The Best Things To Do In The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Island are made of more than 750 islands – some larger such as the East and West Falkland, other simply tiny. At about 300 miles (480 kilometers) east of the Southern Patagonia coastline, this British Overseas Territory is an up and coming tourist destination, with a lot to offer to the increasing number of people who each year decide to visit.

Most people who visit the Falkland Islands go there to spot the incredible wildlife – especially the five species of penguins that populate this archipelago. But there are more interesting things to do in the Falkland Islands. As I have just come back from a trip, I am ready to share all my knowledge about this incredible place.

Continue reading to discover the best things to do in the Falkland Islands, the unmissable places to visit and the best experiences.

Make sure to also read my posts 6 Best Reasons To Visit The Falkland Islands and What You Must Know To Plan A Trip To The Falkland Islands.

16 Unmissable Things To Do In The Falkland Islands

Wander around Stanley

As you’ll land in Mount Pleasant Airport, you’ll likely spend the first couple of days in the Falkland Islands in Stanley, the capital. Located on East Falkland, this is the only actual city in the country and counts around 2,100 people. Although small, Stanley is actually a very pleasant place to explore.

The first thing you will notice are the colorful buildings. Most typically, houses are painted white and they have colorful roofs and doors – red or green. Make sure to walk along the waterfront all the way to the Jetty. The main attraction there is the Victory Green, a WWII memorial.

The main street (Ross Road) is where you will spot the iconic red phone booth, and see the 1892 Christ Church Cathedral, the world’s southernmost Anglican cathedral and one of the very few stone buildings in the country. Right outside the Cathedral you can see the Whalebone Arch, a commemoration for the first 100 years of British rule over the islands, and which dates back to 1933 and is indeed made from the jaws of two massive blue whales in 1933.

Also on Ross Road is the pretty St. Mary Church, the only Catholic church in the Falkland Islands, which was consecrated in 1899.

Other places to visit in the Falkland Islands that you’ll find in Stanley are the 1887 Jubilee Villas, a commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee; the Colonists’ Cottages on Pioneer Row; the police station; the cemetery where you can spot the Cross of Sacrifice, which commemorates the locals who died during WWI and WWII. Finally, make sure to check out the 1982 Liberation Memorial, a tribute to the victims of the Falklands War. Next to it, there’s a bust of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Prime Minister at the time of the war.

Visit the Historic Dockyard Museum

A visit of Stanley’s Historic Dockyard Museum is definitely one of the best things to do in the Falkland Islands. It will help you get a better understanding of the Falkland Islands’ cultural and social history. The museum is small, but it has plenty to see and you can easily spend 4 hours going through all there is to see!

Exhibitions include farming tools, children’s toys, a recreated kitchen, a shop, traditional medical tools. To me, the most interesting part was that about life in “camp” (the countryside) and the traditional economic activities – sheep herding and shearing for wool.

You will also be able to get a lot of information on the 1982 Falklands War with documents, testimonies, photographic materials and videos. Another area of the museum is dedicated to the islands’ Antarctic heritage, with lots of information on the various expeditions to the Antarctic and the reconstruction of a hut that was used by researchers.

The museum is open Tuesday to Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; Saturdays, 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Sundays, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. It is closed Mondays. However, keep in mind that the museum is open for longer hours, including on Mondays, on cruise ship days. Your hotel will be able to tell if you that’s the case (and if anything, you will simply spot more tourists wandering around!). Admission is £5 GBP.

Admire the wildlife on Carcass Island

The unattractively named Carcass Island is ironically home to a lot of wildlife that is very much alive! It’s small and, if the weather’s good, it’s a fantastic place to hike around and spot all the wildlife that calls this place home.

Here you can see a whole spectrum of creatures, from the very vocal Magellanic penguins (aptly nicknamed “jackass penguins” because they do sound like donkeys) and gentoo penguins, to elephant seals, sea lions and even dolphins, who enjoy swimming and playing very close to the shore. Numerous birds also make their home here, including oystercatchers, striated caracaras and albatross.

Carcass Island is rodent free, meaning no outside species were ever introduced to deal with any pest problem. This results in the pristine, untouched nature of this island and, in particular, the abundance of bird life.

Hike to Carcass Bay, near Fox Bay

Hiking is one of the best things to do in the Falkland Islands and the 8 kilometer (5 mile) hike to Carcass Bay on the West Falklands is definitely my favorite! The views along the hike are simply stunning.

Starting from a bridge located about 10 km from Fox Bay, and first embarking through a trail called The Gap, the hike takes around two and a half hours.

However, the point of the hike is to soak up some of the Falklands’ nature – mainly the rockhopper penguin colony – so allow for some time to stop and take photos or simply admire the views of the beach below. At the far end of the bay, there are also Magellanic penguin burrows. You could also opt to hike further to climb up Clay Hill, at the east end of Carcass Bay.

Just make sure to bring plenty of water and food for your hike as there’s nothing along the way, and apply lots of sunblock as even on a cloudy day, the light can be fierce.

macaroni penguins

Learn about rockhopper and macaroni penguins on Pebble Island

Pebble Island, situated to the north of West Falkland, is believed to take its name from the little pebbles that can be found on the island’s western point (they’re almost perfectly spherical). The island is 22 miles (35 kilometers) long – relatively small, but still the fifth-largest island in the archipelago and home to a whole lot of wildlife, which includes sea lions and whales (however, you can only spot whales in certain seasons).

In particular, visitors to Pebble Island can glimpse colonies of rockhopper penguins – you’ll know them from their crazy eyebrows! – with a few macaroni penguins (with yellow feathers on their head) also calling the island home. The most interesting thing you will notice here is that macaroni penguins actually peacefully co-live along the rockhoppers.

The island is also home to an array of war history…

Explore the 1982 war memorials in Pebble Island

One of the best things to do in the Falkland Islands is visiting the 1982 Falklands War memorials, and Pebble Islands is dotted with many of them. During the Falklands War, the island was occupied by forces from Argentina, who created a naval air station here. It was the site of an assault called the Raid of Pebble Island, which was undertaken by British Special Forces from the 14th to 15th May, 1982.

plane wreckage in Pebble

The Royal Navy’s HMS Coventry was also sunk just off the coast here. Make sure to check out the SAS Memorial, the HMS Coventry Memorial and the Learjet Memorial. There is also the wreckage of an Argentine fighter jet.

leopard seal in Bleaker Island

Spot cormorants, rockhopper penguins and leopard seals on Bleaker Island

For more wildlife, don’t miss out on a trip to Bleaker Island. This is one of the most pleasant places to visit in the Falkland Islands, and it’s so small and flat that it is actually very easy to explore on foot. Located just off the south coast of East Falkland, Bleaker Island comprises a thin strip of land that takes its name from a corruption of “Breaker Island” – namely because of the waves that crash on the beach here.

The island’s northern half is a National Nature Reserve due to its abundance of plantlife, while elsewhere 49 species of birds make their home on Bleaker Island, many of which use the island as a breeding ground; as such, it’s been outlined as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.

There are rockhoppers here, too, Magellanic and gentoo penguins, as well as king and rock cormorants. One of the most impressive sights here is a hybrid couple – a rockhopper penguin that paired with a macaroni penguin. When I visited Mike, the owner of Bleaker Island, suggested that the typically lone macaroni penguin that has been spotted living among the rockhoppers may have finally found a partner. When we went to check them out, it looked like he (or she?) had indeed and the day after, when I walked to the colony again, I noticed that they had an egg!

Other than birds, over at Sandy Bay, leopard seals can make an appearance, where they rest on the sandy beach.

Take a million photos of king penguins at Volunteer Point

If taking photos of penguins is one of the top things to do in the Falkland Islands, then a trip to Volunteer Point is a must! There are over a thousand breeding pairs of king penguins to be found at Volunteer Point, on the east coast of East Falkland. This is actually a private nature reserve, but it’s possible to get there either by helicopter (taking around 25 minutes) or 4X4 from Stanley – it takes around two hours to drive there, so it is a full day trip if you go by car.

Once you’re at Volunteer Point, prepare yourself for seeing the second-largest species of penguin – and make sure you have camera space to snap as many pics as you want! You will be able to spot lots of chicks, still covered in very thin dark brown feathers. Make sure to also walk to the gorgeous beach, as you can spot more penguins there, and occasionally sea lions too.

Guided tours to Volunteer Point will normally be in the range of £200 – £250 GBP (between $230 and $290 USD), including transportation and a meal. The price is actually per car, so they are cheaper if you can share with other people. Tours can be booked via a local agent or via the tourist information point near the Jetty. You can also buy them online for the same price you’d pay locally. For more information, click here or here.

Volunteer Point is very exposed to the wind and it can get extremely cold. Make sure to dress in lots of layers and be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions. In any case, there’s a small shelter with a stove where visitors can warm up, use the toilets, eat and most importantly find protection from the wind and the rain.

elephant seals in whale point

Check out more elephant seals at Whale Point

Though it takes its name from the whale bones that have been found on the beach here, Whale Point is actually much better known for the elephant seals that hang out here. These seals truly are huge, but you may hear them before you see them! The area is also home to several bird species.

It takes around an hour and a half to drive here from Stanley. You can join a guided tour with Estancia Excursions and have the lovely Nyree Heathman guide you. She’s incredibly knowledgeable! Send her an email at nyree@estancia-excursions.com for a quote.

Learn about “camp” life

“Camp” is Falkland slang for countryside, and life there is definitely not what we are used to.

There’s a sheep farm on Pebble Island – and there has been since 1846. Today the sheep remain, with a few herds of cattle, too. The tiny farming community here has just a few essential amenities for everyday life, including a shop, a school (with one classroom) and an airstrip. There’s also a lodge, a couple of cottages for people who prefer self-catering, and golf course.

Visitors to the island shouldn’t miss out on learning about life in such an isolated, remote location. Make sure to get in touch with Dot and Alex Gould. They own the farm and the self-catering cottages and they will be happy to give you more insights into life in “camp”.

Another farm you may want to check out is Keith’s and Nuala’s on Fox Bay East – on West Falkland islands. They have been running the farm for generations now and are well known for the high quality wool their sheep produce. Nuala owns the lovely Coast Ridge Cottage where you can stay during your visit. Try to time your visit with shearing season for an even more insightful experience!

Check out the most beautiful beaches

Being an archipelago, the Falkland Islands have a number of beaches to their name. While it won’t ever exactly get warm enough to have a beach day or go sunbathing, there are still some beautiful beaches to check out here.

From Carcass Bay in West Falkland (my personal favorite) to Volunteer Beach in East Island (which is populated by sea lions and king penguins), there are a fair few to add to your Falklands itinerary. Don’t miss Sandy Beach over on Bleaker Island, home to gentoo penguins and leopard seals, or Pebble Island’s Elephant Beach – the longest beach in the Falkland Islands – either.

shipwreck in Whale Point

Check out a shipwreck or two

Shipwrecks are fairly common in the Falklands Islands. From ships sunk during World War I and the more recent 1982 war, to those that have gone down in storms in centuries past, there are a number of fascinating wrecks, some of which can be seen to this day without having to go scuba diving.

One example is Lady Liz. Located in Stanley Harbor, this is the wreck of Lady Elizabeth, a ship that was launched from Sunderland in the UK in 1879. It suffered damage and was taken to Stanley for repairs; deemed too expensive, the ship was simply left where it was. There’s also the 1891 wreckage of Saint Mary Clipper, which was wrecked during its maiden voyage, and today lies just off Whale Point.

at unwined

Enjoy meeting the lovely locals

This will end up being one of your favorite things to do in the Falkland Islands – it certainly was one of mine! There’s no better way to get in touch with the culture and everyday life of the Falkland Islands than by mingling with the locals themselves. As of 2016, the islands are home to a mere 3,398 people, most of whom are the descendants of Scottish and Welsh people who settled on the islands in 1833.

There are also many people of English, Gibraltarians, French and Scandinavian origins, and a fair amount of South American people (mostly Chileans, but not only). Come to think of it, locals often like to point out how theirs is a very diverse (nationality wise) society, with representatives of more than 60 countries!

The low population density and village life here results in a very social place; stopping off and having a chat when you’re out and about is a normal thing. Don’t be scared to say hello to people and start a conversation!

things to do in the falkland Islands

Buy a souvenir or two at the Harbour View Gift Shop in Stanley

Located right near the pier in Stanley, the Harbour View Gift Shop is the place to browse for local souvenirs and gifts to take back with you. The shop itself is a welcoming place run by a friendly team. It’s open every day (apart from Sunday), from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (Saturdays it closes at 4:00 pm) – though the opening hours may vary when a cruise ship arrives.

Step inside the traditional building and shop for everything from T-shirts and unique Christmas ornaments – think penguins! One thing you should definitely do here is purchase a postcard, which you can write and send in the shop.

Enjoy a proper pub night at Victory Pub

Having the small-town British feel that it does, a trip to the Falkland Islands wouldn’t be complete with a night at Stanley’s Victory Pub. Easily one of the locals’ favorite things to do in the Falkland Islands! This traditionally decorated, olde worlde pub is the place to come for a couple of pints and to get to know some of the locals. Don’t be shy when you walk in – locals will immediately spot the newcomers and will definitely enjoy telling you about life in the Falklands.

However, if you’re in the mood for something a little more sophisticated, head to Unwined – a recently opened wine bar just down the street. It’s not just wine: it’s a comfy space for a relaxing evening, and they serve a nice selection of tapas-style appetizers.

waterfront hotel

Relax at the lovely Waterfront Boutique Hotel

Set in the center of Stanley, this contemporary hotel is a relaxing place to spend your time. Here you can enjoy a selection of delicious dishes at the hotel’s restaurant, grab a drink or two in the bar, and soak up sea views. Of course, you can also opt to stay the night at this homely yet polished hotel.

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.

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Discover the best things to do in the Falkland Islands - via @clautavani

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