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Antarctica Icebergs: Rhapsody in Blue Ice

It’s an understandable mistake if you think the so-called “great white continent” of Antarctica is white.

True, the mountains blanketed with snow and vast icy plateaus are white – so blindingly white you squint even with Ray-Bans.

But Antarctica’s icebergs?

Those are blue.

Who knew icebergs in Antarctica are not really white, but blue!
Who knew icebergs in Antarctica are not really white, but blue!

Antarctica icebergs

Antarctica icebergs
Just one of the ginormous icebergs in Iceberg Alley

In “Iceberg Alley” in the Weddell Sea, colossal tabular icebergs bigger than downtown buildings are luminescent in their blueness.

There are smaller ice sculptures too, in every imaginable shape and limitless blue hues.

We see baby blue mushrooms and royal blue lotus flowers and popsicle blue mermaids.

Icebergs in Antarctica
We see iceberg arches and icebergs bigger than toppled skyscrapers… Some are shaped like blue popcorn?

Even when day turns to dusk and everything else is grey and silver, the bergs still glow with blue light.

On a Zodiac cruise at dusk in the Weddell Sea, these icebergs in Antarctica seem to radiate a bright blue light
On a Zodiac cruise at dusk in the Weddell Sea, these icebergs in Antarctica seem to radiate a bright blue light

Visiting Antarctica

Antarctica is often the last continent adventurous travelers visit.

They go to see not only these amazing icebergs but also the different types of penguins in Antarctica, breaching whales, seals and the vast, vast icy wilderness.

A Zodiac cruises at the entrance to the Lemaire Channel
A Zodiac cruises in still waters at the entrance to the Lemaire Channel

It requires a commitment in terms of time and stoicism.

Most Antarctica expedition cruises are at least 11 nights long.

It takes four days from the tip of Argentina just to get to the Antarctic peninsula and back; while crossing the infamously rough Drake Passage, we popped Dramamine like candy.

But once close to the Antarctic Circle, the ice-choked waters are calm and the magic unfolds.

Zodiacs take guest ashore
Zodiacs take Antarctica cruise guests ashore

Roald Amundsen, Norwegian leader of the first expedition to reach the South Pole, got it right when he wrote in his diary in 1911:

“Glittering white, shining blue, raven black, in the light of the sun, the land looks like a fairy tale.”

One with many shades of blue…

So blue, so peaceful, so awesome…

Did you know Antarctica is so blue?

Let us know in the Comments below!

Mushroom-shaped Antarctica icebergs
These icebergs look like mushroom caps, or maybe snow cones?

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

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Photo credits: © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase (except lead image)

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Kate Macan

Thursday 9th of June 2022

The best post on Antarctica!!!

Sherrie Fabrizi Allbritten

Tuesday 25th of December 2018

This is a destination very high on my bucket list, I am so intrigued with Antarctica! Your photography is beautiful and really captures the blue of the ice.

Janice and George

Sunday 6th of January 2019

Do plan a trip! It's so worth it :-).


Thursday 6th of October 2016

My husband and I will be cruising to Antarctica in January, and I was happy to discover your lovely posts and photography! Your blue & white iceberg photos remind me of looking for recognizable shapes in a cloud-filled sky. I can't begin to imagine what it will be like to see such splendor in person! Mary O. Greenberg

Janice and George

Thursday 6th of October 2016

How lucky you and your husband are! You'll love Antarctica -- it really is a very special place and the journey a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy!

Ellie Quinn

Sunday 23rd of November 2014

Wow amazing photos and post!!

Janice and George

Sunday 23rd of November 2014

Hard not to take amazing photos in such an amazing place :-)


Saturday 24th of May 2014

Beautiful photos! What an amazing experience to go to Antarctica. Everyone looks so bundled up, it must have been so nice to go out and get back to a warm place after seeing such amazing sites and animals.