Braving the Bitter Cold: Scuba Diving in Iceland

I have to admit – these days, I don’t do as many things that scare me as in my younger years. Back then, I was fearless – I climbed volcanoes at dawn, rappelled down waterfalls, and attended hostel toga parties in naught but a pink sheet. But far and away, scuba-diving in Iceland was the most badass thing I’ve done all year, and possibly in all my travels.

The morning of the dive, I sleepily climbed into a van with four other divers, and drove an hour to Þingvellir National Park, the site of the world’s first parliament.

Þingvellir is notable not only for its political and historical significance, but also its geological. It is home to Silfra, a glacial-water fissure between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, which is where we would be scuba-diving.

Scuba Diving in Iceland

Once we arrived it was time to suit up. Normally, getting into scuba gear is no biggie. But a dry suit is no tropical-water shortie – putting on a dry suit is awful. I felt like a kid asking the instructor, “Um, can you help me put on my fins?”

But once we waddled down to the water, I discovered the value of dry suit – I felt shockingly comfortable. As only my hands and face were exposed, the rest of my body was quite warm.

Scuba Diving in Iceland

The moment I plunged under water I was blown away by how crystal clear the water was. Plus, you could drink it – the glacial water tasted like Voss times 1000.

As I swam along, marveling at the neon colors of the water and the DayGlo “troll hair”, my hands and face thankfully went numb.

This was a dive unlike any other I had done – there were no fish, coral, or trash – just cobalt water as far as the eye could see.

Scuba Diving in Iceland

Scuba Diving in Iceland

Next came the hardest part of the day – walking the half-mile back to the start of the dive site wearing more than seventy pounds of gear. It was the hardest work-out I’ve done since middle school track.

Scuba Diving in IcelandEver seen a scuba divers crossing sign? Didn’t think so.

During our surface interval, we treated ourselves to some well-deserved marshmallow hot chocolate and cookies. 

The second dive was less successful. For some reason, my suit felt like a sausage casing, particularly when I descended. My GoPro also died (why do I always forget to charge my camera gear? Gah) but luckily the dive leader took pictures.

However, in the majority of them I look like a seal. Fairly photogenic on land? Yep. Underwater? Not so much.

Scuba Diving in Iceland

Scuba Diving in Iceland

After finishing the second dive and walking the exhausting half mile again, I was so happy to peel off the dry suit. But discomforts aside, by the end of the second dive, I felt extremely proud of myself. And if I’m being honest, I felt like a badass. It’s not every day you dive in glacial water.

So if you’re a diver, I would highly, highly recommend diving in Iceland. You may not see fish or coral, but you’ll embark on one of the most beautiful and unique dives of your life.

Also, the lol of the day was waking up before the dive, having breakfast, and checking my phone to see the time. It was one in the morning. But because it was light out, I was confused. So I went back to bed and slept six more hours – ha. #icelandproblems

Would you ever go scuba-diving in Iceland?

A big thanks to Scuba Iceland for offering me a dive in exchange for a review. All opinions are (as always) my own. 


Enjoyed this post? Subscribe here!

Subscribe here to receive new Ashley Abroad posts straight to your inbox.

I'll never send you spam. And you can unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please read my disclosure for more info.
About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

36 thoughts on “Braving the Bitter Cold: Scuba Diving in Iceland”

  1. How proud and impressed I am that you scuba dived in Iceland!!!
    And I am so glad your instructor took those fabulous photos of you.
    And unlike your opinion I think they are outstanding! And you are
    outstanding! Not many have done that, certainly none I have heard
    of. I am tickled that you did and can vacariously experience the
    dive with you. WOW!!! I love you, my brave adventuresome grand-daughter!

    Love, Gamma

  2. Your photos are absolutely incredible even if they are lacking in the fish/coral department.

    I’ve never gone diving but places like this are definitely motivation to one day become certified.

    Too funny about the daylight factor. I was in Norway in early June and while maybe not as extreme as Iceland, you still had so many more hours of daylight than darkness. I absolutely loved it :)

  3. Did you post your photo in GLT? I swear I keep seeing this adventure and I had never even heard of it till two weeks ago! Just got certified a month ago and already dove the Great Blue Hole, so yeah, I might dive in Iceland ;)

    As long as there’s an Irish Coffee afterwards ?

  4. I have never scuba dived but I’ve been to Iceland. If it’s anything like the landscapes above water, I can only imagine how beautiful it would be below the surface. Amazing! X

  5. I don’t think diving would even enter my mind while in “ICELAND”.
    Seems the fish feel the same way. Well maybe for a sunken treasure of gold but I would make it a very quick dive. Sorry, but I’ll stick to Baja where I don’t need a wetsuit. You da badasss me da lazyass.

  6. Your grandmother June shared this blog with me. Wonderful pictures, wonderful commentary; you definitely opened up an unknown world to me. Thank you for that!

  7. When went snorkeling here there this past summer and it was amazing. I was really worried about being cold in the water but the gear kept me surprisingly warm. The midnight sun still throws me off every summer!

  8. That looks absolutely incredible! I would love to do that, although I think I would keep to just snorkeling.. The only time I’ve scuba dived before was in Fiji, where the instructor took care of all the gear for me xD

  9. Diving in Silfra is my bucket list dream! I met an woman from Iceland whilst I was travelling in Europe and now I just want to do a big trip over there. Great post :) Have you done many dives with sharks?

  10. Ashley – These are amazing pictures. I honestly didn’t think that Iceland would be high on the list for diving but this simply looks spectacular! Thanks for sharing!

  11. ‘Nice! ‘Love it! I didn’t know that you could scuba dive in Iceland. I know it should be logical but funnily enough, when I think of Iceland, I don’t actually think of water lol!

    Just glaciers, volcanoes, and ice!

    p.s. You don’t look like a seal.

  12. This is amazing. I honestly didn’t even know that Iceland was a dive destination before this! Yet another reason I absolutely need to visit Iceland. That country is so high on my list.

  13. This sounds like an awesome experience. I’ve not been to Iceland yet and would never have even thought to have gone Scuba Diving. It looks beautiful down there. ?

  14. After reading about snorkeling in Silfra and now your article, it really makes me want to visit Iceland. But how come there are no fish or any sea life? Like, there should be at least some, shouldn’t it?

Comments are closed.