scuba diving under the ice

Scuba Diving Under the Ice

Have you ever thought about jumping into freezing-cold water for fun during winter or in the Antarctic? Sounds crazy, right? But once you give it a go, it’s going to be an experience you’ll never want to give up. Your body hits the freezing-cold water below while the snow from the sky falls around you and the sun peers through the ice, making the water turquoise. It’s a truly mesmerizing experience, especially if there are fish and other invertebrates in the water to swim along. If you want to learn about ice diving, here is a quick look.

What is Ice Diving, and who can do it?

Ice diving is precise as its name suggests; it involves diving into cold, ice-covered water. In most cases, it requires cutting a hole in the surface ice. It’s not to be confused with cold water diving, which entails diving in cold water but with no ice cover.

There are many reasons for diving under the ice. It could be for recreation, scientific or commercial purposes. Many avid divers do it, but you can also try it as an armature. In fact, the below-freezing temperatures always make it the best time to explore the underwater environment. The cold water improves clarity and also makes the aquatic creatures sluggish in the water such that if you swim carefully, you can approach them for a closer look.

You can even flip your position so that you stand upside-down on the frozen sea surface and observe the undersea environment like a pro ice diver. Watch out for the shattering icebergs though, those underwater explosions can be hazardous.

But before you get to this level of sophisticated diving, you will need some special equipment and the help of trained professional ice divers.

dive under the ice

Here’s a look.

What kind of scuba diving equipment do you need to dive under the ice?

Anyone wanting to hit the waters below an ice surface will need the following tools:

  • Drysuit
  • A hood over your head to reduce heat loss
  • Boots
  • Dry gloves
  • Regulator
  • Buoyancy Control Device
  • Air Tank
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Chain saw

How to get ready for cold-water scuba diving

Before cold-water scuba diving, you will need to carry out some procedures and technical details. You will learn them from your diving instructor or through a specialized course.

One of them is making sure your regulator is environmentally sealed so it won’t freeze up due to moisture. You also need to store it in a warm environment and ensure no moisture enters the second chamber. Be sure to exhale in the regulator before you enter the water. You will also need a chain saw to make an entry hole for diving under the ice. You want to make triangular-shaped holes; otherwise, the ice will break.

dive under the ice freezing regulator

Now for the diving part, make sure you are strapped to a safety harness. This line will keep track of your movement under the ice, allowing you to find your way back to where you entered the water. The line is also used to communicate with your team members. They will hold the line to monitor your status, and you can tug five times to signal for help.

Ice diving for recreation is usually restricted to only 30 minutes so that the individual won’t be exposed to freezing temperatures for long. It also ensures the diver has sufficient air to breathe. However, professionals with stellar equipment can stay for longer under the water.

Some spectacular ice diving destinations

Some of the fantastic spots in the world for ice diving include:

  • Tobermory, Canada
  • Hudson River, New York
  • Newfoundland, Canada
  • Baffin Island, Canada
  • North Pole, Alaska
  • Antarctica
  • Lake Baikal, Russia
  • Rummu Quarry, Estonia
  • Lago del Naret, Switzerland

How much does it cost to dive under the ice in Antarctica?

Alaska, known for its ice-covered landscape, is one of the best destinations for ice diving. It offers divers a chance to swim with penguins, leopard seals, and whales. The ice diving period here is usually from January to march. If you go with a diving company, some will require you to have a legit diving certificate, your diver’s logbook, and approval from your doctor. They will provide the equipment for the activity. Depending on your choice of ship and duration of the voyage, fees can range from $500-$1000 per person.

dive under the ice


It may appear like a less than opportune time to spend outdoors, but winter under the sea offers one of the most magical experiences in this world. Diving under the ice in the Antarctic or the many lakes and rivers worldwide requires just a little bit of training and is an activity you should definitely do with your buddies!

Thank you for reading! Check out more stories about diving under the ice here.

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