Snorkeling between continents in Iceland




By Karlie Marrazzo

One of the amazing geological oddities in Iceland is the Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park, a rift where the North American and Eurasian plates are slowly pulling away from each other. While researching the trip, we found out that it is possible to snorkel or dive in the fissure, so we jumped at the opportunity and booked a snorkel trip right away.

Thingvellir is a 45 minute drive northwest from Reykjavik. We arrived at the meeting point and saw the van from waiting for us. I started to get nervous as we approached the van. I knew that they were professionals and that I would be wearing a dry suit so I didn’t need to worry about getting cold, but I was still uneasy. I am from the land-locked prairies in Alberta, after all, so floating in freezing water between continents is foreign to me!

Louis from helping me into my dry suit.

We met our guide, Louis, and followed him down to the edge of the dive site. He was a fairly young guy around my age. Icelanders have a reputation for being hard workers – they have Viking blood, after all – and are serious about what they do, so I knew we were in good hands. He went over safety with us and told us what the day would be like. His way of speaking made me feel even a bit more at ease – firm with the rules but a few jokes tossed in for good measure.  Silfra is one of the top spots in the world for diving, thanks to some of the clearest water in the world and underwater visibility of over 100 meters. The naturally filtered glacial water hovers around a chilly 2C all year round. The fissure didn’t look like much from above, just a crack in the Earth full of crystal clear water. It was impossible to see the depths from where we were standing. The weather was decent for Icelandic standards – not too windy, not raining, and only some clouds in the sky.

Louis helped all of us get kitted out, which was probably the most complicated part! We stripped down to our thermals, put on some sort of base layer, then the dry suit, then gloves and a head covering. Everybody looked hilarious struggling and wiggling all over the parking lot, trying to get their gear on. A bunch of moon men walking on Earth.

silfra-fissure-blueOnce I walked down the metal steps into the water, there was no going back and my anxiety disappeared. Our group bobbed upright in the water momentarily. Then we were all face down and floating off in our own world. The water wasn’t as cold as I expected, and I adjusted quickly. Floating there felt like I was no longer of this earth, floating somewhere between heaven and hell. It wasn’t scary or upsetting, it felt like nothingness, other worldly, and peaceful. I have never seen water so clear in my life. The blues and greens were so beautiful, and staring down into the depths was mesmerizing. There are a few fish that can survive in the cold temperatures, but I didn’t see any that day. I only wish we could have stayed in for longer! All told we were in the water for 30 minutes.

We waddled back to the parking lot and did another dance to get our dry suits off. We warmed up with some hot chocolate and cookies and said goodbye to our group.

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6 thoughts on “Snorkeling between continents in Iceland”

  1. Wow, what great photos of your dive, the colors are beautiful. I enjoyed your description of preparing for the dive “wiggling all over the parking lot”.

    This is rather weird but the photo of you putting on your suit – you look younger – like photos when you were married! Did you go back in time?

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