Silfra: Snorkeling Iceland’s Coldest Water in Winter

snorkeling in silfra in winter

“This is possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” I blurted aloud, as I struggled to squeeze myself into a dry suit behind the van.

My teeth chattered while the notorious Icelandic wind whipped my hair and froze my neck. Then, in the midst of squirming into the suit, my foot slipped into the snow. I scowled, as wet cold seeped through my wool socks, and I leaned against the side of the van to regain my balance.

Then a kind woman, who was booked with another snorkeling group, helped me shove my feet inside the (far too) tiny diving boots.

My wide Frankenstein feet have never, ever, ever cooperated on normal days, so why would they cooperate now?

I blushed and thanked her, and then joined my own diving group, hoping I wasn’t too ruffled. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of all the guys. Priorities, right?

So why did I decide to snorkel for the first time in Silfra in the middle of Icelandic winter?

snorkeling in silfra in winter

I’ve never been the type to blindly follow the crowd.

Snorkeling in the Caribbean? Mexico? Belize? Nah! On a whim, I decided my first snorkeling experience ought to take place in ICELAND. IN DECEMBER.

Let’s rewind before you judge me too much, haha!

I had booked my Snorkeling Silfra Day Tour with DIVE.IS because of rave reviews on TripAdvisor. Now I know TripAdvisor shouldn’t be the only website you use to research tour companies, but DIVE.IS’s available times fit perfectly into my schedule, and I wasn’t willing to leave Iceland without the Silfra experience under my belt.

Plus, after reading similar articles on A Dangerous Business and The Blonde Abroad, I knew I had to give snorkeling in these freezing waters a chance.

So I booked it.

After changing into your dry suit, you take a short walk to Silfra and mentally prepare yourself. Trust me, the last thing you wanna do is sink into freezing water when there’s snow on the ground and icy wind batters your cheeks an unflattering shade of red.

But you do it anyway.


snorkeling in silfra in winter

I won’t lie to you: This water is pretty damn cold, and the dry suit doesn’t keep it all out.

Your face and index fingers are especially prone to numbness. And then when it’s time to look under the water’s surface? Ahhhhhhhhhhh, spare me.

My cheeks felt stuck to my face, and my lips? Forget them. It was as if I didn’t have lips anymore.

We stayed in the water for about forty minutes, so it wasn’t as if I could hop out right away either.

But I’m a big girl and as I awkwardly paddled after our guide, my skin got used to the biting cold.

Fortunately, Silfra is a pretty easy snorkeling excursion. I had zero experience snorkeling, but had no problems flowing with the water’s natural current and following the guide to the other side. You don’t have to know what you’re doing, believe me.

snorkeling in silfra in winter

snorkeling in silfra in winter

But, Blond Wayfarer, was this frigid encounter worth your time and money?

Hell, yes! I know I just made it sound miserable but Silfra is so, so, so, so cool.

Snorkeling in Silfra in winter is one of my most memorable travel experiences! I highly recommend it, especially to those readers who absolutely love booking more adventurous excursions. Keep in mind everyone’s experience snorkeling in Silfra is different.

Silfra is located in Thingvellir National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I know DIVE.IS offers a more comprehensive snorkeling tour than the one I did. This tour also includes quick sweep of the park if you’ve limited time in Iceland.

Silfra is a freshwater fissure that allows you to snorkel between two tectonic plates: the American and Eurasian. Where else can you do that? Nowhere I know of.

The water, although cold, is incredibly clear. Seriously, its visibility extends 100 meters, which means amazing and crystal views everywhere. You can easily see all the way to the bottom. And the colors? Wow. Nature’s beauty never fails to blow my mind by making me realize just how small we are in the world.

Here are a few more spectacular views to convince you to book a DIVE.IS tour and see Silfra. Keep in mind that this trip was paid entirely out of my own pocket and I’m recommending it on my opinion only.

snorkeling in silfra in winter

snorkeling in silfra in winter

snorkeling in silfra in winter

snorkeling in silfra in winter

Is Iceland on your bucket list? Have you ever snorkeled Silfra? What are some of your best snorkeling experiences?

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5 Responses to Silfra: Snorkeling Iceland’s Coldest Water in Winter

  1. Jagabond April 20, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    Awesome story and great pics…thanks for the extra dose of inspiration for the day! I loved my trip to Iceland…so many things to see and so much variety…like seeing a glacier park and a volcano in the same day!

    • Rachel Elizabeth April 23, 2016 at 6:08 am #

      Jagabond —

      Thanks for visiting! Iceland was incredible! So much to see and do. I wanna go again in the summer so badly.

  2. Catherine Charron May 15, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    That looks so fun! This is definitely going on my travel to-do list… You’re also an awesome writer by the way!

    • Rachel Elizabeth May 15, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

      Catherine —

      It’s a GREAT (if not cold) experience! Go for it! And thanks for your kind words! 🙂

  3. Anne February 13, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    I loved snorkeling Silfra as well! One of the best experiences (though also coldest) I’ve had traveling!

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