If you thought scuba diving was only for tropical locations, think again. Silfra, in Iceland, is one of the coolest places in the world for expert divers to get underwater — because you can literally scuba dive between two tectonic plates. It’s the only location on the planet where it’s possible.
Scuba diving in the Silfra Fissure in Iceland is an unforgettable experience. This unique fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates offers crystal-clear visibility up to 300 feet, making it one of the most sought-after dive locations in the world. Divers also have a chance to explore underwater caves, canyons and other spectacular geologic features within the fissure.
With water temperatures ranging from 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, Silfra diving requires more preparation than other dives. Divers must wear a full dry suit with insulating layers underneath as hypothermia is a real concern. And you’ll want to pack extremely war clothes for the drive back as your internal body temperature will drop, even with a short dive time. But experienced divers willing to dive in the Silfra Fissure will be rewarded with a truly unique adventure few people can say they’ve seen.
Divers can either drive themselves to the fissure to meet their dive guides or arrange dives that include transportation from your hotel or lodging near Reykjavik to Thingvellir National Park; the drive takes about an hour.
About diving in the Silfra Fissure
The best time of the year for Silfra diving is between May and September when visibility is at its peak and water temperatures are slightly warmer. Outside these months, diving Silfra is still possible, but conditions can be more unpredictable, with colder temperatures and reduced visibility (though the vis will still be great). Because of how unpredictable it can be, it’s best to leave a few days open on your trip to Iceland in case the conditions don’t allow for you to dive on the day you had planned. You’ll max out around 65 feet below the surface, so it’s not a particularly deep dive.
Most dives in the fissure last only about 30 minutes, even with dry suits. And speaking of dry suits: most dive operators who provide trips to Silfra will require you to have experience diving in a dry suit, either in the form of a dry suit certification, or proof of having recently completed several dives in a dry suit. Dry suit diving isn’t extremely hard to learn, but it does add an extra air pocket (around your body) and impact your buoyancy, so you don’t want Silfra diving to be the first time you try one out.
Most Silfra diving guides will take you through the Silfra fissure (bring an underwater camera) and through an area called “The Cathedral,” where the walls are at their deepest and tallest. You don’t technically need an Advanced Open Water certification, but despite the extremely clear water, the cold can make it a challenging dive, and you’ll want to have good air management skills as the cold water can cause more novice divers to burn through their air supply quicker than anticipated.
Snorkeling at Silfra
If you don’t have the requirements to dive — or just don’t want to — you can also snorkel at Silfra. You’ll also need to wear a dry suit, but you don’t need any experience with them since you’ll be on the surface the whole time. Most Silfra diving operations also offer snorkeling tours, such as Dive IS or Arctic Adventures. If you don’t have any divers in your group, check out Troll Expeditions, which offers all-day tours that include not just snorkeling at the Silfra Fissure, but also visits to waterfalls and other gorgeous sites in the national park.