When you think of Iceland, snorkelling the Silfra Fissure isn’t something that immediately comes to mind for something to do. All that snow, ice, and glacial water do not make for optimum swimming conditions, and we are definitely fair-weather water babies.
However, we had been aware of the Silfra Fissure dive site for a while and always thought that it looked beyond cool. When we realised that it was offered as one of the possible excursions for us to do on our minimoon, we jumped at the chance.
Snorkelling the Silfra Fissure – Our Experience
We tied it in with the drive down from our first hotel, Hotel Húsafell, to our second, Hotel Ranga, which worked well to break up the three-hour journey. Finding the meeting point didn’t work quite so well for us.
We had been given a basic black and white map upon booking the activity to help us locate the correct place to go. However, road closures and icy conditions led to slightly elevated stress levels, which subsequently led to a less-than- accurate map reading by Kez. (Read: Sam snapped at Kez to be quiet and let him concentrate, and Kez threw a strop and stopped looking at the map as closely).
We pulled into the main Thingvellir Visitor Centre car park, paid to use their loos, and smugly wandered around thinking we were where we needed to be in plenty of time. They advise that you arrive about 20 minutes before your scheduled dive to get suited up.
It soon became clear that we were not in the right place, and another review of the map told us that we should have carried on past the car park and followed the road around to another car park. We could see the correct car park below us. We could also see that it was reachable only by the most treacherously icy path we had ever seen.
At this point, Kez cried (high-stress levels, remember) and Sam set off at near breakneck speed towards the meeting point, sliding on his backside at a particularly icy part just to get to where we needed to have been 30 minutes earlier.
We were so late and so lost, we had to call the dive team and try to describe exactly where we were, which is hard when you have absolutely no bloody idea and everywhere looks the same. When we finally got there, we were greeted by a very friendly Finnish man who would be leading the group.
We had to tell them how tall we were and how much we weighed (rude) when we booked it so that they could bring us the right sized dry suit. They told us to wear one layer of thermals and socks, but if you are a bit on the cold side naturally, our top tip is that you can never wear enough pairs of socks.
Kez is always cold, and she wore a thermal vest underneath a thermal long-sleeved top, thermal leggings, and two pairs of thick socks. Her body was fine, but she quickly lost any feeling in her feet despite the dry suit layers. Socks are your best friends for this, and believe us when we say that you will never be too warm whilst snorkelling in Iceland.
As part of the medical form we needed to complete prior to the dive, they did warn us that some people may feel claustrophobic in the dry suits, especially if this is your first time in one. We put a kind of shell suit on over our thermals, then the dive staff began the very physical process of sealing us into the dry suits.
It soon became clear why some people panic at this point. The neck seals are unbelievably tight, and to avoid ripping all your hair out your face is stuck inside it for a few seconds before you are almost re-birthed out into the daylight again. If the seal isn’t tight enough, they will wrap tape around your neck and wrists to reduce the chance of any icy water leaking in.
Take any earrings out that you can, as these will also be ripped out if you are not careful. Make sure to tie your hair up in such a way that will minimise the amount that gets caught up in the hood and subsequently yanked out of your scalp during the even more arduous task of taking the suit off again.
Kez was basically lifted off the ground by her head as they tried to get her hood off. It was totally her fault for leaving a few studs in her ears though, so the poor guy had to try to contend with these, her masses of hair, and her giant head.
We were part of a group whose allotted time was 12:30pm, but we were a little late due to our slight navigational issues. Thankfully though this was the latest time slot and we were the last group to set off, so we had the place to ourselves. After a safety briefing and a few practical tips, we waded/tripped into the clear icy waters and set off.
Having never been in a dry suit before, the sensation when entering the water was surprising. The whole thing kind of constricted to our bodies, and basically floated us through the slight current of the Silfra Fissure. Very little effort was needed from us to get from A to B, so for about 40 minutes we bobbed along between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, happy as Larry.
The water filters down from Langjökull glacier we had been in a few days before and was so pure we took our snorkels out a few times to gulp it down. They took photos of the group as we went, which we could then buy from them at the end. You can also take your own cameras though, so we didn’t bother buying any. We would have ended up with photos of the whole group, and after being kicked by one over-enthusiastic tourist one too many times during the dive we weren’t too keen on buying a bunch of photos of strangers whose names we barely knew.
(Naturally, Enthusiastic Kicker was at the front of the queue to purchase).
At the end of the snorkelling, going from weightless to experiencing gravity again as we got out of the water was another unusual feeling. We felt very heavy and slow waking back to the car park. They helped/squeezed us out of our drysuits, then fed us hot chocolate, and we were on our way.
In total, including the frantic running about trying to find the right place, we were there for about 2-3 hours. We’d highly recommend it as an activity, and Dive.is were great from start to finish.
Where to Stay
Most tour operators will pick you up from your hotel in Reykavik and drive you out the Thingvellir, for an additional cost. We drove ourselves from our hotel. Take a look at some of the best hotels below:
Where have you snorkelled/dived across the globe?
Read more about our trip to Iceland in our other blog posts: