Snorkeling Or Diving The Silfra Fissure In Iceland
Anyone can snorkel Silfra, even without any snorkeling experience, as the route along the fissure is simple and easy. The drysuit will keep you buoyant, so all you have to do is float along and enjoy the surreal underwater world below. There are steps in and out of the fissure at certain points, and you will simply need to know how to swim.
If diving, however, then you will need the relevant qualifications to participate. Some of the routes may also require more technical skills, as there are very deep parts of the fissure that can only be reached with the right training and qualifications. Diving, of course, will be significantly more expensive than just snorkeling. Regardless of whether you choose to dive or to snorkel, you are guaranteed to have a completely unique adventure.
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What Does Silfra Fissure Look Like Under The Water
Under the surface, there is the rough but awe-inspiring wonderland of the bare rock, the blue shades of the crystal clear water, and the bottomless crack below, which reaches down into almost invisible depths.
From the point where you enter the pool, you need to gently swim the 120-meter length of the narrow Big Crack. This section contains both the deepest and the shallowest areas, the greatest depth is 42 meters, and the shallowest point has a depth of half a meter.
This is also where the Big Crack is at its narrowest, so this is the part of Silfra where you are literally able to touch both sides of the rock at once.
In summer, vibrant green algae thrive on the rock in the shallow area, giving this seemingly hostile, freezing cold and rocky underworld very vivid scenery and a tropical atmosphere. If you have good eyesight, you will see plenty of tiny fish and critters. Although, these creatures are very shy, so they scoot back into their hiding places the moment you swim by.
The Big Crack leads to a place called Silfra Hall. This is where the fissure broadens out and opens up to 8 meters in width and 14 meters in depth, with giant boulders laying on the bottom.
I have traveled halfway around the globe and witnessed so many natural wonders. However, snorkeling in Silfra has to be one of the very best experiences I have had on my travels.
History Of Diving In Silfra
Diving in Silfra began in 1966. A teacher at the Stýrimannaskóli in Reykjavík, Þröstur Sigtryggson, had just returned to Iceland from the United States where he had learned to dive. Þröstur advertised a beginners diving course and a small group of interested individuals gathered to learn this new sport. After completing their course, this group went to dive in Silfra and the surrounding fissures at Thingvallavatn. Níkúlás Halldórsson, one of these first divers, says they were drawn to Silfra for the same reasons as we are todaythey thought it was beautiful and clear. All of the original divers wore wet suits, as dry suits were unheard of for recreational divers at the time.
Tómas Knútsson, the founder of DIVE.IS, first dived in Silfra in 1976. Like the original Silfra divers, Tómas used a wetsuit when diving in Iceland. He switched to a dry suit in 1989, when he started to dive year round in Silfra and elsewhere in Iceland. Silfra began to gain international recognition as a dive site through Tómass efforts in the 1990s and 2000s.
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Glacier And Ice Caving
What should I wear on the tours?
Weather in Iceland is very unpredictable. For tours during winter: warm clothing as the first layer, waterproof jacket with a hoodie, hiking boots with ankle protection and hard sole, a hat and gloves are ideal. For tours during summer, bringing a light rain jacket or a soft shell with a hoodie is in most cases enough protection. Icelanders often say, If you dont like the weather, just wait 5 minutes. Jeans are not recommended for our trips as they become very heavy, cold and uncomfortable to wear when they get wet.
Do I need hiking boots?
We encourage bringing hiking boots for glacier tours. They have to hard on the sole and tight around the ankle. If you dont have them, we have them for rent in all sizes in Skaftafell or Sólheimajökull. You can add them to your reservation at the time of booking or rent them on location pay with cash or card. The price is ISK 1,500 per pair. For ice climbing tours, boots are included in the price.
How difficult are glacier hikes?
If I am pregnant, can I join a glacier hike?
This is a personal choice. We have had pregnant women on our glacier hikes and we always recommend you read the description of the activity to get a better idea. In any case, feel free to contact our Service Team for further questions and concerns.
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What Exactly Is Silfra
Silfra is a fissure between two of the Earths tectonic plates, located in Þingvallavatn Lake in Thingvellir National Park.
In other words, its located less than an hour from Reykjavik and right along Icelands popular Golden Circle.
The fissure is located between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, and is the only place in the world where you can snorkel between tectonic plates!
The water that fills Silfra is melted from Langjökull Glacier , and after leaving the glacier, it is filtered through lava rock for 30-100 years before reaching the fissure.
As a result, Silfra is famously home to some of the cleanest and clearest water in the world, with a visibility of about 100 meters at any time!
And, as your tour guide will no doubt tell you, the water is perfectly safe to drink, and youre more than welcome to take a few sips during your tour.
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What To See In The Area
Iceland is an amazing country to explore and in the area of the Silfra fissure, there are a lot of things to do. Think about geysers, waterfalls, lagoons, walking trails, and stunning landscapes. And of course, you have to explore Reykjavík. In our Reykjavík in one day guide, we give you the best tips to explore the city.
What Is The Silfra Fissure
After a major earthquake in 1789, what is now known as the Silfra Fissure appeared. This was then followed by many more earthquakes. The plates have continued to move further apart every year, by around 2cm each year.
The weightlessness of diving or snorkelling is one of the most incredible experiences in the world. But the unique geological and hydrological characteristics of Silfra make it even more of an incredible experience.
Once you get under the water of the Silfra Fissure, youâll see a rough but absolutely breathtaking wonderland of bare rock. There are shades of blue that you canât even imagine, and the bottomless crack reaches into invisible depths.
Even though the gentle current will help you along once you get in the water, you will need to gently swim the length of the Big Crack. This section here will contain both the most shallow and the deepest levels. The shallowest point has a depth of a mere half a meter.
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Was Snorkeling The Silfra Fissure Worth It
Well that depends . For us, were glad we experienced it once but wont be doing it again.
How cranky do you get when you are cold? There was one couple in our group that definitely wasnt having a good time because they were wet and cold. So if paying a few hundred bucks to be wet and cold isnt your idea of fun, this activity is not for you.
If you love exploring underwater worlds, youll enjoy this. It is different from anything weve experienced as divers or snorkelers. The water clarity was something that really impressed us.
However, at the end of our 45 minute swim, we were glad it was over. There werent many different things to see while snorkeling so we definitely didnt want to stay in the water any longer. Also, at the end, we were once again getting to the point of being so cold we couldnt go on if we wanted to.
So did we think it was worth it? Yes, but not for the reason you may think. We had previously talked about getting our drysuit diving certification so we could do some amazing shipwreck dives in cold water. This tour cost less than a drysuit course would cost in our area. So it was kind of a test run for us. And we decided we do not like being cold and will NOT be taking the drysuit course. So for us, it helped us save money and had better scenery than a drysuit course would have.
Snorkeling Tours In Silfra Fissure
We offer snorkeling tours with a pick-up in Reykjavik and a meet on location option at Thingvellir National Park.
Snorkeling in Iceland is one of the most rewarding activities you can do. Join one of our snorkeling tours to Silfra Fissure, the only place in the world where you can snorkel between two continental plates.
Amazingly, there are places within Silfra where it is possible to touch the rock on either side. The underwater visibility is incredibly clear, offering an experience which it is very hard to match. It is possible to see up to 100 meters, giving you incredible views of this stunning underwater wonderland this is something you really have to experience to believe.
Meet our guides
I am an instructor from the Czech Republic, I have been working and diving in various places around the world for the past 6 years. But now I have decided to stay and explore Iceland. it’s a wonderful place with lots of activities to try. You will always find me with a big smile ready and waiting to dive into the water with you!
Kris is our hard-core dive instructor from Hungary, he loves the winter and extreme diving and snorkeling in the wind, snow and ice. He not only loves diving, but also skiing and winter sports. To add to his diving experience, he used to work as a life guard for many years, so you can feel absolutely safe with him.
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Snorkelling Between Continental Plates In Iceland: The Details
We were very grateful guests of Dive.is for the tour, however our opinions our 100% our own. We would both highly recommend a snorkelling or diving trip with Dive.is to anyone visiting Iceland.
The snorkelling tour is approx $160CAD per person at the time of writing. A big thank you to Louis for the photos of our morning at Silfra. They are our only pictures of Iceland since our camera was stolen in Italy less than 24 hours later.
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Unique Creations Of Nature
In the still waters, there is complete silence even the usual breathing sounds from my oxygen tank is absent. Drifting through the narrow waterway, we come to a steep slope that leads the channel towards a shallow lagoon. Popping our heads up, we hear Hössi explain, This site is named the Cathedral, for the similarity in shape and formation. Swimming past it, I turn around and take a good look at the water way its lofty spaces surrounded by wide and tall walls of rocks is clearly a work of nature, and perhaps spirits of a different kind.
Soon after, we get to a shallow natural pool shimmering in a ridiculous shade of aqua blue. This is the REAL Blue Lagoon, just take a look and youll know what I mean. The big boulders are gone, only to be replaced by a marshy bed of rocks and patches of beige wispy algae, around us was an immense blanket of blue. As how Kevin described it earlier, the lagoon resembles scenes straight out of the movie, Avatar.
Heres a video shot underwater, itll give you a better idea of what goes on at Silfra:
This snorkeling trip in Thingvellir was made possible by Dive.is, while my self-drive trip through Iceland was hosted by Discover the World. All opinions expressed above are my own. For more on Iceland, check out my Iceland travel guide.
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Founding Of Iceland’s Parliament
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According to the Book of Settlements , the settlement of Iceland began in 874, when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfr Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Over the next centuries, people of Norse and Celtic origin settled in Iceland. Early on, district assemblies were formed, but as the population grew, there was a need for a general assembly. The descendants of Ingólfur who dominated the region of southwest Iceland had become the most powerful family in the country, and other chieftains felt a need for a general assembly to limit their power.
Grímur Geitskör was allotted the role of rallying support and finding a suitable location for the assembly. At about the same time, the owner of Bláskógar was found guilty of murder. His land was declared public, and then obligated to be used for assembly proceedings, and the building of temporary dwellings, and the forest to be used for kindling and the grazing of horses. The Þingvellir area was chosen for this reason and for its accessibility to the most populous regions of the north, south and west. The longest journey a goði had to travel was 17 days, from the easternmost part of the country where mountains and glacial rivers proved bothersome obstacles.
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Snorkeling The Silfra Fissure: Is It Worth It
Snorkeling the Silfra Fissure is often considered one of the top tourist attractions in the WORLD! Why? Because it is the only place in the world where you can snorkel between two tectonic plates. Also, it is the clearest water you will ever swim in, with visibility over 100 meters. So when you go snorkeling at the Silfra Fissure, you get the amazing experience of swimming on two continents at once while seeing everything.
The Silfra Fissure is between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. So when youre swimming here, youre swimming in two places at once. It is the only place in the world where you can do this. The clear water comes from runoff from the Langjökull glacier. The water, which is just above freezing, filters through the porous underground rocks before surfacing. This, along with the fact that lots of algae and microbes that normally make water cloudy cant grow in the cold water, gives you the high visibility youll experience while snorkeling the Silfra Fissure.
Snorkeling the Silfra Fissure
Getting To Icelands Silfra Fissure:
The Silfra fissure is located in the Thingvellir National Park , which is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. You have several options available:
- If you have rented a car and want to drive to Thingvellir National Park yourself, you can book just a diving or snorkeling experience with one of the many companies that operate in Iceland.
- If you dont want to drive, you can either book a diving or snorkeling experience which includes a Reykjavik pick-up OR you can book a Silfra experience as part of a Golden Circle tour.
We chose to go with Arctic Adventures Golden Circle tour with a snorkeling experience. There are several companies that operate and you cant really go wrong. It all depends on availabilities, so just make sure to book in advance. You cant miss out on snorkeling in Iceland!
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Snorkelling Between Continents What You Need To Know
So you have decided as part of your relaxing holiday in Iceland to snorkel between tectonic plates in glacial waters. Well. Its a once in a lifetime activity that you will always remember. Crystal clear waters, incredible rock formations, and really, really cold water.
We are talking 3°C or 37°F cold.
The snorkelling tour location is at Silfra in Thingvellir, the large national park near Reykjavik, and home to one of the longest running parliaments in the world . You can visit Thingvellir on our Golden Circle trip.
The fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates cuts right through the park and in 1789 the rift was formed due to massive earthquakes and plate movement. The snorkelling and diving spot is located there, where the continents meet, and they are drifting apart at a rate of 2cm per year, which is, geologically speaking, super speedy!
Totally unique, this is the only place in the world where you can swim between tectonic plates!
In 1789 the earthquakes opened up may fissures, but the fissure at Silfra hit an underground spring, fueled by the glacial melt water from a nearby glacier, Langjökull the long glacier. This isnt a quick process, it takes between 30 and 100 years for the water to filter through the porous underground lava and reach the spring.
Understandably, as it comes from a glacier the water is cold but as fresh water is constantly coming in it never freezes over.