Sea kayaking in Antarctica | Tips for Antarctic adventures

by Vanessa Wanders Miles

No other landmass is so pristine as Antarctica – who wouldn’t want to glide in kayaks by the glaciers around Port Lockroy, Goudier Island? Sea kayaking in Antarctica is one of the top polar adventures you just can’t miss, read on to find out why!

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Preparing for sea kayaking in Antarctica

Kayaking is done in a relatively small group. You will watch the kayaks descend from the ship, they’re tied in two lines, you board the Zodiac and the kayaks are pulled along to an appropriate place to get started on your activity – one you will totally love by the way!

Kayaks in the ocean in Antarctica

Kayaks in the ocean in Antarctica

Is sea kayaking in Antarctica scary?

You are probably nervous thinking, what if I get wet? Or what if I capsize? What if I can’t paddle properly? Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s not scary at all! Once you’ve got in the kayak, relax and get into your stride with your paddling partner. Any fears will melt away as you are mesmorised by the beauty around you.

The glassy clear waters with glacial reflections have no waves making this a smooth and thrilling ride. Oh and don’t forget you will have a professional guide to watch over the group, what else can go wrong?

Kayaking in Port Lockroy, Antarctica - Wanders Miles

Sea-kayaking by Port Lockroy

RELATED ARTICLE: Extreme camping at Damoy Point in Antarctica

What gear do you need for kayaking in Antarctica?

Wear the right gear!

We had a bright sunny day but were still dressed for the weather, it can get nippy out there. Wear some layers and waterproof top and bottom (avoid cotton), thick socks, hat to keep warm or keep the sun off your face depending on the weather.

What about a camera?

I was super nervous about taking my Sony a6300 on the kayak just in case the capsizing took place (it’s happened to me before and it was an expensive dip in the water). So, your best option is a GoPro or another waterproof camera option…. or a friend who is happy to take her phone!


Kayaking in Antarctica is a unique adventure

Before I went to Antarctica, I’d ogled at the imagery of thrill-seekers kayaking in Antarctica with my mouth wide open. It looks like a film set and it is no different in real life. Every group that went out kayaking had a totally individual experience and I listened intently to their stories on the ship each night awaiting our turn.

Finally, our day had come and it couldn’t have been more perfect. As we kayaked around Port Lockroy on Goudier Island, we had the opportunity to paddle hard to land on an ice shelf. This experience would not be had by the next cruise ship as it will have melted by then!

On the ice shelf whilst kayaking in Antarctica - Wanders Miles

Stood on an ice shelf on Goudier Island

RELATED ARTICLES: Gentoo Penguins on Cuverville Island (with video) and the wildlife on Orne Harbour

Get a different penguin perspective

On your Antarctica trip, I would be seriously surprised if you said you were a bit penguined-out and couldn’t possibly see another one. Well, when you’re kayaking you will get closer to the water and see penguins from another angle. Look up at them as they nest on the rocks above you or watch as they porpoise through the water next to you. Watch out though, these guys are fast. Keep your paddles out of the water if you see the Gentoo Penguins coming at great speed!

Gentoo Penguins Port Lockroy

Gentoo Penguins Port Lockroy


Which company to choose for Antarctica

If the activities are what you want from your Antarctica trip, always check what is included in the package. Some expeditions will charge for additional activities. We opted for the Antarctica Basecamp expedition with Oceanwide Expeditions booked with World Expeditions.

Insurance for adventure travellers

With any holiday adventure, travel insurance should be a top priority! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learned this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home.  I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.

Useful links for Ushuaia

Antarctica tours set off from the windy city of Ushuaia so you will need to book accommodation before and after your expedition. It’s a fab place to explore so I’d factor in a few days if you can!

Useful links for Antarctica


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Clare Colley 23rd February 2020 - 10:05 pm

This looks amazing and so much fun. I have done a lot of kayaking and the scenery here looks like an amazing place to kayak. I just need know to get down to Antarctica so I can experience this too. I just hope I get a day as clear as you did.

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:33 pm

I have never kayaked anywhere with scenery like Antarctica – just out of this world. I’m yearning to go back for more!

Nicky 29th February 2020 - 2:07 pm

I’m not particularly good at kayaking so I tend to avoid where possible for my own safety. But, wow, I’d have to make an exception for this! Your photos are stunning. And being able to relax and enjoy such stunning scary knowing you were being looked after by professionals would be perfect.

Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 2:33 pm

This is the one time you’d need to rid your fears and get out of your comfort zone -once in a lifetime activity!

Agnes 24th February 2020 - 11:12 pm

I’m impressed by this article. It is a fantastic experience. I was kayaking next to a glacier in Alaska, so I can imagine how incredible this adventure in Antarctica must be. Great tips and company recommendations. And I love penguins, you were so close, great photos!

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:34 pm

It’s a wonderful experience to kayak near glaciers, right? I’d love to head to Alaska one day to try out the adventures there!

Angel 25th February 2020 - 12:16 am

I would have never thought that kayaking in Antarctica was actually a thing. I love sports and this is just a mix of my favorite things: sports and travel. I will be looking at this expeditions. They look super amazing and beautiful

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:38 pm

Oh yes, it’s definitely a thing! I did camping in Antarctica too. I hope you get to go on an expedition to enjoy the adventures on the seventh continent!

Linda (LD Holland) 25th February 2020 - 2:25 am

I have to tell you that your Antarctica adventures have moved this much higher on our travel wish list! I would definitely want to try sea kayaking. There is nothing like being down at water level. And those views you got of the penguins were stunning. We will have to remember our underwater camera!

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:54 pm

I know you would totally love an Antarctic cruise and all the adventure that goes with it – it has your name written all over it!

Elizabeth 25th February 2020 - 8:52 am

I was so excited to read your post because it is my dream to kayak in Antarctica! It looks so beautiful and I am sure would be an incredible experience to see penguins from a different angle. That’s cool that every group has their own experience with the melting icebergs and whatnot.

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:53 pm

I do hope you get to live the dream of Antarctica one day – it’s not cheap but worth every penny!

Sandy N Vyay 25th February 2020 - 10:10 am

Kayaking is such a nice activity. I have really enjoyed it the couple of times I have done it. But Kayaking in Antarctica seems to be an experience at an altogether different level. The crystal clear waters seem so enchanting and the fact that there are no waves there makes it really mesmerizing. Getting pictures is a challenge while Kayaking, faced that myself too.

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:35 pm

Words cannot describe the experience of kayaking in Antarctica – I loved every minute – it’s great to get photos but it’s also fabulous to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Arnav Mathur 25th February 2020 - 11:51 am

Must have been such an exhilarating experience. I myself had similar fears, when i was about to do Kayaking for the first time back in Halong Bay Vietnam, but as you said, the fears vanished away, moments after i had the oar in my hand. Kayaking and that too in Antarctica is definitely a once in a lifetime experience, which even i am eager to have now!

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 4:29 pm

Kayaking is such a fun experience. I think people are more nervous there with the temperature if you do go in but it’s no different to the Polar Plunge I guess!

Lisa 25th February 2020 - 5:13 pm

You always have the best adventures Vanessa! I’d never dream of kayaking here, simply because I don’t think I’d be good at it! Your tips are so useful, especially about which camera to take. I love that you saw some penguins too!

Vanessa 25th February 2020 - 5:56 pm

You know I always sniff out the adventure! Kayaking is really simple although I’m not sure I’m that great but I didn’t capsize. There were penguins all over, so beautiful to see them in their natural habitat.

Sherianne 26th February 2020 - 11:56 pm

Looking up at the penguins nesting would be an amazing memory! I would be the unlucky one who didn’t remove my oar in time and the penguin capsized me! On another note, you reminded me I need a GoPro

Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 9:22 am

The penguins would no doubt swim to avoid you, I hope so anyway. GoPro is a great idea for these situations.

Emily 29th February 2020 - 4:24 pm

Wow, what an incredible experience! Looks like so much fun.

Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 8:24 pm

Kayaking was one of my favourite days in Antarctica – loads of fun!

Bliss 29th February 2020 - 5:34 pm

I would love to go to Antarctica! And sea kayaking would be such a great way to get close to it.

Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 7:28 pm

I hope you get to experience Antarctica first hand one day – fingers crossed!

Alma 29th February 2020 - 6:08 pm

This adventure sounds so unreachable for me and yet it is something I feel I would love to do! I can imagine the peacefulness of the experience.

Vanessa 29th February 2020 - 7:10 pm

Antarctica is pure serenity, especially when you’re gliding along in a kayak listening to the water!

Doibedouin || Travel Blogger (@BedouinDoi) 19th March 2020 - 11:35 am

Antarctica!!!! You have been to Antarctica…. If I ever visit there, it would literally be the dream come true for me. Loved reading it. And thanks for the virtual tour.

Vanessa 19th March 2020 - 4:05 pm

If you get the chance you HAVE to go… I’m still paying it off but worth every penny!! Antarctica was the best trip ever!

Mimmie Human 23rd April 2020 - 11:04 pm

Look exiting! I also want to explore Antarctica one day!!

Vanessa 28th April 2020 - 1:27 pm

If you get the chance to go to Antarctica, don’t think twice about it. It was the dream trip!

Kat Anderson 13th May 2020 - 8:12 am

I would be afraid of getting wet in that cold water for sure, but I imagine it’s worth the risk. It looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your story and pictures.

Vanessa 13th May 2020 - 8:22 am

I didn’t get wet once and sea kayaking was my favourite activity in Antarctica, would love to do this again.

Molly 25th November 2020 - 3:16 am

Sea Kayaking in Antarctica – this sounds amazing! I am sure the pictures don’t do it justice. THis would be a dream opportunity! Thanks for sharing!

Vanessa 5th December 2020 - 2:12 pm

It really was the dream location to go kayaking and so excited to watch the penguins glide past at the same level. Loved it!


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