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10 Antarctica Can’t-Miss Destinations

Antarctica is a vast place, coming in at almost twice the size of Australia. Throw in all of the islands that dot the sub-Antarctic waters along the way and you have a lot of land to explore. So if you’re a first-time visitor where exactly should you head to make sure you’re getting the most adventure for your Antarctic cruise buck?

Here are 10 Antarctic destination suggestions to help get you started.

1. Visit with penguins.

Penguins of course aren’t a location, but since they’re a big Antarctic cruise draw we thought we’d highlight them first.

If you’re happy with any kind of penguin then you’re going to do just fine with almost any cruise to the continent itself or to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and so on. However, if you’re looking to visit with a specific species then you’ll need to do a little more research.

Here’s a quick list of the easier-to-get-to whereabouts of some of the more popular types of the tuxedoed birds:

  • Adélie – Continent and multiple islands
  • Chinstrap – Antarctic Peninsula, multiple islands
  • Emperor – Continent (inland – usually requires a helicopter ride found on special cruises)
  • Gentoo – Falkland Islands
  • King – South Georgia
  • Macaroni – South Georgia, Heard Island
  • Rockhopper – Falkland Islands

2. The Lemaire Channel

Switching now to specific locations, we turn our attention to the jaw-dropping beauty of the Lemaire Channel. The Channel, a fairly narrow body of water, is where Antarctica really shows off its beauty. If you want your camera crammed with postcard-perfect landscape pictures then the Channel is where you want to go.

3. The Peninsula

Stretching out from the main continent, the Antarctic Peninsula comes within 1600 km of the tip of southern South America. This is the most visited portion of the continent, mainly on account of the fantastic display of wildlife, plus the rugged beauty of Antarctica itself and the nearby small islands.

4. Deception Island

Deception Island has a lot to offer the Antarctic cruise passenger aside from its cool name. Here you’ll find Whaler’s Bay, home of relics still existing from the whaling period of the past. Baily Head hosts the second-largest colony of chinstrap penguins in the world. And Pendulum Cove has the distinction of being one of the more heart-friendly places to claim your Polar Plunge bragging rights as its waters are heated by hot springs.

5. Neko Harbour

If you have whales on your bucket list look up cruises visiting Neko Harbour. Krill seem to enjoy congregating in the area, which means that more than one species of whale won’t be far behind.

6. Paradise Harbour

Paradise Harbour is another spot that offers a good chance to spot out whales as well as Leopard and Crabeater seals who haul out onto the ice to enjoy the sun. Surrounded by ice bergs, Paradise Harbour is another Antarctic spot that will put your camera to the test.

7. Port Lockroy

Port Lockroy is home to the world’s southern-most public mail post. Here you can buy a postcard and send it to yourself with an Antarctic stamp, or even better mail one to your friends and make them super jealous. Port Lockroy is also home to a museum and a great big Gentoo penguin rookery.

8. South Georgia Island

If you really want to get off the beaten path then South Georgia may be just the thing. Nearly 1400 km southeast of the Falklands, South Georgia (and the South Sandwich Islands) is a bird-lovers’ paradise. The islands are a haven for multiple species of birds and marine creatures including a large colony of King Penguins.

9. Observation Hill

If you’re looking for a wide-open view of Antarctica’s beauty then you can’t do much better than Observation Hill. About a 40-minute walk from McMurdo Station (an American research station), Ob Hill offers you a bird’s-eye view of Mount Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf. It’s also the location of a memorial cross dedicated to explorer Robert Falcon Scott and his crew.

10. Ross Sea

One of the mainstays of Antarctic expeditions, the Ross Sea has a bit of everything – beautiful vistas, plenty of penguins, seals, and whales, and is home to more than one research station. Mount Erebus (an active volcano) is also close by and climbable, assuming of course that it’s not in the middle of an eruption.

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