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 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.
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)
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.