Main Menu

Everything You Need to Know About Snorkeling in Iceland’s Silfra Fissure

Everything You Need to Know About Snorkeling in Iceland’s Silfra Fissure

http://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/nature-travel/snorkeling-iceland-silfra-fissure?xid=soc_socialflow_facebook_tlIceland’s newfound tourism popularity is well-deserved. Not only is the Nordic island nation home to majestic mountains, an abandoned airplane wreckage that even Justin Bieber’s a fan of, 130+ active volcanos (including one that’s about to host a concert), lava fields, and the Northern Lights (if you’re lucky!), it’s also a wonderful place to go snorkeling. Now, don’t let the name “Iceland” turn you away. It is cold, but a dry suit keeps you warm (more on that later). One thing is for sure: You don’t want to miss snorkeling the Silfra Fissure the next time you visit. Let me walk you through this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After hearing that blissfully floating between two tectonic plates—the American and Eurasian plates, for those versed in geology—is an actual thing people can do, you couldn’t tear me away from the prospect of making Silfra my maiden snorkeling voyage. 

This is easy, for one major reason: Iceland is a destination that really knows how to do the whole tour group thing. With so many opportunities explore the country’s natural wonders, it’s best to have a knowledgeable trained professional to show you around. Most Silfra Fissure snorkeling tours will pick you up in Reykjavik, or, if you’re driving yourself at a public meeting spot in Thingvellir Park (a World UNESCO Heritage site in which the fissure is located). My travel partner and I chose the latter and had no trouble finding Val from Iceland Adventure Tours, who turned out to be the best possible guide we could have dreamed of—after all, he did introduce himself as Val Kilmer.

Once we made it to a parking lot-turned-suiting-area, Val pulled out the dry suits (cue ominous music). I’m not going to lie, you’re going to need a lot of help putting it on, and you’re going to feel a little silly. But all of that discomfort will float away as soon as you hit the water. The dry suits are specifically made so that you can only drift across the surface of the water—you would have to do a lot of work to get your entire body even a few inches underwater.

The difference between what you’re seeing above the surface and under is astounding. No plant life grows on the submerged rock and you’ll almost never see an animal—aside from a steady stream of floating humans—swimming around in these waters. At a constant 35 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s just too cold for more species to thrive in the Silfra Fissure. That being said, you’ll stay warm and (mostly) dry in your suit. Expect your hair to get a little damp. Your hands are also going to get wet. The gloves they provide aren’t completely waterproof, but are designed to trap a certain amount of water that warms to your body temperature as long as you don’t wave them around in the water. Your face will become a bit numb, making it tough to keep the snorkeling gear in your mouth. But keep all of this in mind, and you’ll be completely prepared. read more at travelandleisure.com