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!!!
Looks like a really fun experience! I have never been snorkeling somewhere that required me to suit up like that! I’ve always been in warm waters. Even though it was uncomfortable for you at first I’m sure it was much better than freezing!
It was worth the discomfort:) Thank you fo dropping by.
WOW that is so cool, snorkeling 2 continents, I will take note of this when i came to visit iceland. I love your video.
Right?!? ONLY IN ICELAND so it’s defintiely buscketlist worthy.
I enjoyed snorkeling in the Maldives. And the underwater beauty was amazing. But in the freezing water!!!! Really out of the comfort zone. Great to read your experiences.
OMG… that is commitment!` Can’t say I’ve ever heard of Silfra… Some terrific out of the box thinking for an alternative Iceland experience!
What a unique experience! I would have been terrified of the cold, too! I don’t know how I feel about wearing all those layers and then going into the water, I am pretty claustrophobic! yikes
I always wondered about doing this but was also pretty worried about not being able to enjoy it because i would be too old… i always feel the cold! But I will take your word for it that its not too cold!! That water looks well worth any discomfort anyway!
I really wanted to do this when we were in Iceland but it was too cold, so glad you got to do it.
I had no idea you could do this in Iceland. Such a cool thing to do. My sister has a dry suit and the qualifications. I bet she would love to do this.
Scuba diving? in Iceland? We never imagined those two things going together so well! I (jerry) have put on a snorkel to grab clams in Baja Mexico and that has been the extent of it, really. With water that clear, i would give scuba diving a go. You can always warm up in a hot spring afterwards, Right?
We did snorkeling since it takes about 2 days to get the Dry Suit certification to go scuba diving. My husband and I are both PADI divers but drysuit is a different certification:) AND yes…. there’s a hot spring about an hour drive from the Silfra Fissure:)
I so wanted to do this when I visited Iceland, but didn’t get the chance. It looks fantastic and will be on my list when I return. tHIS POST IS MAKING ME WANT TO GET BACK SOON.
You should try… Life is short and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. hahaha Seriously, if you want to do it, then I guess you should:)
I’ve read about this place before. I love how you balance the touches of humour (I’m imagining a gathering of people hopping around to assume the drysuit-donning position) with the reverence for the beauty of the experience. What beautiful pics too.
Thank you for dropping by:) It was funny but not funny… you know what I mean?!? I was keeping my cool coz I know there’s no turning back:) It was worth it though!!!
Such a cool experience. I know others that have done this too and absolutist loved it. So glad there is a hot chocolate reward at the end though! I’ll need to add this to the itinerary for a return trip to iceland.
Snorkeling is one of my favourite things to do when i am near water! I also did Scuba diving which was pretty fun too! But snorkeling will always be my top!
Okay, this is seriously going on my bucket list! How awesome! Also, thanks for providing not only fantastic photos but videos as well.
I’m not familiar with “dry suit diving”, but it sounds (only 2 days training?) that it’s much easier than getting certified for scuba. From the videos, it’s like snorkeling? I’ve been to Iceland once, and the land was amazing, so I supposed the sea would be as well.
Hello Tom, 2 days for drysuit granting you are Open Diver Certified:) ANd yes…. we went snorkeling instead of Scuba Diving.
Talk about a breathtaking experience! How cool and that water is super clear! I’d DEFINITELY need to wear 3 pairs of wool socks too, haha. I hate being cold.
How inspirational!! Good for you for going beyond your comfort zone. It sounds like quite an amazing experience and your pictures are stunning. What a great recommendation. will definitively add silfa Fissure when I visit iceland. Great article
We almost went snorkeling in silfra during my february trip, but last minute struck it from the itinerary because…february. Might be a bit more bareable when there isn’t snow on the ground, lol.
Wow diving between 2 continents sounds so exciting.videos look amazing.i would love to experience this. Not sure if I can bear the cold though
What an amazing experience! Snorkelling is one of the highest thing on my bucket list hence why I am learning to swim now. I’m not sure i will be able to cope with the cold weather. The water is so clear! Are you planning to go back and try out the diving?
So glad your post included some video of you guys snorkeling! So amazing! The water is so clear it’s almost like the tropics…but way colder! haha
Wow, this looks like such a beautiful and unique Experience! I think I would’ve picked the snorkel option as well. It looks like there is still so much to see! Lovely post.
We were just there last month and had no clue you could do this! saving this for next time we visit. thanks for sharing!
that water though! looks amazing if not a little scary!
This looks amazing but I don’t know if I could do it, It looks so cold but I really want to visit Iceland and you really should try as many experiences as possible or why travel.
Ahh, I’m so glad I clicked on this! What a cool opportunity; I didn’t even know there were diving opportunities in ICeland. And that visibility is INSANE. I’ve only been diving in tropical places, so I’d be wary of the cold water as well, but I haven’t experienced a cold yet that some hot chocolate can’t fix, so I’m totally down for this 😉 Thanks for the read!
Thank you for dropping by. YES, it was EPIC!!! You need to try it out…
This looks like such an amazing experience! I have never had the chance to snorkel but it seems like such a cool and memorable experience. Christina xo
Snorkeling is another way to see the underwater world… AND this place in Silfra is definitely a MUST!!! You should try snorkeling soon… easy peasy:) Thank you for dropping by.
How beautiful and such an amazing experience to get to have. snorkeling would be so cool and the sights that you got to see can’t be beaten. I hope one day I get the chance to go to iceland and do this. thanks for sharing.
Simply amazing. I have been to Iceland and stayed there for 5-6 months, but I didn’t go snorkelling at the Silfra Fissure. I’m planning to go there again and hopefully make time to experience this. Thanks for sharing 🙂