When you think of penguins, you probably envision ice caps and mounds of snow, but what about a beach? South Africa is home to Boulders Beach and I bet you can guess what makes this beach so special…
About The Penguins At Boulders Beach
The African penguins that inhabit Boulders Beach were originally known as jackass penguins for the distinctive sounds they make, but are now simply referred to as African penguins.
Where did they come from? Well, you are correct in assuming that they aren’t natives of Boulders Beach. There are actually 28 colonies of African penguins that run along the South African coast and it isn’t uncommon for penguins to migrate elsewhere, or move to other colonies. Cape Town Travel says the African penguins that inhabit the beach migrated from Dyer Island off South Africa’s southern coast. In 1983 they made their way to False Bay (a bay in the Atlantic Ocean) and adjacent Boulders Beach. The penguins were once found there in great abundance, but have since become an endangered species.
“In 1910, it was estimated that there were approximately 1.5 million African penguins; a century later, the aquatic bird was classified as an endangered species” according to Cape Town Travel.
The penguins fell victim to the destruction of their habitat, over-fishing, marine pollution, oil spills, reckless tourism activities, and domestic pets.
Cape Town Travel reports that at one point there were only two breeding pairs of penguins left, but amazing conservation efforts have helped to grow the Boulder colony to more than 3,000 birds.
How To Visit The Penguins
To view the penguins, visitors can pay the Boulders Beach admission fee of 125 rand (a little over $8 USD) for adults and 76 rand (just over $5 USD) for children. Note that prices differ for South African residents and citizens with their IDs. For more information on pricing check here. Once the admission fee is paid, the best way to see the penguins is to head to Foxy Beach, which is just a boardwalk away from Boulders Beach.
According to Cape Town Travel, the best time to see the penguins is during South African summer, but the colony of penguins is out all year long. Between September and October, the penguins are feeding at sea so you won’t see too many on the beach. For picture purposes, or just to see a lot of penguins at once, get there early in the morning or late in the evening.
Note that the South African National Parks’ website warns against coming too close to the penguins. They look welcoming and cute, but if they feel threatened they will use their sharp beaks to nip at a limb.
There’s Another Way To See African Penguins
If you aren’t able to make it to Boulders Beach or would prefer visiting a less-populated area to scout out penguins, about an hour and a half away is Betty Bay, where you’ll find Stony Point Nature Reserve, home to another African penguin colony. It also happens to be a bit cheaper than Boulder Bay with a cash-only admission fee of 25 rand (or $1.66 USD) for adults and 15 rand (or $1) USD for children.
The cuteness of these colonies of African penguins makes a fairly convincing case for why you should plan a trip to South Africa, but if you still need a nudge, read up on why South Africa belongs on your travel bucket list to learn about what else the country has to offer!