Counting penguins in Antarctica

One of the most unusual locations we visit is Deception Island, a volcanic island in the South Shetland Islands archipelago. This horseshoe-shaped island is home to thousands of chinstrap penguins and is also a former whaling station. Even more fascinating – it’s the top of a volcano.

Called a ‘caldera’, the center of the island is a sinkhole formed by a volcanic eruption. The caldera, filled with seawater, is about 9 miles wide with a narrow entrance on one side. Through the narrow entrance flanked by cliffs called Neptune’s Bellows, our ships can access the bay. Known as Port Foster, this is one of the most incredible natural harbours on Earth.

At the east end of Deception Island is a smaller bay called Whalers Bay, with shells of old buildings and boats, old whale bones and other artifacts. Discovered in 1820, it was a known spot for sealers and whalers and evidence of this era can still be seen.

Though technically Deception Island is still an active volcano, it hasn’t erupted since the late 1960s and is an extremely safe place to visit. Don’t let the fear of an eruption deter you – this remarkable island has much to offer including wildlife viewing, hikes and even a warm volcanic bath in the ocean. The warmth from the underground volcano means there is hardly any snow or ice, providing greater access for activities and landscaping the island with unique black sand beaches that rise with steam.

Here are some of the highlights of a visit to Deception Island:

  • Hike up from Whalers Bay and take in the views from the summit above Neptune’s Window
  • Spot Arctic Terns, South Polar Skuas, Cape Pigeons, Wilson’s Storm Petrels and other birdlife that breed on the caldera shores and cliffs
  • Witness the Chinstrap Penguin colony at Bailey Head
  • Stroll the black sand beaches, watching penguins and seals frolic in the thermal waters
  • Have a moody photoshoot capturing the steam that rises from the black sand
  • Hike Telefon Bay at the northwest end of Port Foster
  • Explore the haunting beauty of the abandoned structures
  • Take a volcanic bath in Pendulum Cove

With so much history, an abundance of wildlife and its unusual geographic features, Deception Island is a unique and enchanting landing site and often one that we can accomplish on our voyages.

Interested in visiting Deception Island?

Please speak with our team. Once you are onboard, your Expedition Leader will work with the crew and if weather and planning allow, you may be lucky enough to visit this amazing spot.