Stanley, Falkland Islands ~ Such a Pleasant Surprise!

December 28th

Christ Church Cathedral with Whale Bone Arch, Stanley, Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are still a point of contention between the British and the Argentinians. If you look at a local Argentine map, the islands are listed as Islas Malvines and as a territory of Argentina. On US and British maps, they are shown as the Falkland Islands and as a territory of the United Kingdom (UK). 

The Falkland Islands war (conflict) of 1982 was short-lived, but the British did prevail. The language is English and their currency is the Stanley Pound, which is based on the British Pound Sterling. There are no ATM’s in the Islands, but the USD is widely accepted, as are major credit cards. Other reminders of British influence included the red telephone booths and red double-decker tour bus.

Red British phone booth

The worst remnants of the war are the remaining land mines. Thousands of them are still located on the islands, and an ongoing removal operation is underway. Areas that have not been cleared are well-marked and sadly their main beach is not accessible, not that they do much swimming or sun bathing here.

The majority of the world seems to recognize their independent status, and honor their recent vote for self governance that passed by a whopping 99% when put up for a vote.

The biggest drawing card to the Falkland Islands is the unspoiled and undeveloped landscape which is home to spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. Thousands of penguins, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins and orca whales can be found here.

Once again, we needed to take a tender to shore. The weather was gorgeous and even the locals were commenting upon the unusually warm day. Although we were still bundled up, for the locals, this was T-shirt and shorts weather.

Gus in the Falkland islands

Port Stanley, or Stanley has a population of approximately 3000 people, so when our ship arrived, we quite literally doubled their population. There are two major islands, East Stanley and West Stanley and 200 smaller islands.

Arriving in Stanley

Having seen large penguin colonies in New Zealand, South Africa and most recently in the Galapagos Islands, as well as many sea lions (including elephant seals) in both California and Oregon, we chose an excursion called “City Drive and Museum”. It was a two-hour tour that cost $79.95 per person and ended in town allowing us free time to further explore on our own.

As one of the worlds busiest ports in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s before the Panama Canal opened, combined with the harsh weather conditions, Stanley harbor is the worlds largest graveyard of 19th century ships. Our tour gave us a glimpse of a few remaining corpse as we drove around the island.

Sunken ships litter the waters

A little closer view

I would have enjoyed looking closer at this one

An unexpected treat, was observing two colorful King Penguins at one of our photo stops at Whalebone Cove. They seemed unfazed by our presence.

Joanne with two King Penguins

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Driving further brought us past a lovely beach, roadside totem pole sign, peat bog (it is used for fuel here), and whale bones on display in someones yard.

This is one of the only beaches that has been cleared of land mines

Totem pole created by sailers passing through

Peat Bog

Whale bones

The terrain is mostly flat, and the only trees that can be found are ones that the locals have planted. There are no fruit trees grown on the island, as the weather would not favor it, as well as there are no bees to pollinate the flowers.

Showing the landscape

The Historic Dockyard and Museum was our next stopping point, and admission was included.

I had not seen a typewriter like this one before

The remaining time was on our own where we walked past the Liberation Monument and Government House.

At Liberation Monument

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We actually passed by/visited two churches this afternoon. The first one, Saint Mary’s Catholic Church, was plain and stark inside, but a container of Holy Water caught my eye and gave me an unexpected chuckle. I’m not sure why, but this very mundane plastic bottle hardly seemed worthy of this task.

Holy Water in plastic

The 125 year old Christ Church Cathedral is the southernmost Anglican cathedral in the world. Sitting on the property is the much photographed Whale Bone Arch, made of the jaws of two blue whales.

Christ Church Cathedral

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For most of the year, Stanley has a harsh climate, but the colorful buildings and equally brilliant flowers offer up cheer and hope.

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We sat up on the top deck for the 15 minute tender ride back to the ship. Fun ride until the wind kicked up near the end and we got a good a good spray. I ended up burrowed under my jacket to avoid a good drenching 🙂

Emerald Princess at Port Stanley

FUN FACT: Charles Darwin spent more time in the Falkland Islands than he did in the Galapagos Islands.

GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful to have visited the Falkland Islands on such a picture postcard type of day. Somehow, when the sun is shining, and the weather is unexpectedly pleasant, everything seems to feel more special. The colors are brighter, the flowers more beautiful, and our mood is elevated. We found the people of Stanley to be warm, helpful, and although we and our fellow travelers pretty much invaded their space, they seemed unperturbed and welcoming. Thank you Port Stanley for your hospitality!

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our latest adventure. We hope you will join us!
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27 Responses to Stanley, Falkland Islands ~ Such a Pleasant Surprise!

  1. joylennick says:

    So lucky to have found the weather favourable! As usual the photographs are excellent. When we were living in the UK, we were worried that the war would escalate, and we have three sons so were naturally concerned. Great to see it so peaceful.


  2. Jane Fritz says:

    So glad you also enjoyed this unexpected surprise. We took the full-blown penguin colony tour, which was beyond amazing, but walking around town subsequently was similarly interesting and rewarding. Enjoy!


  3. Leah says:

    The bottle of “Holy Water” cracked me up!

    Your pictures are fabulous., and you were so close to those penguins! Wow!

    I have to admit, my inner tight-wad did a silent little gasp at the $80/pp for a two-hour tour. Is that an expected/average cost for tours? Seems a bit steep. You can tell I don’t do a lot of tours!


  4. Terry says:

    Glad the weather is changing for your adventure. Looks like a very nice cruise to explore that part of the world.


  5. A fascinating post, Tim and Joanne, and what a blessing the glorious weather must have been. Every time I thought I’d comment on one thing, another interesting one came up. I love the typewriter, the whale bones, and the ship graveyard. Of course, penguins are always fun and cute, so that was a winner as well. The one downside is those landmines. What a curse they are, a very dangerous and constant reminder of war and conflict. Hard to even try to recover when they’re still around.



  6. Fran Vukovich says:

    Pictures are great ( as usual) looks to be a good cruise after a not so great begining


  7. Anabel Marsh says:

    I still remember my bewilderment in 1982 at the thought that we were actually going to war. I could scarcely believe it. It’s interesting to see the place it was all about.


  8. tippysmom2 says:

    I had just joined the Air Force and was in my Officer Training School (basic training for those entering as officers) when this war broke out. Of course, we were all concerned too. Glad it didn’t last too long. But those mines – what a shame and I worry about all of the wildlife that come up on the beach for mating and nesting. I’m sure some of them don’t make it because of them. So sad on many levels. I hope if they are still being used in various parts of the world that someone has thought to include some sort of GPS marker so they can be found and deactivated much easier. On a brighter note, I loved all of your pictures. I’m surprised by the beautiful flowers. Since they don’t have bees, are they pollinated by birds or butterflies – assuming they have butterflies? You were very close to the penguins and those whale bones are humongous! Your pictures of Christ Church Cathedral were wonderful. Your description of the Holy Water container as being a “very mundane plastic bottle hardly seemed worthy of this task” made me think this might be the point exactly. Most of us are pretty mundane and not worthy of the task (grace) of being Christians, yet Got saw fit to use us anyway. (Sorry, must be in some sort of mood tonight.) Anyway, looks like a wonderful day. Thanks for sharing.


  9. TracyNicole says:

    What an interesting place! It’s so nice that it was a beautiful day for you to get some really great pictures. Do you know what the majority of the people who live there do for a living? Do they have to import a lot of their crops? You mentioned no bees to pollinate so I was just guessing that they didn’t grow much of their own.


  10. Marie says:

    Fascinating post. I had no idea there was anything to visit there. I am appalled that landmines were used.


  11. curvyroads says:

    What a beautiful day you had for your visit! I loved the penguins, and would really enjoy seeing those old shipwrecks. Sad about the landmines, I hope they all get recovered at some point soon.


  12. Janet says:

    I am wondering why there have been no posts on the South American journey since early January. If possible bring us up to date. Hope all is well.


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