What is the best time of the year to see the penguins?

What is the best time of the year to see the penguins?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 06/03/2019

Reading time: 4 mins

When to see the little penguins is one of the most commonly asked questions among Phillip Island travelers.

While Phillip Island is open for business year-round, there is one specific season that stands out as THE best time to see the little penguins.

About the Little Penguins

Easily the cutest penguins in existence, these little creatures are also the smallest of the penguin family. Standing at around 30 centimeters tall and weighing around one kilogram, their petite size helps them speed through the water and catch their prey. Their adorable waddling as they come onto land captures the hearts of thousands of visitors a year across Australia and New Zealand – the only two countries in which they live.

Little penguins are distinct in both size and coloring. They don dark blue feathers and a pale white underbelly, which they shake vigorously when coming onto land to extract excess water. Little penguins spend most of their lives in the deep sea, hunting for food throughout the day. However, they do sleep on dry land, scampering up to the shore after sunset to avoid large predators during the day. Though they may be small, little penguins play a critical role in the marine ecosystem food web. As travelers through their natural habitat, it is imperative that we respect their space by remaining quiet and allowing them plenty of space to move between sea and land uninterrupted.

About Penguin Parade

Given that little penguins spend 80 percent of their time at sea, it would be difficult to catch sight of them in real life without guidance. Penguin Parade, overlooking Summerland Beach, has been established as a safe and reliable place from which visitors can easily see these famous creatures.

The state-of-the-art viewing facility lies along the beach coast, offering a clear view of the little penguins as they waddle up to shore to their nests. Penguin Parade welcomes over 3.5 million people each year, showcasing these beautiful creatures in their natural environment at a safe distance. Penguin Parade offers multiple viewing sections, from standard viewing to underground viewing and a deluxe selection.

When to Travel to Penguin Parade

You can visit Penguin Parade year-round, as the penguins come to rest on land every night, regardless of the weather or season. However, due to Penguin Parade being outside, figuring out the best time to travel may help you avoid those freezing cold winds or thundering rain. Phillip Island has a temperate climate, with cold winters and warm summers. Cool ocean breezes whip through the air throughout the year, so even if it is summer, it’s always best to bring a jacket to fight the biting wind.

If you enjoy sunny days perfect for outdoor activities, summer can work perfectly, with stunning beach days and beautiful bush walks. If you don’t mind the cold and enjoy crisp morning walks and cozy nights by the fire, winter can be a perfect romantic getaway. However, if you are traveling in winter time, making sure to check the forecast before booking your penguin parade ticket, or simply bring a raincoat and umbrella.

How Can I Get to Penguin Parade?

The best way to get to the Penguin Parade is by driving yourself or booking a tour. It takes about two hours to drive from Melbourne to Phillip Island. When you book a tour, you will be picked up from Melbourne and returned to the city after the Penguin Parade is finished. It’s not recommended to go via public transport as it’s quite limited on Phillip Island.

What to Expect at Penguin Parade

The facility has tiered seating from which visitors can view the penguins come in at sunset. After a long day of fishing, these adorable birds begin their short journey from the water to their nests, traveling in small groups. As they head for their burrows, visitors can walk alongside them on the boardwalks in the dunes. It’s an incredible opportunity to observe and hear these delightful little penguins and their chicks in their natural habitat. The facility is family-friendly and has a gift shop, restaurant, and cafe.


Related article: The Little Penguin – Phillip Island

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.