Thank you to DIVE.IS for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
To me, traveling is not about crossing places off my “bucket list” and calling it quits. It’s about diving into a new culture, experiencing new things, seeing the beauty of other places, and embracing the differences. But I must admit, there are certain things that I’ve done that I think, “that was totally a bucket list moment.” This means it’s a place or experience that makes my life feel more fulfilled because of it. For example, some items I’ve checked off on my bucket list include skydiving, flying first class, climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge, renting a jeep in Hawaii, dog sledding in Colorado, drinking a Guinness in Dublin, and so on. And just because I can check something off my bucket list doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it again! In fact, it’s usually the total opposite. I almost always want to experience it again! Snorkeling in Silfra was no exception.
When making plans for Iceland, I knew I wanted to drive to waterfalls, see the airplane wreck in South Iceland, and allow time for us to have some downtime in Reykjavik. When I came across the suggestion to go snorkeling, I didn’t even have to think twice. I got in touch with DIVE.IS after seeing some wonderful reviews and they made the booking process super easy. We chose to go snorkeling on our last full day in Iceland. It ended up being the best way to wrap up our trip.
About an hour drive from downtown Reykjavik, the Silfra is in Þingvellir National Park, one of the stops on the Golden Circle. Formed in 1789, Silfra is a fissure between the North American and European tectonic plates. That’s right. It means on this excursion we actually got to snorkel between two tectonic plates! Luckily for us, the tectonic plates continue to slowly move about 2cm further apart every year, instead of closer together. What makes this feel like a bucket list experience? It’s the only place in the world where you can snorkel in the crack of two continental plates.
The Silfra fissure cut into the underground spring and is filled with melted glacial water that has been making its way through hardened, porous lava rock for decades. The water originates from Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull. Our guide told us that the water we were swimming in that day started it’s journey to the Silfra before we were even born. 🤯 Because of this process, the water is some of the clearest in the world with an incredible visibility of more than 400 feet. The water stays between 35 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit and because of the constant flow of fresh water, it never freezes. This allows tourists to snorkel or dive year-round.
TWF Tip: DIVE.IS offers the option to be picked up in Reykjavik, but if you have your own car, I highly recommend driving yourself. It’s an easy drive and saves you money.
Upon arrival, we were cold. As a couple of Floridians, we shivered at the thought of getting into 37 degree water. I knew they had to have a plan to keep us warm, and boy did they ever. We stripped down into our own leggings/long underwear and long sleeve shirts before slipping into a warm onesie suit they had ready for us based on our height and weight. Once that was zipped up, we wiggled our way into a dry suit. They taped up my wrists and buckled a choker around the neck of the suit to ensure water didn’t leak into the suit. We topped off the trendy outfit with a head suit and some gloves. With snorkeling equipment and flippers in hand, we waddled over to Silfra.
All my fear of freezing in the water disappeared when we walked in. The dry suit did its job and kept me totally dry until my face and hands hit the water. The cold water was a punch to the face, but the clarity and color of the water were brilliant enough to forget that my lips were going numb. The only other part of our bodies that got wet were our hands. The guide gave us tips on ways to not get much water in the gloves, but it was natural to swim with our hands. This allowed the gloves to fill up with water.
The Bluest Blue
The experience is almost indescribable. The beauty of the water and intense blue colors seemed unreal until we were actually underwater and looking at it all. Because of small earthquakes, the rocks continue to move or fall, creating new tunnels and underwater terrain. The hardest part was keeping ourselves at the top of the water when you have the urge to dive deeper and explore it all. Our drysuits, filled with warm air from our bodies, made the swim effortless by keeping us afloat at the top. A couple of the girls on our tour had our guide let out the air so they could try to go deeper, but it was still a struggle for them to go more than a couple of feet below the surface.
Throughout our experience, with one guide in the front and one in the back, they continued to talk to us about our surroundings and take underwater photos. It was nice to be able to ask questions or have them point out the bluest of the blue. Thirty minutes in the water flew by, but towards the end, my hands were freezing! The snorkeling tour wraps up in a larger lagoon with beautiful colors. We soaked in the moment and I tried to mentally capture everything I was seeing before heading out to undress and sip on some hot chocolate.
Overall, we were more than pleased with the staff and experience. Snorkeling in Silfra was better than I imagined and I’d recommend it to every single person that’s visiting Iceland.
The Weekend Fox Tips
- You do have to pay to park at the National Park. Paying with a major credit card is easiest. A private car is 500ISK for the day.
- The entire experience, without travel time, was around 2 hours for us. If you are snorkeling in Silfra, plan your day around it. Your hair will be wet and we were ready for some lunch afterward. Do you want to do this first thing in the morning or make it your last stop of the day?
- Because it’s located in Þingvellir National Park, don’t forget to experience everything there. We walked to Öxarárfoss waterfall and it was totally worth it. The National Park is the perfect spot for plenty of photo opportunities.
- Drink the water! When will you be able to do that again?
- The guides do bring underwater cameras and you can purchase the photos, but I highly suggest bringing a GoPro.
- These photos capture the beauty of Silfra, but head over to DIVE.IS to see some more incredible underwater photos!