The Falkland Islands may not be top of many people’s bucket list travel destinations. In fact, this distant archipelago is probably something of an enigma in most people’s minds, with some hardly able to place them on a map and many only knowing them because of the Falklands War.
Let me tell you though: there are plenty more reasons to visit the Falkland Islands. This group of islands has some incredible natural credentials, from its dramatic landscapes to the chance to get up close to penguins and other wildlife, to the warmth of the local people who call the Falklands home.
Not sure the islands are for you? Here, let me give you just a few reasons to visit the Falkland Islands.
Planning a trip? Make sure to read my posts Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting The Falkland Islands, The Most Interesting Facts About The Falkland Islands and The Best Things To Do In The Falkland Islands.
The Best Reasons To Visit Falkland Islands
It’s really remote
One of the main reasons to visit the Falkland Islands is the fact that it’s so remote. It’s not all the time that you get to visit such a far-flung destination. Set in the South Atlantic Ocean, the archipelago is located around 300 miles (480 kilometers) east of the Southern Patagonia coastline, and around 752 miles (1,210 kilometers) from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula – the northernmost part of mainland Antarctica. The closest town on mainland South America would be Rio Gallegos, in Argentina.
The best way to get to the islands is by plane. To get there, you have to catch the only weekly flight from Santiago International Airport, 2,243 miles (3,609 kilometers) away in Chile, to Punta Arenas, where you can catch your connection to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. The same flight makes a stop in Rio Gallegos, Argentina, the second Saturday of each month. Alternatively, you must catch a Royal Air Force flight from the UK, which is even further away (a 15-hour flight via Cape Verde).
The Falkland Islands are also one of the stops along Antartica Cruises – though these never stop very long in the archipelago.
Part of the difficulty of getting to the Falkland Islands is also part of its charm – the remoteness of it is something that makes the archipelago feel unique.
The islands are very peaceful
Perhaps because of this remoteness, the Falkland Islands are also very peaceful. Only around 3,400 people live here, and much of it is farmland and wilderness. It’s very much like visiting a more extreme version of the British countryside (minus the trees: there’s virtually none in the Falklands). There’s plenty of quiet, not many people, far-flung islands to explore and, of course, plenty of wildlife.
Along with the lack of noise, there’s also a lack of light pollution, which means that the Falklands Islands are a fantastic place to gaze at the stars. You can see the Milky Way here, which will certainly make a nice change if you usually live in a city.
It’s a fantastic destination for wildlife lovers
This is indeed one of the main reasons to visit the Falkland Islands! The islands are home to a fascinating array of wildlife. Geographically and in terms of flora and fauna, the Falklands are part of Antarctica, and so here you can expect to see a whole lot of wildlife from penguins to seals.
With large bird populations to be found across the archipelago, all in all, 227 species of bird have been spotted on the islands, over 60 of which breed here. Penguins form the most visible of these bird species, with 500,000 pairs of breeding penguins across the islands. Here you can spot king penguins, rockhoppers, magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins and macaroni penguins.
In fact, there aren’t that many places in the world where you get to see penguin species such as this, as well as sea lions and even elephant seals, from close up! There are also marine mammals such as dolphins and killer whales that frequent the waters around the islands.
You should also read my post Where To See Penguins In The Falklands.
The beaches are gorgeous (though freezing cold)
You may associate beaches with being able to sunbathe or take a dip in the water, but you can’t do that at the Falkland Islands’ many beaches. While that’s not possible, one thing is definitely true: the beaches really are beautiful. And you can count on my expert opinion: I am from Sardinia and I know a thing or two about beaches!
These pristine, untouched slices of shoreline not only look utterly gorgeous – they’re also home to many of the wildlife species that you can spot here.
To take one example, on Bleaker Island the beautiful crescent-shaped Sandy Bay beach is home to thousands of super cute gentoo penguins. These guys will come right up to you if you sit on the beach for long enough! Sandy Bay is also home to a colony of leopard seals who spend their time chilling out on the beach.
Elsewhere, on Pebble Island you’ll find Elephant Beach. At 6.4 kilometers (4 miles) long, this is the longest beach in the Falkland Islands; it’s so long that this strip of sand is sometimes even used as an airstrip.
The white sands of Volunteer Beach, on East Falkland, stretches for 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) and are edged by wild, grassy banks. Cameras at the ready: here is where you’ll find the archipelago’s largest colony of king penguins.
One of the more beachy beaches in the Falkland Islands is Surf Bay. Situated around 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Stanley, this is popular with locals who come to take a walk, make sandcastles, paddle in the shallows (on warmer days!) and explore the rockpools.
Then there’s my personal favorite, Carcass Bay on West Falkland. It’s a beautiful, incredibly white sandy bay with crystal clear waters where you may be able to spot sea lions and magellanic penguins. The view from above, as you approach it during a hike (along which you get to see the rockhopper penguins) is breathtaking!
The locals are lovely people!
Aside from the penguins, I’d dare say that meeting the locals was the highlight of my trip. They were nothing but nice, welcoming, generous and friendly to me.
Because there are only a few people living in the Falkland Islands, community is very important. Visiting this archipelago is like visiting a small collection of countryside villages, and the locals reflect this.
People here are friendly and welcoming, and even as a visitor you’ll somehow end up knowing many people in such a short time. There’s such a culture of saying hello to everybody you see and, almost without fail, stopping for a chat, however short it may be. And, of course, all the locals know each other, or at least seem to!
There’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere
That welcoming feeling from the locals extends to the atmosphere of the whole islands – including the lodges where tourists stay. These places (usually family-run businesses) are very small and intimate, and you definitely won’t feel like you’re one of a long line of guests.
Instead, everyone eats together, chats together, and you end up meeting other tourists. All of this adds up to a fun, unique experience.
Away from the lodges, the atmosphere continues in a schedule of community events held throughout the year. From sports events to balls and even parades, as well as a weekly Parkrun, people here have no problem finding time to get together, fostering a lovely spirit of community.
The Falkland Islands will take your breath away and may well be the trip of a lifetime. If you have a chance, you should definitely visit!
Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of The Falkland Island as part of the #ilovethefalklandislands campaign. I wish to thank them and Blogilicious for organizing an incredible trip. The views expressed in this post remain my own.