Pebble Island

Travel Guide South America Falkland Islands Pebble Island

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Introduction

Pebble Island is in the northern portion of the Falkland Islands. The island is comprised of 22,000 acres and has a total length of twenty-four miles, making it the third largest offshore island in the Falklands. The eastern portion of the island is relatively flat and includes numerous small ponds, while the western portion of the island has several hills. This island was the site of a major battle during the 1982 conflict, and a memorial and the wreckage of Argentine aircraft can be viewed.

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History

The settlement's Spanish name "Puerto Calderón" (meaning "port of the cauldron [or vat]") reflects the area's early history in sealing, and hunting penguins for oil.

The farm was established in 1846 by John Markham Dean (elsewhere, John Henry Dean), an Englishman who bought Pebble and three neighbouring islands for £400. Dean's family concern passed on to Dean Brothers Ltd, but it is currently managed locally by Raymond Evans, the great nephew of Johnny Evans who introduced sheep to the island and slaughtered the first feral cattle.

During the Falklands War, the island was occupied by Argentine forces which created the Estación Aeronaval Calderón (naval air station Calderon), protected by elements of 2nd Naval Infantry Battalion, which was assaulted successfully by the British SAS in the "Raid on Pebble Island". Thirty to one-hundred fifty Argentine soldiers were based here to protect the airfield.

HMS Coventry was sunk off the coast of Pebble Island. According to the inquiry into its loss, the ship sank 10 miles (16 km) north of Pebble Island in May 1982. The co-ordinates of the sinking are 51 03.6S, 59 42.2W and this is about 11.5 nautical miles (21.3 km; 13.2 mi) from the nearest point on Pebble Island. There are memorials on the island to the British destroyer HMS Coventry and to an Argentinian Lear Jet, both destroyed during the conflict.

More recently, Pebble Island Settlement became one of the first in the Falkland Islands to use wind turbines to generate most of its electricity.

In October 2018, it was announced that Pebble Island was up for sale by Claire Harris, descendant of John Markham Dean. The new buyer would need to obtain a licence from the Falklands Government to ensure that the island is kept in line with the rest of the isles.

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Geography

The island, the fifth largest in the Falklands archipelago, stretches for 35 kilometres (22 mi) and about 6 kilometres (4 mi) at its widest point, with a total area of 103.36 km2 (39.91 sq mi). Its three high points are First Mountain 277 m (909 ft), Middle Mountain 214 m (702 ft) and Marble Mountain 237 m (778 ft), all of which lie in the western part of the island. The eastern part of the island has lakes and wetlands and is of high conservation value. The two halves are joined by an isthmus on which lies Pebble Island Settlement where the inhabitants live. The island has been a sheep farm since 1846; 6,000 Corriedale sheep are farmed, along with 125 head of beef and dairy cattle.

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Sights and Activities

The numerous small ponds on this island make it an excellent destination for birders. Large colonies of rockhopper penguins, gentoo penguins, magellanic penguins and imperial cormorants are found along the coasts, while turkey vultures, black-necked swans, and other species can be found among the ponds. In addition to wildlife, the island was the site of major combat during the Falklands war, with several memorials and some plane wreckage serving as reminders of the conflict.

  • Elephant Beach - This four mile long sand beach is longest sand beach in the Falklands. It is a ten minute walk to the northeast of the lodge. Falkland Islands steamer ducks are often seen on the beach, and Peale's dolphins are regularly seen offshore.
  • Big Pond - One of the largest ponds on the island, Big Pond is located approximately one mile east of the lodge along the main landrover trail. The pond is one of the deeper ponds on the island and therefore attracts a variety of diving birds, including white-tufted grebes. When float planes were commonly used in the islands a dock on the western side of this pond was in frequent use, and numerous birds can now be found perched on its remains.
  • HMS Coventry Memorial - Located on a hill a few miles west of the lodge, this memorial is for a ship that was sunk during the 1982 conflict approximately ten miles offshore.
  • Northwest Coast - The northern shore of the far western side of the island is home to a very large rockhopper penguin colony. This colony has become a favorite among bird-watchers due to a very lost erect-crested penguin (normally found only around New Zealand) who has been here for the past several years. In addition, two pairs of macaroni penguins were nesting here in 2004, another rarity in the Falklands. In January, 2006, there was a possible Snares (or rockhopper hybrid?) sighting.

Landrover tours are available from the lodge:

  • Full day tour to the west end of the island to see sand beaches, rockhopper penguins, gentoo penguins, nesting giant petrels, and magallenic penguins. A stop at the beach to search for the translucent pebbles from which the island gets its name, as well as the memorial for the H.M.S. Coventry (sunk during the 1982 conflict), are also included. As of November 2004 costs were £30 per person.
  • Half day tour takes in the east end of the island to see black-neck swans, a king cormorant colony, gentoo penguins, rockhopper penguins and magallenic penguins. The route starts out along the longest sand beach in the Falklands and takes in a number of ponds which are home to many ducks, grebes, geese, waders and other birds. As of November 2004 costs were £20 per person.
  • Drop-off service is also available for those wanting to hike back to the lodge from points afield. Inquire with Jacqui and Alan as to costs for this service.

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Getting There

Nearly all visitors arrive using the government air service. The landing strip is within walking distance of the settlement and is well-maintained.

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Eat

Meals are provided three times a day by the lodge, and the food is excellent. Packed lunches are available each day for visitors who want them.

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Drink

The lodge offers a small honor bar that includes a variety of beers and soft drinks.

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Sleep

Pebble Island Lodge, ☏ +500 41093, ✉ manager.pebblelodge@horizon.co.fk. There is a fully-catered lodge on the island that offers luxury accommodation in four twin rooms, one double room, and a single room. The lodge has central heating, and all rooms have their own bathroom and shower. 2016 rates: £138 GBP (Nov-Feb), £120 GBP (Oct & Mar). Rates are per person and include full board.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 11:07 on Aug 9, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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