Bizarre, beautiful ice formations, endless winter landscapes,
genuine log cabins, the aurora borealis and a taste of Russian
culture, history and rural hospitality up close.
After three exciting days in the tsarist city of Saint Petersburg, we start our diving expedition from Murmansk. It’s almost 380km south by car to the western foothills of the White Sea, where the Arctic Circle Dive Center is located. The well-organized dive center is the largest year-round diving resort in the Arctic. The tour of our expedition will give you the best possible access to the vast White Sea, which is frozen over at this time of the year.
Similar to the Baltic Sea, the White Sea is only connected to the ocean via one entrance. It is thus completely surrounded by mainland Russia, bounded in the north by the Kola peninsula, in the west by Karelia and in the south by the Arkhangelsk Oblast.
The continental climate also affects life underwater. The summers are warm, and even the water temperatures can well exceed the 20 ° Celsius mark, while in winter it gets very cold and the salty water can have temperatures below freezing point.
The high temperatures in summer, in combination with the high nutrient input from the surrounding rivers, ensure that visibility is rather low in the warm season. However, due to the geographical location in the far north, this changes when the days get shorter from September and photosynthesis is not possible during the winter polar night. If the days get longer again from mid-January, the conditions for ice diving are ideal. Now the ice is stable, forming large areas and exciting structures. At the same time, the visibility is very good with an average of ten to thirty meters – but it also varies from dive site to dive site.
Different dive sites are visited every day. The ice structures are of course different every year and sometimes every day. However, there are certain places where wind, tides and currents create particularly interesting ice formations.
Light flows through cracks and breaks, faults occur along the banks – ice floes pile up or push them under water. At the beginning of winter, wind often forms bizarre ice formations that initially drift freely in the water and then later solidify in the thickening sea ice. Real fairytale worlds are often waiting under the ice cover. At the same time, currents and the abundance of plankton in summer ensure dense and colorful vegetation with sea carnations, other anemones and corals.
In the winter months the snowmobile is the preferred means of transport in regions with poorly developed roads, and so people and material are also transported on land and on the ice with the snowmobile.
Local guides prepare the dive sites and offer advice and assistance. In addition to diving equipment and food for the day, small wooden huts are also pulled onto the ice. Two to four divers share one of the heated huts for the day to warm up and store small personal equipment.
There are usually two dives per day. Between diving, you can enjoy the breathtaking winter landscape, and hot and cold food and drinks are available.
Accommodation is in cozy wooden huts that fit perfectly into the landscape. A Russian sauna (banya) is available to everyone, and of course you can end the day with a glass of the national drink – vodka.
However, it can also be that you suddenly have to go out into the cold again. Because the arctic night sky still has a real highlight in store for visitors – and who would want to miss the color fireworks of the northern lights?
Price per person
from 3,690 Euro – 2022
from 3,790 Euro – 2024
Important information - diving
The dives are done under the ice. For safety reasons, you must always dive on a suitably guided line to ensure that the entry can be found quickly and safely even in difficult situations.
The water temperature in winter is just above freezing. Diving equipment that is suitable for ice diving is a must, as well as warm and weatherproof clothing and shoes.
Since heated changing rooms are also available on the ice, the diving equipment can be “thawed” between the dives. Photographers and filmmakers should note that the low temperatures can also cause increased consumption of batteries and rechargeable batteries.
Tanks 12 and 15 liters with valves DIN or yoke are available on site.
For diving under ice, you must have a minimum training level AOWD (or equivalent) and an ice diving certificate.