With plenty of blue ice, an abundance of wildlife, and the remote stark wilderness, what exactly is there to do in Antarctica?
Though a pricey destination unless you’re sponsored to go, Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime. In 2014, my family and I set sail to this dream destination and marked our seventh continent. I’ve compiled the following list of the ultimate things to do at the ends of the earth!
Read on for the top things to do in Antarctica!
Visit the Falkland Islands
Make a pit stop by Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, and spend a few hours exploring. Take a historical tour and learn about the island’s wartime history, or walk around town to buy souvenirs and send a postcard.
Be sure to visit Bluff Cove, which features the Sea Cabbage Cafe for some coffee and scones with clotted cream and jam! Also see the resident gentoo and king penguins along the white sand beach that stretches along the storefront.
See penguins, penguins, and more penguins!
What would a trip to Antarctica be without an abundance of penguins? At South Georgia Island, witness the sight of a lifetime – the equivalent of Africa’s great herds in another form. It was a Merry Christmas in 2014 from me and a colony of 250,000 king penguins!
Stops at South Georgia Island include: Salisbury Plain, St. Andrew Bay, Gold Harbor, Elsehul, Grytviken.
Witness elephant seals fighting
These fierce creatures are extremely powerful, and you’ll undoubtedly hear them grunting as the males fight. Watch as much as you like, but beware and keep your distance as they are dangerous if provoked and can cause serious injury!
See baby fur seal pups
Spot these adorable baby fur seal pups as they nurse and play. The little ones are infinitely curious as human interaction is a rarity in Antarctica, and they will often come up close. Just keep your eye out for the mother, as fur seals are actually extremely territorial despite their cute appearance!
Cruise past beautiful icebergs
Antarctica has no shortage of gorgeous, interesting ice bergs to photograph. If you’re lucky, you may even see or hear an avalanche!
Stop at a whaling station
Visit the remnants of old whaling stations and learn about the history of the industry.
Then go whale watching
Following that, go whale watching in the zodiacs and see the graceful giants up close. You’ll be in awe at their presence, and wonder how anyone could slaughter such beautiful animals.
Visit Ernest Shackleton’s grave at Grytviken
“Never for me the lowered banner, never the lost endeavor.” – Ernest Shackleton
For you history buffs, Grytviken is an unmissable stop! A settlement on South Georgia Island, this is the grave site of renowned Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The little harbored area is famed for its history in Antarctic exploration, where Shackleton organized a crew operation to rescue his men who were marooned on the other side of South Georgia. Shackleton remains interred at Grytviken along with his right hand man, Frank Wild. Make sure to visit the museum to learn more about their adventures.
Followed by Point Wild, Elephant Island
If weather permits (which it luckily did for us!) make a landing at Point Wild on the north coast of Elephant Island. The place is named for Frank Wild, the leader of the party from Shackleton’s shipwrecked expedition which camped and survived on the point for four months until rescue. The area was one of the most beautiful locales we visited in Antarctica, and had many types of penguins around – particularly chinstraps and macaronis!
Do the polar plunge at Deception Island
Join the club and brave the cold – not many can say they’ve gone swimming in Antarctica!
Cross the Lemaire Channel
One of the most gorgeous tourist destinations in Antarctica, this is an iceberg-filled passage with lots of chances to see whales and Antarctic animals. Truly a place to have both a wide-angle lens for landscapes, and a zoom lens for wildlife!
Set foot on mainland Antarctica
Finally, land on the Antarctic peninsula, and officially on the Antarctic continent! On the Le Boreal expedition, we climbed up a hill to catch the stunning views of the bay below, and sled down back to the ship.
End your trip in Ushuaia, Argentina
As the southernmost city in the world, end your voyage to Antarctica with a night out in Ushuaia. I recommend The Dublin – a rowdy, crowded bar with tons of fun!
- An Abundance of Penguins: A Guide to the Flightless Birds of Antarctica (coming soon)
- The Comprehensive Antarctica Packing List (coming soon)
- A Review of Le Boreal Cruise to Antarctica