Jason Harbour: Key information

  • Circular bay with a historic hut from the whaling period
  • A busy elephant seal and fur seal breeding beach with a small king penguin colony
  • Sheltered location ideal for rough weather landings and kayaking
  • Latitude 54°11'S, Longitude 36°30'W

Explore Jason Harbour with Swoop

About Jason Harbour

A yellow sea kayak with two people paddles on a calm bay in Jason Harbour, South Ger

Kayaking in Jason Harbour

Jason Harbour is a small landing site roughly halfway between Grytviken and Stromness. Although modest in size, its sheltered circular bay offers good wildlife viewing opportunities when rough weather makes other landing sites difficult to visit.

The bay here was first surveyed in 1893 by Carl Larsen, the father of South Georgia whaling, and is named for his ship Jason. Larsen took out a lease on the land here five years after founding Grytviken, intending the bay to be a safe harbour for his whaling vessels. The old hut at the near where zodiacs land today is the sole reminder of this period – built in 1911 to serve as a refuge hit for mail deliveries along the coast. It still contains a small stove and a wooden table carved with graffiti from visiting ships (contemporary visitors are forbidden from adding their own names).

If you walk over the tussac grass behind the hut (taking care to avoid elephant seal wallows) you find yourself standing on a narrow isthmus overlooking the quiet waters of Little Jason Lagoon. This is a lovely spot to explore by kayak, largely hidden from the wind with plenty of wildlife on its shores to watch while paddling.

Wildlife at Jason Harbour

Close up of an adult king penguin with its chick at Jason Harbour in South Georgia. There are more penguins in the background

King penguin and chick at Jason Harbour

Elephant seals are the most prominent residents of Jason Harbour. The glacial outwash behind the beach is a maze of tussac, streams and wallows favoured by elephant seals during their annual moult. Ironically, this landscape is the product of one species no longer present: the now eradicated reindeer who had severely overgrazed the native vegetation, inviting the seals in in their wake. As elsewhere on the island, fur seals are in present in ever-increasing numbers, having started to breed here around 20 years ago.

There is a modest king penguin colony of around 40 pairs of birds breed here along with brown skuas, plus kelp gulls and blue-eyed shags on the nearby cliffs.

Visitor guidelines for Jason Harbour

Landings at Jason Harbour are made on the beach at the western end of the bay, near the historic hut. From here you can walk along the beach or through the tussac to the king penguin colony. If doing the later, take particular care over seals that may be hidden and muddy elephant seal wallows. Some of the wallows can have unexpectedly steep sides. If visiting the historic hut always close the door when exiting to prevent seals from entering.

Jason Harbour is not subject to a site visitor management plan by the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. 

NOTE: Ship itineraries and visits to specific landing sites in South Georgia can never be guaranteed. Plans can change as fast as the polar weather: decisions on which locations to visit are always made on the day by the ship's captain and expedition leader.

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