Snorkelling between tectonic plates (Iceland)
“What? Are you crazy?” “Why would you want to snorkel in the freezing cold water?” “Really, why?” “Are you mad?” These are the few questions I was asked by my family and friends when I had told them about snorkelling in between the tectonic plates. Honestly, snorkelling between the tectonic plates was never part of my Iceland itinerary.
During my northern lights tour in Norway, I met few fellow Indian travellers in a petrol bunk and one of them suggested me to do the diving in Iceland. Even though I could not do the diving as the minimum requirement for scuba diving is to have a diving certificate (No, I was not a certified diver back then and after this incident had added it as a part of my yearly resolutions), I had decided to go snorkel.
About Silfra (rift in tectonic plates)
Silfra is a rift formed in the tectonic plates between North American and Eurasian plates. Snorkelling in Silfra is a unique experience because of the clear crystal waters. In some parts of the Silfra, the spaces are so narrow that one can touch North America and Europe at the same time. In order to do that, one needs to dive instead of just snorkelling.
Did you know that the caves in Silfra can go up to the depth of 60 metres? At some places, the the rift offers exceptional visibility of 70 to 80 meters.
Silfra is around 60 kilometres from Reykjavik and it takes around one hour to drive there.
The company ‘Dive Silfra‘ organizes snorkelling and the scuba diving tours. The snorkelling costed me about ISK 17.990 which is approximately USD 170 and it included picking me up from the hostel that I stayed in Reykjavik. The snorkelling tour is in Silfra fissure in Thingvellir (Þingvellir) national park.
On the day of the dive, I was picked up from my hotel in Reykjavik’s city centre. It was raining constantly and the weather was freezing. There were about 8 of us in for the snorkelling tour. We were all driven to the national park, where we met the staff of Drive Silfra. The temperature of the water was 2 degrees and I was told that it was the perfect weather for snorkelling.
On arrival, the staff helped us put on the dry suits and briefed us with all the safety precautions. The temperature of the water is in single digits but the best thing about snorkelling and scuba diving in Silfra is that one gets a dry suit. And you do not get wet under a dry suit at all.
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We were then escorted to the snorkelling starting point, which is about 100 meters from the parking lot.
The snorkelling was between four main parts of Silfra.
- Initial point was through the narrowest portion – Big Crack,
- The Silfra then widens into Silfra Hall.
- The next part is Silfra Cathedral, which has the depth of 23 meters.
- Snorkelling tour finishes at the Silfra Lagoon.
The colours of the rocks and the visibility of water was spectacular. The water is so clear because of the temperature of the water. It is definitely very cold for the marine life to live here and hence I did not see any marine life. The temperature of the water ranges between 2 to 4 degrees centigrade.
Even though there is absolutely no marine life, the snorkelling in Silfra is special because of the tectonic plates and the clear visibility of water. It was an experience to remember and I am glad to have met those fellow Indians who suggested me to do this when in Iceland. I would definitely recommend this as one of the must to-dos in Iceland.