Where to see penguins in the wild?: From night parades of little blue penguins in Australia to penguins sunbathing in the Galapagos, you don’t have to go to Antarctica to see cute penguins in the wild. When the weather starts to warm up in the Northern Hemisphere, travel south for your best chance of seeing penguins chilling out in their natural habitats. Luckily, unlike penguins, you can fly. So, pack your tux and your camera and head to these top places to see penguins in the wild.
See Penguins in Australia at the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island
As the sunset sky turns orange, hundreds of little blue penguins emerge from the ocean, swooping in and out. They burrow so closely into the sand that you can almost pet them. Leave busy Melbourne behind to participate in this nightly penguin parade on Phillip Island. The smallest—and possibly cutest—penguins in the world, also known as fairy penguins, spend the day fishing in the ocean and make their way to their burrows the same way every night.
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At the popular Phillip Island Nature Park, spend the day interacting with Australian wildlife, such as cuddly koalas and bouncy kangaroos, before the enchanting penguin parade begins at sunset.
Watch Penguins in New Zealand
Famous as the home of another iconic flightless bird, the Kiwi, New Zealand is a bird lover’s paradise. Book a visit to Penguin Place, a private conservation reserve just outside of Dunedin on the Otago Peninsula. Here you can see the rare yellow-eyed penguin heading home for the night.
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White-flipped penguins live near Christchurch. Fiordland Crested penguins hide in the glacial waters of Milford Sound. Take the ferry to Stewart Island to pick out the little blue penguin’s bills and ask a friendly local about your favorite place to see penguins.
Where to See Penguins in South Africa
Visit Cape Town to see lions, giraffes, and penguins on a weekend. Watch hundreds of African penguins sunbathe on the white sand and towering granite cliffs that give Boulder Beach its name. To cope with the hot African sun, these penguins have pink patches of skin over their eyes that help them cool off.
If you look closely, you can see that African penguins have random patterns of small dark spots on their white belly. This gives each penguin feather as unique a fingerprint and helps researchers tell individuals apart. Combine your penguin encounter with wine tasting for your own unique getaway.
Where to See Penguins in Antarctica
If you want to see as many as 17 species of penguins in one trip, board a cruise to Antarctica. The frozen continent is the best place to see huge colonies of these black and white birds. Bundled on the bow of your ship, you can see emperor penguins up to 4 feet (122 cm) tall, rockhopper penguins with their pointed yellow crests, or Adélie penguins boggling on ice.
You’ll swing by some remote islands on your way to Antarctica, like the Falkland Islands where king penguins live. Not being natural land predators, king penguins have largely returned to the coast. Don’t be surprised if these curious birds roam nearby. So, is your camera ready to take some lovely pictures of penguins?
Meet Penguins in Argentina
Make your way to the southernmost city in the world—Ushuaia—at the tip of Argentina, to spend the day with the charismatic gentoo penguin. From there, you can move on to one of their breeding colonies on Martillo Island. Male gentoo penguins entice their sweethearts by presenting them with pebbles. If she accepts his affection, she will add his stones to her nest, and they will remain companions for life.
While photographing hundreds of Magellanic penguins on a day trip from Puerto Madryn, feed other black-and-white animals such as orcas offshore or Commerson’s dolphins, the world’s smallest dolphin species. On land, penguins co-exist with other unique animals such as guanacos (relatives of llamas) and large flightless rheas (distant relatives of ostriches).
Chill with Penguins in Chile
From Punta Arenas, Magdalena sailed through the legendary Strait of Magellan to make landfall on the island, also known as Los Pinguinos National Monument. Penguins mate for a lifetime and more than 60,000 Magellanic penguins nest under the alert red lighthouse on this island.
Continue exploring the mountainous Tierra del Fuego for a chance to see the wild king penguin, the second largest species of penguin, the aptly named King Penguin Park. Further off the coast of Chile, look for more Magellanic penguins fishing for squid, krill, and jellyfish not far from Santiago.
Spot penguins on the Galapagos Islands
Living among giant tortoises, sleeping fur seals, and Darwin’s finches, you’ll find the northernmost living species of penguin – the Galapagos penguin. As if you needed another excuse to visit the archipelago of nature documentary dreams, here it is dressed in a tux. Discover dapper birds around Bartolome Island’s jutting lava rock formations and watch them soar in the cool waters around Isabella Island.
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Swim with Penguins in Peru
Travel from Lima to the Palomino Islands for a chance to swim with wild penguins and sea lions. Here, you can join the water with Humboldt penguins as they move at speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph). However, if you want to keep your feet dry, take a boat ride from Paracas to see the hundreds of Humboldt penguins that live on Ballestas Island. This wildlife sanctuary is also home to thousands of other sea birds like the Inca tern and Peruvian pelican.
Penguins are plump welders on land, fast torpedo swimmers underwater, and are adorable wherever they are. If you’ve been itching to see penguins a little closer to home, check out the San Diego Zoo’s Live Penguin Cam for some everyday African penguin antics. Or snag some cheap Penguin tickets to see Pittsburgh’s hockey team become the Emperor of the Ice. If that’s not enough, book a room at Miami’s stylish Penguin Hotel for some extra inspiration when planning your ultimate Penguin vacation.