I don’t know why it took us so long to finally make it to Iceland, but I am glad that we finally made it over there. I guess the same could be said about any location though. I think one main reason that Kristen and I put it off for so long was because we weren’t drysuit certified yet.
Silfra was definitely one of our top priorities when visiting and it is an absolute must to have a drysuit. I don’t even think any of the companies will let you dive without one, so obviously it is imperative that you get certified or get some decent experience. I think most of the companies require that you show a drysuit certification card or show that you have logged at least 10 drysuit dives. The company that we went with did offer a drysuit course package, but I was dissuaded for several reasons.
First, the cost was just outrageous. I can’t remember the exact price, but it was much cheaper to just go to your local dive shop and have them train you. Second, I wanted to make sure that I knew how to decently operate a drysuit. It is said that when you first learn how to dive with a drysuit that you dive with the suit instead of it diving with you. I can speak from first hand experience that this statement could not be more true. I did not want to go to arguably the most beautiful dive site in the world and not be able to control my buoyancy. I am extremely glad I decided to get certified prior to going so I was able to enjoy the dive to the fullest.
I really wish we could’ve stayed for longer in Iceland than we did. We were only able to do a 4 day journey, but there is so much to see that you might need about 2 weeks to see the majority of it. I didn’t realized how big the country, in terms of landmass, was until we were actually there. Iceland is relatively small population-wise and they are all proud of their country
Silfra is in the Thingvellir National Park right outside of Reykjavik. The company we went with offered pickup and drop off from designated areas within the city. All you have to do is find the closest one to where you are staying and let them know. Once we made it to the dive site, we were briefed by our guide, Dimitris, a little about what we would be doing and a little about the history of the site. Apparently this is the only dive site in the entire world that you can dive directly between two continental plates. Also another fun fact is that the water Silfra yields doesn’t see the light of day for up to 70 years. It comes from melted glaciers and goes through a filtration process that can take up to that long.
Once we got all geared up we headed out to the entrance. It wasn’t too bad of a walk to the entrance, maybe 100m. This was the very first dive that I had done with my new camera, so naturally I was very excited. I did a few test shots above water to make sure we were good to go and then we were off.
The dive is sectioned into three parts: Silfra hall, Silfra cathedral, and Silfra lagoon. Silfra hall consists of the entrance and everything leading up to the cathedral. It is actually where you are able to touch both of the tectonic plates (“two continents”) at the same time. Of course I had to do it and get a photo document. Once you make it to the cathedral, if conditions are right, you are able to see literally from the start to the entrance. Visibility can easily be over 100m and we were fortunate enough that day to get to experience it. Actually, right when we entered the cathedral from hall, Dimitris found the one tiny fish in the whole dive site. He is in the pictures below.
After we got a few shots, we then entered the Silfra lagoon. Some people say that the most spectacular part of the dive was the cathedral, but to me for some reason was the lagoon. It was just so mind blowing being able to see the entire lagoon from any point that you were. The whole dive takes about 35 minutes at a moderately slow pace. You really don’t have to do much finning at all, because there is a small current.
The exit back to the van was the absolute worst. It is about a 300m walk back so be prepared. Luckily for us, the outside temperature was around 15C. I can only imagine doing the dive when it is colder.
We were able to do two dives, but my wife sat the second one out. Of course I was down for another one, but this time I gave the camera to Dimitris to fiddle around with and get some shot of me. I am actually very glad I did this because I feel like I got to experience it even more when I wasn’t all worried about trying to get the right shot at the right time. Everything about the dive was just so overwhelming. I would definitely do it again.
THE GOLDEN CIRCLE TOUR
I honestly can’t remember that much specifically about this tour, but do remember being on the bus for a very long time in between sites. It was nice not having to drive yourself and if you are trying to see some highlights of Iceland in a short period of time, then this is the way to go, but if you have over a week in Iceland, rent a car and go take as much time as you need for each attraction. You won’t have to worry about rushing at a certain location or if you are bored you don’t have to just wait around for everyone else. Overall, we had a great time.
THINGS I LEARNED
1. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR MEMORY CARD FROM YOUR COMPUTER WITHOUT PROPERLY EJECTING THE DRIVE! I cannot stress this enough. I almost lost all of my pictures because I did this. I had never done it before, but for some reason when I took my SD card out of my computer without ejecting it all of my data was erased. I was going crazy and already planning out another trip to Iceland in my head. Luckily I was able to find out that the data wasn’t actually erased, but rather corrupted. I found some software that was able to read the corrupted data and recovered all of my pictures.
2. Always shoot in RAW. Since this was my first shoot, I had really no idea what I was doing aside from knowing the basics of photography. Shooting in RAW gives you much more wiggle room for editing in Photoshop and Lightroom.