Not only does Iceland have magnificent landscapes in the traditional sense, but the subaquatic scenery is also quite extraordinary.
Indeed, Silfra is considered one of the 3 best diving spots in the world. Iceland has 2 unique and world-renowned dive sites, Silfra and Strýtan. This particular one is located in Thingvellir and is the most famous.
The site is very easy to get to, being located in the Thingvellir National Park very close to the church car park just opposite Almannagjá. The site is therefore accessible in summer and winter, and you can get there on your own or take a tour leaving from the capital (see below).
By car, the Silfrugjá fault, or Silfra, is located 50 km from the capital, so less than 45 minutes by car.
The Silfra dive site is located over a rift between the European and American plates, a truly one-of-a-kind dive! The Silfrugjá is a fault called “normal fault” (also known as dip-slip fault, where one shelf pushes beneath the other).
When you do this dive, a guide will give you all the history and geology, keep you safe in the water, and also to take a few photos which means you can just focus on the dive. In fact, many visitors state that Silfra is an ideal place scuba diving.
The crystal clear water is incredibly clear, a visibility of up to 100 meters which is rare in the diving world, and the temperature constant between 1 and 3 °C. The water comes from the second largest glacier in Iceland: Langjökull.
The most impressive section is clearly the Silfra Cathedral: a 100-meter long fissure, with water so clear you can almost see right through to the other end. The fault reaches a maximum depth of 63 meters.
Of course, these excursions are very well-equipped. Depending on the type of excursion chosen you will be given:
In a dry suit, you stay absolutely dry, not a drop of water in your suit, and you only feel the icy water on the visible part of your face. The small downside is that the combination floats more, so it's hard to dive very deep. Only part of the face is finally in contact with water.
In a wet suit, you'll feel the water temperature a great deal more, but you have more freedom to dive deeper into the fault. This is the preferred option if you already have the experience of diving in very cold water. It is recommended to wear a swimsuit under the wetsuit.
The dive is generally done in 2 stages with a one-hour break to warm up your extremities, and is ample time to admire the rift: the hall, the lagoon, and the Silfra Cathedral.
Silfra diving: nudiblue @fotolia
Several tour companies offer diving tours in Silfra departing from Reykjavík in both winter and summer:
Depending on your level of experience, you should opt either for snorkeling and scuba diving if you already have experience with the sport.
Of course, scuba diving means you can venture deeper into the fault line than free diving.