When I first started looking for things to do in Iceland and I read about diving in the Silfra Fissure, I knew it was something I’d love to do with my husband. “Seriously, diving between two continents? How awesome is that?!”
However after some research I found out that I needed to be certified for dry suit diving (a 2 day course at least). While I was willing, considering everything we had planned for the trip, we decided to do the snorkeling instead.
We all have our different comfort zones and while mine is undoubtedly anything water related it was NOT freezing cold water (around 2°C / 35°F). I was worried that I wouldn’t withstand the cold and have to quit halfway regardless of the drysuit. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone to learn and to reach and experience new heights….. and of course, to better ourselves.
Anyways, this is how it is done.
Getting to Silfra Fissure
We opted for a tour offered by Dive.is, which by the way I highly recommend. It also includes transfers from Reykjavik; they pick you up from your hotel or nearby pick up stop (in case there is no road access) and drive you back after the tour. We, on the other hand, opted to drive it ourselves since we have other activities planned after snorkeling. The drive was easy. We got to Thingvellir National Park a bit early, so we got the chance to stop and admire the view.
We parked in lot P5 and then walked to the meeting point which was easy to find since the Dive.is vans are parked there.
Tip: If you are driving on your own, arrive at least 15 to 20mins early before your tour starts since they won’t guarantee you a spot on the next outing if you are late. Also you have to pay for parking in the national park and while there was meant to be a parking machine there wasn’t one (this won’t be a valid excuse not to pay). Payment can be done online or at the visitor’s center; as parking is valid for the whole day I recommend you do it online from the comfort of your hotel. Details can be found here: http://www.thingvellir.is/2294
This was the comical part (at least I thought it was). Upon arrival, our guide was waiting for us with all the equipment ready. I wasn’t expecting this part to be hard at all. How hard can it be to dress up for snorkeling? Oh Boy… putting on the dry suit wasn’t fun for me and I guess for everyone too. We are required to wear long thermal underwear as a base layer and two pairs of wool socks (I wore 3 socks). Told you… I wasn’t joking about being so worried about the cold. And then we are given with an overall/jumpsuit to layer over the thermal underwear.
Then, after a briefing we finally done on the drysuit (remember to use the restroom before!). Putting on the dry suit wasn’t easy, and it was really uncomfortable. Everything is watertight except for the gloves; the neck gasket is the worst and can feel like someone choking you. And we do look like silly astronauts. Our guide, Clarence, is very helpful though and making sure that everyone put on the suit correctly and taught us how to use the snorkeling equipment. He also helped us feel comfortable and ensured us that we would be warm.
We walked about 1omins to Silfra Fissure entry point from the parking lot where we suited up. And waited for another 15 to 20mins for our turn. It was too uncomfortable for me, but I told myself that it is going to be worth it.
Fyi: The dry suits keep you buoyant and will keep you afloat, however it is the tour’s requirement that all guests know how to swim (doesn’t need to be strong swimmers).
What to Expect
As soon we got into the water and I put my face down in the water, all the discomfort was gone. With our guide ahead, I slowly followed the rest of the group, and I realized that current was actually helping us drift at a nice pace so no real swimming was needed. It was a little hard to deal with the buoyancy of the dry suit in as much as I wasn’t able to move around as easy as I wanted to. So, I literally was just floating and looking down at this beautiful sight.
Silfra Fissure has some of the clearest, purest and most beautiful water in the world. Thanks to constant filtering of the water by lava rock visibility is to up to 120 meters. The thought of floating between two continental plates is so mind-blowing to me.
- Sections of Silfra
As per the Dive.is, there are four sections where you can snorkel or dive in Silfra:
- Silfra Big Crack, this is the narrowest part where the continental plates are so close that you can almost touch them.
- The fissure then widens into Silfra Hall, it has a full spectrum of Silfra colors and clarity become all the more apparent. At this point, if you look at just the right angle, you can see all the way to lake Thingvallavatn, over 150m away.
- Then you explore Silfra Cathedral.
- Finally you end the tour at Silfra Lagoon, a shallow lagoon with fields of algae (nicknamed “troll’s hair”) which makes the area so colorful.
Well… right now you might want to ask if it’s that cold. My answer is yes but you won’t feel it over the whole body. The dry suit kept most of me warm and dry the entire time. I used “most of me” because some parts of my body were in direct contact with the water. My hands and lips hurt a bit at first but quickly became totally numb from the cold so I can’t really complain and it’s well worth one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had.
So, after about 40 minutes of incredible sights, you exit the water and walk back to the meeting point where lots of hot chocolate is served. We talked a bit with the group and everyone said they were extremely happy about the experience.
I do wish you get the chance to experience this amazing out of this world adventure. This is the rarest opportunity to swim between two continents and if this doesn’t impress you then I don’t know what will. Let NOT fear to stop you from experiencing new things… Make things happen!!!