Best Beagle Channel Cruise in Ushuaia

Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Affiliate links cost you nothing and help keep this content free. Thanks for your support.

Looking for the best Beagle Channel cruise to enjoy on your trip to Ushuaia? We have you covered with these 3 boat tour options!

A Beagle Channel cruise is one of the top activities to enjoy when visiting Ushuaia. You’ve reached the ‘End of the Earth’ and now you finally get to cruise one of the southernmost waterways in the world. But which tour should you choose and what’s the difference between them anyway?

On my first visit to Ushuaia, I walked into a tour operator’s office and booked the first Beagle Channel cruise I saw without asking too many questions. It wasn’t until we reached the shores of Martillo Island and I saw a small group of visitors walking among the penguins while we looked on that I realized not all tours are created equal.

When it comes to Beagle channel cruises you can choose between larger vessels or smaller vessels that provide a more personal experience. You have large group tours versus small boat hires that feel more intimate and you can enjoy with your group of family and friends. Most importantly, you have boat tours that are allowed to disembark on Martillo Island to visit the penguin colony and others that are only permitted to view them from the shores.

Even though I didn’t get to walk with penguins, cruising the Beagle Channel turned out to be one of the highlights of my visit to Ushuaia! I got to see the famous red and white Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse – sometimes mistaken for the Lighthouse at the End of the World!

Plus, I saw sea lions sunbathing on a rocky outcrop, thousands of cormorants swirling over an island, and epic mountain views in every direction.

So let’s navigate all these Beagle Channel cruises and help find the right one for you!

Best Beagle Channel Cruise in Ushuaia Argentina

My Top 3 Picks: Beagle Channel Cruises

#1 Top Pick


Beagle Channel Navigation with Mini Trekking

✅ Small vessel

✅ Great guide

✅ 30-minute trek

#2 Pick

Beagle Channel Tour to Martillo Island and Walk Among Penguins

✅ Walk with penguins

✅ Tour Estancia Haberton

✅ Exclusive experience

#3 Pick

Beagle Channel Navigation to the Pingüinera

✅ Large Catamaran

✅ Group tour

✅ Classic route

Best Beagle Channel Cruise in Ushuaia

Beagle Channel Cruise in Ushuaia aboard a small vessel

1. Beagle Channel Navigation with Mini Trekking

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 4 hours

This is a half-day tour of the Beagle Channel aboard a small vessel, which means the boat can navigate closer to the islands and you also get a more personalized experience than on bigger cruises.

This Beagle Channel cruise offers views of Isla Alicia, Isla de Los Pájaros, and Isla de Los Lobos, as well as the famous Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse which was built in 1919.

During this tour, you get to disembark at Isla Bridges for a guided 30-minute hike while the guide shares stories about the local wildlife and the Yámana people who once called this place home.


  • Small personalized tour experience
  • Includes a 30-minute hike
  • Affordable tour option


  • This tour does not disembark on Martillo Island to walk with penguins
  • A small boat can make you more prone to seasickness on choppy waters


  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Language: English and Spanish
  • Operated by: Patagonia Explorer
  • Meeting point: Patagonia Adventure Explorer (must arrive 30 minutes before departure)
  • Not wheelchair accessible

“It was such a wonderful tour – a perfectly paced tour with a fantastic English guide. The walk on the small coast was manageable and beautiful! They really let us take our time at the sea lion island and lighthouse. It was wonderful. A safe boat with clean seats! They pulled out a map to help us understand our location. I would 100% recommend this tour!” -Martha C

Review from Viator

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

Views of Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse on a Beagle Channel Cruise

2. Beagle Channel Tour to Martillo Island and Walk Among Penguins

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH:  6.5 hours

This is the priciest and most exclusive Beagle Channel tour out there, so admittedly it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

However, what makes this cruise special is the opportunity to walk among penguins – an activity that is very controlled and only a limited number of people get to do.

This tour is also a bit different in the sense that you don’t embark at the harbour in Ushuaia, but rather, you travel one hour by minibus accompanied by your guide to Estancia Haberton. This is a famous estancia in the city outskirts that was founded in 1884 by Augusto Lasserre as Fort Ushuaia on the settlement of the former mission of Thomas Bridges.

Estancia Haberton is a popular day trip from Ushuaia, so technically with this tour you are getting two activities in one!

Upon arriving at the estancia, you will get a guided tour of the place before boarding a semi-rigid boat (ZODIAK) and cruising 15 minutes over to Martillo Island. Along the way, you will also see Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse, Isla de Los Pájaros, Isla de Los Lobos and all manner of seabirds and sea lions.

On the island, you will spend 1 hour walking among Magellanic penguins and Gentoo penguins (the latter are a bit rare), always accompanied by your guide. This walk with the penguins is what sets this Beagle Channel cruise apart from the rest, as most tour operators are only allowed to approach the shores and see the penguins from the boat without disembarking.

Whether this experience is worth the price tag is up to you to decide!

You will then return to the estancia for lunch (the cost of the meal is not included in the tour price), and lastly, you’ll visit the Acatushun Museum of rare marine mammals.


  • Includes a 1-hour walk with Magellanic and Gentoo penguins
  • Visits the historic Estancia Haberton
  • Friendly and knowledgeable guides every step of the way


  • It is a 1-hour bus journey to reach the estancia
  • This tour has the biggest price tag
  • Limited availability in order to protect the penguins


  • Duration: 6 hours and 30 minutes
  • Language: English and Spanish
  • Operated by: Piratour
  • Meeting point: Muelle Turistico (minivan departure)
  • Not wheelchair accessible

“We had an incredible time walking with the penguins! We saw 2 different types and a surprise king penguin as well. The guides were wonderful and helped create probably our most memorable part of our trip to Ushuaia!” -Nicholas L

Review from Viator

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

Magellanic Penguins on Martillo Island on a Beagle Channel Boat Tour

3. Beagle Channel Navigation to the Pingüinera

⭐️ RATING: 4/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 6 hours

This is the most popular Beagle Channel cruise and it’s a group catamaran excursion. This tour runs daily during high season so it’s a well-oiled machine and everything flows really well.

After leaving the pier, the catamaran enters the Beagle Channel and you get great panoramic views of downtown Ushuaia framed by Mount Olivia in the background.

You first reach Isla de Los Lobos, where you have the chance to view sea lions in their natural habitat from the boat. Next up is Isla de Los Pájaros, which is home to countless cormorants, both Magellanic and Imperial.

The boat tour then brings you to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse situated on an archipelago by the same name. On these islets, it is possible to see the remains of Monte Cervantes, a ship that was shipwrecked in 1930.

During the cruise, you’ll also be able to see Gable Island and the Puerto Williams Naval Base (located in Navarino Island, Chile).

Upon arriving at Isla Martillo, the catamaran approaches the beach carefully. Though no one is permitted to disembark during this tour, you do get to see the colony of Magellanic Penguins that nest during the summer months.

The penguins are very curious so they’ll approach the boat, waddle down the beach, and even swim around the catamaran. It’s a great opportunity to take photos and enjoy the penguins from a distance.

This was the tour that we booked during our trip to Ushuaia. The price was mid-range (this isn’t the most expensive tour or the cheapest!), and even though we didn’t get to do an island trek or walk with penguins, we did get to see the main sights along the Beagle Channel, meaning the lighthouse and lots of wildlife. I’d say we saw way more wildlife than we were even expecting!


  • Larger vessel means it’s a smoother ride on choppy waters
  • Visit all the main attractions on the Beagle Channel
  • You get a Beagle Channel passport stamp (if you’d like one)


  • Large group tour means it’s a less personalized experience
  • Can get a bit crowded out on the deck
  • Does not disembark on Martillo Island to walk with penguins


  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Language: English and Spanish
  • Operated by: Piratour
  • Meeting point: Muelle Turistico
  • Not wheelchair accessible

“Absolutely fantastic and memorable experience. We had a beautiful day on the water and the penguins were amazing. We deliberately booked a trip that does not allow you off the boat because we did not want to disturb the penguins’ habitat. We were able to get plenty of clear and enjoyable viewing opportunities from the boat. This is a memory that will last a lifetime! We had some serious weather on the way back (which is to be expected) and the crew did an excellent job navigating it. We definitely recommend this journey!” -Lisa N

Review from Viator

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

Sea lions on a cruise of the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia

FAQs About Beagle Channel

Where is the Beagle Channel?

The Beagle Channel is a navigable channel in the extreme southern part of South America. It is located at the southern tip of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, which is shared by Argentina and Chile. Specifically, the Beagle Channel runs between several islands of the archipelago, forming a natural border between the two countries.

Is the Beagle Channel rough?

Because the Beagle Channel is situated in the extreme southern part of South America, it can experience varying conditions and its waters can indeed be rough at times. However, compared to other waterways in the region, such as the Drake Passage, the Beagle Channel is often considered relatively sheltered and calm.

Why is the Beagle Channel important?

The Beagle Channel serves as a navigational route for ships travelling between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, especially those avoiding the rougher waters of the Drake Passage or Cape Horn. The channel is a key passage for vessels heading to and from Antarctica, making it crucial for scientific and tourist expeditions to the continent.

What animals can you see in the Beagle Channel?

Some of the animals you can expect to see while cruising the Beagle Channel include sea lions, seals, dolphins and whales. Magellanic penguins are the most common type of penguin around these parts, and you can also spot seabirds like albatrosses, petrels and cormorants.

Ushuaia Harbour as seen while cruising the Beagle Channel

Which Beagle Channel Cruise is right for you?

As you can see, there are lots of different options when it comes to booking a Beagle Channel Cruise in Ushuaia, Argentina.

You can opt for a small vessel or a large vessel, a tour that lets you walk with penguins or a tour where you can view them from the boat, or a tour that visits an estancia or just does a classic boat trip.

The right Beagle Channel boat tour will vary from one traveller to the next, but hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to look for and what to expect.

Cormorants and sea birds on a Beagle Channel cruise in Ushuaia

Read More about Ushuaia:


GROUP TOURS – If you’d rather join a group tour to travel in Argentina, check out Gadventures.

CAR RENTAL – To explore Argentina beyond the cities, the best way to do so is by renting a car. Discover Cars offers rentals across the country.

BUS TICKETS – Bus travel is a great way to see Argentina. BusBud offers numerous routes.

TRAVEL INSURANCE – Don’t leave on your trip without booking travel insurance. You can get a quote on SafetyWing. offers accommodations to suit all budgets and travel styles.

TOURS – For a variety of tours and activities, have a look at Viator.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *