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Iceland - Diving Silfra

For those of you who SCUBA dive, here’s an unique opportunity and something to consider doing when you come to Iceland: dive between two continental plates. Once I found out about this, I simply had to do it. To make it happen, I contacted Tobias Klose and his team at Dive.Is, The “Sport Diving School of Iceland.” Hossi, the general manager, made things very easy to coordinate.

This afternoon, Tobias himself picked me up at my hotel and we made the drive out to Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir is a site worth visiting in its own right—the location where the world’s first parliament was held. It’s a magical place to walk around—something I did a few years ago for an episode of Digging for the Truth. But on this trip, we headed to Silfra, a site at the northern end of Lake Thingvellir.

The dive started just after 7pm, which would be late for most dive trips. In Iceland, though, one can do this as it really doesn’t get dark this time of year. So we got in the water at 7:20pm and, for those curious, it was COLD. This is definitely drysuit not wetsuit diving. According to my dive computer, the water was 36.5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.5 degrees Celsius). Thankfully, the Waterproof suit I was wearing was up to the challenge, as it’s a proper arctic drysuit.

We descended into the water using a ladder that I’m guessing and other dive companies installed to ease access for clients. Once in, we swam just a few feet to a spot where, if you wanted to, you could dive down about 15 feet and stretch your arms out so that you could literally touch two continental plates at the same time. It’s the only place on the planet, I think, where you can do this! Thanks to the ever shifting nature of plates, the gap separates about an inch more each year. In 15-20 years, it may be harder to span the distance with your arms, but for now it made for a fun experience:

Once that was done, the rest of the dive was just a swim along the channel, south to Lake Thingvellir. Before we got to the lake (max depth approx 375 feet), we turned east and swam into a shallower section of mostly broken rocks and algae.

My average depth for the dive was 20.8 ft, max depth of 47.5 ft. What was truly astounding, though, was the visibility. The water in Lake Thingvellir comes from glacial water that is filtered through volcanic soil for over 50 years before it comes up into the lake through springs. This makes it essentially the cleanest, purest water on earth. The cold temperature and purity combine to create the greatest visibility I’ve ever dove in — they say you can see 300 feet in the lake, and I believe them. In the past, my best viz dives have been in the caves and caverns of the Yucatán Peninsula, but this completely blew that away. And what was even more interesting was that if you wanted to, you could drink the water while diving by letting it slip past your (slightly frozen) lips on your regulator. Again, I can’t stress just how much fun this dive was. Next time I’m in Iceland, I’m planning to go back to Silfra again just for the thrill of it.

Posted by ExplorerJosh on 06/22 at 11:42 AM






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