Port Stanley is the Falkland Islands’ capital and largest town. Situated on East Falkland, the largest of the Falkland Islands, it is about 380 miles east of Argentina.
A quaint hillside village overlooking the harbor, Port Stanley is tiny by European standards with its population of 2,121. Yet with its radio station, newspaper, and hospital, it’s a large city compared to the rest of the islands. Among the flora and fauna are penguins and seals, albatrosses and sea lions, and — unlike the other islands in the archipelago — many people as well. Here are five facts to help you decide what to do in Port Stanley.
Who owns Port Stanley? The Falkland Islands’ ownership has been much contended throughout history. The Argentinians, Spanish, French, and British have all occupied the islands at one point or another, but today the islands are officially under British rule. Various power struggles between claimants preceded this agreement, most recently in 1982, when Argentine forces invaded the islands. British forces responded by sending a naval fleet to defend the territory, and Argentina surrendered on what is now known as Liberation Day.
Penguins, whales and rare flora. The Falkland Islands are great for spotting elusive wildlife, and Stanley is no exception. Visitors can see black-browed albatrosses and Magellanic penguins; and, off the shores of Stanley, you’ll likely see numerous whale species in their natural habitat. Basking seals and sea lions are often seen on the beaches in large colonies; you can even get close enough to watch them feed and play along the coastline. The Falkland Islands are also home to more than 350 species of flora, at least 13 of which are endemic. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the Pale Maiden — the islands’ most coveted flower, and a national symbol of the Falklands.
Everything outside Port Stanley is known as “the Camp.” The entire Falklands archipelago outside Port Stanley (which only accounts for 1 percent of the islands’ land mass) is referred to as “the Camp,” from the Spanish word campo (countryside in English). Here you’ll find ample possibilities for trips outside the town. Visit Stanley Long Island Farm for a taste of the rural Falklands, spend some time on the beach, or check out the local bird life.
The Falkland Islands Museum is a portal into the past. Located in an old dockyard, the museum is run by the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust (FIMNT), a registered charity. There, you can learn about the cultural history of the Falkland Islands and visit an interactive room focusing on the Falklands War. There’s also a wing dedicated to maritime history.
Avid golfer? There’s a golf course in Port Stanley. The Stanley Golf Club boasts one of the world’s southernmost courses. With 18 holes and 12 greens, the course is 4,500 yards long. It’s cheap, too; you can play a round for £5 (approx. $6.50). Just watch out for the wind!
The crown jewel of the Falklands
Port Stanley is an interesting place to visit in the Falklands. There’s a rich and varied culture, closely related to that of Great Britain yet special in its own way. Upon arrival, you’ll be immersed in history at the museum, or in culture at other landmarks. There are lots of things to do in Port Stanley; spend some time there and, who knows — you might not want to leave.