Ever thought of swimming in extremely clear glacial water, in some of the most unique diving and snorkelling sites in the world? If so, Iceland will be your heaven. If not… well, you should!
Within the past decade, Iceland has become known for its diving and snorkelling sites. The “out of this world” water clarity together with the extraordinary underwater landscapes make Iceland a top destination for adventurous divers and snorkellers, wishing to experience the chill of a cold-water experience. So, here is a written a complete guide for you to dive in.
Many divers worldwide have heard about the dive between the continents, the famous Silfra fissure. Silfra has become one of the top 5 dive and snorkelling site in the entire world, and for good reason!
Silfra is a fissure made by the motion of the two tectonic plates that are ripping Iceland apart – the North American and the Eurasian continental plates, which are in constant movement. The fresh water that flows through Silfra is melted glacial water coming from Langjökull glacier. It has been filtered through decades before surfacing into Silfra. It is not enough to say that the water is clear… you will hardly find any clearer water on earth. The underwater visibility is over 100 meters (330 feet), which makes the quality of your mask the only limiting point of how far you will be able to see. The underwater canyon-like landscape of the site is astonishing – you will feel like you are flying.
Silfra is in Þingvellir National Park, about a 50-minute drive from Reykjavík. Þingvellir provides a picturesque surrounding area with a waterfall, a lake and mountains in the backgrounds. We at What’s On can arrange transportation to Silfra, include this activity as part of a bigger tour or combo, or, you can add this activity to your day exploring the Golden Circle.
Check the diving and snorkelling tours here or contact us for more information.
How cold is the water in Silfra?
The melted glacial water flowing through Silfra does not really warm up from the time it melts at the glacier. The water temperature hardly gets over 2°C (36°F) all year around, which makes it a very cold diving site.
But do not be afraid of the cold. The equipment provided on site will keep you dry and warm. A warm undergarment underneath the dry suit, together with a thick hood and gloves will make you look like an astronaut and believe me, you will not feel the cold very much. If you do, the speechless views are totally worth the cold. It is a memory you, your family, and friends will never forget.
Diving tours in Silfra
If you are a certified scuba diver, you should not miss the experience of diving Silfra. Even without marine life, it is one of the best dive sites in the world.
Note that proof of dry suit diving experience is mandatory, either by having the dry suit specialty certification, or having a proof of a minimum of 10 dry suit dives within two years prior to the dive in Silfra. If you do not have this certification, you can get it with the Dry Suit Day Course here in Iceland. What better place to learn to dive in cold water? Check out the dry suit courses. (Contact us for more information).
The underwater part of the dive will be between 40 and 50 minutes, which allows you to enjoy every section of Silfra. Make sure you get your photo touching both continents at the same time!
Snorkelling tours in Silfra
You do not have to be an experienced diver, or even an extreme snorkeler, to enjoy the beauty of Silfra. The water is so clear that you will be able to see all the site even from the surface. By joining a Silfra snorkelling tour, you will be part of a small group of snorkelers guided through Silfra by an experienced guide who is going to take good care of you. Your guide will make sure that you stay comfortably dry and warm by providing all the necessary gear and advice. Even though the dry suit makes you float, and no advanced swimming skills are required, you need to be a comfortable swimmer to be able to join this tour.
The in-water time will be between 30 to 40 minutes, which allows you to enjoy the snorkelling site entirely. The memory will last you a lifetime. You will understand why TripAdvisor has ranked the Silfra snorkelling tour the 4th best experience worldwide in 2019.
What is the best time of the year to dive or snorkel Silfra?
Tours are running all year around and the water is always as clear. It may be surprising, but you can also dive or snorkel Silfra in the wintertime. The temperature always remains the same, so the water never freezes. For your comfort, the companies at Silfra will have you changed in heated changing rooms.
Other diving and snorkelling sites in Iceland near Reykjavik
Silfra is without doubt the most famous dive and snorkelling site of the country. But other hidden sites are almost as attractive.
Davíðsgjá is another fissure in the lake of Þingvellir national park. It is well known for local divers and is a great dive for experienced divers.
Lake Kleifarvatn, the underwater hot springs, where you can dive or snorkel in the middle of a geothermally active area.
Garður, an ocean dive at the end of the Reykjanes peninsula will make you discover all the aquatic life of the North Atlantic.