7 Places in Australia to See Penguins

Fairy penguin at St.Kilda beach, Melbourne
Boy_Anupong / Getty Images

Australia is home to many quirky animals, but there’s something special about penguins: they’re small, have an adorable little waddle and, most importantly, they’re incredibly cute! Whether you want to see the majestic King Penguin, like those featured in Happy Feet, or marvel at the tiny Little Penguin that frolic on the southern coast, you’ll get your fix of adorable little waddle in no time at these choice locations throughout Australia.

  • 01 of 07

    SEA LIFE Sydney, New South Wales

    SEA LIFE Sydney
    Courtesy of SEA LIFE Sydney

    Among the many sea creatures you’ll see at SEA LIFE in Sydney, arguably the most adorable is the Little Penguin, also commonly referred to as a Fairy Penguin. SEA LIFE has a very successful breeding colony, which means not only are there always plenty of penguins frolicking in the water, there’s also a chance of seeing a baby chick or two.

  • 02 of 07

    SeaWorld, Gold Coast, Queensland

    SeaWorld Queensland
    Courtesy of SeaWorld Queensland

    At SeaWorld, a theme park on the Gold Coast, not only will you see dolphins jumping through hoops and trainers performing death-defying stunts with killer whales, you’ll also see the proud King Penguin. Their icy habitat is replicated in a unique tank where the temperature averages around -35˚C, or -31˚F, and visitors can view the penguins while they chill on the shore, or dive playfully through the water. Be sure to catch the penguins at feeding time to see them at their most active.

  • 03 of 07

    Phillip Island, Victoria

    Little Penguins/Fairy Penguins (Eudyptula Minor) breeding in Wildlife, Australia
    4FR / Getty Images

    If you’d rather see the Little Penguins in the wild, every night on Phillip Island, south of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, the tiny flightless birds make their way from the ocean to their hiding spots on the land. It’s known affectionately as the Penguin Parade. Elevated boardwalks also allow visitors to wander around and spot penguins in their burrows and hiding spots. When you’re heading out for the night, be sure to check under your car, just in case you have a little stow-away!

  • 04 of 07

    Penguin Island, Western Australia

    Little Penguin at Penguin Island near Perth, Western Australia
    Posnov / Getty Images

    The aptly named Penguin Island is home to the largest population of Little Penguins in Western Australia, who visit the island annually to breed and nest. Visits to this untouched island are strictly limited, and only during specific daylight hours in mid-September to early June. Apart from the penguins, you’re also likely to see pelicans, sea eagles, albatross and a number of other native bird species, and maybe even a pod of dolphins.

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  • 05 of 07

    Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre, Kingscote Wharf, South Australia

    Little Penguin, (Eudyptula minor), adult couple going shore, spreads wings, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
    Tier Und Naturfotografie J und C Sohns / Getty Images

    Apart from the kangaroos, for which the island is named, you’ll also find a number of Little Penguins on Kangaroo Island. Take a tour around the Kangaroo Island Penguin Centre for a look at some of the local marine life and, of course, the local penguin colony. If you’re slow and quiet, you can even get within two meters of the friendly little birds, making for some excellent photo opportunities (as long as the flash is off).

  • 06 of 07

    Lion Island, Broken Bay, New South Wales

    Seals colony on the seal rock of Philip island, Australia
    Boy_Anupong / Getty Images

    If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself on Lion Island in Broken Bay and, if you’re even luckier, you’ll be treated to a small colony of Little Penguins. Recently, the colony, which can only be reached by boat, has been declining in numbers, so conservation efforts have been put in place to ensure Lion Island is a haven for Little Penguins for years to come.

  • 07 of 07

    Shore Beach, Manly, New South Wales

    Fairy penguin at St.Kilda beach, Melbourne
    Boy_Anupong / Getty Images

    At a little-known beach in Manly, a small colony of Little Penguins is thriving. Thanks to nesting boxes and other conservation efforts, Shore Beach has become something of a refuge for Little Penguins in New South Wales. While a visit to the sandy beach may not guarantee you a view of the penguins, it does guarantee you a secluded and sunny spot where you can while away the afternoon. Shore Beach is not accessible by land, and it’s the general rule of thumb that the best way to get to the beach is by kayak.