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.
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.
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.
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.
An unexpected treat, was observing two colorful King Penguins at one of our photo stops at Whalebone Cove. They seemed unfazed by our presence.
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.
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.
The Historic Dockyard and Museum was our next stopping point, and admission was included.
The remaining time was on our own where we walked past the Liberation Monument and Government House.
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.
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.
For most of the year, Stanley has a harsh climate, but the colorful buildings and equally brilliant flowers offer up cheer and hope.
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 🙂
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!