A Polar Plunge on Deception Island, Antarctica

Posted on October 24, 2013 by

While I am camping in East Africa with no internet access, I’ve lined up some articles from recent trips to share with you here. I went on an expedition cruise in Antarctica almost a year ago but I still have so much to share and hope you can join me in one of the most amazing places of the world.

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

The first brave soul to enter the water

Fellow passengers swimming in Antarctica

Young passengers on our boat emerging from their plunge

A penguin on the beach of Deception Island

A lonesome gentoo penguin on the beach of Deception Island

Deception Island

Deception Island and our MS Expedition boat in the background

Remnants of the whaling station

Remnants of the whaling station

gravestones of whalers

Gravestones of whalers who used to live here

Disclaimer: I traveled with G Adventures on the Antarctica Classic In Depth (XVAESX) trip as a part of the Wanderers In Residence program, but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.  

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

3 Responses to “A Polar Plunge on Deception Island, Antarctica”

  1. john October 25, 2013 3:47 am #

    That was an awesome experience! I don't think I can swim in that ice-cold water even while wearing a thick jacket. Those who tried are really brave! It seems that some travelers will unlikely choose to include Antarctica on their travel destinations because of the overly cold-weather that awaits them.

  2. Raymond Waruhari October 27, 2013 4:25 am #

    That is what I call adventure. Antarctica is a place I would love to visit.


  1. Antarctica » Joanne Withers Photography - December 15, 2014

    […] on the actual continent of Antarctica is something I am so lucky to have done and taking the ‘Polar Plunge’ in those icy waters in just my underwear (I did feel foolish & grumpy that I didn’t have […]

Leave a Reply


Wildlife Photography ebook|Sign for our monthly newsletter to download for free!