Scuba diving in the Silfra Fissure is one of the most incredible experiences you can have in Iceland, and I definitely recommend it for any Iceland itinerary! And if you aren’t certified to scuba dive, don’t worry – you can go snorkeling instead.
This guide will tell you all about scuba diving Silfra in Iceland, including what you need to know before you go, how to book your excursion, and more!
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What is the Silfra Fissure?
The Silfra Fissure in Iceland is one of the most unique places to scuba dive in the world. It’s the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet! The plates have been moving apart for centuries, at a rate of 2 centimeters per year – which may not seem like a lot, but it’s pretty significant, and has created these deep fissures. Silfra is located in Thingvellir National Park, which is a part of Iceland’s Golden Circle.
How to Dive Silfra
You can’t go scuba diving in the Silfra Fissure alone! For safety and for protection of the environment, it’s required to go with a guide. There are several tour companies to choose from – I went with Arctic Adventures, which was a great experience. The groups are all a maximum of three people, and the guide was really fun and knowledgeable!
For scuba diving Silfra, you will need to be certified to dive in a drysuit. A drysuit is different from a wetsuit, because it keeps you completely dry! This is super helpful for the cold water, and while it’s not difficult to dive in a drysuit, it’s a little different from a wet suit and there are some skills you’ll need to know.
It’s possible to get drysuit certified in Iceland and dive Silfra the next day, but this is pretty expensive! I decided to get certified here in the US instead – depending on where you’re from, doing your drysuit certification at home will likely be easier, and you won’t have to spend an entire day on the certification during your trip to Iceland.
If you don’t have a drysuit certification, or if you aren’t scuba certified at all, you can also snorkel the Silfra Fissure instead! I think diving is totally worth it, as swimming through the fissure is incredibly cool, but snorkeling would be an incredible experience too.
About the Silfra Fissure Dive
Of course, your guide will tell you all about the dive and prepare you for everything – but so you know what to expect and so you know if booking a dive tour is right for you, here’s some information about scuba diving Silfra!
Location & Dive Site
You’ll be diving in Thingvellir Lake, located in Thingvellir National Park. It’s on the South Coast, close to the Ring Road, so it’s easy to get to! All of the scuba diving tours meet in parking lot P5, but you’ll park a little ways down the road and walk about 5 minutes to meet your guide in the parking lot.
The lake was formed by melting water from the Langjökull Glacier, so the water is fresh – and it’s cold!
You’ll get all your gear on in the parking lot, then walk a little bit to the entry point – where you’ll go down some steps and into the lake. It’s a little difficult with heavy scuba gear, but not bad! The dive goes along the fissure, and at the end, you’ll exit on another set of stairs. This is the hard part – the walk back to the parking lot from here is about 5 minutes long!
The hardest thing about scuba diving Silfra was that you go up and down the entire time! The deepest parts of the dive are around 54 feet (16 meters), but there are some parts where you’re swimming over a rock wall and almost reaching the surface. The average depth of the Silfra dive is only about 32 feet (10 meters).
The visibility of the Silfra dive is absolutely amazing – you can see basically forever! The fresh water is clear, blue, and unlike diving in the ocean, you don’t really need to worry about clouds reducing your visibility.
Silfra is definitely a cold diving destination. The temperature of the water can vary, depending on time of year. When I dove in August, it was 36 degrees (about 2 Celcius), so definitely cold! But, the drysuit definitely keeps you pretty warm. The only thing I noticed was that by the end of it, my lips were pretty cold and my fingers were going a little numb, but they warmed up quickly on the trek back to the parking lot.
What to Wear for Snorkeling or Scuba Diving Silfra
The great thing about booking a dive tour is that you’ll likely have everything you need. Be sure to double check with your tour company, as different ones might be a little different, but on my dive with Arctic Adventures, they gave me everything needed for the dive – drysuit, mask, gloves, hood, and even a dry bag to leave my things in during the dive. They also provided hot chocolate after the dive!
To stay warm under the drysuit, it’s best to wear a thermal base layer. Wool is ideal, as it’s moisture wicking and stays warm even when wet (hopefully you won’t get wet, but sometimes drysuits do leak a little). Bring some thermal pants, a thermal top, and some socks to keep your feet warm!
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Taking Photos When Scuba Diving SIlfra
If you want to take underwater photos and document your experience scuba diving Silfra, you’ll need a camera! For my photos, I used my Sony a7III with a Sigma 14-24mm f/1.8 lens. Of course, I needed something to waterproof it, and I used the Seafrogs Underwater Diving Case. This was my first time diving with the case, so I was pretty scared, but it worked perfectly and kept my camera safe!
A (more portable) option is to get a waterproof phone case that’s made for diving, like the Seafrogs iPhone case. A GoPro is also a great camera option for people who want a video of their adventure! But, a GoPro is only waterproof down to 33 ft (10m), so you’ll need to add a protective housing to scuba dive with it!
Where to Stay After Scuba Diving Silfra
If you want to stay close to the dive site after you dive Silfra, or the night before (many dive tours have a pretty early start), there are plenty of options for places to stay nearby! You can find campsites right in Thingvellir National Park, or book a hotel.
The Golden Circle Lodge is super close to the park and the Silfra dive site, and has a jacuzzi and a sauna! The Thingvellir Lake Cottage is a private vacation home with everything you need, plus a hot tub, and the Iceland Lakeview Retreat is right on the lake!
For more places to stay near the Silfra dive site, check out this map! Be sure to change the dates and zoom out to see all of the nearby options.
More Adventures After Scuba Diving Silfra
After you’ve finished your scuba diving tour, there are plenty of amazing places nearby! The Reykjadalur Thermal River hike is a great hike, and be sure to check out these Iceland itineraries for more inspiration. Our guide recommended Hrunalaug Hot Springs to me, and I really recommend going there too – it’s a perfect way to relax after diving.
- Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Iceland
- Guide to Camping in Iceland
- Iceland Road Trip Itineraries
If you’ve snorkeled or dove here and have any tips, or if you’re planning a trip and have any questions, leave them in a comment below!
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