Visit Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile

A Great Day Trip From Punta Arenas

Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

A Great Day To Visit Magdalena Island For Penguins

It was a great day to visit Magdalena Island for penguins on our day in Punta Arenas, Chile. We were intrigued with how many penguins we saw when we visited Bluff Cove Lagoon when we visited to the Falkland Islands. So we could not pass on another penguin experience in this port.

When we docked in Punta Arenas, the morning was grey and wet. Our Oceania Cruises ship was docked at the commercial port and we required a shuttle to town. So we passed on seeing town on our own.

The sky was a bit lighter when we finally boarded our buses. As the catamaran moved out into the bay, stretches of blue sky showed up. By the time we got to Magdalena Island for penguins on our day in Punta Arenas, the sun was shining. It was the perfect day to visit with the penguins.

A Short Drive Through Town

Even though we were just going down the shore, our bus gave us a short drive through the town of Punta Arenas. We were intrigued with the colourful tile work and murals we saw along the way.

Punta Arenas Street Art - Visit Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Punta Arenas Street Art Mural.jpg

Punta Arenas Street Art Mural.jpg

The bus finally arrived at the dock and we saw the Fiordos Del Sur catamaran. It was time for our visit to Magdalena Island for penguins.

Heading Out To Magdelena Island

Three busloads from our ship were packed into the catamaran. The crew gave us a safety briefing. And everyone was required to remain inside when the ship was in the bay.

As we headed out, the weather got better and better. So we were delighted when we finally were allowed out on deck. As the catamaran went past, we caught sight of playful dolphins and lazy sea lions.

Catamaran Dolphin View.jpg

Catamaran Sea Lion View.jpg

We enjoyed the catamaran trip out to Magdalena Island.

Magellanic Penguins Greeted Us On Magdalena Island

We got our first view of Los Pinguinos National Monument on Magdalena Island as we pulled up. Magdalena Island was an uninhabited island located in the Strait of Magellan. It appeared that there was a limit on how many could be on the island at one time. Another tour boat floated just offshore.

Los Pinguinos National Monument - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Los Pinguinos National Monument on Magdalena Island.jpg

We had our first penguin encounter on our cruise around South America when we visited the Bluff Cove Lagoon on our visit to the Falkland Islands. On that trip we saw both Gentoo and King Penguins. On this excursion we saw the Magellanic penguins. We were excited when we learned Magdalena Island was home to 350,000 Magellanic penguins.

Magellanic penguins were named by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. These were medium sized penguins with black backs and white abdomens. We saw many with a small but noticeable region of pink flesh on the face. They typically lived about 25 years. Large flocks settled in September and stayed into late February and March for breeding.

When we visited, many of the penguins showed definite signs of molting. The penguins experienced what scientists called a “catastrophic molt” that makes them look like a down pillow exploded. It takes them a couple of weeks to regain their plumes. While they are molting, they can’t swim or hunt!

We were certainly excited as we approached the island to see these interesting Magellanic penguins.

We Wandered Around Magdalena Island For Penguins

The catamaran pulled up right to the rocky beach and a ramp was put down from the bow. We exited and soon found penguins approach to check out the new arrivals. We moved along the path around the island. Barriers kept the people back from the penguins.

Fiordos Del Sur catamaran.jpg

Fiordos Del Sur catamaran - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Penguin Path.jpg

High up on the hill was saw the Faro Isla Magdalena lighthouse. This lighthouse became operational in 1902 and was used by Chile’s Navy to guard the coast. During the 1950’s the lighthouse was automated and is no longer manned. The building was used by the people who manage the penguin reserve.

Los Pinguinos National Monument - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Faro Isla Magdalena lighthouse - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

As we walked around the island we got great views out over the vast open areas. And everywhere we looked we saw groups of the penguins on Magdalena Island.

Island View.jpg

Penguins All Around Magdalena Island

As we walked along the shore, we saw groups of penguins close to the water. But we did not see any in the water fishing for their food.

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Magellanic penguins.jpg

Magellanic penguins - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

We climbed the hill towards the lighthouse. Penguins were all over the grass area. And in many spots, we saw them dug into holes.

Magellanic penguins.jpg

Magellanic penguins.jpg

Magellanic penguins - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

The molting penguins drew our attention. We saw various stages of molting over the head and bodies of the Magellanic penguins. At that time we did not know they were waiting to resume normal life after their new plumage appeared!

Magellanic penguins Molting - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Magellanic penguins Molting - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Magellanic penguins Molting - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

We moved around the site at a fairly leisurely pace. It left us lots of time to stop and we enjoyed Magdalena Island for penguins.

Magellanic penguins Close.jpg

Magellanic penguins Close - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Magellanic penguins Close - Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile.jpg

Glad We Visited Magdalena Island For Penguins From Punta Arenas Chile

We were so glad we visited Magdalena Island for penguins. It was fun to see a very different kind of penguin on this stop. We loved the variety of outdoor adventures we got as we cruised through the Chilean Fjords. Our next stop was a visit to the stunning Orsono Volcano.

Did you Magdalena Island for Penguins from Punta Arenas Chile? Where else did you find penguins in Chile?

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73 Comments

  1. I would absolutely love this day trip to Magdalena Island! I’m shocked by how many they are. You got some amazing pictures. I have not experienced a catamaran pulling up the rocky and putting down a ramp. What a great memory, I have destination envy right now!

  2. Such an inspiring post and glorious photos! I couldn’t take my eyes off those beautiful penguins and would love to visit this island!

  3. Ah, you beat me to Magdalena Island! We visited Patagonia back in 2018 and wanted to see Magdalena Island as well. Unfortunately, we arrived in Punta Arenas in May, which was a little too late for the penguins. We were told they moved farther south, so we gave up going on the island. I’ve got some pretty good pictures of the penguins!

  4. It’s interesting to learn that the Magellanic penguins were named by the explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. What a sight it would be to see them waddling about, they are such funny birds that you can’t help but get a smile on your face when you see them. It would be hard to put down the camera and just watch them. Sounds like a great memory for you.

  5. Ooh, those molted penguins look cute. This is the first that I am learning so much about penguins and the molting conditions. And then there is the orgin of their name – did not know that they were named after the explorer. I loved this article Linda – learned so much about one of my favorite creatures.

  6. This would be my dream! I’d love to see any penguins in their natural habitat but it’s a long way for me! Your photos are so great and they capture their personalities so well. It’s on my bucket list!

  7. O we would love this trip to Magdalena as it seems so fascinating. Probably more so because of the opportunity to be around with the penguins, one of the most beautiful creatures on earth. Your fantastic photographs as always makes me wait for your blogs. They give a true feel of being there.

  8. I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to see the penguins in their natural environment. Unfortunately my only experience is frequently visiting the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld in San Diego, which is a dismal substitution. Even the adventure of getting to Magdalena Island sounds fun!

    • We did love the whole excursion to Magdalena Island. Having seen so many penguins in the wild on this trip, we definitely won’t be looking for them at SeaWorld.

  9. Very beautiful post on the Magellanic penguins on the Magdalena Island. Now you have known three different types of penguins King, Gentoo and Magellanic.
    It’s amazing to watch these creatures from a distance thier stride being so much similar to humans adding to their incredible cuteness. Also you were lucky vto see them molting and greeting you as you landed on the island.

  10. Penguins are such funny animals and I would love, love, love to do a trip to Magdalena island to watch them. Great that you had ample time to stroll around and take a lot of pictures. We also saw Magellanic penguins in Chile, but not that many at one place.

  11. What a dream! I would absolutely love to see the penguins at Magdalena Island. This looks like such a fun and interesting experience. I need to visit Chile so I can do this, what a great adventure!

  12. We haven’t had the chance to see penguins like this up close and personal in real life. But it’s something that we’re definitely dreaming of experiencing. Also going to Chile! We had no idea there were even penguins there so we learned something new about the world through this guide of Magdalena island.

  13. Oh wow! This island looks like so much fun! And so much wildlife as well to admire! I love penguins because they are funny and cute. Would definitely love to see it. Thanks for sharing!

  14. This looks like such a unique island to be able to visit with all of the penguins in their natural habitat. This is going on my bucket list for sure!

  15. What an incredible experience! My partner is crazy about penguins so this would be his dream come true! The molying penguins are absolutely adorabel – they’re so fluffy! I’d love to see them in person one day! Thanks for the great guide!

  16. I love the images of the penguins. They are so cute, and your description of them “molting” is definitely spot on. I would enjoy a day trip to see the penguins, and that’s saying a lot for me. I am terrified of everything, but they look so darn cute :-).

    • It was great to wander around the penguins. There was a border that kept us back from the penguins. But not the penguins from us. But most of the time they just sat and looked adorable!

  17. 350,000 penguins! What a fabulous day-trip experience to visit Magdalena Island and check out the penguins in Punta Arenas, Chile.

  18. How exciting to see so many cute penguins! And that you have had the chance to see different types on your travels. I’d never heard of molting but that’s interesting that they can’t do much in that period of waiting. I hope to visit one day!

  19. Chile is absolutely on our list of “must go.” I saw penguins in the Galapagos, but sometimes I still can’t get over seeing them out the artic. I guess misconceptions are slow to die. Great photos!

  20. Wow what a fantastic experience. I’ve not been to Chile yet but when I do I would love to go to this island. Bless the penguins with their “catastrophic molt”! I assume they don’t have any predators as I’m sure having to stop doing a lot of things during the molt could leave them very vulnerable? But very cute too 😉

    • The molting penguins sure were adorable. Awesome to see so many on Magdalena Island when we visited. We sure loved finding the penguins in several spots on this trip.

  21. My sister lived here for 2 years, and she loved the penguins! I really regret not being able to visit her while she lived there. Hoping she will take me someday!

  22. Fascinating! Such an interesting excursion and to see penguins in their natural habitat. They certainly did not object to being photographed. I can see myself enjoying an experience like this.

  23. This is absolutely amazing!!! I love penguins so much and would love to visit them in their natural habitat. I have only had the chance to get a closer encounter with penguins in the Atlanta Aquarium, but this would be so much better! Love all of your experiences – they are always so unique!

  24. Squeeee this must have been soooo fun! I love that you get to wander off to the open spaces and meet the penguins without being in a giant crowd. You must have been smiling from ear to ear!! 😀

  25. Those penguins certainly look happy about their new feathers. It’s great that you got to see different types of penguin in the destinations you visited. Ellie & I only ever saw penguins in the zoo so far.

    • I hope one day you get to see penguins in the wild. It was so fun to watch them for hours. And great indeed to see so many different kinds on our trip to South America.

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