Clowns of the sea”, “parrots of the sea”—these lovable little birds have a variety of reputations. But one thing remains consistent—everyone loves seeing these active creatures flock and plunge deep into the ocean, to emerge with a mouth full of fish. Their black and white bodies, along with colorful beaks are fun to observe when lucky enough to come upon a colony in the summer. But where does one go to see birds that primarily love the ocean? These are the best places around the world to see puffins.
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Lundy literally translates to “puffin Island”, because that is the main thing that happens here—puffin nesting. From a boat, guests can see in close enough range to witness the colony dig, feed and nest. However, disembark and more nearby glimpses are possible. A campground with a limited amount of cottages is available on this hidden gem British Isle, but if ferrying from Bideford or Ilfracombe England just for the day, you’ll find pubs, theater, markets and culture upon returning from the island.
St. Kilda, Scotland
A beautiful island in Scotland, St. Kilda also happens to house the country’s largest puffin colony when they come to nest in the spring and summer. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, pieces of past colonies that no longer remain are there to be explored. Seabirds now rule the archipelago, and that’s great news for puffin lovers. The most convenient larger city to reach the island from would probably be Glasgow.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
There’s so much to see and do in Kenai Fjords National Park, including seeing puffins, which are different from that of the Atlantic breeds off the shores of Alaska. Kenai Fjords National Park hosts two types during the season—the tufted and horned. Emerald Cove, Beehive Island, Resurrection Peninsula and the Chiswell Islands are locations where you just might see quite a few birds. Alaska is a good place to see puffins up close, but be sure to do so while being cautious not to disturb their environment.
Greenland is not often thought to see Puffin migration, but there is an island near Nuuk, where the colorful species flock. The Puffin Safari will coast passengers via boat, closely by the colonies, and they are careful not to disturb the daily routines of these cuties. As a bonus, it’s possible to see whales and even seals. Nuuk is a colorful town too often overlooked by travelers, and its oceanfront location provides locally sourced meals, shopping and some of the country’s most immersive cultural museums.
Hermaness National Nature Reserve, Scotland
Hermaness National Nature Reserve Is located in Shetland, Scotland. The scenic cliffs are draped in greenery while being met with a rouge blue sea below. Preserved and protected, a list of species find solace here, and if you’re looking for seabirds in Scotland, there may be no better place to come. Traverse the rugged paths with care.
Mykines, Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands, particularly Mykines, are enveloped with puffins during certain times of the year. Reach the Denmark territory islands by boat, helicopter and bridges, and be sure to pay the hiking fee beforehand, for access to the protected terrain. Mykines are extra special because lush green farmland and modest housing overlook captivating sea views, the Holmur lighthouse, and of course large groups of puffins.
Farne Islands, England
Northumberland is in Northeast England and is well preserved as a national park. Farne Islands, just off the shore, houses a plethora of seabirds just waiting to be gently greeted. Puffins are here to stay for the majority of the time between April and July, and this is when you’ll see cute little babies huddle in burrows waiting for their hefty meal from mom and dad.
Coastal Maine, United States
To see puffins on the eastern coast of the United States, travelers must head up to Maine, where the offshore islands welcome thousands of feathery friends come June. Boat tours depart from several coastal towns, including Jonesport, Cutler, Bar Harbor, Millbridge, Stonington, Rockland, Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor and Port Clyde. Most tours offer a lot of cool information about local ecology, and the birds themselves. When reaching spots like Eastern Egg Rock, you’ll be overwhelmed with puffins that pepper the sky, suddenly plunge into the waters beside you, then after, rest on the nearby rocks.
Les Sept-Îles, France
France does not have an overabundance of puffins flocking to different regions, but they do come to Les Sept-Îles, an uninhabited archipelago, where the creatures almost went extinct due to hunting, before a conservation revolution in the 20th century. Birds thrive again with many, many kinds, and the preserve status will keep it that way. Boat tours are available from both Perros-Guirec or Port-Blanc.
Iceland itself is overflowing with colonies that thrive during the summer, near locations such as Látrabjarg or Dyrholaey, but the Vestmannaeyjar islands boast the largest puffin colony in the world, with over one million nesting in season! That’s a lot of cuteness. This relatively small group of islands sit just south of mainland Iceland, and you’ll also hear them referred to as the Westman Islands.