Deception Island is considered by many to be one of the world's most incredible islands. Found in the South Shetland Islands, which are located off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, this volcanic landmass boasts quite an interesting landscape. Thanks to the volcanic nature of the island, it is less covered in snow than the bulk of the area landmasses, and you can actually take a natural steam bath here if you please! The steaming beaches are an interesting complement to the ash-layered glaciers, and austere volcanic slopes help to make for a unique setting. The flooded caldera that lies in the center of this horseshoe-shaped island is sheltered, helping to make it one of the safest bays in the South Shetland Islands. You might be interested to know that Deception Island is one of the only places in the world where ships can sail into the heart of an active volcano.
Deception Island was formed by volcanic activity, and its name refers to the small entrance that provides passage to its flooded, central caldera. If you're not lined up with the small pass that leads to the interior, you'll have to sail around the island until you find it, which can be deceptive. While you can still find research stations on the island, the 1967 and 1969 volcanic eruptions did much to dissuade researches to set up base here. Spain and the Argentine Army run the research bases that can be found here. Before the arrival of research stations, Deception Island was primarily used as a point of refuge for sailors. Seal and whale hunters most commonly sought refuge at Deception Island, and while this industry was king for quite some time, it is now extinct. The Great Depression had a lot to do with the abandonment of seal and whale hunting in the South Shetland Islands.
Swimming in Pendulum Cove is one of the top things to do on a visit to Deception Island, thanks to the thermal waters, so don't forget to bring a bathing suit with you on your visit. One of the other top things to do here is view penguins. Chinstrap penguins call the island home, and they are noted for the narrow black bands that essentially frame their faces. Deception Island cruises are easier than ever to book, and more and more Antarctica visitors are choosing to include this fascinating island on their itineraries. While the beaches here might not seem as inviting as beaches in tropical destinations, they can be very attractive to those who are looking for a break from cold temps and layers of warm clothing. You might have to dig a hole in the sand at places like Pendulum Cove, but the work will surely be worth it, as you'll get to enjoy what basically amounts to your own natural sauna.
Deception Island cruises are usually extended cruises that include other destinations in Antarctica. Most of the tourist cruise ships that visit the island will also stop at other South Shetland Islands, such as Elephant Island and Livingston Island. The relatively strange landscape of Deception Island helps to make it stand out, as does its relatively large number of penguins. It's definitely the best place to go swimming in the Antarctic region, which is part of the reason why so many cruise ships stop here.
When planning Deception Island cruises, you're bound to notice that the South Shetland Islands aren't always the only islands that you'll be able to visit. Many ships also stop at the South Orkneys, South Georgia Island, and the Falklands. You might also notice that many tourist cruises that visit this region start in Ushuaia Argentina, which is among the top jump-off points for Antarctica vacations. Be sure to keep a look out for whales, dolphins, birds, and other creatures when passing through Drake Passage on your way to Deception Island!