34 degrees Fahrenheit. Two degrees colder, and the water would have been frozen.
That’s all I could think about while gearing up to snorkel through the Silfra Strait in Iceland. Th strait lies between the North American and Eurasian techtonique plates. It’s created by fresh glacier water and is so clear, you can see up to 40 meters below.
We went with Dive.is, a premiere diving company in Þingvellir National Park. Our tour started with a briefing in the back of a van with the six members of our group and our guide, Ants, from Estonia. Ants gave us a ten minute run down of the course we would take in the water and what the cold would really feel like.
After this mental preparation, it was time for our clothing preparation. I was wearing two pairs of thermal leggings, two pairs of thermal socks, and a fitted fleece crew neck sweatshirt. These warm base layers are the only things you need to bring to the tour- everything else is provided! The second layer was a black padded body suit that made me feel like I was wearing a space suit. But who’s trying to look fashionable when the water is 32 degrees?
The third layer- the full body dry suit- was difficult to get on. Rubber seals around the wrists and neck are meant to really seal the water out but are also uncomfortable on the skin. Dive.is also gave us a head mask, leaving only our eyes nose and mouth free, as well as gloves.
The last pieces of equipment were the fins and snorkel, which were put on at the water entry point. It took about an hour to get all of our equipment on, so by this time we were getting cold and were ready to get in the water.
The entry point into the strait can be seen behind Morgan in the photo above. Just walk down a few stairs, and you’re in! From there, it takes about 25 minutes to kick your way to the exit point. During that 25 minutes you will see some of the clearest water in the world, and some of the most beautiful colors you will ever see!
It’s a very strange experience getting out of the water because the air actually feels warm. The air that had been making me shiver just 30 minutes ago was now my refuge from the freezing glacier water I had just kicked my way through.
Be prepared for a cold experience if you decide to do this activity while in Iceland. I’m really glad I had this experience once, but I think next time I will stick to snorkeling in warm climates. Dive.is also offers tours such as lava caving and snow storm hikes so check one of those out if the cold water isn’t your thing.
Whichever tour you choose, you’re sure to have a great experience. Our guide, Ants, was super cool and made the whole “freezing water” experience so much better. And I mean, how many people can say they’ve actually swam between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates?!