Diving in the Silfra Fissure is a bucket list dive if you’re a diver visiting Iceland. It’s ranked by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) as one of the top 13 dives in the world and it’s the only place on earth you can dive between tectonic plates. Not only can you say that you’ve dove between two continents (how cool is that!), it’s some of the clearest water in the world to dive in. This is especially noticeable as you move from shallow to deep spaces and watch the colors of the water change around you. This is one dive where you’ll want to splurge on the photo package because with the crystal clear water you’re almost guaranteed epic pictures, but we also recommend packing a GoPro to get some of your own shots!
About the Fissure
The Silfra Fissure is located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Thingvellir National Park in southwest Iceland. The park is easy to access along paved roads and is about a 45-minute drive (54km/33 miles) from Reykjavík. The fissure is separated by the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, which continue to move apart at a rate of .79 inches or 2 centimeters per year. At one point the fissure was dry, but an earthquake in 1789 filled the fissure with glacial water. Although there isn’t much marine life in the water, there is a
crustacean species called Crymostygius Thingvallensis and a subspecies of the Arctic Char (a must-try fish if you’re visiting Iceland), called the Dwarf Char, but they are difficult for divers to spot. Depending on the time of year you visit, green algae might also be present. The water in the fissure never freezes and remains between 35-39° fahrenheit or 2-4° celsius (brrr!), which means you can’t dive with a regular wetsuit and some extra certifications are required for the dive.
We booked with DIVE.IS. They have several excursions depending on what experience you’re looking for, including snorkeling, scuba diving, freediving, and multi-day experiences at different dive sites in Iceland.
For diving in the Silfra Fissure specifically, the trip starts at either 33.490 ISK ($255 USD) if you want to drive yourself to the site or 40.490 ISK ($307 USD) if you would like to be picked up from Reykjavik.
The cost includes an instructor, 1 dive, all equipment, the entrance cost to the Silfra Fissure, snacks, and transportation if you’ve booked the option with pickup.
What to Expect
If you choose the option that includes transport, a large van will arrive at your hotel in the morning at an assigned time. For our trip, the bus was a mix between divers and snorkelers. You will make the ~45 minute drive through the beautiful countryside of Iceland until you reach the national park. There will be an opportunity to grab snacks and use the restroom right before you arrive at the dive site.
Once you arrive at the fissure, you will meet your diving guide and go through a safety briefing. The guide will help you get suited up and get ready to enter the water. From the parking lot you do have to walk about 100m with your tank on your back and you’ll enter the water via a metal staircase. Once in the water, the cold will be a little bit of a shock to the exposed areas around your face where the regulator is, but you will get used to it pretty quickly (my face felt completely normal after ~60 seconds). The instructor will ensure that your dry suit is free of any excess air and that you’re carrying the appropriate amount of weight on the surface before you officially start. Then it’s time to dive in!
The dive takes 30-40 minutes, with a maximum depth of 18 meters, which is covered under the open water certification. The Silfra Fissure is broken up into four main parts: you will first go through a narrow section where you can take a photo holding both tectonic plates. After the narrow section, you will enter a much wider area where you’ll start to see the amazing variety of colors in the water within the fissure.
Next, you will enter the Silfra Cathedral, which is the deepest part of the dive. Note that if you have your drysuit set to automatically expel water you will feel the suit tighten around your body as you dive to the deepest depth. After the Cathedral, you will end your dive at the lagoon where a team will help you get out of the water. You’ll need to walk 350m back to the parking lot with all of your diving gear. After taking off your gear, you will enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and do a debriefing with your guide. Once it’s completed you’ll hop in the van and head back to Reykjavik.
What is Needed - Certifications
If you’re interested in doing a diving tour, you will need at least an open water certification and a special dry suit certification.
An open water certification is the entry certification for divers. It will be needed for every dive you complete as a certified diver. You can get an open water diving certification through diving organizations like PADI or NAUI ahead of your trip and cost between $300-$700 USD depending on where you get certified. You cannot get your open water certification at the same time as a drysuit certification (you need the open water certification BEFORE you get a drysuit certification) and it’s definitely recommended to have this certification ahead of your trip to Iceland.
Because the water is so cold, you will need a drysuit, which requires a special dry suit certification. I opted to go through PADI for the dry suit certification and paid $138 USD for the online course and did my in person sessions at Captain Mike’s Diving in New York for $379 USD.
If you don’t have access to a dive shop that offers drysuit certifications ahead of your trip, DIVE.IS offers a 2-day experience that will get you the certification and take you to the Silfra Fissure, starting at ISK 94.980 ($722 USD).
DIVE.IS also says that instead of a dry suit certification, you can substitute 10 logged dry suit dives within two years of the Silfra tour date. These dives must be confirmed with written proof signed by a diving instructor.
If you are unable to dive or this is too much of a commitment for your trip, DIVE.IS also offers snorkeling tours in the Silfra Fissure starting at ISK19.490 or 148 USD with much lighter requirements.
- Book your tour as far in advance as possible, especially during the summer months. Tours tend to book out quickly.
- It was really difficult to find a dive shop that offered dry suit certifications where we live. When we did find one, they only offered pool sessions on certain days of the month. Definitely look into your drysuit options far enough in advance.
- If you don't have proper thermal underwear, you can wear anything that keeps you warm and comfortable, such as sweatpants, leggings and even ski underwear. Same goes for your top - a sweater or sweatshirt, long sleeve shirt and underwear is a good combination. You should avoid wearing jeans, as they are not warm, nor comfortable to wear under the dry suit.
- If you get hungry easily, maybe bring an extra snack. Although you will stop at a store on the way in to go to the bathroom; you can buy food here
- Remember that you cannot fly within 12-18 hours of diving, so plan accordingly.
- Make sure you are very comfortable with a drysuit before getting in the Silfra Fissure. If water gets into your suit you will need to end the dive immediately.
- Because the water is so clear, you will get some AMAZING photos. We would recommend springing for the photo package and bringing along a GoPro (diving housing is needed)
Diving in the Silfra Fissure is an amazing experience and a bucket list dive for many. Planning a trip to dive or snorkel here is a must-do experience for those visiting Iceland.
This post was sponsored by DIVE.IS. If you’re planning a trip to Iceland and want to go diving or snorkeling, head to their website to check out what options work best for you.