Scuba Diving Iceland
Iceland offers some of the most fascinating and unique diving experiences you could ever have. For one, it gives you the chance to touch two continental shelves in one dive. You can also explore some of the clearest waters you will ever dive while indulging in breathtaking views beneath the water.
Iceland is home to many spectacular diving sites that are well worth traveling to this part of the world for. But there is one particular place that has earned its notoriety in the international dive community. This is a relatively small geological feature wherein two worlds literally collide, which is known as Silfra. You will learn more about this spectacular dive site below.
Those who brave the cold and dare to dive in Iceland are rewarded with some of the most spectacular dives one could ever have. On first glance, it might seem like diving in Iceland is not favorable due to the lack of warm, tropical waters. But whether you are snorkeling or diving, there is an unspeakable beauty that awaits to be discovered in Iceland.
The dive sites in Iceland are different from the other diving destinations in the world. You won’t be as consumed about marine life sightings during your dive. Instead, it is about immersing in the experience of diving the waters of Iceland that will be the highlight of each experience.
Aside from that, you will also be enthralled by the unique rock formations that you will encounter underwater. One thing to note about diving in Iceland is that the use of drysuit is highly recommended. It is therefore important to get some experience when diving with a drysuit first before you tackle on the Icelandic dive sites.
BEST DIVE SITES
No discussion about the best dive sites in Iceland would be complete without a mention of Silfra. It is hands down the best dive site in Iceland. The Silfra fissure is located within the Pingvellir National Park, which is approximately 45 minutes away from Reykjavik.
Silfra is the only place in the world wherein you can dive two tectonic plates – one from Eurasia and the other from North America. This diving site offers depth of up to 100 meters with excellent visibility all year round. This diving site is filled with crystalline water that comes from the Langjokull Glacier. The water is also filtered by porous volcanic rock, which makes it very cold and pure.
Strytan is another distinctive and unique dive site in Iceland. It is known as the only dive site in the world that is situated right next to a hydrothermal vent – typically located miles down into the ocean. Big Strytan is only about 60 meters deep while Little Strytan is 26 meters deep.
There are geothermal cones in the area that vents fresh water that are rich in dissolved minerals. These cones continue to grow as the vent water keeps depositing minerals to the walls of the vent. There is a surprising amount of marine life in this dive site that include wolfish, starfish, clams, and nudibranch. You can also spot different species of jellyfish, cods, and humpback whale (if you’re lucky).
This is a shore dive located near the Keflavik International Airport. It is a fantastic dive that offers a rich variety of colorful algae species, which becomes a source of food for the marine life. It is also a great diving destination for macro diving enthusiasts. This is a relatively shallow dive with a maximum depth of 18 meters.
The Kleifarvatn Lake is a dive site located about 30 minutes to the south of Iceland’s capital. It is a spectacular dive with a landscape that is reminiscent to that of the moon’s surface. The landscape and topography outside of the lake is largely similar to what you will uncover underneath the water surface.
Among the highlights of your dive is a cratered area that is about 10 meters deep. This cratered area results in a continuous stream of bubbles that emit the smell of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur gases. You will also find deep craters with overhanging walls with bubbles coming out of them. During the summer, the lake can be as hot as 14 degrees Celsius but diving in a drysuit is still recommended.
SS El Grillo
This is a British oil tanker that sank during World War II after it was attacked by the German fighter planes. This wreck lies 45 meters deep on the seabed. The highest point of the wreck is at 28 meters below the water surface. The ship itself measures 500 meters long and is big enough to require multiple dives.
Due to the depth of this dive, a diving training certification is required. A drysuit certification is also required here.
BEST TIME TO DIVE
The best time to dive in Iceland is from April to October. This is when you can expect optimal diving conditions, although this could vary from one site to another. It is best to ask your dive operator about specific dive sites you want to explore and when is the best time to go.
When you dive in June, you can get the unique experience of diving under the Midnight Sun.
Look for whales in their natural environment on a whale watching tour from Húsavík. Climb aboard a traditional Icelandic oak boat for a 3-hour guided adventure in search of the giants of the ocean. Get a 97 to 99% chance of seeing whales!
Experience one of the world’s great natural phenomena on a 4-hour evening bus tour of Iceland. Depart the bright lights of Reykjavik to search for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).
COMMON TRAVEL QUESTIONS
Iceland is a diving paradise that has plenty of unique things to offer, especially for divers who are looking to try something new. Below is a list of questions that you might find yourself asking to help you plan for your Iceland diving trip.
How cold is the water in Silfra?
Silfra is fed by the glaciers so it maintains a temperature of 2 degrees Celsius, even during the summer time.
What to wear in snorkeling or diving in Iceland?
Even during summer, dive tour operators would recommend that you wear a drysuit when you explore the many dive sites in Iceland. It is also recommended that you have warm clothes on-hand for after you finish your dive.
What are the requirements for diving in Iceland?
You need to meet certain age and height requirements, and in some cases you should know how to swim independently. The use of dry suit is also recommended. Depending on your chosen dive site, a diving and drysuit certification is also needed before you are allowed to dive.
What dive gear do you need in Iceland?
You will be using the same diving gear that you will need elsewhere, and most of them are provided for by the dive tour operator. In Iceland, though, it is strictly implemented that you wear drysuit when diving due to the extreme water conditions.
Iceland is a Nordic island nation in the continent of Europe. The total area is 103,000 sq km and a population of 334,252. When you say Iceland, you’ll think of snow and Iceland is defined by its volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. Huge glaciers can be seen at Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks where they are protected. Soaking in a geothermal lagoon, a casual hike across the geysers or a simple camping waiting for aurora borealis to appear can all be experienced in Iceland.
Capital city of Iceland: Reykjavik
Closest neighbors to Iceland: Iceland hasn’t shared any borders with other countries because it’s an island although it has marine boundary which Iceland shared with Norway (via Jan Mayen Island), Denmark (via Greenland and the Faroe Islands) and Britain.
Best times to visit Iceland: All year-round is the best time to visit Iceland even if it’s winter. Just pack the appropriate gears for the appropriate weather, you don’t want to miss the midnight sun or even going for a 4WD drive through minor roads in the mountains are closed during September to June.
Visa requirements for Iceland: Visa is free for 90 days of stay though passport valid for at least three months beyond travel date and a return ticket are required upon visiting Iceland.
Currency of Iceland: Iceland currency is Iceland Krona (ISK).
Official Language of Iceland: Icelandic is the official language of Iceland.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Iceland
There are 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iceland and 7 on their tentative list.
- Þingvellir National Park (2004)
- Surtsey (2008)
WHERE TO STAY