West Point: key information

  • Home to a colony of 2000 pairs of black-browed albatross
  • A large number of rockhopper penguins nest among the albatrosses
  • The best farmhouse tea and homemade cake in the Falkland Islands 
  • Latitude 51°21'S, Longitude 60°40'W

About West Point

Hundreds of black-browed albatrosses sit on nests in their colony at West Point in the Falkland Islands

The black-browed albatross colony at West Point

West Point island is well named as it sits at the northwestern tip of the Falklands, giving it the perfect location for call expedition cruise ships.

The island has traditionally been used for sheep farming, but not relies heavily on the tourists who come here to see its cliffside colony of black-browed albatrosses. It's a distinct improvement on the first visitors in the 18th century who came for the sealing or rendering the local penguins into oil.

The human population of West Point can be counted on the fingers of one hand and live in the farmhouse near the jetty (note the old whale vertebrae stacked by the farmhouse wall). They lay on an extensive spread of tea and cakes for cruise ship passengers. On now account should this be missed: the scones topped with homemade jam are almost worth the trip to the Falklands alone. It's mind-boggling to ponder out just how much baking needs to happen in the small farmhouse kitchen to feed an entire season of hungry visitors.

The black-browed albatrosses of West Point

A black-browed albatross stands in the sunshine against a sea background at West Point in the Falkland Islands

Black-browed albatross

Around 2,000 pairs of black-browed albatrosses nest at West Point. They sit on tall mud-pot nests, incubating a single egg that's laid at the start of the austral summer. The birds mate for life and can live up to 50 years. They're one of the handsomest of the albatrosses, with clean white feathers and smoky eyes make them look as if they have just come from a particularly elegant nightclub.

A marked path leads through from the walking track on the heath to the colony, through thick tussac grass that's often higher than your head. There are several viewing points where the grass suddenly opens up and you find yourself just a few metres away from the birds. It's essential to remain quiet when watching so as not to disturb them, but the experience of being so close usually invokes a joyfully reverent silence among visitors. Don't forget to look up to see the birds constantly coming in to land and taking off.

The albatrosses share their colony with around 500 pairs of rockhopper penguins, who climb the nearby cliff using their sharp crampon-like claws. Take extra care when walking near the colony: it's not unknown for a penguin to unexpectedly hop out from the tussac.

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Brandon Hagg says

Peering quietly through the tussac grass to watch the albatrosses on their nests at West Point is one of the most intimate wildlife encounters you can have in the Southern Ocean.

Swoop Expert

Wildlife at West Point

A striated caracara hawk with black and cream feathers sits on a fence post at West Point in the Falkland Islands. An identity ring is visible on one leg

Striated caracara at West Point

While everyone comes to West Point to see the black-browed albatrosses and their rockhopper penguin neighbours, there is plenty of other good birding to be had here.

Upland geese are a common site both on the slopes around the harbour and on the walk to the colony; if you visit at the start of the summer you've got a good chance of seeing of fluffy goslings in a train behind their parents. Long-tailed meadowlarks are instantly recognisable for the scarlet breast worn by the male, which give them the local name of military starlings. Another common species with a Falklands twist is the Johnny Rook, more properly known as the striated caracara. This falcon is rare on the South American mainland, but common here: look out for them perching on fence posts. Turkey vultures can also be sometimes seen sunning themselves with outstretched wings on the roofs of the farm buildings. They predate on the albatross and penguin chicks, as do brown skuas. Smaller birds to look out for include the Falklands thrush and grass wren.

Visitor guidelines for West Point

Expedition cruise ships moor in the shelter of West Point harbour, where there is a jetty that allows visitors to make dry landings rather than wading ashore on a beach. A track leads uphill past a small group of farm buildings towards the albatross colony. It's a walk of around 45 minutes to the colony, but there is a land rover that ferries back and forth from the farm throughout the duration of the landing. The drive takes less than ten minutes and is perfect for those less able to walk longer distances or just want to hurry back to the farmhouse after birdwatching for the tea and cake.

NOTE: Ship itineraries and visits to specific landing sites in the Falklands can never be guaranteed. Plans can change as fast as the weather in the South Atlantic: decisions on which locations to visit are always made on the day by the ship's captain and expedition leader.

More Falkland Islands landing sites

A crouching rockhopper penguin in a stream at Saunders Island (the Neck) in the Falkland Islands

Saunders Island

Saunders Island offers the chance to see four penguin species in one Falklands location, as well as a black-browed albatross colony

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Many southern sealions lie on the rocks on the beach at Bleaker Island in the Falkland Islands

Bleaker Island

The narrow curved line of Bleaker Island is a great place for birdwatching, with three species of penguin, an enormous imperial shag colony and plenty of waterfowl.

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A colony of Magellanic penguins on a sandy beach at Carcass Island, Falkland Islands

Carcass Island

The white sandy beaches of Carcass Island are a popular draw for expedition cruise ships, with visitors coming here for the colonies of magellanic and gentoo penguins.

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A view of Christchurch Cathedral in Stanley on the Falkland Is;ands, with its arch made of blue whale jawbones


The pocket-sized capital of the Falkland Islands is full of history and easily explored on foot by visitors from expedition cruise ships. 

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What our customers think of West Point Island

Most memorable moment? Seeing the penguin and albatross colonies on the Falkland Islands (Saunders Neck and West Point Island). Read the full review

Travelled: January 2024

Carole Gates - USA