Have you ever wanted to be in two places at once?
Snorkeling the Silfra Fissure in Iceland has been a dream of mine, ever since I saw it featured in a travel magazine.
I mean, really, how many people can say that they have one hand in North America and the other in Euroasia as they swim through the clearest glacial waters in the world?
Not many, I bet.
With that in mind, when we were planning our trip to Iceland, I knew this was something we had to do.
In this review, I will talk about the entire experience of snorkeling in one of the clearest (and coldest) waters ever, as well as give you a few tips on how to make the most out of this adventure.
Why Snorkel Silfra in Iceland
Located in the famous Þingvellir National Park, snorkeling the Silfra Fissure is a popular attraction with many of Iceland’s tourists.
This crack in the earth is a result of the movement of two tectonic plates, and is considered as one of the clearest waters in the world, boasting of visibility of over 100m.
So why exactly is the water so clear?
Ice from the Lángjökull Glacier, located around 60 miles away melts and goes underground until it has filled up this crack in the earth with some of the clearest waters imaginable. When we went, it was a miserably cold and rainy and yet as soon as we submerged our heads, a bright, blue underwater world opened before us.
The water temperature stays at a constant two to three degrees Celsius which means the water never freezes over, allowing snorkelers and divers to explore these waters all-year round.
If snorkeling or diving between two continents has always been in your bucket list, keep reading as I get into more detail about my experience.
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My Experience: Snorkeling in Between Two Continents
Getting into the Dry Suits
Not really knowing the exact specifics of the entire activity, we arrived in Þingvellir National Park on a cold rainy day, thinking to ourselves, “Why did we book a snorkeling activity in the middle of winter again?”
As soon as we got to the meeting point though, we started to relax as soon as we saw other people. Apparently for others, this once-in-a-lifetime experience is too good to pass up too.
To my surprise, although we would be fully submerging ourselves underwater, thanks to a dry suit, we would be completely warm, with the exception of our heads and hands.
This, to me, was a huge relief! Without further ado, we started squeezing into our drysuits.
If you’ve never worn a dry suit before, it is a mission to get into one. We kept our thermals on and proceeded to squeeze and tug our way into multiple protective layers with the help of the guides.
Afterwards, I felt like a cross between a sumo wrestler and a marshmallow, ready to take on the underwater world.
But hey, the point of it all is to keep you dry and buoyant.
What It Feels Like Snorkeling in Glacial Waters
Outfitted with a wetsuit, drysuit, snorkels and fins, we started waddling our way to the platform where everyone was waiting for their turn.
We were going to swim through the fissure in small groups, with our guide leading the way. There were other companies who were in line so we waited patiently for our turn.
That said, although there looked like there was a lot of people in line, the entire experience didn’t feel crowded as everyone is essentially swimming in a line or by twos.
As mentioned before, the drysuit pretty much keeps you dry, with the exception of your hands and head. Our guide told us to slowly submerge our heads in to test out our snorkels.
Immediately, the first thing you feel is the cold water rushing through your hands and face. After a few deep breaths and adjustments, we were ready to start our swim-through.
Quickly, I got past the feeling of being cold (or maybe my lips just started feeling numb) as my eyes darted all around the waters.
The first thing I noticed was how incredibly clear the waters were.
As far as my eyes could go, all I could see were the deep clear blue waters, framed by the dramatic basalt rocks that lined this gap in the earth.
Having scuba dived and snorkeled in some pretty spectacular places, this was definitely high up there, mainly for its uniqueness.
The Underwater Scenery
Due to the unique geology of the Silfra Fissure, there is very little underwater life in these waters so don’t expect to see nemo. There is one type of marine life that lives here, the Dwarf Char. This fish is a relative of the Artic Char and although they live in these waters, sightings are very uncommon.
The glacial waters in Silfra are eerie and quite serene. All you can see are deep caverns and caves, outlined by the huge basalt rocks.
There are different areas to Silfra. Some of them quite short and narrow while you also have sections which they call the Cathedral which is a 100-meter (330 feet) long fissure.
It is quite incredible that you can see from end-to-end of this section; that’s how clear the water is!
Overall, the swim lasts around 20-30 minutes but the entire experience takes around three hours. Like I said, kitting up in your drysuit was actually the hardest part.
After one swim-through, our guide Pawell gave us a few more minutes to explore a section called Little Silfra then waited for us by the exit where we were to walk back to the changing vans.
Thankfully, the team at Troll Expeditions had cookies and hot chocolate waiting for us as soon as we got to the parking lot.
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Silfra Snorkeling Review
Overall, it was an incredible experience. I don’t know if it was due to my childhood fascination or the fact that it was just so completely different from all the underwater scenery that I’ve seen, but I loved it.
Iceland is an incredibly beautiful country but it is also pretty damn pricey! With that being said, this activity is 100% worth it.
The guides were hilarious and somehow managed to make the process of squeezing in tugging our drysuits pretty amusing.
As I mentioned, although it was gloomy outside, as soon as you get into the waters, you will be surprised at how clear it is. After our activity, the sky cleared up, allowing us to take in the beauty of the National Park.
Although you don’t need to be a pro scuba diver or snorkeler (is that even a thing?) to do this activity, you do need to know how to swim. I have to admit, although I am super comfortable in the water, the cold water is something I had to get used to!
For me, the entire experience felt very safe. Our guide Pawell was looking at us at all times and gave us a few hand signals to use to convey how we were feeling.
Plus, if you are really in trouble, all you have to do is float up and you will be fine.
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Booking Silfra Snorkeling: What You Need to Know
We booked the experience using Adrenaline Hunter who has a large myriad of activities in Iceland on their platform. What I love about using them is they have so many tours from various tour providers, making them a one-stop adventure stop and allowing you to easily compare prices.
With heaps of companies offering snorkeling excursions, I liked the fact that I could choose, compare, and read reviews for each company without having to go to their individual websites.
You can opt to book a tour with or without a pick-up, with the latter one being a bit cheaper.
The booking process was super straightforward and as soon as we made the reservation, we immediately got online tickets, complete with details on where and when to meet.
The activity operator, Troll Expeditions, runs this tour all-year round, with tours running every hour from 9:00am to 3:00pm.
The best part about this particular tour that we chose was that right after the activity, our guide emailed us GoPro photos which he took of us during the snorkel experience!
Although we also had our own GoPro, this is great for those who want to document the experience but don’t have underwater cameras.
All in all, snorkeling the Silfra Fissure was a unique experience that I will always remember.
Although I will not miss the experience of kitting up in a drysuit, between the unique landscape and the awesome history behind this geological feature, I would recommend this activity to anyone in a heartbeat.
So now that I can proudly say that I’ve been in two places at once, it’s time to tick off the next thing in my ever-growing bucket list.
Any suggestions on what to do next?