Floreana is one of the smallest and oldest islands in the archipelago and is also known for having the most colourful human history. It was the home of the first Galápagos resident, a bold Irishman named Patrick Watkins, who lived here from 1807 to 1809 and was the first island to be colonised by the Ecuadorians in 1932.
The island’s soil is rich in nutrients, allowing a wide variety of native and introduced fauna to thrive. Wildlife is also abundant and can be seen across the green-tinted landing beach, the carbonate beach that is a popular nesting site for sea turtles, the salt lagoon and Devil’s Crown, an eroded volcanic cone that is a popular nesting site for boobies, pelicans and frigates.
The island was at one time a penal colony and the site of a fish canning plant established by Norwegian immigrants, however neither lasted long. In the late 1920s a German doctor, Friedrich Ritter, and his female companion, Dore Strauch, moved to the island, set up a garden and lived off the land. In 1932, another couple, Heinz and Margret Wittmer, arrived on the island while expecting their first child. They built a house and established an agricultural lifestyle before Margret gave birth to their son, Rolf, who was the first person to be born in the Galápagos.