Polar Bear Plunge – Pond Inlet

For three years now I have returned to the floe edge to work during the Narwhal migration across the north end of Baffin Island. This was my second year returning to Pond Inlet with Arctic Kingdom and for some brain lapsed reason, I’ve always wanted to dive off the edge into the near frozen, dark waters of the Arctic Ocean. I can’t say what attracts me to The Polar Bear Plunge. I mean, it’s not the extreme shrinkage or the instantaneous gasp and loss of breath, but here I was. Striped down to my skivvies, hopping from foot to foot as the ice prickled like multiple little stingers, I awaited the countdown. 3, 2…

Looking out over our camp

I’d been in the Arctic Ocean before, but using better judgement, I made use of the dry suits provided by the company. Keeping you, well obviously dry and reasonable warm, the icy waters still bite at the face and the lips pursed around the snorkel tingle until temporary numbness sets in. This however is a much different experience. One of enjoyment, inspecting the curves and jagged edges of the ice underneath the surface of the floe edge. Observing the jellyfish and remaining hopeful for that playful seal or narwhal to swim into view even though visibility is generally minimal.

Snorkeling with the dry suit

The Inuit avoid the water at all costs, with a strong understanding that it brings both life and death. They have a general rule of thumb, which really is common sense. ‘Don’t get wet in the Arctic’, and I’ve also heard, ‘don’t sweat in the Arctic’. It’s quite clear that this is not the best of ideas, but aren’t all the fun things in life like that?!

So, here I was. Sedna, goddess of the sea luring me in. 1… against all better judgement and advice of the Inuit I ran. I dove in. The initial shock didn’t seem so bad, but that’s just what it was. Shock. As soon as I surfaced, barely able to draw breath, it was a delusional scramble for the sharp ice edge. Scarping my arms and legs as I pulled myself out, the preheated tent was not far off. With an awkward run for the warmth and my towel, adrenaline pumping the cold wore off quick. Replaced with an exhilarating buzz similar to that of skydiving, the air itself seemed warm comparably. The bitter cold only remained in my feet, until I was able to pull on my thermal socks and boots.

Airborne, too late to turn back now!

At the time, I assumed this was a one-time deal. Not something I was jumping at again, literally. Sure enough, the next week came and there I was again. Striped down to my skivvies, 3, 2…

Have you ever done a Polar Bear Plunge?! Let me know in the comments below!

Polar Bear Plunge off the floe edge in Pond Inlet


13 thoughts

  1. Great stuff Nathan!
    I haven’t done the Polar Bear Plunge, but I have jumped into the icy water after a private sauna bout in Eastern Europe! It was crazy, and we had to do it in the nude! I was bloody freezing!

    1. It’s quite invigorating though isn’t it!! I would have done it in the nude like I think it should be done, but we had paying guests watching and I doubt they would have wanted that much of a show lol.

  2. What an amazing place to work! I couldn’t seem to comment on your other post, but seeing hundreds of narwhals would be insane! so lucky! and what a brave dip! How cold is the water there? We’re in the Norwegian arctic right now but it looks a lot warmer than where you are 🙂

    1. The floe edge is quite the amazing place and the wildlife is spectacular! I’m not sure of the temperature of the water, but near frozen for sure lol! Now, seeing this part of the Arctic, I really want to get to Scandinavia!! How is it there?!

      1. Sounds so amazing! We absolutely love it here. We are volunteering which makes it almost free to visit! So we just have to pay for flights and transport to get to each places. The sea is crystal clear, the mountains dramatic, there’s extra long sunrise and sunsets and the northern lights! What more could you want ay? Maybe narwhals actually!

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