When I was planning my 3 day Iceland road trip (layover on my way to Egypt), I knew a few activities that I desperately wanted to do: Waterfalls, Blue Lagoon, and the Silfra Snorkeling. That’s not the first thing that pops into people’s heads in regards to Iceland, but it should! The Silfra Fissure is the gap between two tectonic plates and has some of the purest water on Earth! I read through dive silfra reviews to find the best company for me! Read below to see my experiences and see if this is right for you!
I last came to Iceland in December, so my Silfra snorkeling was canceled because of the bad weather. I was really upset at the time, but the weather was really terrible, so it was probably for the best. I knew that I had to come back to fulfill this bucket list item!
I saw all of the Facebook videos for it, and I wanted it bad enough that I made a layover in Iceland to make sure I could do it! I rented my trusty car with Iceland Car Rental and off I went to meet up with Arctic Adventure for an adventure of a lifetime!!
How do you get to the Silfra car park?
Silfra Snorkeling from Reykjavik is an option if you don’t have a car, or you can drive yourself. It’s cheaper to drive yourself; although after car rental cost and gas, it probably ends up about the same.
Similar to the water you’ll snorkel in, the directions were really clear. I was told to park in P5 at Thingvellir, and walk 400m to where all the vans are. I actually passed the vans to turn into the parking lot, so they are really easy to spot.
Getting into the actual water is also like a minute or two walk to a small platform. It’s not far at all.
What do you wear?
You’ll be given some sort of undersuit in addition to a dry suit, so you don’t need any equipment or anything with you. However, since it’s a *dry* suit, you also don’t need a swimsuit.
They ask for you to undress down to one thin layer before you put on their undersuit layer. I just wore yoga pants and a light shirt, and I was very comfortable throughout Silfra snorkeling experience.
I ended up buying some wool socks with Puffins and “Iceland” all over them because I didn’t bring any wool socks. The pre-trip email said to bring them, however, I’m not really sure they were strictly necessary. I think they were just in case water got in the suit. Better safe than sorry.
I do need to stress this. Water *might* enter the suit. None entered mine, but a man in my group did have a little come in at the seams of his gloves.
Once put on, the suit makes the whole walking thing a bit awkward but still manageable. Man, was I glad that I chose snorkeling instead of diving because that equipment would have been really cumbersome! (And yes, I am certified! The only place I have ever chosen snorkeling over diving!).
I felt like Randy in a Christmas Story when he was in his snowsuit and couldn’t put his arms down.
Is it physically strenuous?
I’m not in shape, and this was something I was a little worried about. The walk from the “getting ready area” to the platform to get in is maybe like a 1-2 minute walk. If you have the diving gear, the guide says it definitely feels more like a mile!
Once you get to the platform, you cover your masks in spit, and I quote, “Like a cappuccino” to make sure it doesn’t fog up. The guide rinses the masks, you get yours back, put your fins on (my guide helped me), and in you pop!
Once in the water, it’s hardly strenuous at all. There is a gentle current, so it’s more like a lazy river than anything. The hardest part about it is trying to make sure you aren’t kicking anyone or being kicked by anyone. The dry suit makes for some awkward kicking, so I ended up kicking more like a frog, which helped.
It’s mostly just a straight channel with one left turn. The guide floats and waits for you to turn, so it’s pretty hard to get lost or go the wrong way.
Getting out of the water is easy because the guide takes your fins off and helps you get out. You just float on your back like a baby and off your fins come!
Then all that’s left is just walking back to the “getting ready” area! It looks really far on the map, but it couldn’t have been more than a 3-5 minute walk back.
Basically, it wasn’t that hard. I didn’t have any labored breathing or stressful moments.
What’s a dry suit like?
This was a new feeling for me! I’ve been diving in a fair few places, but I’ve only ever done wetsuits!
Getting into them required help (not just for me but for everyone!). They put baby powder on the wrists and head holes and then you pretty much give birth to yourself. I likened it a lot to that scene in Ace Ventura when he’s oozing out of the rhino.
The most surprising feeling was actually getting into the water. The moment my first leg went in, I felt a compression. It was as if someone was squeezing my leg. The feeling continued until I was completely in the water and went horizontal, and the air all evened out.
After I was in the water, I was really just so enthralled by what I was seeing and the temperatures that I was feeling, that I hardly even noticed the suit at all.
Getting out of it was fun too! I felt like a toddler being stripped down. Piece by piece, I had different items tugged from my body. Then I had to hop up on a bench and have someone tug the dry suit (boots are connected to the body) off while I held on to the railing behind me.
I do have to tell you about the worst part of the dry suit. As I said earlier, some water could possibly get in. To circumvent this, at the “weak points” of the suit (basically where the suit ends, and another piece begins) they put tight collars around to try and keep water out.
Those weak points are the two wrists and the neck. The collar around the neck was tight. Almost uncomfortably tight. It was a real dilemma to decide if I wanted it looser or to risk water coming in.
I decided on tighter.
I asked him to go one more click tighter, but that was literally choking me, so I went one level down. I was very aware of the collar the whole time I was out of the water, and it was very uncomfortable.
But, once I was in the water, I didn’t feel it at all! Posssssssibly because my whole head was numb (wetsuit hood), possibly because I was distracted by how cool (literally and metaphorically) it was, or possibly because of the way I was floating… but I didn’t feel that collar.
It’s not a huge deal, it was just a surprise to me, and I wanted you to be mentally prepared!
What’s the water like?
Cold. That’s just it; it’s cold.
The water is runoff from a glacier, and glaciers are cold! The water is always 34 F which I found fascinating. No matter the temperature outside, the water is always the same!
It made me kind of glad that I hadn’t been able to do it in Dec, because while the water temperature itself would have been the same, the outside temperature would have been *much colder*.
Or maybe that’s a good thing because then the water would actually be warmer than outside?
You really only feel the cold on your face and hands because those are the only parts touching the water. The gloves are really like glittens or moves because your thumb and pointer finger are separate, but the other 3 fingers are clumped.
Since the glittens are wet, the less you move your hands, the better! Your body heat warms the water up, and when you move your hands, new water enters that’s cold. I was taking pictures a lot in the beginning, but I soon stopped and was just enjoying the experience… and warmer hands.
Besides the temperature, the water is clear. So so clear. The bottom looked so close like I could touch it, but I knew there was no way I could. Mostly because I’d probably end up looking like a duck with its butt in the air if I tried to go down since I was so buoyant.
And the water is fresh! It was so nice not having a salty taste in my mouth! The water is so clean because of all the filtration through the rocks during its long journey from the glacier! I actually even took my snorkel out to take a few sips during the dive!
What about the views?
I know, I’ve been talking about all the “boring stuff.” Let’s talk about what there is to see! Well, since the water is so clear, you can see *everything*…everything there is to see, lol!
You won’t find any beautifully colored tropical fish here. What you will see, however, are long strands of algae affectionately named “Troll Hair” reaching out to you from the rocks.
You’ll also see beautiful rock formations created when unsteady rocks slipped down into the fissure because of active plate movements.
What’s not to be missed is the view on land as well! Definitely don’t spend your whole time looking down and ahead! Pop your head out and take a peek around! The Icelandic countryside is so ethereally beautiful!
Something that reading dive silfra reviews probably won’t tell you is that Thingvellir was home to the first Viking Parliament. There is a flag in the place where they first met. They chose the spot since it was more centrally located for everyone to get to, and the owner had recently been declared a murderer and his lands were made public domain!
Speaking of fighters, Thingvellir was also where the fierce battle between the Hound and Brienne of Tarth (Game of Thrones for all you newbs) was shot!
They say that you’ll be swimming “between tectonic plates”… yes, that’s true, but the true plates are 7 km apart! Still technically between, but you won’t be touching both sides or anything like that. Your guide should point the plates out to you though.
All in all, I can’t recommend this experience or Arctic Adventures enough!
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Hi there! Such a wonderful write-up, thank you!
Thanks for your post we are going to snorkel with this group next week and I was a bit concerned, I am 54, and not in the best shape. But I am snorkeler/swimmer, walker and a certified diver and don’t smoke, and have down the polar bear dip in Lake Ontario. But in last couple of years I have added some weight and was concerned I would not fit any of the dry suits. I hope I can. Feel free to private email if you wish to share if there were any large people snorkelling. Thank you again for sharing. What a great adventure.
I’ll email you too in case you don’t get this, but I was the large person snorkeling!
Wish I could go there. Your descriptions are the next best thing!
Aw <3 Hopefully the pictures help too!
Thanks for the blow-by-blow of exactly what it felt like to get in and out of the dry suit and what it was like in the water. I thought it had sounded scary and unstable, but apparently, it’s pretty set as it is.
Yes, it was a lot different than I had anticipated, so I just wanted to make sure that I made it ~clear~ 😀 But it was really fun and not as cold as you’d think!
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