When someone asks me what the coolest experience I’ve ever had was, there is one thing that stands out in my mind above anything else: snorkeling the Silfra fissure in Iceland.
When you think of places to go snorkeling I bet Iceland probably isn’t at the top of your bucket list, but we are going to change that right now!! It is truly a once in a lifetime adventure that you cannot miss. While it’s no secret that Iceland has some of the coolest landscapes on the planet, there is so much more below the surface that you haven’t seen.
History of the Silfra Fissure
Silfra is a crack located between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in the UNESCO world heritage site, Thingvellir National Park. This park is located along Iceland’s Golden Circle route about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik. It is the only place in the world where you can go snorkeling (or diving) between two continents, and there are some absolutely incredible rock formations and caves to explore! Offering a visibility of up to 100 meters, the water here is the clearest in the world. It comes from a nearby glacier called Langjokull and is filtered through lava rock for 30 years before it finally reaches the fissure. It is fresh, pristine, and drinkable all year round.
Picking A Guide
There are plenty of larger tour companies that offer snorkel tours of Silfra, but as always I recommend finding a local guide, which is exactly what we did! We did our tour with Héðinn from Diving Island, and definitely recommend that you do the same!
The benefits of this are:
- You’ll be supporting an individual rather than a large business. All of your money will go directly to your guide instead of just a small portion. This allows Héðinn to keep living his dream of taking you snorkeling every day!
- Smaller group size. Our group had only 5 people whereas others had 10 or more. This gave us a more personalized experience.
- Personal touches. We were the only group offered hot chocolate and cookies at the end of our snorkel. We were the only ones who got to hang out at the end chatting with our group members from all over the world, and hear fun stories about growing up in Iceland from our guide!
- Personalized photos. Héðinn brought his GoPro along (so we didn’t have to!) and we received access to a folder with all the photos that were taken from our tour for free!!!
Héðinn showed us some INCREDIBLE photos he took of the northern lights over Silfra and some videos of his favorite pastime as a kid (that he now shares with his kid). In early August every year you’ll find puffins in Iceland. Puffins can only fly downward, so the locals love to catch puffins to release back into the ocean. If you visit for this, do as the locals do and have a competition with your friends to see who’s puffin can fly the furthest!
Make sure you ask to see these photos and videos when you visit, they’re the best you’ll ever see!!
How To Book With Diving Island
Booking with Diving Island is super easy! You can click this link to be directed to booking on the website. You must make sure to book in advance, as walk-ins are not able to be accepted. I saw plenty of people get turned away from all of the groups for not booking in advance, so don’t be this person! The guides will reach out in advance to ask for sizing information and only have enough space to bring the suits that fit their guests.
You can click here to be directed to pricing information on Diving Island’s website. There are a few different categories of dives you can choose from. I’ll list some of the more popular options below, but be sure to visit the website for the most up to date pricing information.
We did the Silfra Snorkel tour, which is 14.900 ISK (approximately 115 USD/99 Euro) per person.
If you are a diver, you can do the Silfra Dive, which is 29.900 ISK (approximately 230 USD/198 Euro) per person.
These prices were the best that we found when looking for snorkel tours of Silfra and we were extremely happy with our purchase! If there is one thing I recommend you splurge on in Iceland, it’s this.
How To Prepare For Your Tour
Give Your Size
After you book your tour, Héðinn will reach out for your sizing info. It’s extremely important to be accurate with your sizing so you can have a properly fitting suit. Be sure to take measurements and do not guesstimate.
What To Wear
I would recommend wearing a fleece base layer with warm thermal socks. If you have long hair I’d recommend putting it into a single braid in the back of your head. You’ll want to keep your layers underneath the suit as thin as possible, and the base layer will trap your body heat in. I kept my hair down during this snorkel and instantly regretted it as having wet hair when venturing back into Iceland had me rather cold for the rest of the day.
All of the dive tours will meet in the Dive Operators lot. The guest parking lot is P5. A small fee is required to park, but it’s only 700 Krona (About 5.50 USD), payable by Visa or Mastercard. From there it is just a short walk (3-4 minutes) to the Dive Operators lot, which you will see on your way to the guest lot.
When you arrive in the Dive Operators lot, head over to the table that has a sign for “Diving Island”. You will see a small white bus with a license plate that says “DIVING”. This is where you will meet Héðinn and get changed for your tour!
Snorkeling The Silfra Fissure: The Tour
The swim lasts approximately 30 minutes and there are 4 main areas that you’ll be exploring: Silfra Fissure, Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon.
The entry point will bring you to the start of the Silfra Fissure. This is the narrowest section of the snorkel. As you swim through the crack you’ll see two large rock columns, one on each side of you. This is the only section where you are able to reach out and touch a separate continent with each hand! It is also pretty freeing to think about the fact that you technically are not on any particular continent at the moment.
Silfra Hall is a small section at the end of the fissure. From here you have a clear view of Lake Thingvallavatn.
After Silfra Hall you’ll continue on to my favorite part of the snorkel, Silfra Cathedral. Reaching a depth of 23 meters (about 75 feet), this is the deepest area of Silfra. My brother and I swam through the fissure pretty quickly in comparison to our other group members so we stayed here for a bit just trying to swim down as far as we could!
The last area you’ll explore is the Silfra Lagoon. The lagoon is about the size of a basic swimming pool and there’s plenty to do. There’s a small fissure you can explore on the left or you can just mess around in the deeper section on the right. The exit point is here as well, so you can hop out whenever you want. I spent a few minutes following the fissure and admiring the views one last time. I never wanted to get out!
Isn’t it cold?!
The water here is 2-4 degree Celsius year round (approximately 30 degrees fahrenheit) so technically yes, it’s absolutely freezing! But it’s the freshest and tastiest water you’ll ever drink.
Diving Island only uses the best equipment on their tours! You’ll be wearing a dry suit versus a wet suit, so you’ll stay warm and dry throughout the snorkel. Most tours use wet gloves, but Héðinn is the only one that uses dry gloves. Because of this we were the only group that didn’t think our fingers were going to freeze off at the end of the snorkel.
Your face is the only thing exposed, but everyone says the first time you put your face in the water it’ll go numb quickly and then you won’t even feel it. If you’re like me though you’ll be so distracted by the views that you won’t ever even notice the cold!
Do I have to be a strong swimmer?
Nope! A fair amount of endurance will be sufficient for your swim. Since the dry suits are so buoyant you will float and just have to gently glide over the surface. If you choose to swim more in the lagoon area or want to dip below the surface in the cathedral you totally can but it’s not necessary.
Overall I really strongly urge you to book this experience of snorkeling in Silfra with Diving Island! A trip to Iceland would simply be incomplete without it.