Written by the wonderful Sam Tatro of Undiscovered Path Home

Looking for a truly remote elopement location in one of the least visited places on Earth? I have the place for you: South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. If you’re wondering, “What are South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands?” “How can I even elope on South Georgia Island?” …Well, you’re not alone. 

This spectacular set of islands are located in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Antarctica. South Georgia is home to one of the world’s most beautiful ecosystems, but the island also has magnificent glaciers, sprawling mountains, and stunning beaches. Planning a South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands elopement means going off the grid for weeks, and just spending time, the two of you. In short…it’s just a breathtaking, unique place, and it has to be one of the most insanely wild and insanely beautiful places to elope. Call me crazy, but what better way to start your adventurous lives together? 

Although these islands are uninhabited, you can still visit, and most tours head to South Georgia Island, the most accessible island. There are so many reasons to elope in South Georgia Island. This island has fascinating history, breathtaking scenery, and some of the largest concentrations of wildlife on earth. 

Let’s break down everything you need to know about eloping in South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands. 

How to elope in South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands

An aerial view of South Georgia Island with snow capped mountains and rolling fields of green

When it comes to a location this remote, it’s important to consider the logistics. How, exactly, can you even elope on South Georgia Island? 

Well, first things first. South Georgia Island is uninhabited. That means that in most situations, you will likely visit the islands with an organized cruise. A polar-sturdy vessel will be your base for your trip because the oceans surrounding the island often have ice. Though cruises often don’t sound ideal to many people, they do create a unique opportunity to spend time off-the-grid with pre-booked excursions to some of the most wild places on the planet. 

Many expeditions will last at least 10 days and depart from Argentina. You can book a number of different options: Antarctica and South Georgia, South Georgia Island and the Falklands (another beautiful island!), the complete Antarctica cruise, or anything in between. You can find a partial list of the options here

One thing to keep in mind: your budget. Much like a visit to Antarctica, a cruise to South Georgia or other parts of the Arctic Circle will often cost tens of thousands of dollars. For most people, these cruises are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. If it fits within your budget, it’s honestly a perfect way to spend intimate time, just the two of you, experiencing something you will honestly never forget. These pictures will be the pictures you hand down to your kids! 

What to do on your elopement day in South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands

Okay, so you’ve spent all this time getting to South Georgia. Now what? Well, your activities will depend on your unique trip and the route you will take. Some cruises will pass through the Falklands, for example, or Antarctica, depending on how much time you have. The cruise ship itself may also have restrictions on the type of activities you can do. For example, some cruises are equipped with helicopters to take visitors deeper into the island, which might be more difficult to access. Other cruises may have boat tour options. 

A snow-covered mountain above the ocean on South Georgia Island

One of the most popular things to do when you get to South Georgia? Accompany experienced staff as they observe wildlife species in their natural environment. Especially in South Georgia, you’ll see SO much wildlife in their natural habitat, from penguins to walruses to whales to rarely seen birds. King Penguins, in particular, are extremely common on the island. These guides can help you find the animals and provide context for the sightings. 

Penguins are so common in South Georgia that one of the most popular expeditions on many boats is the Penguin Safari. You will never forget seeing these majestic animals in the wild! On a penguin safari, you’ll catch King Penguins, of course, as well as albatross birds, pintado petrels and so much more. Many tours will also combine this with a visit to Grytviken Cemetery, where you can pay your respects to Sir Ernest Shackleton. 

However, you can still explore the island without guides, of course. Here are some popular options to explore South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands: 

  • Retrace Ernest Shackleton’s steps: Did you know Ernest Shackleton and his crew spent time on the Sandwich Islands? After setting out from London in 1914, his crew ran into issues around these islands. These survived for weeks before landing on this islands. The crew traversed the islands on foot and sent out ships to rescue their crew. On a later trip to these islands, Shackleton died of a heart attack. You can pay respects at his grave on the island. 
  • Stamp your passport! Who doesn’t love looking through their passports and reflecting back on those memories? When you visit the South Sandwich Islands, you can get an official South Georgia stamp. It’s not an entry pass, per se, but it is an amazing way to remember your trip this far south! 
  • Venture to Prion Island: This small island, located northeast of Luck Point on South Georgia, was first chartered by American naturalist Robert Cushman Murphy during 1912–1913. The island is home to the wandering albatross. But more than that, it’s an island with tall, billowing grass and spectacular views of the surrounding wilderness. 
  • Visit Antarctica’s only church: The Norwegian Lutheran church in Grytviken is one of the only markers of human life on these islands. This neo-Gothic structure has 64 graves, and you might recognize it from the 2006 animated film Happy Feet. 

Whatever the plan, I recommend contacting your cruise operators beforehand and speaking with them about your plan. Will you have time to spend an hour or two alone? Can they arrange for a romantic dinner? Make sure to ask all the questions! 

The best time to elope in South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands 

King Penguins on South Georgia island

The best time to visit South Georgia is from October to March, when the island is accessible to boats. Tourists are welcome on South Georgia Island for most of the year, though the island is closed to almost everyone during the winter season due to extreme temperatures, heavy snow, and ice along the coastline. The winter season runs from May through September on the island. 

If you’re planning to elope in South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands, you might want to consider what type of experience you want to have. During spring, you can capture local wildlife just coming out from winter hibernation. You can catch the elephant seals and fur seals coming out of hibernation during that time, so they can start mating. 

The summer months, from December through mid-February, are perhaps the most popular time to visit – and for a good reason! This is when tourism is at its highest, though very few people venture this far off the beaten path. One of the coolest sights? King penguins! They can be spotted on pretty much any beach on the island. 

How to get to South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands

Air travel is out of the question. If you want to visit South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands, the most popular way to get there is with a polar-sturdy vessel that can navigate the icy waters around South Georgia. Ships like Quark Expeditions’ polar vessel Ultramarine can take you to South Georgia. The ship has off-ship options, as well, with two twin-engine helicopters and 20 quick-launching Zodiacs. 

Sun sets on a lagoon in South Georgia Island

How to legally elope in South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands

If you want to elope in South Georgia, I recommend handling the paperwork in advance and having your ceremony on the day. Because the island is uninhabited, it won’t be easy to have that traditional ceremony on the Sandwich Islands…But there are still ways to make it feel special nonetheless. 

Closing Statements

Visiting the South Sandwich Islands is truly an experience unlike any other! Between the wildlife, spectacular views and remote landscape, you’ll never forget your South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands elopement. 

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