Snorkeling Silfra Under the Midnight Sun Tour in Iceland

Snorkeling in Iceland Through the Icy Waters of Silfra

Snorkeling in Iceland at night in ice cold water between the continental plates of North America and Europe was stunning. You may be questioning our sanity or think that we have made up some strange story. But, it really is a real tour and not as crazy as it seems, I promise! Yes, the water is barely warm enough to be liquid, at a balmy 2° C (36° F), but you wear a dry suit so the only parts of your body that get cold are around your mouth and hands.

Silfra Snorkeling in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Silfra Snorkeling in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Like I mentioned when sharing about the Golden Circle, Silfra is located in Thingvillir National Park between the continental plates of North America and Europe that are slowly pulling apart. You can go on a dive or snorkel tour, and if you are diving, you can actually touch both continents at the same time. The water that fills the rift is fresh water from the nearby Langjökull glacier that seeps through volcanic lava. This is a decade-long process where the water is filtered to absolute purity; because the water is so pure, it allows for visibility of up to 350 ft. and you can even drink it!

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

We went on the Snorkeling Under the Midnight Sun tour with Dive.is which starts around dinnertime and because Iceland has almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer, it feels like you are snorkeling during the day. Since we drove the Golden Circle that morning, we met our guide at the park instead of driving around an hour back into town for pickup at our hotel. I would definitely recommend this option if you have a car and like to use your time wisely. When our guide arrived, we were shocked to find out that we were the only two people on the tour that evening. Because Dive.is happens to be the only tour company that offers midnight snorkeling, we literally had the entire place to ourselves. It was surreal. Inga from Tiny Iceland joined us on our Golden Circle drive so she kindly took pictures of us while we were snorkeling.

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

So now that you know what Silfra is all about, you might be wondering what you will see, but first you have to go through the daunting task of putting on your gear. We stripped down into our long johns and donned what looked like a snowsuit. Next came the dry suit, and let me tell you, it was a challenge to put on!

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Once I finally got the suit on, it was time for the neck and head pieces–the suit is so tight around your head that it feels like you are going to suffocate yourself! And, beware: if you have long hair, make sure you tie it back. Even though mine was tied back, it was a mess under there and got pulled hard quite a few times.

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Next up is the neoprene gloves and then you are ready to make your way to the water where you put on your mask, snorkel and fins just before climbing in, and by this time you can hardly move, so the guide will kindly help you get your flippers on.

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

The suit is so tight and restricting;, but don’t worry because once you get in the water, the suit adjusts itself and starts to feel more comfortable. They are pretty attractive suits too, don’t you think?  We felt like “Scuba Steve”!

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

After you submerge your face and the initial icy shock wears off, you look around and see the brilliant, entrancing world below the water.  While there aren’t any fish or coral reefs to look at, your mind will be reeling trying to process the incredible shades of blue and green that dance before your eyes against the stark, rocky landscape and golden sands. It is a feast for your eyes as you float along and take in the vast shades of blue, turquoise, aqua, cerulean, and sapphire along with splashes of neon green algae; it won’t be long before you try to remember if you have ever witnessed such vivid colors anywhere else in your life. Some areas are so shallow it feels like you can barely float through and others are over 65 feet deep.  Now, have a look at the brilliant colors for yourself:

Snorkeling at Silfra in Iceland

Snorkeling Silfra Under the Midnight Sun Tour in Iceland

Snorkeling at Silfra in Iceland

Snorkeling at Silfra in Iceland

You float through the rift before turning back and swimming to the nearby staircase to exit. Swimming is barely required because the dry suits keep you very buoyant and the current carries you along quite nicely. You are in the water for around 30-45 minutes; if we were in the water any longer I think I may have lost a finger. OK, not really, but my hands were numb by the time we got out–thankfully the rest of me was still warm, which says a lot coming from a girl who brings a jacket in temperatures over 90° F.

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

After you get out of the water, you have a short walk back to the van where you can change, and enjoy the treats they provide: hot chocolate and cookies.  Snorkeling in such a unique atmosphere was amazing and we really enjoyed it. I would highly recommend giving it a try, especially during the evening tour. While you may not get as lucky as us and have the place completely to yourself, you will have a much better chance of not waiting in lines for your turn to get in the water and through the rift. Since it is not the warmest atmosphere to float around in, the lack of people during the evening is a definite plus.

Snorkeling Silfra in Iceland

Photo credit: Inga, Tiny Iceland

Where is your favorite place to snorkel?  Do you prefer it to be a bit warmer?

24 Comments
  • Jessica
    Twitter:
    Posted at 16:33h, 17 July Reply

    First of all, you look great and although that looks very cold, it also looks like an amazing experience.
    Jessica recently posted…One of a Kind Global Gifts from NovicaMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:16h, 24 July Reply

      Thanks, Jessica! I felt so funny in the suit 🙂 It really was such a cool experience though–so glad we did it!

  • Sofie
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:12h, 17 July Reply

    This isn’t the first time I read about snorkeling on Iceland. It’s supposed to be amazing and although I’m sure it is, I don’t know if I would dare going in those cold waters!
    Sofie recently posted…#Frifotos: smiling around the worldMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:15h, 24 July Reply

      I don’t blame you for not wanting to go in the cold water! It almost made me not do it either, but thankfully with the suits, it really wasn’t too bad. Just cold around your mouth and hands, but so worth it!

  • Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett
    Twitter:
    Posted at 22:35h, 17 July Reply

    Wow – snorkelling in Iceland! I’d definitely like to try that!
    Love the photos – really capture the experience well.
    Bennett – The Further Adventures of Bennett recently posted…One Day: Part ThreeMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:13h, 24 July Reply

      It was great–the colors were amazing and we had a lot of fun! Thanks! 🙂

  • Planet Lew
    Twitter:
    Posted at 07:35h, 18 July Reply

    Some really beautiful photos there. Given your smiles, looks like it was lots of fun and what a story!
    I’m hoping to go diving in Norway this summer… thought I still want a dry suit 😉
    Planet Lew recently posted…I heart NYMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:12h, 24 July Reply

      Thanks! We did have a lot of fun 🙂 Wow, diving in Norway sounds great–I would love to hear about that. Definitely can see why you would want a dry suit!! You will have to let me know if you end up doing it!

  • Anna
    Twitter:
    Posted at 08:32h, 20 July Reply

    I was looking forward to this post! Really neat to see what the suits look like! I wonder why wasn’t any fish? Very cool underwater shots too!!
    Anna recently posted…Road Trip and Camping-Rincon, Dominican RepublicMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:11h, 24 July Reply

      Thanks, Anna! Yeah, the dry suits were quite the process to get on–I felt like Scuba Steve, lol! I was wondering why there weren’t any fish too–I should have asked! Maybe they just don’t make there way up the stream from the lake. I will have to look into it 🙂

  • Karisa
    Twitter:
    Posted at 04:29h, 22 July Reply

    What a unique experience! Those dry suits look INTENSE!
    Karisa recently posted…Every Girl’s Guide to Shopping in BangkokMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:08h, 24 July Reply

      They were crazy!! So difficult to put on, but so worth the warmth 🙂

  • Kimmy
    Twitter:
    Posted at 16:23h, 24 July Reply

    This is so cool! Looks like you had a great time. It’s not something I would have thought about doing before, but I’m intrigued now.
    Kimmy recently posted…Favorite Beach Photo CarnivalMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:00h, 25 July Reply

      Thanks! It really was a lot of fun! It definitely wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind when I thought Iceland, but I’m so glad we did it! Especially the evening tour–it was neat to have the place to ourselves!

  • Sand In My Suitcase
    Twitter:
    Posted at 18:53h, 02 September Reply

    Wow! The water looks so crystal clear! And what beautiful shades of blue. We have to confess that we’re warm-water snorkelers and divers. The scuba diving is said to very good around British Columbia, where we live – but we’ve never dived here (Brrrr…). But this adventure might be one that would tempt us if we ever visit Iceland.
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…There’s only one One & Only PalmillaMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:49h, 04 September Reply

      It was really clear and beautiful! It made the snorkel so fun to see all the shades of blue! It would be fun to try diving in British Columbia, but I don’t blame you for not trying it in the cold! Thankfully with the dry suits we had on, the cold wasn’t too bad at all. I’ve always been a warm weather person too, but after moving from Minnesota to Florida, I must be missing the cold a bit or something!!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Exciting Adventures in the Tiny Town of Flåm, NorwayMy Profile

  • Jen
    Posted at 22:40h, 15 May Reply

    That looks like an amazing experience. Aren’t dry suits so comfy! You can wear your Pj’s on the inside. You’ve made me want to go diving there. Your pictures are stunning.

  • Les Petits Pas de Juls
    Posted at 05:10h, 21 October Reply

    As I’m cold pretty easily myself, I’m glad to know you could stay in the water for 45 minutes!
    I don’t know why but here again, you’ve enticed me to do something I would have never think of! This list of adventures you lived in Iceland is one to keep in mind for I get there!

    Thanks again for the advice. It just sounds and looks fabulous!
    You 2 look great in those dry-suits, by the way! 😉

    and, last question: what kind of underwater camera are you using? I find my pictures with gopro to be soooooo less sharp than yours…
    Les Petits Pas de Juls recently posted…The Incredible Experience of Cave DivingMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 17:52h, 06 November Reply

      Haha, thanks–they are pretty cute, aren’t they? 😉 Yeah, I was worried about staying warm too–the suits and layers definitely helped a ton. Glad you are considering trying it yourself–it was a blast! We were using our DSLR on this tour. Micah has a water housing for it, so thankfully, we’ve been able to take it on a few of these adventures. What version of GoPro do you have?
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…A Photo Essay: Colorado in the SummerMy Profile

      • Les Petits Pas de Juls
        Posted at 11:28h, 10 November Reply

        My GoPro is a hero2. But I’ve truly never been happy with its resolution. I’m poundering the eventuality of buying an all together different waterproof camera for snorkeling and diving…
        Les Petits Pas de Juls recently posted…5 Easy Steps to Start going Zero WasteMy Profile

        • Jenna Kvidt
          Posted at 04:30h, 17 November Reply

          Yeah, I think they’ve improved a ton since the 2–we saw a huge improvement after we upgraded. The newest GoPro HERO4 Black is 12 megapixels I believe, so it’s quite a bit better than the older versions. A larger camera isn’t a bad option either though! It might be more expensive, but depending on how much you use it, it could be worth it!
          Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Browns Canyon: White Water Rafting in ColoradoMy Profile

  • Mark
    Posted at 10:28h, 13 March Reply

    Thanks so much for your post here! My wife and I are planning got snorkel Silfra the last week of May. I want to do the midnight sun tour as well but am a little hesitant that the views might be better on the morning tour if it is not a very sunny day. Sounds like you were more than happy though with your adventure despite it being late in the day after 5pm local time?

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 22:17h, 19 March Reply

      You should have sun pretty late in the day during May–I think it was still fairly light after midnight when we were there the end of May. It was bright the entire time we were snorkeling but just not sunny because we ran into a couple of rainy days.

      We were very happy with the evening tour, though! We picked it because we knew there would be less people on the evening tour and we ended up being the only ones on the tour! Ouide told us that there can be a long line of people waiting to snorkel during the daytime tours, but there are way less people in the evening because only one tour company is allowed to operate there in the evening. Either way, it’s definitely a unique adventure! Hope you have a wonderful time!!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Mini Guide to Dry Tortugas National ParkMy Profile

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