Brrrr, Silfra: My Experience Snorkeling in Iceland in Winter

snorkeling in iceland in winter

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Snorkeling in Iceland in Winter

I remember snorkeling in Iceland in Winter very clearly.

And my vivid memories of stepping, ever-so sloooooowly, into the crystal clear glacial waters still give me a shiver! The wind alone was enough to make me want to hide in a corner room with a roaring fire in the hearth and a stack of books. Not to mention, I had to get changed outside.

“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. I was never great on my feet.

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 an Icelandic December?

snorkeling in iceland in winter

One of the Best Things to Do in Iceland in Winter: Snorkeling Silfra

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

I mean, let’s think about how crazy I am for five seconds. 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 my travel choices 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 iceland in winter

snorkeling in iceland in winter

Snorkeling Iceland in Winter and Temperatures

Erm. How Cold is the Water when You Snorkel Iceland in Winter?

I won’t lie to you to make you more comfortable. Be prepared for your adventure. 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 iceland in winter

snorkeling in iceland in winter

Prices For Snorkeling Iceland in Winter

Another question running through your brain might be: Is snorkeling Iceland in winter worth the cost?

Sure, the glistening blue and purple images are incredible, and snorkeling Iceland in winter is something to brag to your friends about. However, we all know Iceland is expensive, especially for budget travelers. At the end of the day, Blond Wayfarer, was this frigid encounter worth your time and money?

Hell, yes! I know I just made the incredible cold in combination with the dry suit sound miserable but Silfra is so, so, so, so cool. No pun intended.

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

Silfra Snorkeling Winter: My Overall Impression

Unsurprisingly, I think snorkeling Iceland in winter is worth it.

You don’t have to be in great physical shape to do the snorkeling excursion. I’m in average-ish shape, and was able to complete the excursion just fine! If you have mobility challenges, I’d suggest contacting the tour company ahead of time.

Don’t feel anxious about snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure, either. I’ve spoken on this blog at length about how Iceland is perfect for anxious travelers. You will experience the same level of comfort on this tour. The guides are wonderful and knowledge, and will take care of everything. They’re extremely skilled and will answer any questions or concerns you might have about your trip.

If you’re time in Iceland is limited, then you might want to invest in a tour that also does a drive around the biggest sites in Þingvellir National Park! That way you do all the activities and take pictures gorgeous geysers and waterfalls in one day.

Not sure what you want to see? Pack your guidebook to Iceland.

snorkeling in silfra in winter

Packing for Winter Snorkeling in Iceland

“Okay, sounds awesome,” you might be thinking right now, “but what should I pack for snorkeling Iceland in winter?

Honestly, the tour company will take care of most of the practical items needed for your excursion. So you don’t have to worry toooooo much about packing. You’re more than welcome to bring extras with you. For example, having a one of the best dive watches would be pretty cool especially if you’re doing a tougher excursion.

However, there are two major items you don’t want to forget when snorkeling Iceland in winter.

  • Thermal Underwear Set Top & Bottom: Have a thermal underwear set for your snorkeling excursion. Snorkeling Iceland in winter is not a warm endeavor (ha) so you want to keep your entire body as comfortable as possible. The tour companies usually recommend you wear this attire ahead of time.
  • Thick Heat-Trapping Socks: Most tour companies also recommend wearing heavy socks to keep your feet snug. Heat tends to escape through our feet so bringing appropriate socks is especially important.

snorkeling in silfra in winter

Is Iceland on your bucket list? Do you want to visit Iceland in winter? Have you ever snorkeled Silfra? What are some of your best snorkeling experiences?

Thanks for reading and have a fun time snorkeling Iceland in winter!

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