Silfra – Snorkelling between the continents

Still laughing…

My colleague had the idea about snorkelling through the Silfra fissure and told me about it two years ago already. I have to admit I had never heard of it even though I had been to Þingvellir national park before. The thought was fascinating but then I also imagined it to be totally different. Because suddenly I am standing in the snowy landscape, force my body into a dry suit and wonder if it will really help against the 3°C cold water. Me, of all people. Me, who always jumps into every water everywhere. But 3°C is still just… cold…

Jukka, our guide from dive.is promises that only my face might get a little gold when getting in… and maybe my fingers. The rest will stay dry and I will be okay. Right… so armed with a mask, snorkel and fins we make our way to the entrance of the fissure.

What is the Silfra fissure?

Iceland is more than just an island. It is basically one big mountain top within the Atlantic ridge, a mountain range in the Atlantic ocean that is mostly covered by water. Here, in Þingvellir national park the tectonic plates of Europe and North America meet… or… to me more precise: drift apart. They move away from each other.

“So hopefully they won’t move back towards each other when you’re in there” a colleague was joking when I told her about my plans of swimming through the fissure. However, with those 2 centimetres the plates move each year I’m not worried about being crushed.

The Þingvellir national park belongs to Icelandic territory but when it comes to the tectonic plates, the valley between the two ridges is basically no man’s land.

A lucky coincidence that the fissure is fed with crystal clear glacier water makes it one of the most exciting places to snorkel on this planet. The visibility in this lavastone filtered water is thrilling 100 metres. I have been snorkelling in the Caribbean and back then thought the water was clear. I stand corrected.

Here we go

Here we go

I am first so while waiting on the metal platform in the water for the others to get in, I already put my head under water. For a moment I feel dizzy because I am standing on a platform looking down into a deep canyon. And then I take off and fly. The water enters the fissure at this point and slowly flows down Silfra so I can just float, flying over the canyon while admiring the view. Swimming between two continents; an experience which is unique on this planet. Wow.

Me

We make our way through the fissure and pass a point where you can actually touch both sides of the canyon. Then the fissure opens up into the Silfra cathedral, a larger basin. There is almost no fish, no plants, just clear water and rocks. And still it is so fascinating and beautiful when the sun comes out and illuminates the place.
We enter the lake at the end of Silfra and swim on our own for a while to discover the lagoon. Everything is so fascinating that for a moment I forget that my fingers are getting numb.
Besides, the water at Silfra is so clear that you can just take a sip when thirsty. Tastes fantastic.

Finally the “warm” shore is calling. Jukka hands out cookies and hot chocolate to all frozen fingers. Our group consists of Europeans and Americans and we use the moment to muse on this happy coincidence. We somehow share this fissure after all…

Jukka took some awesome picture and for a small tip of 30€ for the whole group we get the download link. Perfect.

Put it on the bucket list?

Definitely. YES. I can only recommend this trip, although with 160€ per person for about 45 minutes swimming in Silfra it is a costly experience. But it is a unique experience and the guides from dive.is do a fantastic job, were in a super good mood and take care of you from the moment you enter the parking lot until you leave it.
If you are a bit more experienced and drifting on the water surface is not enough for you, you can also book a diving tour. However, with 375€ per person you will have to dig a bit deeper into your pockets.


  • The water temeperature is 2-4° all year around
  • The dry suit will keep you dry and warm, only face and fingerswill get a little cold
  • The tour takes 5 hours if picked up by dive.is in Reykjavik and 3 hours when you get to  Þingvellir national parkon your own.
  • You will spend 45 minutes in the water
  • If you do not have an underwater camera, you can buy pictures from dive.is for a very decent price

Visit dive.is and drift away 😉

Underwater selfie
Between the continents
So beautiful
Sunset swim
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