Silfra Fissure: A Majestic Experience Between Two Continents
Silfra Fissure, Iceland, sits between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. A large earthquake in 1789 caused several fissures to open up, but the Silfra Fissure, in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park, was the only one that was filled with glacial meltwater.
Now, people can enjoy the wonders of this natural phenomenon while diving or snorkeling. Iceland tectonic plates are home to a magical underwater realm unlike any other, and the best way to experience it is through Iceland diving. Tectonic plates move slowly — approximately 2 centimeters every year — continuously shifting the terrain and creating new caves, tunnels, and fissures. That means there’s always something new to discover.
What is the Silfra Fissure?
As the only spot in the world where people can dive directly between two continents, Silfra Fissure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. During the earthquakes of 1789, the Silfra Fissure cracked and connected with an underground spring of glacial meltwater that had filtered through the lava for nearly a century. The water is extremely cold, but never freezes due to the continuous flow from the spring to the fissure. The water visibility is unparalleled, often described as the most transparent water in the world. That’s part of the reason why every Silfra snorkeling experience is so special.
History of Diving in Silfra Fissure
It took hundreds of years to develop today’s popular pastime of Silfra diving. Iceland started to gain interest in diving in 1966, when Þröstur Sigtryggson returned to Reykjavik from the United States, where he’d learned how to dive. He began to advertise diving courses to small groups of people who were curious about this new sport. Once people completed his course in Iceland, scuba diving tectonic plates became a sought-after adventure for divers. One of the first divers who explored the fissures said that the combination of the terrain and clear water was unrivaled. Silfra water is pure and clear, with an average visibility of 100 meters. Silfra water originates from the Langjokull glacier, which is 60 kilometers north of the Silfra. When the glacier melts, the water takes between 30-100 years to travel through thick lava formations (approximately 50 kilometers) and reach the Silfra Fissure. This might be the best filtration system on earth!
Snorkeling and Diving in Silfra
The Silfra Iceland snorkeling experience will stay with you forever! If you’re ready to take on this majestic, once-in-a-lifetime activity, then you should be aware of some rules and regulations. In Iceland, scuba diving Silfra Fissure will require some internationally-recognized certifications. Any activities taking place within Thingvellir National Park are subject to the rules and regulations of the park authorities.
Rules and Regulations
Keep the following in mind while planning your snorkeling adventures:
- You’ll need an Open Water certification from an internationally-recognized diving organization to confirm that you can submerge yourself up to 18 meters without the need for supervision from an instructor.
- You’ll need to be certified in dry suit diving as well. Again, this certification must come from an internationally-recognized diving organization. If you’re missing this certification, you must prove that you’ve logged a minimum of 10 hours in dry suit dives, in a maximum of two years. If you don’t have dry suit experience, you can take courses to get the certification in one day.
- You’ll need to pay a fee of 1,500 ISK for each person snorkeling or diving in the park.
- You must be at least 17-years-old.
- You can’t dive in caves.
- You can’t dive while wearing a wetsuit
- The maximum depth you can reach is 18 meters.
- Each tour guide can oversee up to three divers or six snorkelers at a time.
- Tour guides have the right to evaluate each diver’s medical fitness for the activity, and if needed, prevent you from entering the fissure.
- If you’re over the age of 60, you need to provide a health certificate confirming you’re in a position to dive.
- You’ll need to walk 150 meters to get from the diving center to the diving site. Once the diving activities are completed, you’ll need to walk back to the center.
Health and Safety Guidelines
For your safety, you won’t be allowed to snorkel or dive if you have any of the following conditions:
- Lung disease
- Inability to carry out moderate exercise (swimming 500 meters and walking 600 meters)
- Suffered a heart attack, undergone heart surgery, or are currently suffering from any heart issues
- Suffered a collapsed lung, or undergone any type of chest surgery in the past
- Suffered a head injury
- Suffered loss of consciousness
- Blood disorders
- Have a colostomy or ileostomy
- Suffer from epilepsy
- Currently are pregnant
If you suffer from the following conditions but have a letter from your doctor confirming that it’s safe for you to dive and snorkel, then you can proceed:
- High or low blood pressure
- Type 1 diabetes
- Mild or severe asthma
What to Bring
- Synthetic thermals (avoid cotton)
- Wool or fleece socks
- Spare outfit to change into, in case you get wet
- A letter from your doctor confirming that you can perform the dive (if you have asthma, type 1 diabetes, high or low blood pressure)
- Open Water and Dry Suit Certifications
Kindly note that any letters and certifications need to be in English, so the guide can read and confirm that everything aligns with the rules and regulations. Don’t bring any items you need to store, as there are no lockers available. It’s best to consult with your guide on the equipment you’ll need when booking the activity. You might be allowed to bring your own if it meets the rules and regulations.
Let Rent.is Get You Between Two Continents
Swimming between two continents is a memory that’ll last a lifetime. If you’re coming to Iceland, contact Rent.is and we’ll provide you with a top-of-the-line Iceland camper rental to help you explore the wonders of Iceland on your way to the Silfra Fissure.