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Snorkeling in Silfra: What You Should Know & Why You Should Go

Snorkeling in Silfra: What You Should Know & Why You Should Go

How often will I get the chance to do [fill-in-the-blank]?

This is often the question I ask myself when trying to decide whether or not to do something. It’s not a motto that rules my universe and I’m not out to just do wacky things all the time for a great story and some pics. But if it’s something that I’m truly interested in doing but maybe a little scared to do, this question will often be the push that allows me to say yes and feel good about it.

When I asked myself, How often will I get the chance to snorkel in Iceland? it turns out the answer is not very often. I was hesitant to do it for whatever reason, but I ultimately wanted to, so I booked it and didn’t think too hard about it until the morning of the tour.

The day of my snorkeling tour with Dive.IS I was actually incredibly nervous. While I knew I was wearing the right gear, I just kept imagining things going wrong while in the water. My drysuit would leak, my fingers would suffer nerve damage from getting too cold, or that I’d just be too dern cold that I wouldn’t enjoy it. As with anything unknown, it can be a little nerve-wracking not really knowing 100% what to expect — and that’s definitely part of the fun! Still, here are a few helpful tips for when you snorkel in Iceland, and a few damn good reasons why you should do it!

Snorkel line

What You Should Know:

* Your body will be pretty warm. The drysuit is comprised of multiple pieces, and the first one you’ll put on is essentially a sleeping bag with arms and legs. It actually does an amazing job of keeping you warm! As recommended, I wore a fleece base layer that was pretty warm to begin with, and on top of that second layer provided by Dive.IS, my legs, arms, and core stayed quite toasty.

* Parts of you will get wet, but it’s actually not that bad. Your face and hands will get wet, and maybe even a little bit around your hairline. DO NOT FREAK OUT. This is totally normal, although it does feel like a shock at first. If and when this happens, do like Dory and just keep swimmin’ because if you lift your head out of the water you’ll just make things worse for yourself. Continue snorkeling and let your body adjust to the water and before you know it you won’t even notice the parts of your body that are wet.

* If you have long hair, put it in a ponytail or bun. I had a minor internal flip-out when I realized my hair would be getting wet because I’d failed to put it up in a bun. Getting long hair up and out of the way not only lowers your chances of having icicles dreadlocks later, but it makes putting on your lovely skintight headgear way easier, too. If it’s longer than your chin and you can pull it pack, you’ll be happy you did.

Me Getting Ready to Snorkel in Silfra

* Wear two pairs of socks that are both 100% wool. My feet did get a little chilly during the snorkel trip, although it wasn’t enough to even notice while I was swimming around. My socks were a wool blend, and when I spoke with one of the guides after the session he said that 100% wool socks would have kept my feet warm. Easy solution!

* If you work yourself up, you’ll just make it harder on yourself. If you can just trust that you’ll have a good time — which you will! — you’ll be far better off than if you’re worrying or stressed. It wasn’t nearly as scary or hard or cold as I’d thought it up to be, and once I had that realization I started to relax and really enjoy my snorkeling tour. I only wish I’d done that sooner because then I would have had an even more amazing time.

Why you should go:

* The water is delicious. Your Brita filter ain’t got nothing on Silfra. You might be seriously tempted to use your snorkel as a straw because that water is the cleanest, purest water you may ever taste! The water is filtered for 30-100 years through porous lava and tastes like heaven.

*It’s actually incredibly relaxing. There’s a mild current that runs in the direction you head for most of the trip, and I found myself not even needing to kick my little flippers to go anywhere. Dive.IS calls their snorkeling tours in Silfra “liquid mediation Iceland-style,” and they are so right about that. It was strangely soothing and calming for being such an extreme activity.

Snorkeling in Silfra

* You’ll be snorkeling into between continental plates. Oh, whatever, just snorkeling in Iceland between two tectonic plates that grow apart approximately 2 centimeters every year, nbd.

* You will be well taken care of and your guides will be watching out for you. Don’t be fooled by the number of people who show up to the same tour as you — there will be enough guides so that you’re in a group of about 6-8 people maximum. This wasn’t really a huge concern for me going in, but as I was snorkeling I really appreciated my guide Adrien checking in with me from time to time to make sure I was doing okay. I also saw the lead guide, Chris, walking along on land and watching all the groups swimming. Although everything went smoothly, I certainly felt safe knowing the guides were looking out for us.

* It’s a freakin’ fun and unique thing to do! When I travel I love doing off-beat activities in unique travel destinations, and Iceland and snorkeling in Silfra fit my style perfectly. Even though I had been nervous beforehand the experience itself was pretty amazing, I’m so glad I did it, and I’d recommend it to anyone going to Iceland. Because seriously — how often will you get the chance to snorkel in Iceland?

What adventurous activities have you tried even though you were nervous to try them? Do you have regrets from not doing something that you later wish you had done?

A big thank you to Dive.IS and awesome guides Chris, Adrien and Reynar for having me on their Snorkeling Silfra Day Tour. As always, all opinions are my own.

Photo credits:
Matt Christensen

12 thoughts on “Snorkeling in Silfra: What You Should Know & Why You Should Go

  1. Awesome photos and tips, thanks for sharing! I never thought Iceland would be a good place to snorkel, but now it’s on my list of places to go and things to do!

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