Facing the Notoriously Cold Icelandic Waters – Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Silfra

When in Iceland, right?

This is what I thought to myself as I booked my Silfra snorkel expedition, trying to focus on the supposedly outstanding water visibility instead of the dangerously-close-to-zero water temperatures. After all, where else in the world could I possibly swim between two tectonic plates? This was a epic opportunity, and I would not let my comfort come first, not this time.

But man was I dreading the moment where I would have to pretend I’m a big girl and enter those crystal clear yet misleadingly frigid waters. My husband Alex and I both wanted to go scuba diving but he ended up going underwater without me; because my ears are silly and because I have asthma, my doctor has advised that I stick to snorkelling. Which isn’t a bad thing per se; Alex and I had two completely different experiences to talk about that night :-)

We opted to go with Dive.is, which is pretty much the best option when it comes to Silfra scuba diving and snorkelling – they’ve been doing this for almost 20 years and they know their stuff. Also, their dog is listed as the security manager and head of hospitality on their website, and I find that completely adorable. #MustLoveDogs

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Silfra – The Experience

The tour, for both scuba divers and snorkelers, comprises a hotel pick-up in central Reykjavik, transportation to the diving site in Silfra, all the equipment and even cookies & hot chocolate after the tour. Believe it or not, but what took the longest is not the drive to Þingvellir or the dive itself, but rather… putting on the many layers and the dry suit (which, by the way, is the least flattering thing in the world regardless of your body shape – everyone kind of looks like a love child of the Michelin man and a black bear).

I liked the fact that we were in a mixed group of snorkelers and scuba divers – given that divers get to go in the water twice, snorkelers have a bit of free time to explore the area on foot, which looked wonderful in the 6PM light. It was actually one of my favourite parts of the day!

Snorkelling in Silfra was a magical experience, and definitely a must-do in Iceland, even if you are not planning on hiring a car and venture outside of Reykjavik. Obviously, you quickly get past the fast that these are the coldest waters you’ve ever been into, because the feeling of being between two continental plates in one of the world’s most rugged islands is just amazing.

Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Silfra – A Few Photos

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Snorkelling in Silfra

Scuba Diving & Snorkeling in Silfra – Good To Know

  • Snorkelling in Silfra costs ISK 16,900 (roughly $150).
  • Most of the tours are available year-round, but I highly suggest going in the summer months to benefit from the amazing daylight hours.
  • The water at Silfra is very cold, just a couple of degrees over zero. Don’t think that the drysuit will shield you from that if you have a tendency to get cold easily; it merely keeps you afloat. Make sure to bring many layers, especially for your hands and toes (wool socks and thick gloves are pretty much compulsory). For your face, well, there just isn’t much to do, it is going to be cold – but your skin will get used to it and you will soon not feel much at all. Think of how young you will look afterwards with your face half frozen :-)
  • For those interested in scuba diving, either get your PADI dry suit course certification before your trip or plan enough time to do it in Reykjavik (Dive.is offers courses). Scuba diving in a dry suit is completely different than in a wet suit, and requires very specific and possibly life-saving skills. Your open water certification won’t do it.
  • It is NOT recommended to attempt scuba diving or snorkelling in Silfra on your own, if you happen to be driving to Þingvellir National Park. Don’t think that booking with a tour company is unnecessary; they are professionals and they are familiar with the risks of diving in such cold waters. Don’t underestimate the dangers.
  • Dive.is offers various snorkelling and scuba diving expeditions, with one or more destinations. Check out their website to see their many options!

Have you ever been to Silfra?
Was it the highlight of your Iceland holiday?

24 Comments on Facing the Notoriously Cold Icelandic Waters – Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Silfra

  1. Alexandre
    June 3, 2015 at 9:57 am (2 years ago)

    Yes the water is cold, but it is so worth it!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 3, 2015 at 6:42 pm (2 years ago)

      My thoughts exactly! Not once did I regret going in those frigid waters.

      Reply
  2. Amanda
    June 4, 2015 at 9:40 am (2 years ago)

    Definitely on my must-do list! I have no clue why I didn’t do it when I was in Iceland the first time around – it looks amazing!

    One question – the cold water didn’t affect your GoPro (or whatever camera you used for those awesome shots)?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 5, 2015 at 11:21 am (2 years ago)

      It really IS amazing. A must-do, no doubt about that. I used a regular point and shoot camera with a huge plastic protective case, and it worked like a charm.

      Reply
  3. Heather
    June 8, 2015 at 11:52 am (2 years ago)

    Silfra lived up to all expectations for me: clear water and unbelievable colours. Your photos are fantastic!

    I was actually the coldest *after* we got out of the water! I was going to take off my gloves first, and our Divemaster said “NO! DON’T take those off yet!” She was so right, it was easier to get the many (many) layers off in my gloves than with frozen hands.

    Any plans for more cold-water dry suit diving in the future???

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 11, 2015 at 10:24 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you Heather! Glad you enjoyed Silfra too. No immediate plans to go cold-water diving yet but I am open to all possibilities!

      Reply
  4. Debbie
    June 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm (2 years ago)

    I totally agree! Silfra is fantastic and not to be missed! Though if you go back there’s also some good diving up in Akureyri with Stytan Dive, we loved their Northern Water trip (especially the warm spring!) and next time we hope we’ll meet Stephanie the Wolf Fish

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      June 12, 2015 at 12:06 pm (2 years ago)

      So good to know, Debbie! I plan on going back to Iceland sooner rather than later, definitely writing this down. Thanks for the tip!

      Reply
  5. Caitlin Bradley
    August 10, 2015 at 7:48 pm (2 years ago)

    Not only are these photos STUNNING and the information is great for someone like me who’s been dreaming of going to Iceland, but you had me laughing out loud at that lovechild of a Michelin man and a black bear comment!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm (2 years ago)

      Happy to help, Caitlin! I tried to think of something else to describe the drysuit but there really was nothing flattering about it. Other than saving me from hypothermia, that is.

      Reply
  6. Diana
    September 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm (2 years ago)

    I just came back from Iceland and I eished I knew about this! Looks so incredibly awesome! I had a dry suit on for the Zodiac Tour (little boat to see glaciers) and you do look like you are ready for NASA.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      September 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm (2 years ago)

      Oh yes, it’s a must do! Not flattering for one bit (as demonstrated by the lack of photo, ha!) but so worth it.

      Reply
  7. Amelie
    January 12, 2016 at 8:47 am (1 year ago)

    Il est donc impossible de plonger avec un épais wetsuit? Il faut absolument avoir la certification DrySuit ou c’est seulement mieux? Merci

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      January 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm (1 year ago)

      Je n’ai vu personne sur place en wetsuit. Sachant que la plongée dure 45 minutes dans de l’eau à 2 degrés, je crois bien que le DrySuit soit la seule option. Et oui, il faut une certification, c’est beaucoup plus technique que la plongée en wetsuit. Mon mari a fait ses cours avec ActionScuba. Bon voyage! :-)

      Reply
  8. Ryan
    November 4, 2016 at 1:19 pm (5 months ago)

    Must be a great experience ever. Never seen under water that clean

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      November 4, 2016 at 4:04 pm (5 months ago)

      It was outstanding! Truly.

      Reply
  9. Tanya
    February 1, 2017 at 12:22 am (2 months ago)

    Snorkeling in Silfra in winter while it snowed was literally the most amazing thing I’ve done in my life. Glacier hiking Solheimajokull was a close second. Iceland is an incredible place and I can’t wait to go back someday.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 1, 2017 at 9:04 am (2 months ago)

      So glad to hear! It must be so cool (har de har) in wintertime with everything covered in snow.

      Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      February 7, 2017 at 11:09 am (2 months ago)

      So glad to hear you had a nice time too!

      Reply

5Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Facing the Notoriously Cold Icelandic Waters – Scuba Diving & Snorkelling in Silfra

  1. […] Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth — explore all-natural ice caves at Jökulsárlón, scuba dive in the world’s clearest waters at the tectonic drift in Þingvellir National Park, mingle with birds and whales on a kayaking expedition in the West […]

  2. […] the icebergs of the Jökulsárlón glacier bay, do pay for that unbelievably cold yet otherworldly snorkel trip in Silfra with Dive.is. They’re worth the expense in the long run, trust me on that […]

  3. […] Fissure: If you’re not worried about freezing your face off, make sure to schedule a dive or snorkel session in the world’s clearest waters! If, on the contrary, you would rather stay dry, the fissure is nonetheless quite impressive even […]

  4. […] which means that yes, it is possible to touch both Europe and North America at the same time. Diving in Silfra is legit one of the most memorable experiences of my life, and I unless I go on the moon I […]

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