Ever wonder what it looks like to swim between two continental plates?
The Silfra fissure is a huge crack in the Earths surface between the North American and Eurasian continental plates.
This gap is slowly widening about 2 cm a year, building up tension that in turn, creates an Earthquake about every 10 years.
The water in Silfra is glacial water from the Langjökull ice cap. It has been filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years until it reaches the end of Thingvellir lake.
The filtration process makes the water so pure that it’s actually drinkable!
The underwater visibility in the Silfra fissure is over 100 meters, making it some of the clearest water on the planet.
The water is nearly freezing year-round (2°C / 35°F – 4°C / 39°F).
While planning out our trip to Iceland a couple weeks ago, I read online about the Silfra fissure and that because the water is glacial and always cold, tours are offered year round in dry suits! Snorkeling in nearly freezing water in Iceland inbetween two tectonic plates? Without thinking twice I signed us up. This was something my parents, boyfriend and I had to do!
A dry suit is a waterproof shell made of neoprene and rubber. It’s designed to prevent any water from
entering (duh) and provides thermal insulation. The only thing that is supposed to get wet is you hands and face.
Getting the suit on was probably the hardest part of the day and definitely not a one-man job.
Putting a dry suit on can best be described by the movie, A Christmas Story. Going through my pictures, I couldn't help but see a resemblance.
First, you’re outfitted with an adult size pair of footie pajamas...
Next, the thick neoprene layer is zipped up your body and you squeeze your head through the tiny attached hood.
Though I’ve never felt a layer of skin get stretched over my body, I imagine that’s what it must feel like. And also, kind of like someone is strangling you (sounds pleasant, right?)
After your lobster claw-like gloves, mask, and flippers are on, ta-da! You're in a dry suit and it’s off to the water you go!
I was told that even with the drysuit on, some people still get miserably cold and your hands are likely to be numb half way through. I’m probably the biggest freeze-baby ever. Even in the middle of the summer I have goosebumps and my lips turn purple. If something is cold for anyone else, then it usually means that I will feel 10x colder (or at least whine like it is). I was cold even before we started, so I anticipated that the water was instantly going to turn me into an icicle, like I had been hit by Mister Freeze.
The second I put my face in I felt a stream of ice cold water run down my back.
Oh fudge, not even a minute in and i’m already going to freeze to death.
Surprisingly, after the initial shock my body got used to it and the water didn’t feel that cold! With so much to look at around me, I was too busy to even think about feeling cold.
What also took some getting used to was that the drysuits made you float. I’m not talking like how a life jacket makes you float.
I’m talking like you’re wearing an inflated fat suit and before you know it your legs have floated up to the surface, making you stuck on your back bobbing around and you can’t turn over, kind of float.
I’ve known how to swim practically all my life, but for some reason having almost no control over my limbs made me feel like I had never been it water deeper than a bathtub before. Just like the cold, once your body get’s used to the feeling of floating, you can swim normally.
Turns out that they weren’t kidding when they said the water was drinkable. I would know because I inhaled about a liter full when I thought I was drowning.
The crystal clear water lived up to it’s reputation. With the sun shining through, everything had a beautiful glow and could be seen perfectly! Surrounded by snowy mountains and volcanic-like rock, even with your head above the water the sights were just as stunning. You could relax your whole body and just let the light current push you through as you absorb all the scenery around.
My boyfriend and dad came out with their clothes totally dry, but my mom and I were soaking wet. (Unfortunately, my mom didn't experienced the whole “too excited to think about being cold” thing that I did and was freezing the whole time.)
Though the suit is supposed to keep any water out, I recommend bringing a change of clothes to wear after just in case.
If you are feeling cold in the water, It’s best to just relax your body and let the current do the work. Because the water is so cold around you, every time you kick your feet or push your arms, you are actually making yourself colder.
Any snorkeling or diving at Silfra must be done through a tour.
The cost was about $150 per person and can easily be booked online through several companies.
Even though it was relatively expensive for about half an hour of snorkeling, my verdict: Worth it! How many times in your life are you ever going to have the opportunity to dive in nearly freezing water + in between continental plates + in Iceland + in March!?
Never! The Silfra Fissure is the only place in the world where you can actually swim between two continents! This experience was definitely another check off of my bucket list and is an adventure I will never forget.