The first stop on our CRUISE TO ANTARCTICA was at Stanley, a seaside town in the British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands. With only one day in Stanley, we made the most of it by choosing experiences where we could actively explore and learn about the history and natural environment. We went on two short hikes on the outskirts of town and also visited a few attractions in Stanley.
Things to Do in Stanley, Falkland Islands
Stanley is the tiny capital of the Falklands. Located along Stanley Harbour on East Falkland, this colourful town features sea views, cottages, museums, and military monuments. Throughout the town there are several examples of Stanley's British heritage, like red phone boxes and English pubs serving fish and chips. Stanley is situated near some beaches and coves that are home to penguins and other birds, while the surrounding hills are perfect for a nature walk. Whether you choose to explore town, venture out to the surrounding areas, or do a bit of both, you'll find plenty of enjoyable things to do in Stanley in one day.
Walk Around Gypsy Cove
A walk at Gypsy Cove is one of the best things to do in Stanley because of the scenic views and opportunities to see marine mammals, penguins, and other birds. To get to Gypsy Cove we took the shuttle provided by our cruise, but you can also arrange a cab. After visiting Gypsy Cove, we continued walking along the coastline back to the port at Stanley. In total the walk was 7.39 km and took us a relaxed 2.5 hrs. The interpretive trail begins at Yorke Bay and follows above a beach where magellanic penguins like to congregate. The beach is fenced off because it was a minefield area during the Falklands War in 1982, but it's still fun to watch the penguins from a far. As we continued on, there were several better opportunities for viewing penguins, including seeing chicks huddled in burrows in the peat soil. There are a lot of penguin burrows in this area, some right beside the trail so you can peek in from a respectful distance and take a look. From Yorke Bay, the gravel pathway leads to Gypsy Cove. Here there’s a viewing area where you can look out on the sandy cove and surrounding harbour. Occasionally dolphins and sea lions are sighted at Gyspy Cove, but we only saw penguins on the beach and other birds on the cliff edges. After the viewpoint at Gypsy Cove, the trail splits so there’s an option to circle back to the start at Yorke Bay, or continue on to Ordnance Point then back to Stanley. Ordnance Point was one of 14 manned defence sites during World War II and there’s still a mounted gun that can be seen here. In addition to the gun, you can see views of Twelve O’Clock Mountain and Mount Low. After Ordnance Point, the trail continued past tussac grass, ferns, and rocks towards a nice view of Stanley. A little further and we soon arrived at a beach and magellanic penguin breeding site. This beach wasn’t fenced off so we could walk along it and get a close look at the penguins that were hanging around its edge. For the remainder of our walk, the path was framed by grey quartzite on one side and Stanley Harbour on the other. At the end of Stanley Harbour, we arrived at the rusted Lady Elizabeth shipwreck in Whalebone Cove. Built in 1879, the Lady Elizabeth was damaged while rounding Cape Horn in 1913. The ship made it to Stanley for repairs but they were never carried out and the ship was abandoned.