Wait, what? Stop it. You snorkeled in Iceland? Yep, you did not read wrongly. Just not the first place you would think of to snorkel is it? Well, me neither and I find it so ironic that Iceland is one of the destinations where I’ve needed my swimsuit most! But, I digress because I didn’t wear my swimsuit to snorkel.
Silfra, located in Þingvellir (English: Thingvellir) National Park in Iceland, is a fissure created by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This fissure, formed in 1789 by earthquakes along with the divergent tectonic plates, goes right through Iceland. It is the only place in the world you can snorkel and dive between two tectonic plates (so between two continents).
The Silfra fissure is filled via an underground spring containing glacial water from Langjökull glacier. Because the water is filtered for 30-100 years through underground lava before reaching the spring and filling the fissure, it is not only extremely pure but it is said to be the clearest in the world!
Silfra with DIVE.IS
The Pre-Party Pickup
If you’re staying in the heart of Reykjavik and are being picked up for a tour in a mini-bus or larger sized vehicle, you will most likely be picked up at the bus stop closest to your hotel. Due to the extreme popularity and convenience of day tours from Reykjavik, you can imagine how clogged and backed up the narrow city streets can become. But, don’t worry, Reykjavik is small and there are several bus stops so you shouldn’t have to walk far.
Since I was staying at CenterHotel Midgardur, DIVE.IS picked me up at Bus Stop 10 a whole 2 minutes away. But fair warning…that is an insanely busy stop at 8 am. There were swarms of people lining up to board 2 full-sized buses and I was looking for a mini-bus wondering where it was going to pull over.
Thankfully, both the tour company and I were doing what we were supposed to: looking for each other.
Because we were both looking for each other, I saw the mini-bus coming up in traffic and therefore saw a guide jump out of the passenger seat. I headed to him and he confirmed my name and we were safely in the mini-bus before traffic moved again. That was smooth and considering I was left last summer at my hotel by a different tour company in a different country, this was both refreshing and impressive.
Left: Remco, from The Netherlands Right: Nino, from Italy
Once inside the bus, I officially met both my guides for the day. Meet Remco (the guide who jumped out to find me) from The Netherlands and Nino (driver of the mini-bus) from Milan, Italy. These two made a great team and kept us laughing as you can probably tell from the photo.
On our 45-60 minute drive out to Þingvellir, Remco and Nino briefed us on how the day would go and once we arrived, it was time to get into our gear.
Getting Into Costume (Character)
By gear, I mean dry suits. I had honestly never heard of a dry suit, only a wetsuit. But here’s the thing. I’m quite sure it’s already dawned on you at this point (otherwise there would be no shock factor to snorkeling in Iceland) that the water is
very cold freezing here. Okay, so not quite on the freezing part, but it’s pretty dang close. The average temperature is 2-3 degrees Celsius which is 36-37 degrees Fahrenheit! 😱
Who’s ready to jump in?? 😜
The reason wearing a wetsuit wouldn’t work is that it lets in a small amount of water that your body will then use to insulate you. Yeah, no thanks. A dry suit keeps your body dry. And, now you know why I didn’t have to wear my swimsuit to snorkel.
Instead, we were instructed to come dressed in warm base layers like this top and these bottoms, but only one set (the suit does need to fit). We could, however, wear 2 pairs of warm merino wool socks if needed. I brought two pairs but only ended up needing one.
If for some reason we couldn’t come already dressed in our base layers, they do have this changing van but otherwise, there are no changing rooms at Thingvellir National Park. There are two restrooms but changing isn’t permitted in them as it would make long lines for people who need to actually use the restroom. So, it makes things much easier (and faster) if you come ready to go and our entire group did just that.
While we were in the van, we put on what looked like a down jumpsuit (with a stirrup for your heel) over our base layers. Then we got out of the van to be helped into our dry suits.
Getting into a dry suit takes two people. It’s an act in itself and I found it pretty amusing. Imagine putting on a giant, body-conforming onesie with built-in boots. Each part of the suit required two people to pull on. Each leg, each arm, each head (just kidding-seeing if you were paying attention 😂)…but seriously, every single part.
I would pull up on one part of the suit while Nino pulled up the other side. Then you have to get it over your head. My head and face were too small for the headpiece so it kept flipping up covering my lips. Nino and I both pulled it down and rolled it over on itself, but it didn’t stay. Your neck seal is tested and if needed, a tightener is placed. I needed the tightener but even after it was placed, the headpiece still kept flipping over my lips!
Once that was on, they came around and put on our “glittens”. That’s my word for whatever these part glove, part mittens were. They had a place for your thumb and then one for your index finger like gloves, but then there’s one large compartment for the other three fingers like mittens. And there you have it-glittens!
The many bins of different sizes of snorkel equipment
Then we were fitted with masks/snorkels and flippers and proceeded to de-fog our masks. If you’ve snorkeled or dived before you know what this means. If you have never done either of these, you spit into your mask and rub it all around the inside. This ensures that your mask doesn’t fog up and believe me, that’s the first thing it will do in most any water, but especially 36-degree water!
Red Carpet Brown Plank
We carried our flippers and masks and headed on the 2-minute walk to the pier.
Here is my group waiting our turn to get in the water.
Funny Story: It took me a while to find myself in this photo and I thought at first DIVE.IS had sent me the wrong ones. A person looks all different when wearing a mask and I automatically skipped over the small, short girl in the middle because I’m used to being the bigger one in the group (you can read my fairly recent weight loss story here). Also, at 5’6″ I’m not used to being the short one in a group. But when none of the other faces looked like me and I knew I was in the middle, I realized the short girl was, in fact, me! 😂
Our turn finally came and Remco (who was the snorkel guide for our part of the group) got in the water and showed us how to rescue float and what to do to keep the water OUT. Don’t wave your arms around or try to swim. Let your arms float (or move as little as possible for people like myself who were using a GoPro) along with your body as the current will keep you going. Kick slightly with your flippers if needed but don’t make big splashes in the water as it disturbs the view for others behind you.
And, with that, we were ready to start our 30-minute snorkel adventure. It was time! 😁🙌🏼
I’m not going to lie, the shock of how cold the water was hit me like a car hitting a brick wall at 40 mph! Yes, I had on the dry suit which covered my head but the seal around the headpiece isn’t 100%. So your hair and obviously your face does get wet. 😳❄
I’m fairly certain I just got a tiny taste of what the polar plunge feels like. Pipe down polar plungers…I said tiny!
But it was SO completely worth it! Don’t you agree?
How gorgeous is this? 😍 And yes, that’s me on the right with my hands underwater (letting in the cold water) to use my GoPro The things one does for photos and videos. And, I would totally do it again!
Let’s just say that if a jaw could drop while wearing a dry suit…
then this would be jaw-dropping scenery!
For obvious reasons, Silfra was so different from any other snorkeling experience I’ve had. The rock formations, the clarity, the way the light hits it…
Time for my closeup…although a snorkel mask isn’t my recommendation for a headshot. 😂 However, you can see a relative close-up of the glitten on my left hand. See what I mean?
I look like I’m sleeping here but I’m really looking straight down as far as my eyes can see!
I’m on the right
I love this shot because it shows depth. I know the water looks murky here, but it’s actually the sun beaming into the water. If the sun wasn’t there (which I was thankful it was because the lighting was beautiful), the middle would look just like the left and right sides in this photo.
Such a cool visual with the shallow and the deep. I’m taking it all in!
Near the end, the water became really shallow and the colors were absolutely gorgeous!
When it was time for us to exit the water, for whatever reason, I thought it would be warmer. It’s not that I had gotten used to the water and it felt warmer by the end of the course because believe me, that didn’t happen. But I was just as cold or colder when I got out. In fact, we kept our masks on to protect our eyes and face from the cold on the walk back.
Once we were all out of the water, we made our way back to the “dressing lot”. A “dressing lot” is what occurs when you cross a parking lot with a dressing room! 😉
Getting Out of Costume (Character)
It was a beautiful day and after we were helped out of our dry suits, we climbed back into the van to take off the jumpsuit and put back on our own clothes and shoes. There was time to use the restroom if needed and during that time I took a moment to admire this view!
Because I read that only my hair and hands would get wet (which is what happened), I brought my microfiber hair towel I travel with sometimes. I was able to wrap my hair up in it when we were done and put my snow hat on over that. This not only allowed me to not have to deal with wet hair, but it kept me warmer too. Every girl on our tour made a comment about how they wish they had done the same thing. So girls and guys with long hair-bring one of these with you!
The Wrap Party Dropoff
Remco hamming it up for the camera!
On our 45-60 minute drive back, we enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies with a yummy chocolate layer. Chocolate is one of my love languages people. Everything is awesome with chocolate! Before I knew it we were back in Reykjavik!
Thank you to Remco for taking photos of me while I was filming and to DIVE.IS for providing me with them!
Do you like to do the “most unique” things or have the “only place in the world” type experiences when you travel? Then snorkeling Silfra with DIVE.IS is the experience for you! I couldn’t have been happier with my choice and am so happy to have found them!
Next time, (after I learn to scuba dive), I want to dive Silfra and I would happily choose DIVE.IS again. If you aren’t interested in or are unable to snorkel Silfra, be sure to check out other Iceland tours recommended by DIVE.IS.
Are you an adventure traveler? Have you snorkeled Silfra or would you try it? Please let me know your thoughts below!
‘Til next time…