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  • Writer's pictureAndi

Silfra Experience

Updated: Jan 4

Our experience snorkeling the Silfra rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park.

Before I jump into it, lets go over some Facts about Silfra

  • Silfra is the only place in the world that you can dive or snorkel in a crack directly between tectonic plates.

  • The rift was formed as a result of earthquakes in 1789 that pulled the plates apart. As a result, the site drifts apart about 2cm every year!

  • In addition to annual growth, regular earthquakes in the area lead to boulders and rocks falling, creating new tunnels, caverns and underwater terrain.

  • While those earthquakes I mentioned earlier opened up other fissures in the Þingvellir (or Thingvellir) National Park, the Silfra fissure is unique because it cut into an underground spring that was filled with glacial water from the Langjokull glacier nearby.

  • What does that mean? In simple terms, the water is deliciously drinkable (but if I'm honest, all water in Iceland tastes magical)... In nerd terms, the water has been filtered through underground lava for 30-100 years before it reaches the spring.

  • The extremely pure water also makes it incredibly visible (over 100 meters), one of the clearest in the world.

  • The beautiful refreshing water is not for the faint of heart or anyone who hates the cold. The water never freezes, remaining 2°-4°C (35°-39.2°F) year round.

Okay, so now that I've thoroughly bored you with what I consider to be "Fun Facts," let's jump into the experience.


Getting There

There are various ways to get to Silfra to dive (pun) into the experience. If you're like us and just going with the flow of whatever came to mind the day before, we booked a tour through Viator. We didn't have a car but luckily there are tons of options that will pick your up from a bus stop near your hotel in Reykjavik and take you there. It's only an hour drive or so. If you take yourself, there's 3 metered parking lots, but I'd recommend going early because it does get busy.

Once you arrive, you'll be able to put your belongings into a dry bag and then (if you did a tour like us) guides will help you get suited up. I'd recommend warm socks and thermal layers. Once they strap you in these, you're in!

But be careful, if you damage the seals, you'll end up miserable the whole time.

There's only one place to enter and one place to exit from Silfra. Iceland's algae and moss is very delicate and in order to not disturb the unique ecosystem, it's important to respect this. About 100 meters from the parking lot (just follow the dive guy sign that I showed up above), there's a submerged metal platform to walk down into and do your final buddy checks.


This is where you can determine if your dry suit will actually keep you dry and if you will be able to handle the frigidly refreshing water. When I first got in, I thought my suit had a leak because the temperature of the water was so shocking. Also, although the dry suit will keep you dry, be prepared for frigid pinkies because your hands (even though they're in gloves) will be wet (I don't recommend this for anyone with Raynaud's syndrome)!


A metal exit at the end of Silfra (roughly 400 meters or 30-45 minutes away) provides an easy exit and protects the terrain. After that, the walk back to the parking lot is about 400 meters. But just know - ONCE YOU COMMIT TO SILFRA, YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT ALL THE WAY TO THE LAGOON TO EXIT. Embrace the painful pinky!


ANDDDDD... WE'RE IN!

Once you're in, it's best not to move around a whole whole lot or you could compromise the dry suit... at least that's what they told us as we robotically floated through the crux. Okay, so at this point, my face and my hangs were extra crispy cold. I liked how it felt on my face but OOO THOSE FINGERS!

Captivated by the beauty, you'll see a unique of algae all around you that are unlike any other. One of the most prominent types in the fissure looks like neon green silly. This algae is called "troll hair." While it may reach out and touch you, it's important to not touch the algae or rocks in any area other than specified zones as it is very delicate.


One of the coolest things, or maybe the most disturbing - I haven't decided... Is while the Thingvallavatn Lake is rampant with fish (brown trout, Arctic charr, three-spine sticklebacks, etc), the fish don't dare venture into the fissure. You won't be snorkeling with the fishies, so if that's your intentions, I'm sorry, you'll be disappointed.



Here's the good news though...

You will have the opportunity to touch the walls of the Eurasian and North American continental Plates.


After this once in a lifetime experience, your guide will be waiting for you at the exit to help take off that cold wet suit.

Hopefully you end up like me (with just cold hands) and not like Michelle (wet, cold and shivering while trying to put pants on in the back of a van).

Just in case you do end up like Michelle, be sure to bring a change of clothes and be sure to put it in the dry bags. Iceland is known for randomly raining and did sprinkle on us while we were in the water. I was glad I bought a second pair of socks at the Information Center on the way into the park.


Once you're changed out, your guides will have hot cocoa and cookies waiting for you to snack upon. Ahhh, so beautiful and so refreshing.



Fingers aside, this experience was incredible and absolutely worth every penny.

Michelle survived and don't mind my wet suit forehead.

Once you're finished up down low, don't skip out of the rest of what Þingvellir National Park has to offer! It's a stunning park with incredible nature, history and hiking. Even parts of Game of Thrones have been filmed around Þingvellir National Park. You might even see an elf.


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