Snorkeling Silfra: Strong Winds and Icy Waters In Iceland

Ever seen a photo that made you want to book a flight and experience a destination immediately? Well, this is how I felt (and continue to feel) about snorkeling Silfra in Iceland.

After seeing colorful underwater photos of Silfra, I knew that snorkeling between the tectonic plates was one of the first things that I wanted to do in Iceland.

Silfra is one of the top dive sites in the world. Since it takes 30-100 years for the glacial waters from the nearby Langjökull glacier to filter through the underground lava, Silfra’s crystal clear waters are unmatched.


Surviving Silfra’s Strong Winds

Weeks before my trip to Iceland, since I didn’t have my diving license, I booked a snorkeling tour with DIVE.IS. DIVE.IS is one of the few companies in Iceland that offer diving and snorkeling Silfra tours. They picked me up from my hostel at 9 a.m. and within an hour I arrived at the snorkeling site.


“Snorkeling or diving between shifting tectonic plates may be a once in a lifetime opportunity!”


Silfra and its surrounding landscape 

Although lots of people talk about the freezing waters at Silfra, I’m not sure why no one ever mentions the wind chill. The wind was 10x worse than the icy water.

While getting fitted with my drysuit, the wind was so strong and cold that I barely felt my face, hands, and feet – talk about unexpectedly brutal!

Next time, I have to better pack for Iceland’s cold weather!

Clear waters even at the surface.


Overcoming Icy Waters

After a somewhat uncomfortable outfitting process, my instructor led my group to a small ramp where we descended into the water.

I can’t feel my face but I love it. 

Surprisingly, the water wasn’t excruciating.

Now don’t get me wrong, although it was cold, it wasn’t unbearable. I’m just happy that I had travel medical insurance because after Silfra’s strong winds and icy waters, I could have easily gotten sick – it’s better to be safe (and healthy) than sorry.

Besides my face (which was exposed), my hands were cold because water started to seep into my wrists. My instructor warned us of this potential wardrobe malfunction but I didn’t heed his advice. Tread carefully and try not to move too much while snorkeling Silfra.

Frequent earthquakes send boulders and rocks into the crack.

With perfect visibility, underwater was a mélange of boulders and rocks with deep blue, orange and bright yellow hues. The surface was a deep turquoise blue and orange moss and green algae covered just about everything.

As a result of earthquakes in the area, falling rocks and boulders create a wide range of depth in the fissure. Snorkeling Silfra is great for exploring the shallow areas since you can touch all of your surroundings, but to explore the deeper sections, you would need the proper diving gear.

So much detail and intense colors.

It took about half an hour to reach the end of the lagoon where I had to swim against the current to reach the exit point.

Walking back to the parking area, I felt like a champion. I survived Silfra’s glacial waters and ferocious winds – I also had puffy eyes to prove it for days.

Author: Danielle Desir

Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.

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Snorkeling the icy waters of Silfra in Iceland.