Yup. You read that right.
I have been snorkeling in 33 degree water and lived to tell the tale.
The Silfra Fissure is not only one of Iceland’s most famous diving spots but it’s consistently rated as one of the WORLD’S best dive sites. The fissure is the divide between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates. Swimming in Silfra means you are literally swimming between continents.
The water rift is in Thingvellir National Park. The glacier water runs off, and then is filtered underground for 1,000 years (!!!). That means the water I was swimming in ran-off this glacier in 1016. Does anybody even know what was going on in the world during 1016? Because I don’t.
Anyway, it’s a narrow channel of blue water, at the narrowest point I could reach across and touch both tectonic plates. It honestly looks like a small canyon from above. Nothing special. (If you watch Game of Thrones many of the scenes where Arya and the Hound are traveling together were filmed in this area.) But below, it is a supernatural shade of blue, with perfect visibility. Literally. 100 meter visibility. You do not know clear water until you have seen this place. The incredible rock formations on either side make up a silent & magical aquatic paradise.
Now swimming in the fissure is no easy feat. The key to not dying of hypothermia is layers layers & more layers.
First you dress in long underwear, with a t-shirt on top. Then the outfitter gave us a “warm suit” aka a fitted sleeping bag with a zipper.
The next step is a neoprene dry suit. This baby is TIGHT. It has to be, as it is the only thing between you and the water so it forms an airtight seal around your body. It has a zipper in the back which creates a pocket of air between you and the water keeping you insulated. It’s heavy and very hard to move in. And what if your wrists and neck don’t form a perfect seal? Then you’re guide will tape you up with electrical tape to make sure it’s nice and tight. 50 shades style. Next is a hood, then some gloves and finally the snorkel mask and you’re ready to go.
It took me and my mom 45 minutes to put on this gear…with the help of a guide..
But like pretty much everything in Iceland it was an unreal experience.
We toured with Dive Iceland. Though all the outfitters leave from the same spot so we got to see everyone else while we were dressing. It all looked like a similar experience so I’d just go with the cheapest option.