Iceland hosts some of the most unique dive sites in the world. The country is known for the dramatic landscapes and fortunately, the indescribable beauty is not limited to the surface. The underwater cracks, the geothermal lakes, and the hydrothermal vents, as well as an abundant marine life, all together they make scuba diving in Iceland interesting for all divers.
One thing that makes diving in Iceland stand out is the temperature of the water. The sea temperature around Iceland can vary greatly depending on the time of year as well as the location but the water rarely goes above 12° C during summer (December to March), whereas the average temperature in the wintertime is around 2° C. Silfra’s temperature stays at 2-4 °C all year round which makes the visibility amazing year round. Water temperature in Lake Kleifarvatn and Thingvallavatn ranges between 2 degrees in winter, up to 12 degrees in summer. These numbers result in the fact that wetsuit dives in Iceland are a rare thing.
All these diving experiences are done in dry suit. The necessary equipment is provided by the professional guides when you sign up for a diving tour. Also, you need is to bring your diving certification or equivalent. If you are not yet dry suit certified and you don’t want to miss any diving opportunity in Iceland, no worries,
you just go to Iceland because they have it all mapped out for you.
The ocean around the coasts of Iceland has diverse wildlife, and you can expect to see numerous species of marine organisms, fish, crabs, shellfish and other molluscs, marine mammals and a vast number of colorful algae.
Iceland’s Freshwater Dive Sites
Iceland is probably most famous for its extraordinary freshwater dive sites. Many of them are near the Capital Region. Within the heart of the nation Thingvellir National Park, a unique diving site, which is a fissure between two continents fed by the crystal clear glacial water can be found here. It has a beautiful name – Silfra, meaning silvery. It’s located on the northern tip of the largest natural lake in Iceland that’s named Thingvallavatn, which actually hosts a hidden gem for divers on its northeastern corner under the name Davíðsgjá. On the Reykjanes Peninsula, you can experience an out-of-this-world dive in lake Kleifarvatn that’s located on an Earth’s hotspot near the miraculous Seltun geothermal area.
Silfra Fissure – Diving Between Continents in Crystal Clear Water
Diving in Silfra is like nothing else you have ever experienced. You will be diving through the 50-year-old meltwater from glacier Langjökull. The water here is the purest and freshest water you will ever encounter anywhere in the world. In addition to this great feature, Silfra Fissure is actually a part of the splitting rift between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Diving in the underwater valley at Silfra,
you can touch the edges of both continents at the same time. How cool does that sound!
You can dive deep down to 50 meters underwater. The view is absolutely astounding. There are four sections in Silfra Fissure. After you dive down in the water from the entrance point, first you will pass the Silfra Deep Crack or Big Crack, a 120-meter long but narrow underwater valley that winds slightly left and right. This fun swimming will take you to the next section Silfra Hall, a wider section where you can see the famous “troll hair” swinging on top of the lava stones. Then, you will reach the deepest point of the dive that’s called Silfra Cathedral, an awe-inspiring sight due to its sheer space and the outstanding visibility. And finally, you will reach the incredible Silfra Lagoon, a dramatic spot where divers can appreciate the superb underwater view.
Silfra has amazing underwater visibility, and its water is far clearer and purer than most diving sites in the world with a tested visibility length of over 100 meters (328 ft). It has to do the glacial water getting filtered over the course of a half century, which is an extraordinarily long process. After the melt glacial water streams down from 60 kilometers (37.2 miles) north at Langjokull glacier, it goes underground through a porous area of the lava field for 50 kilometer (31-mile). The porous lava field is the best natural filter on this planet. The slow but effective filtration takes any matter that could impair the crystal quality away from the glacier melt-water before it slowly seeps into Silfra. High level of water clarity is diver’s best friend, it enhances all underwater senses and creates a surreal submarine reality for divers to venture, making diving in Silfra Fissure an intense, unforgettable experience.
Kleifarvatn – Diving in the Geothermal Wonder of Reykjanes Peninsula
Driving south from Reykjavik for about 42 minute, you will arrive at the Reykjanes Peninsula. The ride is accompanied by the endless stunning lava field and the mind-blowing landscapes on both sides of the road. Stopping at Lake Kleifarvatn allows an exciting pause for a serene yet fabulous adventure that’s not only for the wild scenery in its vicinity, but also for a diving opportunity.
Davidsgja – Diving in Thingvallavatn, the Largest Natural Lake in Iceland
Although close to each other, Davidsgja is a less popular dive site compared to its neighbor Silfra Fissure. It’s mostly visited by local divers in Iceland. The wonder of diving at Davidsgja is to be able to swim deep in the most beloved water of the nation, and Thingvallavatn is the largest natural lake in Iceland. Its greatest depth is 114 meters (374 feet). The lake lies right in a rift valley that extends south from Langjokull glacier to Mount Hengill, an active volcano fuelling hot springs and fumaroles. Then it extends from Mount Botnssulur in the west to the heathland of Lyngdalsheidi in the east.
When you dive in Davidsgja, you will enter a long, deep, narrow fissure that has a maximum depth of 21 meters (69 meters). The water temperatures at Davidsgja are usually warmer than Silfra, but in winter the lake is frozen so diving is only available between May and September. The most common fish species in Thingvallavatn are Arctic trout, Brown trout,
and Three-spined sticklebacks, and you can see those beautiful creatures when you dive here in summer.
Ocean diving in Iceland
The ocean around the coasts of Iceland has diverse wildlife, and you can expect to see numerous species of marine organisms, fish, crabs, shellfish and other molluscs, marine mammals and a vast number of colorful algae. The top ocean dive sites in Iceland are Garður – a small fishing village in Reykjanes peninsula, Strýtan –a geothermal cone located just out of the town of Akureyri, and El Grillo – a wreck of a British oil tanker from WW1 in eastern Iceland.
Gardur – Diving In Reykjanes Peninsula
Near the northern tip of Reykjanes Peninsula, you will find a fishing village that’s about one-hour drive to the south from Reykjavik. The location is at a prime fishing grounds where visitors can appreciate the magnificent sea views and the two picturesque lighthouses. This area is also famous for its brilliant ocean diving scene since there are over 42 species of marine algae can be found in the bountiful underwater garden. Not only are these abundant alga species waving the crucial threads in the web of marine diet in Iceland, but also they serve as a food source for the original settlers of Iceland over 1000 years ago. These colorful marine organisms have been vital to the local ecosystem and economics.
Strytan – Diving In North From Akureyri
As the capital of the North, Akureyri stands out for its vibrant nightlife buzz and its fragrant botanic parks. One of the unbelievable facts about Akureyri is that it actually hosts an ocean diving center Strytan, which has three geothermal vents or geothermal chimneys as many call it. There are numerous diving sites in the Strytan area, and the big Strytan is the most spectacular among them due to its sheer size.
For more information, visit EXTREME ICELAND
celand’s International Airport is located 45 minutes from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, near a town called Keflavik. There are 26 airlines flying to and from Iceland to almost 100 destinations. The airport is pretty small compared to other international airports around the world but despite its size,
almost 7 million passengers visited the airport last year!