On the western side of Isabela Island, the largest of the Galápagos Islands, Galápagos penguins can be spotted on Nat Hab’s Classic Galapagos Adventure at Punta Vicente Roca, Tagus Cove, and Elizabeth Bay. This is the only penguin species found north of the equator and in the Galápagos. From private pangas (inflatable dinghies), snorkel in an underwater playground that is home to Galápagos penguins diving beneath the surface in search of huge schools of fish.

The Galápagos penguin is home to this series of islands in the Pacific Ocean, located off the coast of Ecuador. They are one of the smallest penguin species in the world at roughly 19 inches tall and 5.5 pounds. Much of the Galápagos penguin population (up to 77 percent) has died off in past El Niño events, when prey species decline (as waters warm) and breeding becomes more stress-induced and, therefore, less successful. Today, there are an estimated 2,000 or fewer Galápagos penguins left.

On your Galápagos getaway, you can spot these penguins all year round. You’ll most commonly see them swimming in the ocean, taking care of their young, and feasting on sardines, anchovies, and mullet.

Galápagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) in Los Túneles on Isabela Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

© Antonio Busiello / WWF-US


Along the west coast of Tierra del Fuego in Chile on Nat Hab’s Patagonia Wilderness & Wildlife Explorer, visit King Penguin Park, the most northerly king penguin colony in the world. From elevated boardwalks and strategic hides, spend unhurried time at this remote site, observing the endlessly entertaining antics of the world’s second-largest penguin species. Established when birds arrived to nest here in 2010, it is the only place to see this species outside of Antarctica and the Falkland Islands.

Standing about 3 feet tall and weighing 30 pounds or more, king penguins sport classic black and white markings with splashes of vibrant orange across their head, beak, and chest. They are known to be picky eaters, consuming lantern fish and squid, depending on the season. These magnificent creatures can live to be up to 26 years in the wild and 41 years in captivity.

King penguins in Antarctica

© Jordy Oleson

On your journey around this massive country, you may even spot Magellanic penguins at the Francisco Coloane Marine Park. These penguins thrive in coastal Patagonia, including Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil and Uruguay. Their name originates from the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose crew spotted it while sailing around the tip of South America in 1519. Magellanic penguins have a black body with a white belly, allowing them to camouflage themselves from predators while swimming. Their black back blends into the dark ocean, and from below, their white stomach is camouflaged by the light from the sky.


Soak in a rare experience of one of the most remote and magnificent places on Earth as you encounter the vast continent of Antarctica. There are no shortfalls of wildlife viewing, especially for penguin lovers. Here you’ll find the most penguin species across the entire world. On Nat Hab’s Sailing Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Nature Expedition trip, there are numerous opportunities to share the solitude with penguin colonies, even on deserted beaches while camping under the stars. 

On this remote oasis, you’ll find seven penguin species native to Antarctica: the Adélie, chinstrap, Gentoo, king, macaroni, rockhopper, and emperor penguins. However, the Adélie and emperor penguins are the only two that live exclusively on the Antarctic Continent. The others either live in the sub-Antarctic or travel between the two areas depending on the season.

The Adélie is the littlest, and also the most widespread, species of penguin in the Antarctic. Adélies have a feisty attitude too. They’ve been known to take on potential predators – seals or large seabirds – or even attack visiting researchers with their flippers.

Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) diving off iceberg, Antarctica, January

© / Tim Laman / WWF

Emperor penguins are the largest living penguin species standing up to four feet tall. These creatures are easy to identify due to their sheer stature, weighing in anywhere between 48 and 80 pounds. Once they have found a partner, they usually mate for life and work together to keep their young fed and safe.

New Zealand

Journey around the world on Nat Hab’s New Zealand Nature Explorer trip. On this adventure, you’ll encounter one of the rarest penguin species in the world, the yellow-eyed penguin. This name of this species describes their prominent, identifiable feature: yellow eyes with a yellow patch of feathers surrounding their eyes. Although this bright feature is characteristic of this species, young, yellow-eyed penguins have gray eyes and dark brown or gray feathers and will only develop this unique trait of yellow eyes when they become an adult.

You’ll encounter this rare species along the southeast coast of the South Island, in addition to the New Zealand islands of Campbell, Auckland, and the coastal forests of Stewart. The yellow-eyed penguin is a carnivorous animal, feeding primarily upon fish such as blue cod, red cod, opal fish, spats, and silversides. On the Nat Hab New Zealand Nature Explorer trip, you’ll have the rare opportunity to visit a nature reserve, founded in 1985, dedicated to protecting this species. This penguin species, found only in New Zealand, is one of the rarest in the world, with fewer than 4,000 remaining.

The Yellow Eyed Pinguins family sitting in their nest at Katiki Point Lighthouse in New Zealand

Beyond the yellow-eyed species, the Tawaki penguin species inhabits New Zealand. Also called Fiordland crested penguins, these are the only penguins that live in the rainforest and can be found on the southwest coast of New Zealand. About 2,000 pairs remain, with 10 percent of the population found along the shores of Lake Moeraki.


Get swept away in awe as you watch little blue penguins, also called fairy penguins, make their way onshore and into their nests for the night. This awe-inspiring experience comes true on Nat Hab’s Australia South: Tasmania, Kangaroo Island & the Great Ocean Road trip.

Blue penguins are the smallest penguin species at just about one foot tall. An adult blue penguin weighs in right around 3.3 pounds, weighing less than a half-gallon of milk! They have a distinctive slate-blue or indigo-blue coloration of feathers on the top of their body. Their scientific genus name, Eudyptula, means ‘good little diver,’ which they are. These little blue penguins can be found nearly all day at sea and returning home to land around dusk, all within a flock to protect themselves from predators.

Little penguin (Eudyptula minor) on rocks of St Kilda breakwater, Melbourne city lights in background. Victoria, Australia. January 2017.

© / Doug Gimesy / WWF