as it is near a fresh-water spring. It may be visited on multi-day or day cruises, as well as land-based tours.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Cristobal Island

This, the capital of Ecuador’s Galapagos Province, was one of the first permanent colonies founded in the islands. Unfortunately, no buildings remain from the early years of the colony. Some visitors to the Galapagos Islands will fly into this city. It may also by visited on a multi-day or land-based tour.

Llerena Breeding Center, Santa Cruz Island

Located in Puerto Ayora, this giant tortoise breeding center is home to a new program of the Galapagos National Park and Charles Darwin Research Station. The Pinta-Floreana hybrid tortoises from Isabela Island, a unforeseeable consequence of the whaler’s activities, are here now as part of a project to recuperate these two extinct species.

Buccaneer’s Cove, Santiago

Another place used by both whalers and pirates was Buccaneer’s Cove. This important stop for seafarers was near sources of salt, fresh water, giant tortoises and wood. This site may be visited only on a multi-day cruise.

James Bay, Santiago

This is the scene of Porter’s unintended crime of accidentally letting loose goats on this island. Their population would reach more than 100,000 by the late 20th century. James Bay may be visited on a multi-day cruise. This is one of the best snorkeling sites in the central archipelago.

Bolívar Channel

This narrow body of water between Isabela and Fernandina islands is where Morrell saw Fernandina’s eruptions. (However, with motorized crafts that cruise the Galapagos these days, you need not fear being becalmed like Morrell was!) The Bolívar Channel is also one of the best places to site whales. It can be traversed only on a multi-day cruise.

Tagus Cove, Isabela

This natural bay on the west coast of Isabela Island faces Bolívar Channel. It provided shelter to sailing ships. Today, you can see the carved graffiti left behind by whalers and pirates. Tagus Cove is one of the Galapagos Islands’ best snorkeling spots. It may be visited only on multi-day cruises.


Whale and fur seal populations have rebounded in the Galapagos Islands. Check out our calendar series, What Happens in the Galapagos Islands, to plan your visit to see these beautiful creatures.


Galapagos Travel Planner - FREE Download


Photo credit: NAParish

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