A forebodingly named island, Deception Island has played an important role in the history of Antarctica. One of the safest harbors in Antarctica, Deception Island is actually the caldera of a still active volcano. Walking along the shore steam is seen wafting from the water, which is considerably warmer than the surrounding icy ocean.

Since the 19th century, whalers and seal hunters have used the island as a safe refuge from storms and icebergs. In the early 20th century a Norwegian whaling company used the island as their base of operations, until it was abandoned in the 1930s. The remnants of this effort are still seen on Whaler’s Bay where oil storage tanks, houses and a small cemetery serve as proof of this community of hardened sailors.

Today the island serves mostly as a tourist destination and the same harbor that attracted whalers now attracts cruise ships. Once on shore, passengers may hike around the abandoned village and walk up the beach to the lookout point known as Neptune’s Bellows. This is also where many adventurous souls decide to wade into the lukewarm waters for the badge of honor known as the ultimate cold-water swim.

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