Snorkeling Silfra: Strong Winds and Icy Waters In Iceland

Snorkeling Silfra 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 North-American and Eurasian 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. Silfra’s crystal clear waters are unmatched and perfect for underwater sightseeing. That’s because it takes 30-100 years for the glacial waters from the nearby Langjökull glacier to filter through the underground lava rocks.


Snorkeling Silfra & Taking The Plunge


Surviving Silfra’s Strong Winds

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. The crew picked me up from Loft Hostel at 9 a.m. Within an hour, we 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 ice-cold 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 brutal. This was before I put my face in the water.

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


Related: Iceland’s South Coast Glaciers & Secret Waterfalls


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 – it was cold but bearable. At 2-4°C, Silfra doesn’t get warm in the summer or freeze in the winter. Temperatures are stable all year round.

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 potential wardrobe malfunctions but I didn’t heed his advice. So tread carefully and try not to move too much while snorkeling Silfra.

Frequent earthquakes send boulders and rocks into the crack.

With perfect visibility, you can see lots of details underwater.

There’s a mélange of boulders and rocks with deep blue, orange and bright yellow hues. The water’s surface was a deep turquoise blue and orange moss and green algae covered just about everything.

As a result of frequent 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 most of your surroundings. However, if you want to explore the deeper sections of the fissure, you’ll need proper diving gear.

This is more motivation for me to get my certificate!

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.

If you enjoy snorkeling, snorkeling Silfra is a must in Iceland!


Want to add Silfra to your bucket list? What are YOU most looking forward to?

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. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 22 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.