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Snorkelling in Silfra: Dive into Iceland’s Crystal-Clear Waters

Snorkelling in Silfra: Dive into Iceland's Crystal-Clear Waters

Snorkelling in Silfra is a unique experience that offers the opportunity to float between two continental plates. The remarkable clarity of the water in the Silfra fissure provides an underwater spectacle that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world. Located in the Þingvellir National Park in Iceland, Silfra is a part of the rift valley between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which drift apart about 2 centimetres per year. The water in Silfra comes from the nearby Langjökull glacier, taking nearly a century to filter through underground lava fields before reaching the fissure.

As you gear up in a dry suit to brave the near-freezing temperatures, prepare yourself for an adventure that’s as enlightening as it is exhilarating. The water here is so pure and clear that it allows for visibility of over 100 metres, making your snorkelling adventure feel like floating in mid-air. The vibrant algae and the occasional fish that dart around the nooks and crevices of this underwater canyon add bursts of life to the stark, ethereal beauty of the surroundings.

During your adventure in Silfra, the colours and clarity of the underwater world will strike you the most. Below the surface, you’re greeted with a spectrum of blues ranging from the brightest turquoise to the deepest sapphire. The natural light that pierces through the crystal-clear waters creates a play of light and shadow that’s nothing short of mesmerising. Remember to savour every moment of the serene calm as you glide through one of the most spectacular diving sites on Earth.

What Makes Silfra Fissure Unique

Silfra, a fissure in Þingvellir National Park, offers a once-in-a-lifetime snorkelling experience where you’re immersed between two continents. Let’s explore what sets Silfra apart.

Geological Wonderland

As you enter the Silfra fissure, you’re literally swimming between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. This unique geological feature is the only place on Earth where you can snorkel or dive directly in the crack between two continental plates. The plates drift apart approximately 2 cm per year, constantly reshaping this underwater landscape.

Crystal Clear Waters

The underwater visibility at Silfra is unmatched, often exceeding 100 metres. The water in Silfra is among the purest and clearest in the world, fed from the nearby Langjökull glacier. Filtering through underground lava rocks for decades before reaching Silfra, the water’s clarity is astonishing. You can witness the vibrant sub-aquatic hues and geological formations with unparalleled clarity.

Planning Your Snorkelling Trip

A woman and a man in diving suits preparing to dive into the sea

Embarking on a snorkelling trip to Silfra is an exhilarating experience, combining the wonders of underwater exploration with Iceland’s unique geography. To ensure a seamless adventure, it’s crucial to consider the timing of your visit, secure your spot through a tour operator, and understand the logistics of getting there.

Best Times to Visit

Silfra, located in Thingvellir National Park, is a year-round destination, but your experience can vary significantly depending on when you choose to visit.

  • Summer (June – August): Enjoy nearly 24 hours of daylight and milder water temperatures. This is peak season with higher availability of tours.
  • Winter (November – March): For a unique experience, consider visiting during winter. Despite colder conditions, the clarity of the water is at its peak, offering a serene and crystalline underwater scene.

Booking Your Tour

It’s imperative to book your snorkelling tour in advance to secure your spot, especially during the bustling summer months. Use the following steps to arrange your booking:

  1. Research tour operators: Look for reputable companies with positive reviews.
  2. Compare itineraries: Ensure the tour aligns with your preferences and abilities.
  3. Check for inclusions: Typical tours include equipment, guide services, and sometimes transport from Reykjavik.
  4. Book online: Most bookings can be made through the tour operator’s website for convenience.

If you are looking for a more comprehensive Iceland holiday, consider exploring our packages such as the 3 Night Iceland Bronze Package and the 3 Night Iceland Silver Package. These packages offer an excellent way to experience the diverse wonders of Iceland, from the stunning landscapes to the unique geological features.

Getting to Silfra

Located about 50 km northeast of Reykjavik, getting to Silfra requires some planning:

  • Self-drive: Rent a car and drive to Thingvellir National Park. Parking is available near the snorkelling entry points.
  • Tour transport: Many tours offer pick-up and drop-off services from your accommodation in Reykjavik.

Remember to account for potential weather changes and road conditions, especially during winter, to ensure a safe and timely arrival for your underwater adventure in the rift.

The Adventure Experience

Embarking on a snorkelling trip through Silfra is an enthralling endeavour that equips you with top-notch gear and allows you to glide between continents amidst stunning underwater scenes.

Snorkelling Equipment

Before you plunge into the crystal-clear waters of Silfra, you’ll be outfitted with a dry suit and necessary snorkelling gear. Your equipment list includes:

  • Dry Suit: Keeps you insulated in the chilly glacial water.
  • Mask: Offers a wide field of view to marvel at the clarity and colours of Silfra.
  • Fins: Essential for navigating the gentle current and exploring with ease.

Make sure your mask fits snugly to avoid fogging and water intrusion, which could detract from your experience.

The Journey Through Silfra

As you begin your journey, you’ll float between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The water, filtered through lava rock for decades, is astoundingly clear, boasting a visibility that often exceeds 100 metres. Remember:

  • Stay close to the guide: Follow their signals and directions for a safe trip.
  • Be mindful of your buoyancy: This helps in preserving the delicate underwater ecosystem.

This stretch offers an unparalleled sense of adventure, as you’re literally snorkelling in the rift between two continents.

Wildlife and Rock Formations

Silfra is not known for its abundant wildlife, but you might spot small fish and aquatic plants that have adapted to the environment. However, it’s the rock formations that steal the show:

  • Silfra Hall: A wide space surrounded by tall lava rock walls.
  • Silfra Cathedral: Features a long fissure with rock formations that resemble the architecture of a cathedral.

The lava rock, having moulded Silfra’s underwater landscape, creates patterns and shapes that are both eerie and mesmerising. These geological forms, coupled with the purity of the water, make this experience truly memorable.

Essential Information for Snorkelers

A diver climbing out of the sea and onto the boat

Before you immerse yourself in the crystal-clear waters of Silfra, it’s crucial to understand the health and safety requirements and how to handle a dry suit properly. Ensuring you meet the guidelines will allow you to enjoy your adventure fully.

Health and Safety Requirements

Your safety is paramount when snorkelling in Silfra. Be keenly aware of the following criterias:

  • Age: You must be at least 12 years old.
  • Weight and Height Limits: The minimum weight is 45 kg and the minimum height is 150 cm. This ensures a snug fit for your dry suit.
  • Medical Statement: Each snorkeller must complete a medical statement to confirm fitness for the activity.
  • Medical Conditions: If you have any cardiovascular, pulmonary or neurological conditions, reach out to your doctor before participating.

A proficient level of swimming ability and general fitness is expected. If in doubt, consulting with a snorkelling professional beforehand is wise.

Understanding Drysuit Use

Wearing a dry suit is necessary for the cool temperatures of Silfra’s waters. Familiarise yourself with these details:

  • Dry Suit Size Chart: Ensure your suit fits well using a size chart that measures based on your weight and height.
  • Neoprene Hood: A neoprene hood is provided for additional warmth and ear protection.
  • Drysuit Material: Most suits are made from waterproof neoprene, which provides insulation as well as buoyancy.

Remember to snugly, but not too tightly, seal the dry suit to prevent water from entering. The technique for this will be demonstrated by your guide. Proper use of the dry suit is essential for both warmth and safety.

What to Bring and Wear

When preparing for your snorkelling adventure in Silfra, you should focus on staying warm and comfortable in the cold water environment. Ensuring you have the right attire and additional items can greatly enhance your experience.

Dressing Appropriately for Cold Water

Silfra is filled with glacial water, which remains around 2–4°C year-round. To keep warm, long underwear made of materials like fleece or wool is essential. You’ll be provided with a dry suit by tour operators such as, but wearing warm socks under the suit’s boots will help maintain body heat. Here are the basics of what you should wear:

  • Long Underwear: Opt for wool or fleece for their excellent insulating properties.
  • Warm Socks: Thick woollen socks are best to keep your feet warm.

Additional Recommended Items

Aside from clothing, a few extra items will ensure your snorkelling trip is enjoyable and well-documented. Don’t forget to bring:

  • Towel: A large towel for drying off after your dive.
  • Change of Clothes: Essential for comfort post-snorkel.
  • GoPro/Camera: Capture the experience provided it’s mounted; handheld cameras are not allowed for safety reasons.

Remember, the key is to stay as warm as possible while enjoying the stunning underwater visibility that Silfra offers.

After Your Snorkel: Useful Tips

After exploring the underwater marvels of Silfra, take a moment to indulge in post-snorkelling activities that will complement the experience.

Warming Up with Refreshments

Once you’ve emerged from the cool waters, you’ll likely be craving something to warm you up. Hot chocolate is a classic choice and often provided by tour operators at Silfra. Embrace the warmth of the drink as it helps bring your body temperature back to a cosy state. Additionally, pairing your hot chocolate with cookies—ideally ones that are freshly baked—adds a delightful treat that not only warms you but satisfies any post-snorkel hunger pangs.

Capturing Memories

While the memories of Silfra’s clear waters will long remain in your mind, you might be keen to capture these moments in a tangible form. Take the opportunity to share your surface-level photos with fellow snorkelers, comparing the icy landscapes and the stark beauty you’ve all witnessed together. If you’ve rented or own an underwater camera, sharing and discussing your underwater photos can be an excellent way to relive the experience. Be sure to exchange details with new friends to share these memories post-trip. Digital photographs also make for fantastic shareable content if you wish to showcase your adventure on social media or personal blogs.

Silfra and Beyond: Combining Tours

A professional diver diving in the blue waters

Enhance your Icelandic adventure by pairing snorkelling at Silfra with other iconic excursions that showcase Iceland’s stunning landscapes and geological wonders.

Discovering the Golden Circle

Golden Circle – a trifecta of geological marvels in Iceland – forms a popular route where you can witness Geysir, a spouting hot spring, the powerful Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Pingvellir National Park, where Silfra is located. Tours frequently combine these sites for a full day of exploration. You can start your morning marvelling at Geysir, which erupts promptly every 5-10 minutes, and then make your way to the thunderous beauty of Gullfoss, translating as ‘Golden Falls’, one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls.

Diving Opportunities at Silfra

At the heart of Pingvellir National Park lies Silfra, a dive site known for its crystal-clear waters and remarkable underwater visibility. Participating in snorkelling tours here, you’re offered a unique opportunity to swim between two continental plates. The experience is both serene and surreal, surrounded by the striking blue hues and incredible underwater scenery. For divers who are certified, diving tours allow for a more immersive experience to explore the deeper parts of the fissure, where you can literally touch both the American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

Booking and Policies

When you’re ready to book your snorkelling adventure in Silfra, it’s important to understand the associated costs and the policies on cancellations and refunds to ensure a seamless experience.

Understanding the Costs

The price of snorkelling in Silfra covers not only your entry into this unique underwater world but also the professional guidance of your tour guide, the use of a specially designed dry suit, and all the necessary snorkelling gear. A typical snorkelling tour at Silfra will also include the Silfra admission fee within the price. To participate, you’re required to sign a liability release form upon booking. Be aware that there is an age limit for participants; you should check with individual providers as it can vary, but generally, the minimum age is around 12 years. For those who need, contact lenses can be worn under snorkel masks as glasses wouldn’t fit with the gear.

  • Price: Your outing’s total cost will include the following:

    • Silfra admission fee
    • Hire of dry suit and snorkelling equipment
    • Services of a professional tour guide
  • Age Limit: Check with the provider, usually 12+
  • Glasses: Use contact lenses; glasses cannot be worn with masks

Cancellation and Refund Information

Booking your snorkelling trip in Silfra should be done in advance, and most operators allow you to do this online through their website. Should your plans change, understanding the cancellation policy is paramount. Many service providers have a policy that allows you to cancel with a full refund up to a certain time before the scheduled trip, often 24 to 48 hours. However, last-minute cancellations ordinarily do not warrant a refund. Additionally, if a tour is cancelled by the operator due to unforeseen circumstances, such as weather conditions or safety concerns, you will typically be offered a reschedule or a full refund.

  • Booking: Online through tour operator’s website
  • Cancellation Policy:

    • Full refund if cancelled within the operator’s specified period (typically 24-48 hours before the tour)
    • No refunds for last-minute cancellations
  • Refunds: Offered if the tour is cancelled by the operator

Should you have any further questions about the costs or policies, don’t hesitate to reach out to the tour provider directly. Contact information can usually be found on their website.

While you’re in Iceland, consider exploring the stunning landscapes of Iceland’s South Coast. This region is renowned for its black sand beaches, majestic waterfalls, and picturesque villages. Additionally, don’t miss the chance to learn about Iceland’s volcanoes, which have shaped much of the country’s dramatic scenery. These geological features add another layer of adventure to your Icelandic journey.