Iceland is a unique island of its kind. Located on the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, this island is 280km away from Greenland and 420km from the Faroe Islands. In addition to its geographical isolation, the island straddles two tectonic plates: the northwest part is on the American plate and the southeast part is on the Eurasian plate. This unique situation has a visible impact on the island which translates into a strong volcanic and geothermal activity. In other words, the ground moves and transforms itself to create a living island. A diving holiday in Iceland is the best to discover some of the most incredible and beautiful diving sites in the world. Let’s review the different regions and the best diving spots you should not miss.
Where to dive in Iceland?
Without a doubt one of the most famous diving sites for two reasons. It is the only place on earth where you can go diving between two continental plates. The second reason is the purity and transparency of the water. Visibility exceeds 100 meters, making it the most transparent water in the world. In Silfra, the water is cold, from 2 to 4 ° C all the year because it comes directly from the neighboring Langjökull glacier. Silfra water is so pure that you can drink it at any time during your activities. The maximum depth of your dive in Silfra will be 18 meters, but the average depth of the dive is between 7 and 12 meters.
Silfra’s marine life consists mainly of bright green “troll hair” and different types of algae.
In northern Iceland, not far from the second largest city of Iceland, Akureyri, a very special dive site: Strýtan. At a depth of about 70 meters, a source of hot water comes in contact with cold water. The dissolved minerals coagulate to form a 55 meters high limestone chimney. You can admire this masterpiece of nature 15 meters below the surface. Around the site, they are other chimneys that form a small hill. Here you will find all the Icelandic marine fauna. A good level of diving is recommended as the currents can be strong at this location.
Gardur, the fantastic garden
About an hour’s drive south of Reykjavík, the diving site Gardur has everything from an underwater eden. This garden contains more than 42 species of colored marine algae. There are real kelp forests, hosting many species of fish: wolf fish, scorpionfish, flatfish, monkfish etc.
Kleifarvain, geothermal source
Lake Kleifarvatn is lost in an impressive and mysterious volcanic landscape, formed of high and astonishingly colored hills and strange lava formations. What makes the dive so special in this lake are the underwater thermal springs about 10 meters from the shore that emit vibrations in the water every time. It is a unique experience.
Davidsgja, the unrefined diamond
Davíðsgjá is the little brother of Silfra. This crack in Lake Thingvellir is well known locally. The interest of this dive is to offer a warmer water than Silfra with equally good visibility. The top of the crack at Davíðsgjá reaches about 7 meters under water, allowing permanent contact with the water of Thingvallavatn lake and with trouts that can reach divers during their exploration.
Bjarnagja, between fresh water and sea water
If you do not know how to decide between fresh water and sea water, this dive is for you.
According to a local and ancient theory, the junction of tectonic plates occurs at the tip of the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland. In Bjarnagjá, there are mainly fresh underground waters laden with salinity from the sea situated a few hundred meters away. Discover this unique environment!
El Grillo, an historical wreck
In Seyðisfjörður, a small fishing town in eastern Iceland, an episode of the Second World War was played. The 10 February 1944, a German fighter jets sunk in the fjord , the British tanker “El Grillo”. The wreck 150 meters long is a fantastic diving site for wreck lovers. An advanced level will be required to explore the ship.
Nesgja, the northern Silfra
Another beautiful crack with crystal clear water awaits the divers who venture to the north of Iceland.
The lagoon is huge and you can see more than 100 meters. An ideal place to learn about diving, snorkeling and snorkeling.
Litlaa, the warm river
Litlaá, which means “Little River” in Icelandic, is located near the northern coast of Iceland, just south of the Arctic Circle. It is an unusual place to find a river at 17 ° C, but the geothermal activity keeps it at this warm temperature for the region. As it is a shallow river, the practice of snorkeling or snorkeling is more appropriate than diving. The bottom of the river is full of dancing volcanic sculptures, fascinating and multicolored sediments that are projected from the bottom. The heated water beneath bubbles causing beautiful patterns and ripples in the river bed as you drift along the surface.
The Westman Islands are an archipelago next to the southern coast of mainland Iceland. Of the fifteen islands that compose it, only one is inhabited all year round. Scuba diving offers varied sites including beautiful arches, caves, drop-offs and abundant marine life.
When to go diving in Iceland?
The climate of Iceland is the same as a tundra subjected to cold polar winds. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, its southern and western coasts enjoy a much milder temperature in winter than New York. Temperatures never go much farther than 0 ° C 5 ° C in annual average in Reykjavik, 3.8 ° C in Akureyri. Precipitation varies from north to south. Akureyri in the north has a total of less than 500 mm, while in the south some weather stations hit hard by ocean storms have an annual rainfall total that may exceed 2,000 mm.
An Icelandic proverb illustrating the variability of time says: “If time does not please you, just wait five minutes”.
The visibility underwater is one of the best in the world.
No current in lakes and cracks. In the sea you might encounter some.
Difficulty: Iceland offers diving experiences easy and unique to the world. However you will need a dry suit.
Water temperature varied from to 2 or 6° inside the cracks and can go up to 17° in Litlaá.
What to see underwater?
Diving in Iceland is the guarantee to discover an extraordinary fauna and flora. Seals and many humpback whales are found near the Icelandic coasts. The latter have even given their names to certain places, such as the Hvalfjörður meaning whale fjord. Under water, there are many species of fish such as wolf fish, scorpionfish, flatfish, trout, salmon but also many crustaceans.