Diving Silfra

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Silfra, Iceland

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Country: Iceland  Area: Iceland

Water Temp: 2 - 4°C (36 - 39°F)

Visibility: 100 - 120m (328 - 394 ft)

Depth Range: 1 - 63m (3 - 207 ft)

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The Silfra fissure, is known as one of the top dive sites in the world two main reasons.

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First, the Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet and drift apart about 2cm per year.

Silfra is the only place where one can dive or snorkel directly in the crack between two continental plates.

Secondly, the underwater visibility in the Silfra fissure is over 100 meters, which creates an underwater experience that will rarely, if ever, be surpassed. The reasons for this astounding water clarity are twofold: the water is cold (2°C – 4°C year round ) as it is glacial water from the nearby Langjökull and this water is filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years until it reaches the north end of Thingvellir lake, seeping out from underground wells.

Silfra Canyon, Þingvellir National Park, Suðurland, Iceland, Credit

Most of the time you can spot the little sticklebacks and the Arcitc Char that lives in the lake next to Silfra. Unfortunately there is nothing for the Char to eat in Silfra, so it does not stay long.

Marine Conservation

Silfra rift is located in the National Park Thingvellir a World Heritage since 2004.

 
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Shore Diving

Silfra - The Silfra water is as pristine as water can get and you can drink it at anytime during your dive or snorkel.  

Dry suit diving in glacial water between two continents.

Diving spot in Silfra, Credit

Garður - Ocean

Garður means garden in Icelandic, and it does indeed contain a bountiful garden of over 42 species of marine algae. The algae are a vital part of the Icelandic marine diet and an ancient food sours known to have been eaten as far back as over 1000 years ago by the original settlers of Iceland. Not only do the algae provide basic and essential nutrients, they are also colourful and diverse in design

Kleifarvatn - freshwater bubble lake

Lake Kleifarvatn is nestled within this stunning scenery.  However, what makes this lake even more special are the underwater hot springs about 10 meters from the shore on one side of the lake, which have only recently been discovered.  In the center of the hot springs is a large crater that emits large quantities of warm water and gases.  As the air bubbles are pushed through the crater on the lake floor, pressure causes the surrounding rocks to vibrate slightly.  Divers can usually feel these vibrations themselves, which is a special experience!

Silfra underwater, Credit

Boat Diving

Strýtan

Located in the middle of the Eyjafjörður and at a depth of about 70 meters, a hot spring has been releasing hot water into the ocean for approximately 11,000 years. The dissolved minerals in the hot fresh water coagulate as soon as they come into contact with the cold ocean water.  This process has created a 55 meter tall limestone chimney that reaches up to 15 meters under the surface.  Since 2001, Strýtan has rightly been a natural reserve.

El Grillo

In World War II, german fighter planes sunk the British oil tanker “El Grillo” in the fjord on February 10th, 1944.  This is one of the few instances in which the fighting of World War II actually came to the shores of Iceland. The wreck is about 150 meters long and weighs over 7000 tons. In 2002 the rest of the oil inside the tanker was pumped up after having leaked out for many years.
Today it’s free and clean of oil and is a fantastic dive site.

 

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Getting There

Silfra on the map!

Silfra, Iceland map, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Only a 5 minute drive away from Silfra there is an Information center/coffee shop, located next to the camping ground in the National Park.

At the information center you can have the soup of the day, coffee, beverages and some light snacks, along with all the information needed about the park's area.

Must be cold down there, Credit

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Other Activities

• Caving

• Golden Circle(Site seeing including the golden waterfall - Gullfoss, and the geysir area).

• Horseback riding

• Whale watching

• Blue lagoon bathing.

Bathing in 2 ºC water, Credit

 

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Tips

All dives in Iceland are done in a dry suit, so having some dry suit experience is good.

Stairway to an exciting dive, Credit

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Self shore dive vs. Dive Center day trip

Hi all,

Visiting Iceland Oct 2-5. Dive centres charge big $$$ for day trips. Can I just rent gear and do a shore dive myself?

Thanks for all advice!

Rating 10/10

Silfra - 120m Vis between Tectonic plates

Silfra11 Jul 2015 - 25 Jul 2015 with DIVE.IS

Its called Iceland! Don't expect it to be warm. It is sometimes but it has a lot of weather, sometimes happening all together & sometimes in quick succession with no warning.

Its good to know Silfra is in a National Park, a protected area where they try to limit human impact. There isn't much in the park & no shelter at Silfra site (just a new toilet building with two toilets & hot water!) Remember you are here to experience wild beautiful nature.

The water is glacial 2-4 C daily (34-37F). In a dry suit with thick wetsuit gloves & hood the ave person will stay warm & comfortable for a 30-45 min dive. Winter air temperature can be -1 to -20 (max & rare but it happens).

Its best to be over prepared in Iceland, this is no exception. Waterproofs, spare wool& thermals, socks, towel- be comfortable warm & dry before & after the dive.

Entry is from the car park on foot, across a road & a flight of stairs down to the water (approx 200m) It is technically a one way drift dive. Max depth 18 m by Park regulation. Silfra is approx 24m deep & has an extensive cave system - the depth was recorded as 63m. Due to the tectonic nature of the site the Caves & swimthroughs are out of bounds by Park & National Law.

The exit is via a platform in the lagoon & 500m walk in full gear back to the Car park. The path is gravel but fairly even & well marked however carrying all your gear esp in the winter with the snow & ice is not for everyone.

Visibility is 120m, standard all year round. Its only really affected by heavy continuous rain, overflow from the surrounding rivers & by the algae dying & increased particles in the Fall. Rain itself doesn't alter the dive much. Some prefer winter & overcast weather as it can increase the surface reflections & reduce shadow. Others prefer the colours of the Algae & the rainbows the sun brings in late spring/summer.

Its about being between the plates and the epic vis. It can be awesome, incredible, breath taking & is totally worth it.

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Mike Bednarz

Photos! Just wow!!!

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Ann Challenor

Its easy with conditions like SIlfra , I can take very little credit I'm afraid

Rating 10/10

Strýtan - The start of life on Earth - Geothermal Chimney

Silfra29 Aug 2015 - 30 Aug 2015

In the north of Iceland about 40 mins from Akureyri is the town of Hjalteyri, start point to reach Strytan.

This area is home to the worlds only divable geothermal chimneys. Big Strytan is approx 60m to the base and 22m to the top. Fresh hot water streams from the chimney into the fjord around. The man that found the sites (Erlendur Bogason) runs all diving in the area and is a living legend, he knows everything there is to know about it and is still finding out more.

Beautiful site, a favorite among Icelandic divers (some would say the best in Iceland). The life around the chimney is quite surreal at times. Macro life is awesome here. Plentiful fish, jelly fish, selps, rays, whales and bird life abound. It truly has it all. There is also the potential to see a Sea Angel! ( A free swimming Gastropod, that looks like a tiny angel)

Visibility varies seasonally spring risks green plankton and algae blooms which can reduce visibility to nothing however this is a brief period. Summer and Fall bring feeding whales into the Fjord. Winter, the main issue is physically getting to the north and to the Dive center.

Strytan is a Boat dive, mid fjord but has buoys and lines to aid ascent and decent, be aware there can be surface currents.

Strytan dive center is fully equipped with changing rooms (no showers), library, kitchen, museum but best of all an outdoor hot pot, overlooking the fjord, ideal for relaxing and whale watching to end the day.

Look out for the new Dr Brain Cox show on the BBC, the beginnings of life on Earth, they just spent time summer 2015 filming here and it should be incredible.

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Rating 7/10

Davidsgja - Dive in Lake Thingvellarvatn

Silfra15 Aug 2015 - 16 Aug 2015

Davidsgja is a tectonic crack in Lake Thingvellir (Thingvallarvatn) which is located in the National Park Thingvellir. This dive is a shore entry and exit over rocks and boulders from a small car park. There are a series of lines around the site for navigation. To find the start of the lines swim approx 45 degrees into the lake from the entry point. The line to the left will take you to a main crack dropping to around 16 m . This site has 18 m -22 m but averages 8-12 m . There are many cracks and narrow caves here, it can get very dark and very cold but it very beautiful. The lake temperature ranges from 8-12 Degrees C however the cracks in Davidsgja stream with fresh glacial water from Langjokull (Glacier) so the temperature varies from 2 -4 C at points where the clear fresh water streams in and visibility also varies dramatically. This site is very interesting changes greatly depending on temperature, season, wind, visibility. As this site is in the National Park you will need to pay the park fees and have permission to dive here.

(Not the best photos sorry)

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Rating 5/10

Gardur - Ocean Dive near Reykjavik

Silfra5 Sep 2015 - 6 Sep 2015

Gardur is an a dive from the pier on the northern tip of the Reykjanes peninsula approximately 1 and a half hour from Reykjavik.

As an ocean dive in Iceland the conditions vary, the best time to dive is at high tide or just before.

Max depth is 15m and viz varies from 0-8 meters.

The life in this dive is really good you can see a lot of flat fish, scorpion fish, monkfish, butterfish. If you are lucky you will find a wolfish, they are really hard to spot here and they move fast. There are also lumpsuckers, crabs, haddocks and schools of mackerel.

In Gardur there are sandy patches, soft coral and kelp forest and a small wall formed from magma that is nice to follow and find the monkfish.

Because of the rich fish life at Gardur there tend to be fishermen on the peer trying to catch you.

Normally entry at this dive site is to jump in at the blue crane, giant stride and can be a bit intimidating (this dive can also be done as shore entry dive but adds to the swim distance), follow the pier out, when you pass the end of the pier its about 15 m further until you hit a wall in 15 meters depth ( at high tide) if you cant see the pier you will defiantly feel the current when you pass it. You can exit on the beach as a standard shore exit its sandy and there are nice sheltered kelp areas for a safety stop on the way.

Its ideal and normal to do two dives there, one to the right of that spot and the other to the left. On the left you will see more monk fish and the soft coral.

The main hazard here is the current, when tides goes out it will be intimidating for newer divers or divers not experience in currents, but also beware the fishermen and the lines underwater. It has also been known for locals to train horses to swim here, so also keep a look out for a giant sea horses!

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Rating 6/10

Bjarnagja - Iceland's Smallest site

Silfra19 Sep 2015 - 19 Sep 2015

Bjarnagja is a small crack near to the Blue Lagoon, close to the town of Grindavik.

It was used for breeding fish back in the day and locals have cleaned bones here, throwing the bones in and waiting until the shrimp clean everything off them. There are some whale bones in there still.

At one end of the crack there is a small very dark cave and at the other you can see the whale bones. There are a few fish and crabs.

The best feature of this dive site is that at about 10m there is a halocline (a clear separation fresh and salt water).

This dive is a deep water giant stride entry at the side of the building and exit over the shallows at the top of the crack and walk back around.

As soon as you jump in the silt on the walls will start falling down, however careful you are your bubbles will make alot of silt fall. This may sounds awful and to be honest its not for everyone but when you have been in there for about 15-20 min its looks like its raining and it is a bizarre and can be a cool experience.

Max depth is approx 21m. As this site is quite fragile and small, it is ideal for small groups or buddy teams.

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diving goggles 1208672 m

Camelia Kemenes

I have enjoyed your recent batch of reports.. just really amazing looking diving. Thank you for posting!

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Ann Challenor

awww thanks :)

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