Scuba Diving in Iceland

Iceland's wild landscape holds a fascinating natural beauty. It is a combination of the cold cliffs and cozy flat meadows. It is a truly unique country, that everyone should visit at least once in their life.
Divers come to Iceland for excellent water visibility and an opportunity to see cold-water creatures. The Silfra fissure, located in the lake of Thingvallavatn (Icelandic: Þingvallavatn) is perfectly suited for this. The lake's water is replenished by glacial meltwater. It is so clear here that even experienced divers lose their grip on reality during dives. Trout, stickleback and tuna are representatives of Thingvallavatn's fauna.
Apart from Silfra, one of the most popular diving sites is Strytan (Strýtan), an underwater hot spring. The cone-shaped top is 15 meters below sea level, and the bottom with its hot spring rests at a depth of 70 meters. Swimming alternately in cold ocean water and hot mineral water evokes an unforgettable sensation of euphoria.

Reasons to Visit

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Where to go
in Iceland?
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Perfect visibility opens the beauty of the Icelandic underwater world in its entirety. For instance, the Silfra lava fissure is visible from over 100 meters away. Lithospheric plates come together in this tectonic fault, and the water around the rocks is crystal clear. Here, you can explore a variety of depths (20 to 50 meters), accessible to both beginner and experienced divers.
Diving lovers should definitely visit the east coast of Iceland. Here, you can see a British oil tanker El Grillo, sunk in 1944. Diving in the Strytan hot spring in the Fjord of Islands (Eyjafjörður) is particularly interesting because of the confluence of hot mineral water and cold ocean water. It is not a place rich in flora and fauna. You will only encounter small flocks of little fish on your dive. One of Iceland's interesting features is the diversity of its underwater topography, which ranges from sand to volcanic rock. The seabed is marked by rocks mixed with sandy plains. Local waters are home to cod, shrimp, halibut, whales and earless seals.
Iceland's freshwater lakes offer a unique diving experience for those who are not afraid of the cold. Here, cold-water divers can explore wrecks, lava caves, dive in a volcanic lake with a geyser, as well as seeing diverse flora and fauna. One area of water can have a variety of temperatures, depending on the presence of geysers or meltwater flowing from famous Icelandic glaciers through magma layers via underground wells.
Here, you will have the opportunity to watch whales in their natural habitat. Many species of large marine mammals live near Iceland's shores. For instance, there are minke whales and white-beaked dolphins. There are plenty of them in the region. And if you're lucky enough, you will see orca whales and short-finned pilot whales. The gracefuls orca whales are also called killer whales as they eat the flesh of warm-blooded animals. It is pretty interesting to watch them hunting; mid-May to September is the best time for this.
Cold-water divers will enjoy diving in the Greenland and Norwegian seas. The most essential thing here is a good wetsuit that will keep you warm. Fast currents prevent lakes and other dive sites from freezing even during winter. Near the shore, you will meet pinnipeds- earless seals, white whales and bearded seals. The cliffed coast is home to guillemots that live on herring. You will almost certainly see them hunting with success; they hardly ever miss.

Diving Destinations in Iceland

The Thingvellir National Park is a valley with unique mountainous landscapes that look the most beautiful under the Northern Lights. The park also houses a lake with the famous Silfra fissure, which you can dive in. Apart from the underwater beauty, Thingvellir offers waterfalls and canyons.
Reykjavik (Icelandic: Reykjavík) is the capital of Iceland. There are many unique dive sites near the city. Sunken ships, freshwater lakes with geysers, waterfalls and diverse marine fauna- you can find all of these in Reykjavik.

Memo Notes
Currency ISK - Icelandic krona
Languages Icelandic
Timezone UTC
Phone code 354
Emergency Help 112
Electricity

Type C - 230 V, 50 Hz

Type F - 230 V, 50 Hz

Dive Shops in Iceland

Iceland has many dive shops that offer Open Water training. You can buy or rent any kind of equipment from them. The shops arrange dives at unique dive sites and multi-day diving safaris (lasting from 7 to 10 days). The best season to dive here is from May to September.

Сlimate & Seasonality
Spring

In March, you will have an opportunity to see the unique Northern Lights (also called Aurora Borealis). Humpback whales swim up here in the middle of April. The water slowly warms up to +7 °C. At the start of spring, the air temperature is around +3°C, and reaches +10 °C by the end of the season.

Summer

The average air temperature in Icelandic summer is around +10 °C. Nights are quite short due to the close proximity to the Arctic Circle. The water temperature varies between +6... +8 °C. It often rains and there are quite a few storms.

Autumn

The tourist season in Iceland ends in the middle of September, and many attractions close then. The water temperature falls from 7 °C to 5 °C, and the air cools down from 10 °C to 4 °C. Sometimes it snows in the mountains.

Winter

Winter in Iceland is mild because of a warm current flowing nearby. The average air temperature is around 0 °C. The temperature is much lower in the mountains. The water temperature in the Greenland Sea cools down to-1°C in winter. The Norwegian Sea is warmer.

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The Best Dive Sites

The Silfra fissure in the lake of Thingvellir (Icelandic: Þingvellir) is the meeting point of two continents, America and Eurasia. The whole dive site is covered with green seaweed that looks like troll hair. You can dive here all year round, and the landscape will be different any time you come here. There are practically no fish at the bottom of the lake, but its bed is full of boulders, underwater caves and fissures.
A fissure near Grindavik (Grindavík) is famous because this is where the salty sea water meets the meltwater flowing from glaciers. Divers will see many caverns and arches, as well as two caves where diving is restricted.

Health & Safety

In spite of its attractiveness as a tourist destination high level of economic development, the level of healthcare in Iceland is very low. In fact, Icelandic citizens prefer receiving medical treatment in other European countries. Be ready to fork out for medical help if you get sick. But before you see the doctor, you will have to wait in a long line in an emergency waiting room, because home visits are a paid service. As for personal safety, Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. It is recommended to vaccinate yourself against measles, rubella and parotitis before visiting the country. And if you go to Iceland during the flu season, you should consider getting the flu jab.

Dangerous Marine Life

Iceland's coastal waters are home to various sharks: basking sharks, Greenland sharks and spiny dogfish, but they are only interested eating in plankton or fish. The sharks do not attack humans. Polar bears might be potentially dangerous, but there have been no registered cases of attacks on people.

Eat & Drinks

Iceland is an island, and so the most of the local cuisine consists of seafood, lamb and mutton. A tourist should not overlook slátur, a dish made of sheep innards cooked in the gallbladder of the same sheep. It is also recommended to try gravlax, pickled salmon with dill and onion. Hardfiskur (harðfiskur) is fried or dried sea fish.  Coffee is the Icelanders' favourite beverage. An interesting feature of local restaurant business is that guests only pay for the first cup of coffee in local coffee shops.
Cold tap water is drinkable here, but hot water may smell of rotten eggs because it is supplied straight from hot springs. Of course, drinking it is not recommended.