Despite the chilly wind and -4 degrees Celsius temperature, I’m standing out in the open, with nothing but my bikini on. I’ve peeled off my parka, fleece, hat, socks and boots, and I’m bare feet on the black volcanic sand on Deception Island. Without much time to hesitate, I dive into the freezing waters hand-in-hand with my new friends. In seconds, the three of us unanimously emerge from icy water, gasping for air and laughing at our sheer foolishness.
We are swimming off a crescent-shaped bay on Deception Island, an ominous-looking islet off the Antarctic Peninsula. Because of its geographical formation, it is one of the safest harbors in Antarctica and it was used as a whaling station a few decades ago. The island is actually the caldera of an active volcano and it is said to be one of the best places to swim in Antarctica because of its hot springs. Based on my polar plunge, I doubt it’s true.
This isn’t my first polar plunge though. I’d swum in the Arctic waters of Svalbard and dived in the ice-cold glacial water of Iceland — but still, nothing prepared me for the cold. Thank god for the sauna on board our expedition cruise.
P.S. I unfortunately didn’t get any photo of myself swimming, but I’m guessing photos of young girls swimming in their bikini ought to do the trick.
The first brave soul to enter the water
Young passengers on our boat emerging from their plunge
A lonesome gentoo penguin on the beach of Deception Island
Deception Island and our MS Expedition boat in the background
Remnants of the whaling station
Gravestones of whalers who used to live here