Where are Penguins Found in the Galapagos Islands?

Galapagos is the only place in the whole world where human beings can encounter penguins north of the equator. What’s even better? You won’t have to withstand the below-freezing temperatures that these creatures put up within their better-known habitats. Galapagos Islands penguins are the only penguins that live on the equator, the only penguins that molt twice a year. And of the 18 species of penguins, Galapagos penguins are the rarest!

A Galapagos Penguin Spotted By The Shores.

Where are penguins found in the Galapagos?

Galapagos penguins (Spheniscus mendiculus) dot the Galapagos in patches and groups that are often found on the Western side of the archipelago, specifically:

  • The western flank of Isabela Island and northern piece of Fernandina Island.
  • The eastern flank of Santiago Island and Bartolome Island.
  • The northern tip of Floreana Island.

Source: Trans-Americas Journey

How did they make it this far north?

It’s still not all that clear how exactly these “tropical” penguins managed to arrive this far north. It is believed that they managed to arrive safely onto the shore of Galapagos some 4 million years ago. Genetically, Galapagos penguins are descendants from the Humboldt penguins, which live on the coasts of Chile and Peru.

Their weight tends to average around the 5 lb (2.5 kg) mark, and their height is usually no taller than 19 inches (50 centimetres). You’ll often see them hanging around in crevices and small caves along the coastlines. They’d rather avoid the harsh heat of the Galapagos sun.

Galapagos Penguins

They’ll also often use these places as launching points from which they swim around in the cold and nutrient-rich currents of the Galapagos.

The threats they currently face at the moment are: Galapagos hawks, owls, snakes and invasive species such as cats and dogs.

How can I experience Galapagos penguins?

Via any of our aforementioned Galapagos itineraries at the beginning of this blog! You’ll be able to spot them during one of our coastal explorations, otherwise known as panga (inflatable dinghy) rides or our numerous snorkelling activities Yacht Isabela II held aboard ! There’s also a slight chance that you’ll get to see them along the rocky coasts during one of your hiking excursions. Or you might even be lucky enough to have them whiz past you while you’re snorkelling underwater!

Source: Yacht Isabela II

The current population is less than half of what it was in the early 1970’s, with somewhere between 1,500 and 4,700 individuals. The population of Galapagos penguins has not recovered because of several severe El Niño in the 1980’s/1990’s.

Whatever it is, Galapagos penguins are sure to be one of the cutest highlights of your trip! It’s no wonder they’re a part of our BIG15 list of iconic species in the Galapagos, making them a must see for all those who wish to visit the archipelago! And it’s why they’re a part of all our itineraries!

So why hesitate about missing out?

Updated:May 9, 2023

Published:May 2, 2018


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person



Nazca Boobies Galapagos Islands

The Nazca Booby

The Nazca Booby is the largest booby in the Galapagos Islands. This marine bird has unique mating and breeding habits. Learn all about it here.



Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

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When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

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