When I think about snorkeling or diving, tropical destinations like Bora Bora or the Bahamas comes to mind.
When I read that Iceland has one of the best dive spots in the world, I knew I had to check it out.
Silfra, located in Thingvellir National Park is actually a tectonic fissure, a rift between the North American and the Eurasian Tectonic Plates. They are diverging at roughly 2 cm per year.
The rift this creates is filled with fresh water from the nearby Langjökull glacier making Silfra one of the clearest dive spots in the world.
It's also the only dive spot where you can be in two continents at once.
The downside to the coolest diving spot in the world? The water is freezing! Roughly 35° to 39° year round. To comfortably stay in the near freezing water for 30 minutes you have to wear a dry suit. These are wetsuits on steroids designed to keep your dry (for the most part).
Once you’re fully outfitted you will feel like a penguin and think you look absolutely ridiculous. It's a lengthy process and it takes a bit more time to get in and out of the suits than you spend in the water.
The first step is to strip down to your base layer and put on a pair (or 2) of wool socks. Next, you are given an insulated, puffy onesie. If you’re not currently feeling ridiculous, just wait.
Next comes the actual suit that has to be put on in stages. First your legs, then arms, then your instructor helps pull the suit over your head.
From there, you get a zip tie around your neck to make sure there’s no room for water to penetrate your suit. Then comes your gloves and mask. Once your group is all dressed, you waddle to the dive entrance and get your fins.
One by one you’ll enter the water.
The initial shock of hitting the water is intense but as soon as you take one look below the surface you'll forget that you’re swimming in glacier water. Your gloves are standard neoprene so your hands and face go numb almost instantly. Other than that, with all the protection, it's not nearly as cold as you'd think. The dry suit has air in it for an extra layer of warmth and to help you stay afloat.
Silfra is comprised of 3 sections: Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral and Silfra Lagoon. The depth of the water and terrain changes between sections.Because of the conditions, there are no fish in Silfra. The sights below are of sweeping underwater hills, lava rocks and crystal blue water.
The 30 minute dive goes by so fast and the sights are so magical that being a little cold doesn't matter.
It's an experience not to be missed in Iceland.