As soon as I found out I was going to the White Continent, I knew had to do the polar plunge in Antarctica.

It was the ultimate bucket list experience to add to my Antarctic adventure, right?

But before I took the plunge, there were some things I had to know. And so, I researched everything there was to know about doing the polar plunge in Antarctica so I would be in a better position to tackle it head-on (not literally).

I’ll always say yes to crazy invigorating activities things like this. My family and friends are used to me being a nutter. So there was never any chance I wasn’t going to do it – that was, until about 2 minutes before it was my turn! Why on earth would I want to put myself in such an uncomfortable position? I hate the cold!

But, at that stage, it was pretty well too late. I had already boasted to everyone (from day one) that I would be doing the polar plunge. I had even managed to convince others to do it too. And I’m much too stubborn to back out at the last minute.

So I just had to grin and bear it. And that I did!

And I’m so glad I did. The polar plunge was the most exhilarating experience (although it was over in a second or two). It’s not something that everyone can say they’ve done, and it certainly gives me bragging rights for years to come.

If you’re thinking of doing the polar plunge yourself, there are a few things you need to know.

So, get your swimsuit ready and prepare to take the plunge! Here’s all you need to know about doing the polar plunge in Antarctica.

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Polar Plunge in Antarctica pinterest pin

What is the polar plunge

The polar plunge is essentially a dip in the icy waters of the Southern Ocean. It’s an extreme experience (not for the faint-hearted!), and one that will leave you feeling both exhilarated and relieved when it’s over! It’s also a rite of passage for visitors to Antarctica, and it’s definitely something you should consider doing if you’re visiting the continent.

It’s not just about the immediate thrill though – it’s also a fantastic way to celebrate your Antarctic journey, and to make a lasting memory that you can look back on in years to come.

At our daily briefing the previous evening, we were told that the following day would be the day, weather conditions permitting. We would be heading further down the Antarctic Peninsula, through the Lemaire Channel, before stopping at the beautifully scenic Girard Bay, where all the action would happen.

There was a huge buzz amongst our fellow passengers that evening. Some were still undecided, but most had already decided to give it a go. Everyone was full of questions and enthusiasm – what can I expect? How cold will it be? Will the water be salty or fresh?

The anticipation was palpable!

What happens during the polar plunge

While it will likely vary depending on which expedition company you choose, for the most part, the polar plunge follows a similar format.

I travelled with Intrepid Travel and this is what happened during our polar plunge:

We heard the call over the radio that the plunge would be starting in a few minutes and to go get ready. For those partaking, that meant rushing back to our cabins to don our swimwear and bathrobe. For those not braving the freezing water, they stayed on the upper decks to watch and cheer the brave participants.

Once we were all in line at the gangway, ready to go one by one, our expedition team explained the process. A harness would be put around your waist, just in case you found it difficult swimming back to the ship. You would walk down the steps, look at the camera to the right, count to three and…

It all happened too quickly for me and I actually missed my queue to jump! So I had to count myself down again. Three, two, one…. jump!

Polar Plunge in Antarctica: Jumping off the gangway

It was a surreal experience, with the icy waters of Antarctica rushing around me as I tried to swim back up to the surface. All I could think was “Get out! Get out!”, and before I knew it, I was back on board and being wrapped in warm towels and being handed a shot of vodka!

How to do the polar plunge

Ok, yes it mostly about the experience. But you also want that perfect shot that you can show off to your friends, right?

1. Be prepared: As well as the on-board photographer, have a friend take a video or some shots using your phone from behind you.

2. Go for it: The anticipation of the plunge can be almost as nerve-wracking as the dive itself! But remember – you’re only going to get this once in a lifetime opportunity, so why not make the most of it?

3. Follow the instructions: Each expedition company will have their own guidelines for the polar plunge, so make sure to listen carefully and do as instructed.

4. Take a deep breath: It’s going to be cold – really cold! So take a few deep breaths before you jump in order to get your body ready for the shock of the freezing water.

5. Pose and smile: Try to get a nice action shot of yourself jumping into the water, but don’t forget to smile for the camera when you come out! I did not, and you can clearly see the dismay on my face.

Polar Plunge Antarctica the aftermath
Trying to get out as fast as I got in

6. Hold your nose: I wish I had done this. I don’t think my ‘after picture’ would have looked so comical if I hadn’t just swallowed a ton of salty water.

What to wear when doing the polar plunge

This is completely up to you but I don’t recommend wearing layers. I saw a picture of a guy doing the polar plunge some time ago wearing a Santa outfit. Looked great for the picture but I can’t imagine how cold he must have been when he got out.

There was a guy right in front of me who had a teeny tiny pair of yellow bottoms which said ‘budgie smugglers’. This gave the crew and other passengers a great laugh, which continued as he dove straight into a belly flop.

Polar Plunge Antarctica
Polar Plunge Antarctica: Hitting the icy water

I wore my Baiia reversible bikini and you can read all about my review here.

How cold is the polar plunge

Near-freezing water isn’t sufficient. The water temperature must be below 0 degrees Celsius in order for it to be considered a polar plunge. We had -.5 degrees Celsius water for our dip and, boy, was that cold enough!

I don’t think many people can even comprehend how cold it was. It was like a million knives piercing through my skin at once and then suddenly everything went numb.

I had done something similar in Finland back in 2020. After being in multiple saunas, we walked down steps into an ice lake, and then went back into another sauna. I had thought that was cold at the time, but it would have been around 3 or 4 degrees Celsius. That was nothing in comparison to this!

Immediately after the jump, I ran to my room for a warm shower. Others went straight to the on-board hot tub.

What does a polar plunge do to your body

Polar Plunge Antarctica in the water

Diving into freezing water is said to have many health benefits, including stimulating your immune system and improving circulation. It can also help to reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.

The absolute adrenaline rush that comes with it is quite exhilarating, providing the body with an endorphin release that boosts mood and energy levels. I definitely felt more alert and energised after doing it.

Is the polar plunge safe

The polar plunge can be extremely dangerous and should only be done if you are fit and healthy enough. Make sure to check with health professionals before taking part in the polar plunge, especially if you have any heart conditions.

That said, it is safe if done properly and you don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions. Make sure you follow your expedition staff’s instructions and only jump in when they give the okay.

The on-board doctor is standing by for any medical emergencies, and the staff will also make sure to check on you afterwards. Nobody wants you to have a heart attack after that shock to the system!

What does the polar plunge cost

The polar plunge isn’t like the other optional activities on board, in that there is no extra cost to do it. It’s included in your already paid expedition costs.

Is the polar plunge worth doing

Absolutely!

It will likely be the coldest water you ever experience in your life, and the feeling of being temporarily frozen is something that you won’t forget quickly. Plus, it’s a really fun bonding experience with your fellow passengers and expedition team.

Polar Plunge Antarctica Pin

Polar Plunge Antarctica: The Verdict

The polar plunge in Antarctica was definitely an experience of a lifetime! Chilly, to say the least, but totally worth it for bragging rights. If you’re feeling daring, just do it and accept the icy challenge!

Not too many people can say they took a dip in Antarctic waters before!

The ones who do it will have a wonderful story to tell, and the memories of that experience will stay with them forever. I know they’ll stay with me!

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