Reasons to go

  • Discover Antarctica as part of a small, exclusive kayaking team
  • Kayaking in Antarctica is one of the best ways to see rare wildlife, from curious whales to porpoising penguins
  • Maximise your time off-ship by getting closer to your surroundings for longer
  • Explore at your own pace, with your guide's help to interpret the icescape

Kayaking in Antarctica

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What our customers think of Kayaking in Antarctica

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Kayaking in South Georgia where there were fur seals swimming under the kayak and penguins porpoising by was a real treat. We did have some magic moments besides the wildlife – like paddling through crackling ‘bergy’ bits on a beautiful day or seeing glaciers calve not very far from our kayaks.

Travelled: February 2018

Cindy & Nor - Washington

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I’m so glad we kayaked: everyday finding ourselves engulfed by silence - nothing but the noise of slapping paddles, getting up front and personal with the whales. Watching the smile on my daughter’s face as she watched her dream come to fruition.

Travelled: December 2017

Sam - UK

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Taking the kayaking option was maybe one of the best choices I've made for this trip. Sport, landscape, an amazing group of 20 travelers. An amazing team! Being surrounded by 20 humpback whales, cruising 1 meter below your kayak.

Travelled: March 2017

Adrien - France

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Highlights were pushing through the ice while circumnavigating Cuverville Island and poking our noses into the Southern Ocean swells at Deception Island. We felt well supervised at all times even though we weren't particularly experienced.

Travelled: February 2017

Mike and Jane - UK

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Kayaking was brilliant - as two novices in our kayak, the instructor put us at ease and helped us have a great experience gently moving through the water, passing icebergs, watching calving and avalanches and having the most magical time.

Travelled: December 2016

Declan - UK

Kayaking near whales was a once in a lifetime experience. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Arnold Ming - USA

Our most memorable moment was kayaking in the ice and seeing the penguins swimming beside us. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Stanley Rumbough - USA

The opportunity to Sea Kayak with the penguins, seals and floating icebergs everywhere was so incredible and unique. There’s nothing like being a part of it all with nature. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Leah Rumbough - USA

I don’t have a most memorable moment because it was all so wonderful but it was truly magical kayaking through ice field. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Jill Pryor - USA

Most memorable moment: kayaking and having whales literally feet from us. Absolutely incredible. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Jesse Kehoe - USA

Kayaking in Antarctica is something that not many travellers get to experience! The kayak guides try to paddle at every landing site, weather dependent of course, and you can choose whether you want to paddle or go on zodiac cruises with the other expeditioners. I often get seasick, so I chose to paddle on calmer days. We kayaked among icebergs, whales, penguins, and seals in the most beautiful bays! Read the full review

Travelled: January 2023

Maricela Alaniz - USA

Kayaking among dozens of "porpoising" macaroni penguins off the shore of South Georgia Island. It was our first experience with ocean kayaking, and riding the swells in the bright sun with mountains and dramatic clouds all around and the playful penguins entertaining us was a truly magical experience. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Michael Cox - USA

Kayaking was a fun and immersive (not literally!) experience. Well organized and managed by the expedition team. Very safe. Wish we could have done more, but weather will be weather. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Michael Cox - USA

Kayaking is a must-do. We were able to see so much more and have a much more personalized adventure to Antarctica through these kayaking excursions. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Michael Bucher - USA

Definitely sign up for kayaking if you’re able to! It was the highlight of my trip Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Stefani Bucher - USA

Seeing the landscape up and close was nice. The staff members took great pictures of all the kayakers. That was a really nice touch. I definitely would do this activity again. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Natalie Dewberry-Moore - USA

The kayaking was amaaaazing. Absolute must. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Anjulika Sahgal - UK

The Kayak team is great, everything was really exciting. This was the best experience ever! Totally recommended. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Manuel Gutierrez - USA

The highlight of my trip. I loved to be able to do kayaking in Antarctica. You live a different experience from a point of view close to the water level. When you stop paddling, you can hear the voice of nature, ice cracking, birds singing, it's just unbelievable. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2022

Christian Cancino Martinez - USA

We were able to kayak three times in wonderful weather and kayaking with the whales was amazing. The kayaking staff were wonderful and informative Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Janet Thayer - USA

LOVED kayaking! It was so peaceful on the water away from the motors. It was also surprising easy to get in and out of the kayaks on the water from the zodiac. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Waverly Garnand - USA

The kayaking was fabulous, truly the best way to see things. Many of the kayaking moments stand out. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2022

Lynda Frost - USA

Most memorable moment: kayaking through brash ice near the Argentinian research station and seeing leopard seals basking on icebergs. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Graham Collins - Canada

Kayaking was fantastic, as well as the many zodiac cruises and landings on the different islands and historical sights. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Jamal Perry - USA

Most memorable moment: kayaking south of the Antarctic Circle. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Tom Hoster - USA

Most memorable moment: kayaking with a humpback whale - a highlight of my life to date. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Lauren Woosey - UK

I thought the expedition team were fantastic - I was part of the kayaking squad and thought Dan and Frank were really great. They were lots of fun, enthusiastic and also gave us a lot of information about the wildlife and ice etc. (especially Dan!). It was a relaxed atmosphere out on the water and I loved it. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2022

Lauren Woosey - UK

My most memorable moment was Fournier Bay kayaking! Epic whale experience. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2021

Randy Smith - USA

The scale & beauty of the Antarctic landscape. We were immersed in the natural landscape while kayaking. This was a real privilege. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2020

Tracey Coleman - Australia

We were kayaking on the second day through rivers of ice and spotted a really cool iceberg in the distance. We decided to make our way towards the iceberg and stopped in a cove-like area for rest and pics. Before we decided to leave, a Leopard Seal came right up to our kayaks and seemed to be toying with or playing with us. The seal spent a good 10 mins swimming around us all, creating waves, popping up out of the water in various places - a lot of people were laughing and enjoying this organic moment. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2020

George Parson - Australia

Paid attention to swells and conditions, making us feel safe and at the same time we got the maximum out of our kayaking experience with wild life and landscapes. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2020

Kwan Fitzgibbon - United States Of America

Sitting in a kayak surrounded by 10+ humpback whales in Fournier Bay was my most memorable moment. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2020

Zach Mueller - United States Of America

The best kayaking of my life. The kayak guides were awesome. Very safety conscious, enthusiastic and always knew the best places to go. They were great instructors for new kayakers and took pictures for us to give to us for our memories. They even brought hot chocolate as a treat one day. This was my favorite part of the trip. Loved being so close to the wildlife and icebergs. It was magical. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2020

Marmie Schuster-Walker - United States Of America

Kayaking is the only way to see Antarctica so, on the recommendation of Swoop, we signed up for the kayaking package. All our most memorable moments are literally in the water. So close to a swimming seal that we could touch him with our paddle (we didn't, of course). Penguins porpoising and keeping up with our strokes. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2020

Marina and Theodore - United States Of America

Our guides and instructors were just super nice very professional and most knowledgeable. We felt very safe and it was so fun gliding along amongst floating ice. Absolutely would do again and totally recommend to anyone physically capable to go Kayaking. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2020

John Cox - United States Of America

The highlight was definitely seeing the whales from the kayaks (including a minke whale). Read the full review

Travelled: December 2019

David Muenzer - United States Of America

Christmas morning. Waking up to kayak in water surrounded by ice chunks. A minke whale pops up right as we are switching the zodiacs. The sun came out for the first time and it was magical. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2019

Katie Salva - United States Of America

Kayaking was a highlight, many people were turned away due to high popularity, so glad your team recommended and got us signed up for this. To be able to kayak through the brash ice and along the shorelines for birds and seals was great. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2019

Steve Hatten - United States Of America

It was great that we could combine kayaking with a landing on site, so we never had the feeling we missed anything, we just got more out of our expedition. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2019

Filip Lievens - Belgium

Having experienced the kayak program was the best thing about the trip. Kayaking gave us a pristine and uncluttered experience of Antarctica and allowed us to visit more than other tourists on our boat. You see all the things that the zodiacs see but also get a totally unique and pristine experience. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Kelly, Shannon and Robin Politte - United States of America

The kayaking guides did a great job and it felt very safe. The highlight was being so close to whales. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Ralph Pollack - United States Of America

The highlight for me was being a part of our 9 person kayaking group plus two guides. We were able to paddle into small coves and the most magical of all was being near three feeding humpback whales and hearing their breathing as they rose up every few minutes. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2019

Jane Alexander - United States Of America

The scenery kayaking through some of the harbors seemed out of this world. We also saw orcas on multiple occasions with the pod coming right up to the ship. Read the full review

Travelled: January 2019

Fifi Rawlins - United States Of America

Kayaking with humpback-whales, breaching, spouting - and only a few meters away was probably the highlight Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Connie Parkinson - New Zealand

Of the ten opportunities there were to kayak, I did eight in and around South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. Everyone was great on the water, even those with lesser experience. The guides ensured that we could fulfil our dream of kayaking. The other two opportunities I passed on because I wanted to dedicate full time on the Continental landings. Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Shane Dolan - United States Of America

Kayaking is so much fun, they teach you everything you need to know even though you know already how to kayak, just to be safe. But you don’t know about conditions in Antartica, so they teach it, its awesome fun. TRY IT!! Read the full review

Travelled: December 2018

Raquel & David Shulman - Canada

The highlights were seeing humpback whales at close quarters and paddling through brash ice.

Travelled: January 2017

Sandy & Tim - UK

It was so much more than expected. Mountaineering was so satisfying, and kayaking was just so much fun. Read the full review

Travelled: November 2016

Anh Luong - United States Of America

One of the best moments while on the kayak was when we were surrounded by hundreds of gentoo penguins, which were in the water, swimming around us and jumping in and out of the water. Amazing experience.

Travelled: November 2016

Yevgeny - Rhode Island

Kayaking was definitely a highlight. GO KAYAKING!!

Travelled: November 2016

Mohammed - New York

I loved it - it was the most amazing place I have ever been to - the boat was just right, the staff, the crew, the talks - and the kayaking was beyond sublime.

Travelled: January 2016

Richard & Claire - UK



How does it work?

Kayaking in Antarctica

If you choose to experience kayaking in Antarctica as part of your voyage, you'll be offered kayaking excursions as much as conditions allow, up to twice a day depending on your kayaking package, and you can choose to take part in as many or as few as you like.

While the rest of the ship takes zodiacs out to landing sites, Antarctica kayak tours give you a chance to explore Antarctica from a unique perspective. You'll typically set off a little earlier and paddle for 2-3 hours out to the landing site meaning you'll arrive a little later and can explore with fewer people around, but will have less time on land. For many, that's more than compensated for by the experience of paddling around natural ice castles to get there!

What are the conditions like?

The waterways around the Antarctic Peninsula are very protected, so more often than not conditions are perfect for sea kayaking in Antarctica. Think glassy surface, clear waters, wildlife swimming under and around your kayak, and getting closer to icebergs than you'd thought was possible.

This is still Antarctica, and weather and ice conditions can change daily, so staying flexible is key (and very much all part of the adventure). Your kayaking guides are experienced and safety-oriented, and you'll be kept informed as they monitor the surroundings.

Kayaking in Antarctica
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Swoop says

You don't need to be able to do an eskimo roll to kayak in Antarctica, just some previous experience. The Peninsula's calm, protected waters make it very safe, and you'll always be accompanied by a guide and safety boat.

What does it cost?

Costs for Antarctica kayak tours vary from $695 - $1,600 per person, depending on which ship you join and the length of your expedition. While this may seem high compared with the more modest price for camping, bear in mind that you only camp once, but with kayaking, you could be out every day. The more often you join the kayaking excursions the more value you’ll get.

Kayaking in Antarctica on one of our Antarctica cruises

Kayaking off Cape Tuxen

Antarctic Voyages with Kayaking

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Alex says

I have to stop myself getting a bit spiritual when someone asks me about kayaking in Antarctica. It's so quiet, paddling around icebergs and getting up close to wildlife. One whale was so close I nearly high-fived it as it rolled!

Alex Mudd Polar Specialist

Kayaking in Antarctica: FAQs

  • Do I need experience?

    Sea kayaking in Antarctica is open to anyone with an adventurous spirit, basic paddling skills and the ability to get themselves in and out of the cockpit of a kayak. You don't need to be super experienced, but you should have paddled before as this isn't a 'beginner's course'.

    Find out more about other adventure activities.

  • Will it be single or double kayaks?

    Double kayaks are preferred over single kayaks as they are more stable. If you're traveling alone, your guide will assign you a kayaking partner. Anyone wishing to have their own kayak will have to demonstrate their competency first, and it’s at the kayaking guide’s discretion.

  • Can my partner & I ‘share’ one kayaking place?

    Unfortunately this isn’t possible for a few practical reasons:

    • Your kayaking kit will be selected to your size
    • The kayak will also be set up to your own specifications
    • Anyone joining the party half way through won’t have received the safety briefs
    • Only people who sign up for kayaking can undertake this activity
  • Is there kayaking in South Georgia?

    For those people undertaking a longer voyage with South Georgia, kayaking is available but isn’t as widely offered as kayaking in Antarctica. The kayaking here is also more challenging and weather more of a factor.

  • What happens if I fall in?

    Togged out in a drysuit and wearing a buoyancy aid you’re in little danger and typically people get straight back into their kayak with the help of the support zodiac.

  • What kit is provided?

    In most occasions, you'll be provided with a full dry suit, neoprene boots, a waterproof dry bag, 'pogies' (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle) and a life vest. You need to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a warm hat and layers for under your suit.

    When on the move, you may get warmer than you thought, so leave some extra layers on the safety zodiac boat to wear once you get onto shore.

Kayaking in Antarctica with a minke whale


What is the difference between booking paddling versus kayaking?

If you want to try kayaking in Antarctica just once rather than committing to multiple sessions as part of a full kayaking program, some ships offer an alternative opportunity. This activity option is often known as "paddling" rather than kayaking.  A paddling session is generally a one-off undertaking, involving kayaking for approximately 60-90 mins. They offer a way to make some fantastic memories without making kayaking a focus of your trip. 

These one-off paddling trips are often more suitable for less experienced kayakers as they operate at a gentler pace and cover less ground. This can be a fantastic way to enjoy the icy ambience and unique experience of kayaking in polar waters. Full kayaking programmes generally require a higher level of experience, fitness and confidence on the water, so are not always a good match for everyone. 

On some - but not all - ships there may also be a difference in the kayaking equipment used. With paddling programs, there are some that use sit-on top inflatable kayaks rather than sit-in sea kayaks.  

It is important to note that we do not recommend Antarctica as a place for first time kayakers; even the less demanding one-off paddling sessions will expect you to have a reasonable understanding of the basics, such as comfortably getting into and out of a kayak and using paddles to propel yourself.

How does it work?

Some ships offer both a full kayaking programme plus an additional one-off paddling opportunity to cater to all abilities and interests. Other ships may only offer one activity or the other. Your Swoop specialist will be able to provide advice on which ships and voyages will be the best fit for your requirements and abilities. 

Depending on the ship, the paddle activity is sometimes available to pre-book at the time of confirming your cabin. Other ships only allow you to sign up once you are on board. The latter can sometimes be heavily subscribed and if so, generally places will be allocated in a lottery system. This means that all interested parties will have their names put into a hat (couples/friends in the same kayak stay linked) and then the first bunch of names drawn will go in the first group, second bunch will go at the next available paddling opportunity and so on, until they have worked through all those signed up. However, there is a possibility that if the weather is unfavourable and limits paddling opportunities, some may not get the opportunity to go out. 

For both the full kayaking program or a paddle session you will be required to attend a mandatory briefing once on board. Here the kayak guides will talk through how the activity works, give important safety advice, ask participants about their prior experience and walk you through the kit you will wear in the kayak. This is a great opportunity to ask questions or discuss any concerns you may have.

What are conditions like?

As mentioned above, conditions in Antarctica can be hugely variable. Due to the limited experience of many in the paddling sessions, the guides are looking for good, calm conditions to operate the session comfortably and safely. On ships with dual programs, it is possible that the more experienced full kayaking group may go out where the paddle session is postponed. 

What does it cost?

Some ships include the cost of a one-off paddling session in the price of the trip. For those that do charge an additional fee, costs can vary from $295-350 per person. We think this is a great value for a once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

If you are active, another fantastic option is to sample a taster of paddling alongside a wide range of other activities which are all included in the voyage price, then consider the Antarctic Basecamp Adventure, a voyage packed with adventurous activities.

Antarctic Voyages with Paddling

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Antarctic Adventure Activities

Simply getting to Antarctica is a big enough adventure for many, but for those who really want to maximise their Antarctic experience there are some outstanding adventure activities to consider. Many of the Antarctic voyages we offer provide these as optional adventure add-ons.

More about Adventure Activities

Ready to plan your Antarctic adventure?



We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.



Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.



We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

With over 150 years of Antarctic experience between us, we can help guide you to exactly the right trip for you.