Deception Island has been covered and then deserted by many, and the dilapidated shells of buildings, boats, and whaling equipment remain as proof of its productive years as a Norwegian-Chilean whaling station as well as the home of several scientific stations run by Chile, Argentina, Spain, and the UK.
The thing is, building and operating expensive equipment on an active volcano is risky business, even if the area is considered one of the safest harbors on the continent due to its large caldera, a famous refuge from storms and icebergs. While several countries were bickering over sovereign flags and attempting to occupy the lusted-after real estate in the 1960’s, the island had apparently had enough and kicked everyone off. Erupting twice in two years, it demolished research centers and buried everything left behind in ash, including a cemetery occupied by 45 deceased whalers and a long deserted aircraft hangar.
The island’s use is now administered under the Antarctic Treaty System, and it is now a popular tourist attraction as well as a scientific outpost. The giant iron boilers and tanks of the long gone whalers still stand, large holes cut in their sides as a deterrent to the Nazis, who were feared to have been planning to use them to store fuel. Chinstrap penguins roam around everywhere, as the west side is home to one of the world’s largest chinstrap rookeries.
One of the more unusual things to indulge in while visiting the island is to take advantage of the natural hot springs. Due to its geological temperament, Deception Island has a number of microclimates, which means if you can get past the biting, freezing Antarctic winds and into a volcanic bath, you can enjoy this snowy martian landscape in your swimsuit.
Know Before You Go
Head south in an icebreaker ship - turn into opening in volcanic island; moor ship, take zodiac to shore