Unusual spots to see penguins far from Antarctica

By Stef Zisovska
Publish Date:
Saunders Island with Southern Rockhopper Penguins - Author: Ben Tubby - CC BY 2.0

Penguins are among the most popular and recognizable birds in the world. They are one of the rare bird species that can’t fly, with adorable looks and behavior, and it’s hard not to like them. What we know about them is that they live mainly in the cold regions around on the South Pole and the Southern Ocean, and most of the times we see them they’re in snowy or icy surroundings. All of this is not far from the truth, but there is another part of the story that tells of penguin species that live in warm waters and around sandy beaches. Yep, that’s right, penguins too like to go on a beach vacation sometimes.

Check the most attractive spots where you can see them without freezing in Antarctica.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Male adult Galápagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) swimming on Isabela Island off Moreno Point, Galapagos Islands – Author: Charlesjsharp – CC BY-SA 3.0

Penguins on the equator?! You better believe it, because the Galapagos Penguins are one of the main attractions on the islands. The endemic species don’t live on all the islands of the archipelago because the temperatures of the water are not suitable for them. The confluence of the Humboldt and Cromwell ocean currents make the water cold enough for the penguins to live comfortably around Isabela and Fernandina Islands.

Watching them on land can be fun, but you won’t see the best of them there. If you want to really enjoy their lively behavior, go diving with them. On land, they are not too active because their flippers are too sensitive. For a lifetime experience go to Pinnacle Rock on Bartolome Island.

Boulders Beach, South Africa

African penguins at Boulders Bay – Author: Charlesjsharp – CC BY-SA 3.0

Can you imagine the words “Africa” and “penguin” in the same sentence? Well, the African penguin is a native species of the African continent. Their main hang out spot is Boulder Beach in Simon’s Town, near Cape Town, in South Africa. Other places where you can see them are Namibia’s coast and some islands offshore South Africa like Robben Island. However, the most convenient place to swim with them is Boulders Beach.

The majority of African penguins are located inside a small national park area which you can access easily after paying a fee. You can stay on the viewing platform or get down to the beach, where you can swim with the penguins. Another interesting thing here is that they are not aware of the park’s limits, so sometimes penguins can be seen wandering around Simon’s Town or hiding under the cars in search of some shade.

The Falkland Islands

Rockhopper penguin with chicks, New Island, Falkland Islands – Author: Andrew Shiva – CC BY-SA 4.0

The Falkland Islands could easily be called the penguin islands because of the great numbers of different species that live there. Nowadays, there are more than a million penguins living on the Falklands, which means they outnumber the human population on the islands by 350 to 1. So, if your biggest wish ever is to see penguins while sitting on the beach, the Falklands should be your next destination. The islands have the most diverse penguin population outside of Antarctica. With more than five distinct species, the Falklands are a paradise vacation spot for lovers of the ‘tuxedo’ bird. The most attractive species for many people is the Rockhopper that lives mostly on the Saunders Island, lying northwest of West Falkland.

Once more we can see how beautifully surprising and diverse our planet is. If you are a penguin lover, now you know where to go and swim with them without breaking the ice. If you don’t feel comfortable with getting too close, just observe them from a safe distance and grab some great shots. Enjoy your penguin adventure and good luck!

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