Snorkeling in Freezing Cold Silfra


Snorkeling In Silfra in Iceland

Snorkeling In Silfra

When you think of things to do in Iceland, some of the activities you read about make sense: Glacier Hiking, Snowmobiling, Dog Sledding. Then of course there is the great snorkeling…wait, what?

That was pretty much my exact reaction when I heard that Iceland had some of the best snorkeling. I had this image of myself in a bikini paddling around ice and slowly (quickly) turning blue. Of course, it’s nothing like that – in fact, if you’ve ever gone snorkeling before you will find that Iceland snorkeling is a whole new experience.

But let’s back up a bit. Where exactly do you go Snorkeling in Iceland. The best place is a in Thingveller Park at a place call Silfra.

Silfra in Iceland

Silfra is part of the rift between the two large continental plates that make up Iceland – Europe and North America. The rift is filled with glacier runoff, making the water a balmy 2 degrees Celsius year round. Time to break out the pina coladas.

The benefit of this near freezing water is that it has amazing visibility – according to our guide up to 100m. As you snorkel you can see all the way down through the clear blue water to the very bottom of the split. 

As with many things I commit myself to doing on vacation, I was initially excited for snorkeling and then got more and more nervous as I thought about how cold that water would be. Wasn’t I going to freeze? Would I die? (probably not)

Luckily Arctic Adventures had us covered (quite literally). Since we had our own car, we meet up with them at the park entrance, but they also offer transportation from Reykjavik. Our guides had a whole trailer filled with the gear we would need for this extreme snorkeling.

On top of the warm stretchy clothing and thick socks we were all told to wear we first donned a “teddy bear” suit. It basically looked like a huge man-shaped wearable sleeping bag. It was quite nice and warm and I sort of wondered if I could borrow it for a few days of sight seeing.

Holly. Because the Sun never sets on a badass - especially in Iceland in the Summer.

The next piece was the full body dry suit complete with attached boots. The suit was sealed at the neck and arms to prevent water from entering. This also meant that air could not escape the suit and until our guide explained how to release it we all walked around like the Michelin Man. (or the ghost buster Pillsbury dough boy – whatever your preference may be)

Actual Photo of Me in my Snorkeling Gear

The last thing to put on were a pair of neoprene mitts and a hood. Finally we wobbled down to the Silfra entrance and added our masks and fins before we jumped in. 

Shockingly the water wasn’t cold at all. Well, the water was cold, but I couldn’t feel it – the suit did its job and kept me totally dry and warm. Which is good because I would probably not have enjoyed it less if I was soaking wet and freezing – just a guess. The one part of me that did get cold was my hands and my face…but just a little. I spent most of my time snorkeling with my hands in the air (like I just don’t care).

After all the excitement of preparing ourselves for snorkeling it was time to get down to some actual snorkeling. As soon as I put my face in the water, I was literally in awe of how beautiful it was below the surface. Pure blue water, sun shining through almost to the bottom. You could even see the little flecks of dirt and rock floating by.

The trip lasted the perfect amount of time – about 45 minutes to see the split and experience the unique snorkeling before it was time to head out and back to our car. Any longer and I think my hands would have been too cold for it to be enjoyable.




Disclaimer: Arctic Adventures provided Holly and I with a complimentary Silfra Snorkeling Tour in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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17 Responses to Snorkeling in Freezing Cold Silfra

  1. Holly says:

    I love this :)

  2. Daniel says:

    That’s the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

  3. memographer says:

    I feel cold from just looking at your pictures, Liz :)
    Thanks for the details!

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      Haha it actually wasn’t that bad at all. I’m a totaly baby when it comes to being cold and I really enjoyed snorkeling.

  4. I admit, when you posted about your Iceland plans, this (well, this and the puffins) was the thing I was most excited about! The water looks so gorgeous that I think I could withstand a little bit of cold to witness that for myself!

    And I love your self-portrait… those suits are hella flattering… ;)

  5. Wez says:

    Loving the photos again Liz, but now you have added another thing on my list of things to do. I’m gonna be broke forever at this rate ;)

  6. Suzy says:

    Yes, you certainly never think of snorkeling in Iceland! How cool though , literally ha!

  7. Sheila says:

    My family wanted to do that in Iceland, but we skipped out on it. Wished we did it now. It looks amazing.

  8. Scott says:

    Hey there Liz,

    Glad you enjoyed the trip, I loved the review! The best part of the job is seeing satisfaction and stuff like this :)

    Your favorite Snorkeling guide,


  9. Kevin says:

    we’re actually going on this tour today!…your review helped us decide how to prep, clothing-wise…question, though: how did you take pictures?…did you buy an underwater disposable camera, or did you have a waterproof case for your camera?…

    • ElizabethJ_Bird says:

      I actually had a waterproof camera that a friend lent me. However, the company also rents out cameras for a small fee. Have fun!

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