Little penguins are adorable, and it is very exciting that they visit several places in Tasmania. Standing at just 40 cm tall, with fluffy babies, they are among the cutest birds to encounter. If you are headed to Tasmania’s East Coast, you will be delighted to know that you can spot wild penguins in Bicheno. Our experience can assist you in making the most of your little penguin adventure.

Responsible travel tip: I strongly recommend joining a guided tour in Bicheno. Alternatively, you could visit another place in Tasmania to observe penguins from a platform, to ensure the safety of wild animals. Spotting penguins on the beach in Bicheno without a guided tour was not particularly enjoyable for me as there was a high risk of disturbing them.

Yellow roadsign next to a road to warn drivers there are penguins in the area

When to see penguins in Bicheno

You will spot more penguins during the breeding season, which is from October to January. The best season to see penguins in Bicheno is from December to January as adults go to sea during the day and return to the beach at night to feed their young ones. You will have to wait on the beach until it gets dark. When the darkness has come and there’s no movement on the beach, the adults feel safe to exit the water and make their way to their babies who have been hidden in their burrows all day and call for them at night.

Penguins are wild animals, so you cannot be certain about the time when they will return to land. When we went to see penguins in Bicheno, the sunset time was 8.50 pm. We expected to see them soon after the last light (around 9.30 pm). However, they arrived much later (after 10 pm) when the beach was finally quiet, and most people had left, thinking they weren’t showing up that night.

You can still see penguins in Bicheno the rest of the year, but in smaller numbers. When the young ones are big enough to fend for themselves, they leave the burrows and do not return until they are ready to mate. From February to May, it’s time for the parents to look after themselves, and it’s when your chances of seeing penguins are the lowest. They hide for a couple of weeks while moulting and cannot go to sea until their new feathers are waterproof. Before and after moulting, they will spend more time at sea to put on weight. From June to September, the males start to regularly return to land to prepare their nests to seduce a female.

Are you guaranteed to see penguins in Bicheno?

Little penguins are wild animals, so you are never assured of seeing them. However, you can do a few things to maximise your chances of spotting penguins in the wild. Going during summer or choosing a day when high tide is around sunset time will maximise your chances.

The best way to see penguins in Bicheno is to book a tour. Many people who go without a tour do not find them or end up not having a positive experience for both the penguins and other visitors. It is much easier to be part of a smaller group following a guide with the right equipment and knowledge.

If the penguins are frightened, they may turn around and not come to shore that night. It’s disappointing for all the visitors who came to spot them. But it’s worse for their young ones, who spent the day waiting to be fed and will have to wait another 24 hours!

If you prefer not to book a tour, you might want to consider visiting the north coast or Bruny Island for a more rewarding wildlife experience. Several places have been designated for visitors to see the penguins without disturbing them and to learn more about the colony. We were able to observe the penguins up close with the aid of red lighting, for a much longer time, and take plenty of photos with our phones. I found it to be one of the best places to see penguins in Tasmania. We couldn’t get any good photos of the penguins in Bicheno because we had to watch them in the dark. Remember not to use torches or flash photography.

An adult and a baby little penguins next to their nest at Lillico Beach near Devenport in Tasmania
Photo taken from the boardwalk near Devenport on the north coast of Tasmania

Where to see penguins in Bicheno

Penguins visit a few beaches in Bicheno. But you won’t have the same experience everywhere.

The best place to see penguins in Bicheno is on a private beach with a guided tour. This will ensure the penguins’ safety and provide you with a more rewarding and unforgettable experience. If you choose not to go with a tour, you – along with many other visitors – may have difficulty finding a spot to observe the penguins without disturbing them.

Three free-to-access beaches – the blowhole, Redbill Beach, and Waubs Beach – are known to be home to penguins in Bicheno. At Redbill Beach, we joined a group waiting on rocks at the beach’s right end and saw a couple of dozen little penguins making their way to their burrows. At the blowhole, we spotted penguins hiding in the rocks but it wasn’t easy!

People sitting on rocks on the beach in Bicheno at sunset waiting for penguins
People waiting on the beach at sunset, hopping to see penguins in Bicheno

Accommodations in Bicheno where you can see penguins

Given that the penguins arrive at night, it’s best to stay near where you’ll be spotting them. Bicheno has plenty of accommodation options.

As penguins arrive at night, you don’t want to sleep too far away from where you’ll spot them. You’ll find many accommodation options in Bicheno.

Why not consider spending the night at a location where the penguins visit, so you won’t have to drive to the beach?

Diamond Beach Resort* offers a free private penguin show for its guests, while penguins also nest in the gardens surrounding Cod Rock Point*.

Remember the rules to increase your chances of seeing penguins

To increase your chances of seeing penguins in Bicheno, you must follow a few rules so that they feel safe to come out of the water. Otherwise, you may have to wait longer or not see any penguins at all.

The two most important rules to spot penguins are not to use white light, even to find your way on the beach (dimmed red light is okay), and not to move around too much. This means that you cannot use a torch and must not take photos using a flash or any other bright light. If you arrive early, it will be easy to see where you’re stepping. It’s also better to stay in a larger group, so try to join other people who are already waiting on the beach.

When you plan to see penguins in Bicheno, you should understand that you may not be able to leave whenever you feel like it. Moving around on the beach will disturb the penguins, and even turning on your light will cause a disturbance. Make sure you bring warm and dark clothing, as you’ll get cold waiting and want to blend in with the darkness to increase your chances of seeing the penguins.

Responsible travel tip: It’s important to follow the rules during your wildlife experience to increase your chances of seeing penguins. However, it should not stop there. After your experience, drive slowly when leaving the site. Penguins can travel a few hundred metres on land, and driving slowly will make it safer for other wildlife too. If you have pets, understand when and where you can take them to the beach. Ideally, avoid bringing them to beaches where the penguins nest. This will protect penguins and shorebirds.

Did you see penguins in Bicheno? Share your experience in the comments below!

Where is Bicheno?

Bicheno is located on the East Coast of Tasmania, and it takes approximately 2.5 hours to drive there from Hobart. It’s a popular destination for visitors touring Tasmania due to its proximity to Freycinet National Park in the south and the Bay of Fires in the north.

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Eloise is the creator and writer of She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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