6 Best Places for Ice Diving

If you are looking for a sign to take on the challenge of ice diving, here it is! There is no time like the present, especially with climate change heating up our planet and reducing the amount of reliable ice every year. Ice diving offers an unprecedented opportunity to explore underwater landscapes that only a small elite group have been able to access. With the clearest water in some beautiful locations, it is time to check out our 6 best places for ice diving. 

Things to know about ice diving

If you would like to go ice diving, there are a few things to consider:


In order to go ice diving you will need to have good diving experience as well as some specific certifications. You will need to have passed your Advanced certification and have a good amount of dives under your belt in different conditions such as cold water. Depending on where you are diving and the dive school you are using they may have other requirements and the minimum number of dives logged can vary. 


When ice water diving it is essential you minimize the exposure risks. This means you will need specific equipment to fight the cold, including a dry suit designed to protect you from icy temperatures and keep you dry. You will need a hood, gloves, boots and thermal undersuit as well as your usual diving setup.


Ice diving is not without its risks which is why it is suited to the most dedicated and focused divers. Those who do not follow the correct procedures and have a knowledgeable support team face threats such as hypothermia, frostbite and disorientation. It is essential to have the proper equipment to avoid air tanks from freezing or regulator malfunctions and divers should always be attached to a safety line so they can find their way back to the entry/exit hole.

It is important to be able to communicate well underwater. Take a look at these 13 Hand Signals You Need to Know as a Beginner Scuba Diver


Some of the world’s top divers would not put themselves at such risks and through extensive training without an incredible reward. Ice diving is a truly unique experience, it tests the divers mental and physical capability and in return you will discover an underwater world that few get to witness. Experience frozen serenity that can only be found during winter seasons in the coldest regions of our planet. Diving in cold water offers health benefits too, including boosting your immune systeming, releasing endorphins and overall increased wellness through exercise and social interactions.

Now let us dive into our six best places for ice diving:

Ojamo Mine, Finland

This dive site is the location of a limestone mine turned prison camp. It is Finland’s answer to a lack of natural caves and is a mind-blowing experience. Since it closed down in the 1960s the mine has gradually filled with water and become the ultimate test in explorative diving, requiring flawless skills to venture into this serene and eerie site. Divers need to have cave diving experience and cold water experience with deep decompression and close circuit rebreather skills. Water temperature averages around 4°C/39°F and the shallowest tunnels start at 28m/92ft. The pit water is murky near the surface and home to burbots, northern pikes and crayfish. The deeper you descend the water clarity becomes crystal clear allowing divers to revel in the stunning scenery of a structure long forgotten.

Tobermory, Canada

Diving in Tobermory during the cold winters gives divers the opportunity to explore a graveyard of sunken wrecks. Tobermory is home to the Fathom Five National Marine Park, as winter sets in and ice covers the surface of the lake, water temperatures average 3°C/37°F. The lake usually freezes over in late February to early March time. A popular entry point is through a hole in the ice above the Sweepstakes wreck sitting at a mild 7m/20ft deep giving divers the thrill of descending under the ice and exploring a forgotten ship sunk a century ago. 

Is your retirement coming up? Why not take up a new hobby? Check this out: Learning to Dive After Retirement

Lioson Lake, Switzerland

Switzerland is a surprising hotspot for divers wanting to plunge into icy temperatures, whilst its far from the nearest ocean coastline there are plenty of lakes which succumb to the minus temperatures of winter. Lioson Lake is an excellent location for scuba divers who are new to ice diving, water temperatures average at 2°C/35°F with a maximum depth of 32m/105ft. Once submerged divers can explore the frozen lake and even spend some time upside down walking on the icy surface. You can spot some local rainbow trouts and red belly chars heading towards the light of the open ice holes. For the more adventurous and experienced ice divers Switzerland offers thrilling lake dives at Lake Sassolo and Lago del Naret where divers can swim through ice tunnels or under icebergs. These locations have short ice diving opportunities at the end of winter and can be at high risk due to collapsing ice structures from melting conditions.

Lake Baikal, Russia

The ice sheet on Lake Baikal can be more than 2m/6.5ft thick during the long Siberian winter. This massive body of water is not only the oldest lake in the world but the deepest and its surface remains frozen for up to 5 months from January to May. With all these aquatic accolades Lake Baikal is an unmissable ice dive for any adventure diver. Under the ice, water temperatures average 3.5°C/38°F and an unexplored world awaits, including steep slopes, canyons and giant sea sponges. Some of the unique marine life include the baikal oilfish with a giant mouth it uses to consume its siblings at birth and giant invertebrate gammarus. February and March are the best months to venture into Lake Baikal’s icy depths. 

Fancy going somewhere a big warmer? Check out our Dive guide for the Gili Islands

Baffin Island, Canada

If you have never tried ice diving before and are looking for a stunning location, booming with arctic wildlife then Baffin Island is the place for you. Home to grounded icebergs stuck in place on the seafloor, you can dive into the ocean from a break between icebergs and surface ice. Water temperature ranges from -2°C/29°F to 5°C/41°F throughout the year. The easy water access makes it a good location for advanced divers wanting to take the plunge into the ice diving discipline with varying cracks in the ice available to explore. As well as incredible submerged structures you can also spot jellyfish, starfish and sea urchins in the crystal clear water. Baffin Island is home to many other arctic creatures which can be observed from afar such as narwhals, seals and even polar bears. 


Antarctica is the jewel in ice divings crown, the ultimate dive location and an unforgettable expedition for those lucky enough to experience it. At the southernmost point of our planet there is a vast collection of species which can only be found here. Divers who have visited report the playful and curious nature of sea mammals such as leopard seals, who have not been overwhelmed by the presence of humans. Whales can be frequently spotted as can penguins diving on mass into the clear blue. November to March is the ideal dive season where all manor of sea life are thriving, water temperature varies from -2C/28°F to 2C/36°F and insane visibility up to 300m/985ft. It is a mammoth journey to the bottom of the earth and accessible to experienced divers by liveaboard, you will need to meet minimal logged dive requirements as well as medical checks and internationally recognised qualification. For all the effort this will still be the best ice dive of your life. 

Want to learn all about marine mammals? Take a look at the SSI Marine Mammal Ecology program? 

Are you excited to go ice diving?