Wildlife and nature are what bring most people to the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), located 300 miles (483 km) off the coast of Argentina. The archipelago is comprised of 778 islands, and renowned for its excellent birdwatching, the Falkland Islands are home to 63 breeding species and 23 annual migrants.
The beach at West Point Island
However, the islands are also a prime destination for Antarctic adventure cruise passengers, due, in part, to fascinating landing sites. Check out the top landing sites of the Falkland Islands:
Port Stanley: A History Buff's Delight
Adventurers intent on exploring the islands will start on East Falkland, when they arrive at Mount Pleasant Airport. Nearby Stanley (also known as Port Stanley), population 2000, is the capital of the Falklands and features British and Argentine cemeteries, battlefields and memorials.
While on East Falkland, venture out of Stanley to Volunteer Point. This area features white sand, turquoise beaches and penguins. In addition to gentoo and Magellanic penguins, Volunteer Point is home to the largest accessible king penguin colony on the island.
Sea Lion Island & Bleaker Island Teeming with Wildlife
Your exploration of the Falklands can take you in many different directions, including the most southerly inhabited island, Sea Lion Island. Approximately 7 miles (10. 8 km) long by 1.2 miles (2 km) wide, this little spot in the ocean is rich in wildlife including elephant seals, sea lions, four varieties of penguin and many seabirds. You'll also have excellent opportunities to see orcas.
Nearby Bleaker Island has a massive imperial cormorant colony, three varieties of penguin, and sea lions.
The Beaver Group is a cluster of four islands: Beaver, Split, Staats and Tea Island. Rugged and mountainous, these islands are home to some rather unique inhabitants, including the Patagonian fox and reindeer, and offer stunning vistas, white sand beaches, sheltered coves and sheer cliff faces.
New Island Home to More Than 40 Breeding Bird Species
Far to the west of West Falkland, New Island is a nature reserve and home to more than 40 Falklands' breeding bird species. Considered by some to be the most beautiful island in the Falklands, it has one of the most diverse ranges of wildlife in the region, including fur and southern elephant seals, as well as ducks, geese, penguins, and cottontail rabbits. One of the oldest buildings in the Falklands, the Charles Barnard building, is now a museum and visitors center.
Black Browed Albatross
Also near West Falkland, the remote Jason Islands are cat- and rat-free, which means a larger than average bird population. Home to the second largest black-browed albatross colony in the world, you will also see rockhopper, gentoo and Magellanic penguins.
A unique resident of these islands is the striated caracara, one of the rarest birds of prey in the world.
West Point, Carcass and Saunders Islands
Don't let the name fool you: Carcass Island has no predators, and the songbird population has literally exploded creating an aural experience for visitors unlike anything you're likely to experience.
Black-crowned night herons, known as “Quarks” are among the bird population, which also includes gentoo and Magellanic penguins. The island has one of the few stands of trees in the Falklands. Its grim sounding name comes from the HMS Carcass, which surveyed the island in 1766.
West Point Island, originally known as Albatross Island, has been identified by Birdlife International as an important bird area for the many significant bird species in the area.
Photo Credit: Kellie Netherwood
Make your way to Saunders Island and you'll find it consists of three peninsulas linked by narrow necks, each of which features beautiful white sand beaches. Saunders is a great place to watch for the remarkable black and white Commerson's dolphins (also known as skunk or panda dolphins) playing in the surf.
We welcome you to learn more about visiting the Falkland Islands on Quark Expeditions' Antarctic voyages!