We booked snorkelling through a company called Arctic Adventures who brought us through the Silfra Fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It was a once in a lifetime type experience and definitely something I would recommend but I would have liked to have known more about what to expect before I did it.
You’re taken on a little bus to a clearing beside the water where there are lots of other tour companies doing the same thing. You’re given a ‘teddy bear suit’, which is like a big fluffy boiler suit to keep warm. On top of this goes the dry suit, which they help you to put on, but it’s a bit stressful because you have to do it on the bus one at a time. Once the suit is on you wait outside and unfortunately it was snowing very heavily. The guides then explain everything and help with the rest of the equipment. Wear about three pairs of socks because my feet were painfully cold after ten minutes of standing around.
If you don’t like things around your neck then I would steer clear of snorkelling as the dry suit has a tight rubber top which is then made even tighter with a band. The suits feel quite heavy and claustrophobic but I’d rather that than freezing cold water. Your clothes won’t get wet at all unless you’re unfortunate enough to have water come into your dry suit. They’re very buoyant so you aren’t really able to swim. The current helps you get around and I kind of flailed around when I needed to change direction. They tell you not to use your hands to swim as it helps them stay warm. I did not listen to that advice and sorely regretted it. Three Dive Masters swim with a group of 16 people and it’s pretty much impossible to get lost/drown so that’s always good.
Unfortunately when we walked down to the area to begin there was a backlog of about three groups meaning we had to stand around in the cold and snow for another twenty minutes before we could actually get in. If you’ve seen Everest, the scene where Beck complains that he didn’t pay 65k to queue on the mountain like he does at Walmart popped into my head. I admit this was very dramatic as it costs 0.002 percent of the price and I wasn’t facing death… Anyway, once you get into the water you don’t really feel the cold anymore even though it’s 2°C. There’s no sea life but as uncool as it sounds, the rocks were amazing. It’s very deep and you can see really far down because the water is crystal clear. It’s truly beautiful and like nothing I had ever seen before.
Before the trip I bought the most unflattering thermal base layer for €17 in to wear under the drysuit. You don’t really need to bother though just wear Dri-Fit gym leggings or anything with polyester/fleece to keep you warm. It’s more just in case some water gets in but it’s unlikely that will happen. Definitely wear lots of warm socks though.
Costs: The trip itself costs about €127 each (Into the Blue Package) and you can choose to get collected from your accommodation for an extra €35. Otherwise you just meet them at the Information Centre in Thingvellir National Park, which is about 45minutes from Reykjavik. You can also pay (a lot) to have use of a digital underwater camera but you have to wear these weird gloves that makes it hard to move your fingers and the cold will eventually make them entirely numb so I’d say just avoid doing that and enjoy the experience. You can always steal photos off the Internet after…like all the photos here…cough
Highs: Amazing once off experience and weirdly relaxing
Lows: Really really cold feet and the dry suit stressed me out