There's no debate: puffins are adorable. But they're also hard to spot in person. If you love these personality-filled black and white birds, you'll have to travel to their turf. These coastal-dwelling birds only like it where it's cold and moist. Travelers can plan trips to these spots to glimpse their favorite orange and yellow-billed feathered friends.
Lundy Island is a small landmass off of Devon. It's a popular spot to see puffins since there is a large population of seabirds there—and that population is growing. At one time, the Lundy puffin population was endangered, but conservationists were able to eradicate non-native rats that invaded the area and were eating puffin eggs. The best time to visit is between April and October.
One of the largest populations of puffins is in the Farne Islands. The islands are off the coast of Northumberland, England, and wildlife experts believe that more than 100,000 pairs of puffins come here annually to mate. Farne Islands opens to visitors in June, once the weather is warm enough. Visitors to Farne Islands will be wowed at the size of the puffin population. They'll also get to take in charming nautical sights, like the white lighthouse on the tip of Inner Farne.
Mykines in the Faroe Islands is not a populous place in terms of humans. In fact, only ten people call Mykines home year-round. However, this archipelago in the north sea is home to a huge population of puffins, and people come year after year to see the hoards of clumsy, orange-beaked birds in their natural habitat. A ferry serves the island, so it's easy for visitors to come and go.
One of the main reasons that people come to Eastern Egg Rock, Maine, is to see the puffins. The seven-acre island is located in Outer Muscongus Bay. It is an official Wildlife Sanctuary, and it is home to the world's first restored seabird colony, which started in 1973. The whole island is treeless and rimmed by granite boulders. That's where puffins like to make their nests. Visiting the island by boat allows an excellent view of the habitat. The nearest Maine city for post-puffin fun is New Harbor, just 60 miles north of Portland.
Vestmannaeyjar is an Icelandic archipelago composed of 15 individual islands. It is located off Iceland's Southern Coast. Vestmannaeyjar is home to the largest population of puffins in the world. Take a boat trip through the islands, and you can see each landmass. The largest one, Heimaey or Home Island, is home to most of the area's puffins. Because these puffins are so accustomed to human contact, it's a splendid choice if you want to get up close and personal with the sea birds.
Another spot in Iceland to see puffins is Vigur Island. This tiny island in the middle of Isafjardardjup is inhabited by one family (a farmer and his five relatives). However, it has a large colony of puffins, in addition to black guillemot, arctic terns, and other arctic seabirds. To reach Vigur Island, travelers must take a half-hour boat ride into the fjord. Then they can disembark and wander the rugged island.
Maine is the only spot in the contiguous United States to see Atlantic Puffins in the wild. One of the best places to spot these seabirds in person is Petit Manan. Petit Manan is made of 64 islands. Visitors can see the island by boat except during the nesting season, April 1st to August 31st. Petit Mana Island has the second tallest lighthouse in Maine, and the ten acres around the lighthouse are popular nesting grounds for a variety of seabirds, including puffins.
In Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, is Beehive Island—one of the best spots in the world to see puffins in their natural habitat. The island isn't named for the buzzing insect. Instead, it's named for the way puffins go about their mating ritual—coming and going quickly from one spot to the next. Beehive Island is only viewable by boat.
Lovund Island is a popular spot for tourists to see puffins in the wild. Lovund has a village, so you can wander through museums, quaint inns, and restaurants that serve up authentic Norwegian food. For those on the lookout for puffins, the best spot is the Lovundfjellet—a bouldery mountain where puffins mate and hang out.
Another country in the UK where you can see Puffins is Scotland. Head to Duncansby Head - the northeastern section of the British and Scottish mainland - for an excellent place to see cold-weather wildlife. There are some ruins at Duncansby Head, and the area is mostly uninhabited by humans except for the charming white Duncansby Head Lighthouse. There are plenty of puffins here to fill the landscape, as well as stunning green meadows dropping off into rocky cliffs and the sea. This area makes for an unforgettable and awe-inspiring nature adventure.