Dive or Snorkel Between Two Tectonic Plates at Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
Steeped in otherworldly magic, Iceland oozes unique from every nook and cranny. Spend a whirlwind week hiking on a glacier, exploring an ice cave, walking behind a waterfall or setting foot on landscapes that look like they come from the moon – Iceland shapes up to seem like a whole other planet altogether.
Above all, however, perhaps one of the most novel things that you can do would be to embark on a diving or snorkelling trip at Thingvellir National Park, which can be found along the popular Golden Circle Route.
This isn’t any usual dive or snorkel excursion, mind you. Thingvellir National Park is home to Silfra, a rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. In 1789, the divergence of these two tectonic plates created earthquakes that created this fissure, which separates another 2 centimetres further each year. Due to this phenomenon, the crack formed a 600 by 200 metres passage, which is wide enough for divers or snorkellers to pass through!
Most travellers experience Silfra with an experienced tour agency, where you’ll be accompanied by expert divers. This is especially important as some parts of Silfra contain stronger currents and it won’t be wise to navigate it on your own. The tour agency will also provide you with the appropriate gear.
You’ll enter Silfra via a metal staircase, where you’ll be able to launch off into the water at the end. Most groups are kept small and are flanked by two guides. For a snorkelling trip, you’ll be moving in a single file throughout the fissure. If you’re planning on a dive, you’ll be allowed to descend up to a maximum of 18 metres. Most dives range between a depth of 7 to 12 metres.
If you’re wondering about the underwater visibility, Silfra supposedly contains the clearest water in the world! Silfra is filled with glacial water from the Langjokull glacier. This glacial water is pure and incredibly clear, allowing for underwater visibility of over 100 metres. In fact, your guide will tell you that the water is so pure that it’s entirely safe for drinking.
Combined with fresh water, the temperature hovers around a comfortable 2 to 4 degrees celsius all year round. This makes snorkelling or diving trips possible even in the winter!
There are four parts of Silfra - the Cathedral, Big Crack, Lagoon and Hall. Most tours will bring you through all four sections. The Silfra Cathedral is the highlight of the trip – being 20 metres in depth at its deepest point, the Cathedral spans a length of 100 metres. At this area, divers or snorkellers are able to see directly from one end to the other!
Indeed, where else in the world can you dive or snorkel between two tectonic plates? Bucket list, check.