Visitors to Iceland usually think about the towering waterfalls, the mesmerizing blue lagoon, and towering mountains but not many know of the unique underwater experience one can enjoy here. Unlike many island countries around the world, Iceland does not feature lots of diving or snorkeling sites; rather, it offers a unique underwater experience that sticks to the memory. This underwater experience can be found in the Southern region of Iceland, and it is unique to this part of the world.
About Silfra Fissure
- Location: Thingvellir National Park
- Maximum Depth: 63 meters (207 feet)
Silfra fissure is a rift in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates drift apart slowly every year, creating a crack that is now popular among divers and snorkelers all over the world. The park where the rift is located has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the rift is considered to be young as it was only formed in the 18th century after several earthquakes occurred in the area. The rift between the plates, although small, slowly grows wider as the plates move 2 cm apart every year.
Snorkeling And Diving At Silfra Fissure
As the site of one of the most interesting geological features in Iceland, Silfra Fissure is now popular among divers and snorkelers. While it is an opportunity to enjoy Iceland’s underwater experience, it also feels thrilling to be able to float between two continental plates. For many, this is an experience of a lifetime. It feels unique as it displays the earth at work. With the continuous changes occurring at the fissure, returning snorkelers and divers will always be met with little changes. The crystal clear water makes it easy to enjoy this unique experience, although the dive is not all that convenient, especially for divers new to freezing water temperatures. At a temperature between 2 °C and 4 °C, it is barely above freezing here. This temperature remains consistent all year round but might be slightly warmer during summer.
Under the water, divers and snorkelers will be met with crystal clear waters as well as the falling boulders which have formed caves at the bottom. Experienced divers who make it to the deepest parts of the lake can touch the two tectonic plates at the same time. This is synonymous with touching two continents at once.
The fissure can be found in Thingvallavatn lake – Iceland’s second-largest lake, which flows through the national park. Visitors are not allowed to proceed with the dive or snorkel by themselves. A tour guide must always accompany them during the experience. Hence, one is required to book a tour to enjoy this experience.
Due to the water’s ice-cold temperature, visitors are first required to endure the lengthy process of getting tucked into a dry swimsuit before being led to the fissure’s different diving areas to begin the underwater experience. Beginners and experienced underwater enthusiasts are welcome to enjoy this unique underwater experience; however, those seeking to explore the site are required to be fit and have good swimming knowledge. While there are parts of the water where divers can go deeper, it is best left for experienced divers. Besides, one does not have to go too deep to witness the spectacular underwater scenery at the fissure.
Visibility And Underwater Experience
The Silfra Fissure is one more proof that Iceland has some of the clearest water in the world. Under the water at the Silfra fissure, visitors will be met with visibility of more than 100 meters which presents divers with unparalleled views of the geological wonder. With such a wide visibility range, Silfra Fissure is arguably the dive site with the longest underwater visibility in the world.
Those seeking sea life here will be met with disappointment as nothing moves under the water except the diver. This is due to the water’s cold temperature which is inconvenient for sea life. Here, it’s all about the stunning tectonic plates on both sides which feels alive and active. These plates actually move, but the movement happens so slowly that it is practically impossible to see it. One only knows that the two sides move apart from each other at 2 cm every year, although earthquakes also add to the changes that can be found here. These earthquakes are estimated to occur once every ten years and more rocks fall off during this process, creating more caves at the fissure.
Diving in crystal clear waters while touching two continents at the same time is not something one gets to experience often. This is what makes Silfra fissure in Iceland a bucket-list-worthy experience adventurers should have at least once. The fissure is located less than 60 km from Reykjavík and the underwater experience here can last anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours.