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World Penguin Day: Where to see penguins around the world

There are 18 species of penguins in the world, from Emperor penguins in Antarctica to African penguins in Namibia. To celebrate World Penguin Day, let's take a look at the best places to see these special creatures in their natural habitats.
Author: Aimee White - SEO Copywriter at Explore Worldwide
Date Published: 19 April 2024


The icy continent of Antarctica is home to seven penguin species: Emperors, Adélies, Kings, Chinstraps, Gentoos, Macaroni and Rockhoppers. What really makes Emperor and Adélie penguins special is that they're only found in Antarctica. 

Along the coastlines of the northern Antarctic Peninsula, you'll find large colonies of Chinstrap, Gentoo and Adélie penguins. On our Classic Antarctica tour, watch them rest and play at the likes of Paradise Bay (Paradise Harbor) and Danco Island.

The Antarctic Peninsula is located in the Antarctic Sound, a body of water that sits at the northern tip of the Antarctic. This "iceberg alley" leads onto the mighty Weddell Sea, where there are thousands of Emperor penguins. Get to know these Antarctic penguins better on our unforgettable Emperor Penguins of the Weddell Sea tour

Did you know: The Emperor penguin is the largest penguin, with an average height of 1.2 metres (3.9 feet).
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South Africa

Believe it or not, there are penguins in Africa. African black-footed penguins are the only penguin species native to the continent. If you want to see penguins in Cape Town, head to Boulders Beach, where dedicated boardwalks provide great viewing points. African penguins are also native to Namibia but tend to inhabit coves along inaccessible coastal areas, such as Hollambird Island, Penguin Island and Possession Island. 

Another stand-out place to see penguins in South Africa is Betty's Bay, where we visit Stony Point Nature Reserve. Stony Point is home to one of the world's largest African penguin colonies, and offers excellent penguin viewing without the crowds. A 90-minute drive from South Africa's Garden Route, you can follow the paths over craggy outcrops without disturbing the seabird residents - although you may walk at a slower pace if they decide to join the trail... 

Did you know: African penguins are also known as Jackass penguins – because they’re such a noisy bunch!
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South Georgia Island

With no permanent human residents, South Georgia Island is one of the best places in the world to see penguins. This remote island in the South Atlantic Ocean is home to the world's largest King penguin colony, with over 450,000 breeding pairs inhabiting here. 

On our Falklands, South Georgia Island and Antarctica tour, you can visit the King penguin's 100,000-strong rookeries. The route takes in craggy coves and rocky coastline, where you might see smaller populations of Macaroni, Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins, too.

Did you know: Penguins don't have teeth; they have serrated fleshy "spines" to help them break down food.
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Galapagos Islands

Some 3,000-8,000 wild penguins live on the Galapagos Islands. Unlike most other penguin species, Galapagos penguins only live in caves; the most popular spots are Isabela Island and Fernandina Island. On the western coast of Isabela Island lies the sheltered Tagus Cove, where a dinghy tour along the cliffs gives you the perfect position to watch the penguins go about their business.

Our Galapagos tour takes in the Central and West islands, providing plenty of chances to spot these flightless seabirds. You can watch them on land from a dedicated viewpoint at Tintoreras Islets, or snorkel among these agile creatures at Vicenta Roca. 

Did you know: Galapagos penguins are the only penguins found north of the equator.
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The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands is nicknamed "the penguin islands" for good reason. Part of the sub-Antarctic and 1,521km (945 miles) off the coast of Argentina, the Falklands accommodate five penguin species: Gentoos, Macaronis, Magellanics, Kings and Rockhoppers. Watch raucous Gentoos saunter along their own "highways" or head to Volunteer Point to watch elegant King penguins preen their adorable fluffy chicks. 

Another thriving penguin spot is Saunders Island, where King penguins pepper the sweeping sandy beach. As you cruise into rocky coves and along sea cliffs, keep your eyes peeled for other penguin species, like Rockhopper penguins hopping along the Jason Islands.

Did you know: Gentoo penguin populations on the Falkland Islands has gradually increased over the past 25 years.
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New Zealand

You can see penguins across a range of places in New Zealand. Little blue penguins are the world's smallest penguin, growing to an adorable height of just 35cm (13 inches). They're also known as fairy penguins or little penguins. The best place to see them is the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony in Oamaru along the Waitaki coast, and Hauraki Gulf off Auckland's coast. 

The rare yellow-eyed (hoiho) penguins reside across the southeast of South Island, such as Auckland Island and Stewart Island. There's also the timid Fiordland (tawaki) penguin, easily identifiable by its long yellow "eyebrows", who inhabit the southwest coast of South Island. On our New Zealand Explorer tour, you’ll visit Deep Cove on the Doubtful Sound by boat, where you might spot fiordland penguins among other rich wildlife.

Did you know: Penguins originated along the coasts of New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands around 22 million years ago.
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The southernmost point of Chile and Argentina forms Patagonia, a region packed with penguin-spotting opportunities. You can see Magellanic, King, Humboldt, Gentoo and Macaroni penguins at the likes of Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina and Isla Magdalena in Chile. You'll find the world's largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Punta Tombo, with some one million feathery locals calling this Argentinian nature reserve home.

On our Adventures in Patagonia tour, you can watch penguins from a boat or step ashore Isla Martillo to get a little closer. Accessible via the Beagle Channel or from Harberton Estancia, there's a large colony of Magellenic penguins on this island, and if you're really lucky you might also see King and Gentoo penguins, too.

Did you know: Gentoo penguins are the fastest swimming birds, reaching underwater speeds of 36km/h (22mph).
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Australia is home to one single penguin species: little blue penguins. They also go by the names of Fairy or Little penguins, due to their adorable size. On Philip Island in Victoria, you can follow boardwalks to see these penguins in their burrows. There's also a small penguin colony at the St Kilda Pier breakwater in Melbourne. 

While you are allowed to visit Penguin Island in Western Australia, the site has strict visiting times between mid-October and early June. To protect these vulnerable penguins, Penguin Island is also closed to the public on especially hot days and during the breeding season. Other places to see penguins in Australia include Lion Island in Broken Bay and Shore Beach in Manly (both New South Wales), although they're only accessible by boat or kayak - and penguin sightings aren't guaranteed.

Did you know: Little penguins are the only penguin species with blue and white feathers.
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