Updated: Oct 20, 2022
Have you ever imagined the possibility of having a walk between two continents? And I mean it literally! Visualize yourself, seeing the boundaries of both tectonic plates. Let’s take things a bit further. Now, picture the possibility of snorkeling in Iceland between tectonic places. Sounds both fantastic and somewhat impossible, right? Well, We’ve already seen some hidden and unexpected pearls in Iceland. You should know by now that in Iceland, everything is possible!
Snorkeling is ideal for people who still haven’t had a chance to try diving yet. It does not require external help or any special training and skills except knowing how to swim. If you would like to see the other side of Iceland and what it hides underneath the ground, add this option to your bucket list.
Snorkeling in Silfra, Iceland
Silfra is what we can consider a magical place in Iceland. It is located in the Thingvellir National Park, which is one of the most visited places on the island. One of the reasons is the history of this place. This is where the first parliament in Europe was settled in the 930 A.D; in Iceland, it is called the Althing. The other reason is the fissure that separates two continents: America and Europe. Hundreds of tourists come here to be able to walk between the two plates and be able to see the actual fissure.
When you look at it from the outside, it may not seem impressive or unusual. But make no mistake, this is yet another natural wonder of Iceland, and the magic intensifies when you go snorkeling to the bowels of the earth!
To be able to experience the wonders of the underwater world of Silfra, you need to join an organized excursion first. Snorkeling on your own in Silfra is not permitted! Even if you are the most experienced swimmer in the world and have all the required equipment, it is simply forbidden. There are several companies offering this tour, so you will have no problem finding one. You can connect it with your Golden Circle tour of horseriding tour for example.
Some of the companies offer Reykjavík as a meeting and starting point for the tour. This way, you don’t have to worry about finding a way to reach the park. The truth is, the tour is not cheap at all, but it is worth every penny! You will experience a unique and uncommon activity.
When's the Best Moment to Snorkel in Silfra?
Diving in Silfra is available all year round, but if you don't like the idea of swimming in the height of winter, you can opt for summer's milder weather. This activity is among the top things to do in Iceland in August! Now, note the weather might be milder, but you will still swim in cold waters!
The guide will, of course, give you all the necessary safety instructions. The tour guide will also inform you about the area and what you will encounter along the way. The visibility comes to up to 120 meters, so there is quite a lot to see indeed! The water in Silfra is crystalline; this means you will be able to see all the hidden caves, rock formations, and structures created over centuries by seismic activity.
Wetsuit or drysuit in Silfra?
Many of you who are planning on enjoying Silfra snorkeling in Iceland may wonder which suit will be the best option for you. Is it a wetsuit or a drysuit?
The wetsuit covers your whole body, but it will not keep you warm in cold waters. Remember that the water in Silfra comes from glaciers, and its temperature ranges from 2-4 degrees Celsius (35 Fahrenheit). The wetsuit will fit in the sense of allowing you to swim deeper. However, due to the temperature range, this is only recommended for tourists with an adventurous soul and a pretty warm body.
Wetsuits, unlike drysuits, are not waterproof, so be aware that you will get wet. Of course, with time, water will filter into the suit. It will get warmed up when in contact with your body. I know it sounds awful, but the cold is bearable, at least for me.
If you prefer to stay dry and warm, the best choice for you will be the drysuit. The drysuit will make you float closer to the surface; it will not let you dive too deep regardless of how hard you try. It will, however, keep you dry and warm at the same time. It is essential to mention that a drysuit will not cover your face or your hands. Those are susceptible areas, so you will indeed feel how cold the water is.
Putting the suit on takes around an hour, and for some, it is quite challenging. That is because, first, you put one part of the suit onto your clothes and then the drysuit on top. The guide will, of course, check if the suits work properly so you can fully enjoy your Silfra experience. Do not be surprised if you see the guide fixing the suits with the straps; it is expected.
For those who don’t cope well with the cold and at the same time are not good swimmers, we recommend this choice. If you wish to experience the beauty of Silfra, yet it is scary for you to dive into deep waters, simply go for the drysuit. It is the safest option and the most common among newbies snorkeling in Silfra at the moment.
In most cases, you still have the option of changing between suits right on the spot, if you wish to, but it is always better to select and book the right suit beforehand.
What to wear for snorkeling in Iceland
Besides special suits, the most important thing to know is what to wear for snorkeling in Iceland. Putting the right clothes on is essential to enjoy your Silfra experience as much as possible. The kind of clothes you will put underneath your suit will depend, of course, on the type of suit you will choose.
If you decide to go for the drysuit, you should put on thermal clothes with long sleeves. Avoid cotton and go for wool or synthetic fabrics. Do not put on too many layers if you still want to move freely in the water. It can also make the process of putting on the drysuit even more difficult.
If you go for the wetsuit, there is not much that you can wear underneath. We recommend putting on a swimming suit. Remember to bring a towel with you and some warmer clothes to put on after the tour. It might get a bit chilly as you stay in the cold, glacier water for a while. And you do not want to get cold. You will be swimming around for approximately 30 minutes; then, you will be offered a cup of hot chocolate.
Is snorkeling in Silfra safe?
This is an essential aspect of the tour, and we must address it. Regardless of how cool the experience is, safety comes first. Every tour guide will highlight the safety rules. You will be adequately informed before entering the water, Clear do’s, and don’ts will be provided as well.
Remember that you will be in the water on your own, and you need to exercise common sense. Swimming and diving, like any water sport, entails the risk of drowning. That mainly happens for staying longer than advised in the water or fighting against the currents.
There have been death cases while snorkeling in Silfra. Tour operators are there to make sure the safety rules are followed. However, they are unable to know how you are feeling while swimming. If you suddenly feel unwell, don’t give it a second thought and get out of the water and call for help. Even though this activity does not require any special skills or training, it is not suitable for everyone.